Jazz dance has come a long way, From the roots of African folk dances to now live on broadway. It has been dated all the way back to the 16th century, but of course not how we see it today. It ultimately came from the the era of slavery and helped emerge other forms of dance such as tap dancing. Overall it evolved and has became its own dance type which we now refer to as Modern Jazz . This particular form of dance was chosen due to the fascination of theater and acting as a whole which often uses jazz as an attribute.
Jazz had lots of factors that shaped and molded it to what we see today. It first broke out in its own style when whites and blacks started to desegregate. Before then it was originated from Africa where slaves used it as more of a way to project their ideas and beliefs culturally. Once slaves were moved around in the transatlantic slave trade, europeans and owners contributed to the dance style even thought it was mainly done to stereotype the slaves. According to Jazz Dancing Past And Present by Tom Ralabate, One of the main ways that jazz was used was through minstrel shows that were intended to mock and degrade African Americans which was first popularized in the 1700’s by John Durang. Once the movement started people like William Henry Lane, aka Master Juba (18251852)and Thomas Dartmouth aka Daddy Rice jumped on the bandwagon and became maters of minstrelsy despite henry lane himself being a man of color. Henry was considered one of the best dancers at the time and played a big role because he opened the world to African vernacular dance because his element combined Irish jigtype movements with his common African polyrhythms. The tables turned when The Whitman sisters introduced the cake walk, where they emulated white society and aristocratic manners as seen minstrels with slaves.
All throughout the 1900’s the entertainment business was booming especially in the comedic circuit, to the point where morals were disregarded for the sake of laughs. Jazz later on became a more sociable dance that incorporated out of the ordinary movements such as the Lindy Hop and joyous facial expressions. That opened up jazz expressively and allowed theatrical composers and artist to add more movements and material to their pieces. While music and jazz dance were evolving along parallel lines, so was the Broadway musical, in which movement and story eventually became integrated. Artist began fusing jazz with another cultures to create musicals such as the notorious west side story. Jack Cole left an incredible mark when he incorporated many types of movement to orchestrate a jazz dance hybrid which still can be seen today. from then on technological advances have been made and now the world has been exposed to many variations of dance. Now jazz is mainly incorporated theatrically and used in hybrids with other dance forms. Jazz is now more appreciated and has grown from just a mockery to African Americans to a form of dance that is incorporated throughout the world.
Currently Jazz has taken a form of its own and has left a lot of its past behind while still staying true to its dance culture. Before, as mentioned, Jazz was just pleasurable for the white ethnicity. it was remotely used to make fun of African Americans and appease people of the higher social class. Now it’s cultivated and used to the masses instead of just one group of people. It also no longer discriminates a certain culture or race. Like before, it is used to bring a happy and funny aspect to a movement, and is still rhythmic.Another thing that connects it to the past is the fact that it is still to this day used in the entertainment business. Elements of jazz can be seen in theater and in modern clusters of dance.
In jazz rhythmic accuracy is everything, due to the movement mainly being rhythmic in general. Jazz styles and dance elements involve a lot of traveling, especially with foot work. In most dances it is seen to commonly be in a larger group rather than just a solo dancer. the spacing and arrangement is spread out to to the usual exaggeration of movements that the element entails. Jazz fuses dynamic movement with stylistic interpretations to the accordions of each dancer and how they choose to effectively followthrough with their movement. As seen in the dance performance Bleeding love choreographed by Lindsay Ritter the dancers effective travel and use their space. They also go along with the rhythms of the song they selected. As a whole they correctly represented jazz and its composition.
Jazz is a type of dance that is used to grab the audience and is intended to uplift it. This is seen especially when the songs that mostly coincide with the work tend to be upbeat and have a faster tempo. In a jazz dance class, once expected to perform the dancers were required to have nice happy facial expressions, elongate their movements, and were told to wear clothes that were bright and stood out. Props are more often used in a theatrical performance of a jazz dance rather than the modern version and in most cases the movements are narrative and tell a story. The movements mainly consist of use of the flat foot, bent knee, body part isolations, hip movements, athletic and acrobatic movements, improvisation, embellishment of movement and creative elaboration.
The dance style of Jazz is a unique one with plenty of historical components that has formed and developed what we have currently. It is a relation of sociable movements within a creative aspect and interpretation that is used as a cheerful representation. Not only with the form and musical element but with the elaborate movement. Jazz has been apart of American history since the 16th century and still lives on to this day which says a lot, not only o the behalf of America but how we have been able to evolve and get out of social standards and norms.