Encyclopedia of Dance: Jazz


Jazz is a dance that is not bound by rigid boundaries. The fantasy of the dancer and choreographer is in free flight, and music and movement, soul and emotions are organically connected together, contributing to the creation of real masterpieces

Jazz dance is a direction in choreography that has the same name as a musical style, but is formed separately from it. It is necessary to distinguish between jazz as a direction of music and jazz as a dance. The musical and dance currents are united by the general principles of creation: improvisation, polycentry, polyrhythm (an analogue of musical polyphony). Less significant follow from these three basic principles: isolation, momentum, wave, collapse (reset) and others.

The history of the origin of the dance

The birthplace of jazz dance is Africa, and its creators are the inhabitants of the black continent and African-Americans. Negro melodies and rhythms, along with slaves, penetrated America, absorbed the folklore of many nationalities living in the United States, and, as a result, a unique musical and dance phenomenon was formed.

An attempt to study and comprehend this cultural layer was made in the 40s of the 20th century. Outstanding figures of the dance art of that time, Jacques Colet, Pearl Primus, Catherine Dunham contributed to the promotion of jazz in Europe. Particularly active promotion of jazz on the European continent begins after the 2nd World War. Jazz has penetrated many areas of art. Connecting with American show business, jazz dance absorbed and transformed elements of modern, swing, tap, and later hip-hop and funk. The flourishing of the jazz dance style falls on the 60s of the last century, simultaneously with the flourishing of jazz music.

Jazz dance today is energy, hard rhythms, pressure of emotions bordering on aggression, impulsiveness. The dance contains elements of rap, breakdance, hip-hop. Modern jazz choreography blurs the boundaries between styles and trends, organically combining tradition and novelty.

What is jazz dance?

Jazz dance is an original combination of original African-American traditions, ballet, modern choreographic trends and ethnic dance. The jazz technique is quite complex. It combines intricate poses, original dance figures, asymmetrical broken movements, complex spectacular hand movements, throws to the floor. Peculiar music requires fresh solutions from the choreographer, which will allow you to convey bizarre musical turns with body language. In jazz dance, the movements of the soul and emotional sensations are organically combined and embodied by means of choreography.

Jazz dancers learn and use ballet technique. The reversible positions of classical dance coexist with parallel ones. The roundness of the arms, characteristic of the classics, is combined with straight positions.


Jazz dance types and features

Improvisation is one of the main features of jazz. She allows this dance to always be modern, reflecting the latest trends in life and art.

Jazz Modern

At the beginning of the 20th century, having absorbed the trends of modernity, jazz dance was replenished with its own variety — modern jazz. Unlike the classics, where the emphasis is on repulsion, as in ballet jumps, in jazz dance the movement is directed towards the ground. A jazz-modern dancer performs her dance steps on her fingers; acrobatic tricks are often found in the dance. Jazz-modern is actively mastering the technique of other dance styles, such as lyrical dance, hip-hop, modern dance.


A more plastic version of jazz dance. Its feature is the apparent independence of body parts from each other. The performance of this dance requires great skill and long, hard training. The movements of the dancer are perfected, performed with ease and clarity, and the viewer is unaware that this filigree technique was preceded by years of hard work.

Broadway Jazz

The development of American jazz dance followed the path of its theatricalization. The famous productions of musicals on Broadway have created a new genre of theatrical and dance art. Jazz dance became an integral part of famous productions and led to the emergence of its new variety — Broadway jazz.

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