Watch excerpts of two jazz dances performed by Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in this video from the Dance Arts Toolkit series. Host David Thurmond gives background on jazz dance and its connections to jazz music.
Jazz dance is intricately connected to jazz music. No video of the “Jazz Age” of the 1920s and 1930s is complete without footage of dancers going the Charleston, the Big Apple, or the Lindy Hop. Jazz dance began as a social/vernacular dance form but evolved to become a performance art as well.
Jazz is a thoroughly American invention, with roots in African cultural styles and European musical forms and instrumentations. New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz (originally called jass). Jazz began emerging around 1900. Musicians took the European march music and brass instruments so popular in New Orleans at the time and combined them with the rhythms and musical sensibilities of the city’s African-American culture. Also in the mix were ragtime and blues. The earliest jazz style was what we now call Dixieland.
Since then jazz has undergone many phases and style shifts, and it continues to evolve. Modern style such as hip-hop as often considered direct descendants of jazz.
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