The History of Jazz Dance

I started Jazz dancing at the age of six and it soon became my favorite style of dance!  Jazz has roots dating back to the 1800s.  The first official American “jazz dancer” was Joe Frisco who danced around the year 1910.  Jazz moves were created by slaves who often danced and sang as a source of entertainment.  Slave traders allowed them to dance during their journey over to America, as an attempt to keep them physically fit.  Not only did it work, but it formed an impressive series of dance techniques and steps that made history.  The original steps came out of Africa while Jazz dance itself came about as a crossbreed of American culture.  Jazz music obviously inspired some of the first documented jazz dance choreography.  Europe lent elegance to the technique; Africa gave it its movement and rhythm; and America allowed it to have the exposure and growing popularity that has sustained it as a cherished dance style today.  After being passed down through plantation ancestors and early restaurants and night clubs, jazz dance began to be taught in studios.

By the early 1900s, people began doing such dances as the cakewalk, Charleston, jitterbug, swing and the Lindy Hop, all of which were forms of jazz dancing.  Jazz also began to appear more in Broadway shows and musical comedies.  Modern jazz was developed by choreography greats such as Bob Fosse, whose work is emulated in the ultimate of jazz dance shows, Chicago and Cabaret.  To properly execute jazz dance steps, many teachers still believe in teaching a firm classical ballet foundation so that bodies can develop with strength and agility.  Jazz dance is able to be traditionally peppy and bright, but can also take on a flowy and soulful feel.  There are no limits to its creativity, and this has continued to rank it as one of the most popular forms of dance available in studios today.  Over the last year, I decided to focus on classical ballet, but my dance school also teaches jazz.  I take one jazz class per week and I still love it more than ever!

References:
History of Jazz Dance
About Jazz Dance History

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This is me last year in costume for a jazz dance to the song, Knock on Wood.  It was a fast paced disco song, but the dance style was jazz.

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And this is me last year in costume (postal worker) for our jazz dance to Return to Sender by Elvis Presley.  This dance was slower, but still a jazz dance.

The History of Ballet

Hello everyone!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been having a very busy, yet relaxing summer.  It’s almost time to go back to school and for dance classes to start-up again.  Because I am a dancer and talk so much about my love for dance, I decided to write a series of blog posts about the history of different kinds of dance.  For my first post in the series, I am going to start with the form of dance I love the most – ballet!  I started ballet at the age of five and I didn’t much appreciate it in the beginning.  Now, I go to a dance studio where the main focus is ballet technique.  Now I am so much better at it because it’s all that I do.  The history of ballet is as interesting as the art form itself.  The word ballet comes from French and was borrowed into English around the 17th century.  The French word in turn has its origins in Italian balletto, but uses the shortened version of ballo (dance).

Ballet ultimately traces back to Italian ballare, meaning to dance.  According to Wikipedia, ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and spread from Italy to France.  Catherine de’ Medici and Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx were responsible for presenting the first court ballet ever which applied poetry, dance, music and set design to a storyline.  In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera), within which emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet.  The dominant use of French in the vocabulary of ballet reflects this history.  Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art and spread from Europe to other nations.  The Royal Danish Ballet and the Imperial Ballet of the Russian Empire were founded in the 1740s.  In 1907 the Russian ballet moved back to France.

Soon ballet spread around the world with the formation of new companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and many others.  In the 20th century, different styles of ballet continued to develop.  The United States choreographer, George Balanchine, developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet.  Subsequent developments have included contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet.  I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.  My favorite ballerina, Misty Copeland, was just named American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal dancer.  I find her to be very inspirational.  Because of her late start in learning how to dance ballet (she was 13) and her race and body type, she is what’s known as an unlikely ballerina.  Keep reading my blog to learn about other forms of dance.
 

This is me in my ballet costume for a group dance I was in during my 5th grade year back in 2013 – 2014.  We danced to Discombobulate.  It is the theme song from the movie, Sherlock Holmes.

Great Week for Women in Sports

Since last Sunday, it’s been a great week for women in sports. There were a lot of firsts…….

U.S. WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM CELEBRATE

Last Sunday, the U.S. women’s soccer team won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.  FIFA stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association. It was the first time since 1999 that the U.S. team won. I followed the tournament with my dad. Actually, he watched more than I did, but I watched the final and a few games in the early and knock-out rounds. The knock-out rounds began when there were 16 teams left.  Sweet 16 in basketball terms. At the beginning of some of the early tournament games, I noticed some announcers and players from other countries talked about the American’s weaknesses and simple game plans. By the final game, all that talk about weakness and simple game plans went away.  Our team only let two teams score, Australia and Japan. We had really great play from Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo. Both of them won awards. Carli was named MVP and got the Gold Ball. She also won the Silver Boot for her scoring. She is the first woman player to score three goals in a final. Hope got the Golden Gloves Award for being the top goalie in the tournament. There were so many other players that made our team so dominate.  Jill Ellis was the head coach and it was her first world cup as a matter of fact, she’s the first female head coach to lead a U.S. team to win it all!

SERENA SLAM

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

Serena Williams won Wimbledon on July 11, 2015 and completed a “Serena Slam”. It means that she has won all four of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments in a row. The Grand Slam tournaments are the Austrialian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open. If she wins the U.S. open next month, she will have won all of the Grand Slam tennis tournamnsts in a calendar year. Only three other female tennis players have done that. If Serena wins the U.S. Open, she will tie Steffi Graf for the most single grand slam career titles (22) in the modern era. She is already the oldest woman at 33 to win a grand slam tournament.

EQUAL PAY TO PLAY

Tennis is Equal
Years ago Billie Jean King, Chris Everett, Martina Navratilova, and others pushed for equal tournament pay for women and men. Wimbledon was the last Grand Slam tournament to start paying women and men winning players equal. Serena earned 1.88 million pounds and the 2015 men’s winner will earn the same.

Soccer Has A Long Way To Go
FIFA, the world soccer governing body paid the 2015 Women’s World Cup participating teams a total of $15 million. The winning team got $2 million. FIFA paid the 2014 Men’s World Cup participating teams $576 million. The winning team got $35 million. The US Men’s team got $9 million and they didn’t even make the finals. That’s crazy!  We need some Billie Jean King’s, Chris Everett’s and Martina’s to push FIFA toward equal pay. There’s an investigation into FIFA for corruption. Maybe they need to investigate the low women’s pay too!

Happy Birthday USA!

Today is the United States of America’s  239th birthday. I read an interesting article from NBC News. Here are some interesting facts from the story.

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I Love the USA! I like the Fourth of July because I get to spend my time eating at our annual cookout and watching fireworks. I love to do special crafts or cook special deserts on holidays.  When i craft and cook, I do it better than Martha Stewart! Just kidding.

Today I made some firecracker cookies. I found the recipe on the Cookin’ Cowgirls blog. Stephanie Hann is the blogger and she now has a business selling hand made jewelry.  Talk about coincidence, Stephanie is from Stillwater, Oklahoma.  The same state as I! Please check out her blog here.

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Firecracker Cookies
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Ingredients

1 box french vanilla cake mix, 16.25 oz
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C red sprinkles
1/2 C blue sprinkles

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Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, oil and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the sprinkles. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack. The cookies will be very soft at first. Cool and enjoy!

Congratulations to the Principal!!!

Today has been a great day in the world of dance. Misty Copeland has been named principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater.

I was able to meet Misty at my dance studio last year. She is so cool! I remember her telling us about all of the hard work and challenges of being a soloist. When she came to our studio, she was the third African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theater. She also talked about her goal of being a principal dancer.  And now, she is the first African-American principal dancer in the 75 year history of the American Ballet Theater!  You can read about our meeting here. I also wrote about my dream to be like Misty one day here. Is it obvious I like her? Well I do. She’s one of my biggest inspirations. Ballet is the constant pursuit of perfection and Misty inspires me to strive to get better everyday….

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Here is one of the famous commercials she has done….

And yes, I still have her autographed books…Life in Motion Signautres