dance is an American form of dance that developed in the early
1900’s as both African and European peoples began to mix their
dance traditions. Africans focused on rhythms and torso movement
and Europeans on musical harmonies, folk and social dances.
Jazz, tap and musical theatre dance are “cousins.” These forms
of dance are tied to everyday music, songs and rhythms. Jazz
dance involves a range of lively, often sensuous body movement
and percussion techniques, with a mix of tap steps, social
dances and ballet. New forms of jazz dance developed with new
music, such as the Charleston, swing, rock and roll, and the
jazz traditions were imported from Africa, where every tribe had
a set of dances of its own, characterized by many rhythms going
on at the same time. Different parts of the body move to the
various rhythms – arms to one rhythm, the torso to another.
Typically these dances were done solo, yet in a group for
various ceremonies. In America, they became competitive for the
purpose of entertainment.
Vaudeville, or the variety show, was
initially a European tradition of traveling performers moving
from town to town with their skits, songs and dances. In
America, this provided opportunity for a range of popular
entertainers to thrive, such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson a
black tap dancer. Show dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
blended flowing ballet movements with more abrupt rhythmic
movements of jazz. Concert jazz dance developed as a revue or
series of separate jazz dance productions.
Musical comedy/theatre evolved from
variety shows. Themes, story lines and chorus work developed
into the musical theatre we know today. Agnes de Mille, who
choreographed Oklahoma, elevated the importance of dance
in the theatre production.
Notable directors, dancers, and
considered the grandmaster of jazz dance technique.
She was a key inspiration to most modern jazz dance
considered the father of jazz dance technique. He
was a key inspiration to Matt Mattox, Bob Fosse,
Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, and many other
a protégé of Jack Cole. He took the fluid,
animalistic style of Jack Cole and merged it with
his own vast background in ballet technique to
create a technique for jazz dance that is clean,
powerful, and extremely challenging.
Facciuto (aka "Luigi"): an accomplished dancer
who, after suffering a crippling automobile accident
in the 1950s, created a new style of jazz dance
based on the warm-up exercises he invented to
circumvent his physical handicaps.
Bob Fosse: a
noted jazz choreographer who created a new form of
jazz dance that was inspired by Fred Astaire and the
burlesque and vaudeville styles.
an influential jazz dancer, master teacher and choreographer,
the creator of the Jazz Dance World Congress, and
the author of the Anthology of American Jazz
Dance, the first book on jazz dance.
choreographer for a number of hit musicals,
including Peter Pan, The King and I,
Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy, Funny
Girl, and West Side Story.
known for her roles in Damn Yankees, Chicago, and
During the past 5 years, jazz dance has
become the basis of music videos. The combination of rap,
singing and jazz dance have spawned “hip-hop.”
Dancin' Unlimited Jazz Dance Company is proud to
promote, produce, and perform this unique American art
A Sense of Dance:
Exploring Your Movement Potential,
Second Edition. Constance A. Schrader. Human Kinetics, Champaign,
Jazz dance is America’s
indigenous dance form.