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Jazz Dancing

A popular dance style that has its roots in tap dancing.

Jazz dance has two meanings, depending on the era. Both dance forms are related by evolution.

* Until the middle of 1950s, "jazz dance" meant mostly "tap dance", because jazz was the music and tap was the main performance dance of the era. See Tap dance.
* Since the fifties, with the growing domination of other forms of entertainment music "jazz dance" evolved into a new, smooth, modern "Broadway style" that is taught today, while tap dance continued to evolve on its own.

In addition to tap, another essential root of jazz dance is the Afro-American culture from the late 1800 up till the mid 1900. Pioneers such as Kathrine Dunham took the essence of caribbean traditional dance and made it into a performing art.

In addition to Tap, during the jazz a popular form of jazz dance was Swing dancing and its related dances Black Bottom, Charleston and Cakewalk, all forms of jazz dance commonly danced to jazz music.

American "tap dancing" had its roots mainly from the "Irish" folk dance tradition.

During the early 1900s, these two dance forms mixed with the rebellion against ballet developed into what we today call jazz dance, or jazz ballet.

An early popular "jazz dancer" was vaudeville star Joe Frisco in the 1910s. He danced in a loose-limbed style close to the ground, with eccentric steps, and juggled his derby and cigar.

"Jazz dance" is a form of dance commonly used in Broadway shows and movies. Jazz is more contemporary kind of dance as compared to ballet, for instance. Even though jazz dancing might look easy and fun when the dancers do it, the dancers have to be in really good shape, and practice sometimes six hours a day. Some traditional musical jazz numbers are "All That Jazz" and "Chicago".

Both Jazz dance and modern dance techniques are based on the basics of the old ballet tradition, even though both forms where considered to rebellions against it. To excel in jazz dance, the dancer must master ballet techniques.

In jazz dancing the movements are big and exaggerated and there is usually an attitude the dancer conveys to the audience. The attitude would depend on the dance. For example in a modern number like "Livin' La Vida Loca", the dancer would probably be happy, and look like they were at a party having a really rockin' time. Jazz dancing is also used in modern dancing as on MTV. Las Vegas showgirls are also jazz dancers.

Just about every dance school teaches jazz, as it is the most popular dance form for amateur dancers.

The essence of jazz dance is entertainment to the people, a form of dancing which is easy to understand for anyone seeing it. As the famous modern choreographer and pioneer Alvin Ailey said "The dance came from the people, and should always be given back to the people".

A popular form of Jazz dance is Lindy Hop or as more commonly known Swing dancing. Lindy Hop is a partnered jazz dance evolving as a street dance.

Famous jazz directors and choreographers include Bob Fosse, Gus Giordano, Gwen Verdon, Jack Cole, and Eugene Louis Faccuito (also known as Luigi).

Well known Jazz dances include All That Jazz, Can-can, Damn Yankees, The Red Mill.

Modern Jazz dance is an art form you can find at almost any dance studio. Jazz, unlike other dance forms, is fast paced but its movements are still soft. It requires extensive flexibility for the movements required. The dancers are taught to be graceful, for example, to always have their toes pointed, fingers cupped and extended softly. The dancers' motions flow with eachother, thus forming the rhythm of dance. Jazz is ususally taught through first learning the basic techniques such as extensions, turns, and leaps. Once the dancer has learned the basic forms, they then are usually put together with music to form a routine. Routines are then performed in shows. Jazz is a nice alternative to ballet which is very structured and slower paced or to modern dance which is also slower paced but not extremely structured in that, modern dance is not usually taught with the dancer first having to learn many different basic steps before performing. All dance is interrelated however, they are all comprised of the same basic concept, combining music with movement.

Source: Wikipedia

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