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.