JAZZ Jazz dance is a classification shared by a broad range of dance styles. Before the 1950s, jazz dance referred to dance styles that originated from African American vernacular dance. In the 1950s, a new genre of jazz dance--modern jazz dance—emerged, with roots in Caribbean traditional dance. Every individual style of jazz dance has roots traceable to one of these two distinct origins.
ModernAfter the 1950s, pioneers such as Katherine Dunham took the essence of Caribbean traditional dance and made it into a performing art. With the growing domination of other forms of entertainment music, jazz dance evolved on Broadway into the new, smooth style that is taught today and known as modern jazz, while tap dance branched off to follow its own, separate evolutionary path. The performance style of jazz dance was popularized to a large extent by Bob Fosse's work, which is exemplified by Broadway shows such as Chicago, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, and The Pajama Game. Modern jazz dance continues to be an essential element of musical theatre, and it can often be seen in music videos and competitive dance.
As in most forms of dance, technique is the foundation for all modern jazz dance movement. In particular, jazz dancers benefit from a sound working knowledge of ballet technique and, consequently, jazz dance curriculum commonly includes ballet training.
Modern jazz dance encompasses various techniques, including:
Center controlBy treating the center of balance as the point from which movements emanate, it becomes possible to maintain balance and control while executing movements that would otherwise take the dancer off balance.SpottingThis enables dancers to maintain balance and control while executing turns such as pirouettes and fouettés, by reducing the dizzying effect of repeated rotation.PointingWhen pointing, dancers stretch their ankles and point their toes so as to align their feet with the leg lines in an aesthetically pleasing manner.