Jazz dance is classified under the category of modern dance forms. Jazz dance was basically dance performed on jazz music. And that is where it gets its name from.
We will learn more about the evolution of jazz dance later. For now, we will talk a little bit about Jazz dance as a whole and how widespread and popular it is in India and the world.
Jazz dance over the years has evolved into so much more. It has branched out and given birth to multiple dance styles that jazz dance now encompasses. It has now become a dance category/form, under which multiple dance styles come.
In a sense, it has emulated jazz music. Jazz music has also grown, branched out and today, it encompasses a huge number of different music styles. All different and distinct from each other and yet have jazz music as their base. And that is why they fall under the category of jazz music.
Jazz dance is no longer one particular type of dance. It has grown and become widespread all over the world in different countries. And each country has molded this dance form according to their dance sensibilities.
It includes a variety of dance forms like Charleston and cakewalk in it. Plus, the great thing about jazz dance is its flexibility to adapt and adopt new steps and yet make the dance performance and the style unique. That is refreshing and encouraging for this beautiful art form.
Now, before we talk about jazz dance history and types of jazz dance. Let us talk a little bit about Jazz dance definition and what all it entails. What exactly it is about?
Jazz dance: What is it? A broad definition
Jazz dance is basically a dance style that encourages and promotes individuality in its dancers. It is an extremely energetic dance form that requires oodles of energy and stamina. Not to forget that to excel in this dance form one needs to be passionate about becoming a great jazz dancer.
As mentioned above, Jazz is an ever evolving dance and music style. The reason for its manifold growth is the fact that it is not confined to a few techniques or steps. Basically, jazz dance steps are forever evolving and turning into something different and beautiful.
To simplify it, we should look at jazz dance as a personal, unique and individual interpretation of dancing by the dancer performing. Since Jazz style gives you the freedom to interpret movements depending on your strengths and your choices.
You as a dancer can experiment and explore the space with different jazz techniques and steps and make them your own. As jazz dance encourages flexibility of movement, body language, expressions, and individuality.
That is the main reason why jazz as a dance style is one of the most famous dance styles all over the world. Its popularity is associated with the freedom of movement and expression that it allows every dancer.
That is a reason for why it is one of the most popular and sought after modern dance forms in India as well. And this freedom of movement and flexibility is why it is increasingly becoming more and more popular in our country and abroad.
However, being a jazz dancer does not exclude learning techniques and having discipline. To be proficient in any dance style one needs to have focus, discipline and as discussed oodles of passion. In jazz dance, you need to work on your flexibility, fluidity of movement, posture and most importantly, balance.
Jazz Dance: A little history-its Evolution Music and its reach
Before we dwell further into what is required to be a great jazz dancer. Let us look at the brief history of jazz dance timeline. As it is famously known, jazz dance originated from dancing and performing on Jazz music which mostly includes Tap dance and Jitterbug styles.
And jazz music has its origins from the African American tribes and groups in the late 1800s and early 1900s. African Americans used to listen and make Jazz music as a wonderful recreational activity. And through them, this music got famous and widespread all over the United States and then the rest of the world.
Jazz dance in a similar way got popular in the United States and then became popular all over the world. And each city or country it got introduced to, imbibed the dance style in their own fashion. This then led to the formation of various dance styles all included and under Jazz dance.
While Europe infiltrated it with technique, Americans molded it in their own fashion. For a long period of time, Jazz was just limited to being performed in clubs and restaurants. And it didn’t receive the respect and honor it now gets.
Jazz dance was just another recreational activity and not a full blown respected art form till the 1940s. It is in the 1940s that the first Jazz studio was put up to teach jazz dance form to the enthusiastic dancers.
From then onwards it has just grown and grown as a dance form. And today, modern jazz has become a huge category in itself. One under which, various dance styles and interpretations come.
Most widespread dance and what all it requires
Now as discussed earlier, being a great jazz dancer requires many things in addition to exploring your individual style. It requires learning the right techniques and how to maintain balance and discipline.
For the finer your technique and your balance, the more graceful the dance looks. For fluidity in movement, it is essential to learn the right techniques and to be able to balance properly.
Jazz often requires performing some steps that are not very easy to do if you do not have a good core. Or if you haven’t worked on your balance or your posture, the dance can be difficult and may come about being a bit sloppy.
Hence, it is very important to work on your balance and techniques. They not only help to make your movements easier and far more fluid, they also make you look a lot more presentable and stylish while performing.
Another thing which avoids you from looking sloppy and ill-managed while performing is learning how to maintain a good posture. And to learn and work on all of these, jazz dance teachers teach their students Ballet.
Ballet is used to teach you discipline and techniques and to hone your dancing skills. It is extremely important to have some sort of a knowledge or training in Ballet in order to be a great modern jazz dancer. Then, of course, one needs to work on their flexibility as well. Ballet helps with that.
In addition, you can also do a little bit of Yoga or other stretching exercises in order to help with your flexibility. So, one can conclude, that Ballet is used as a foundation to become a better Jazz dancer. In the same way learning Jazz dance is sometimes used as a foundation for becoming a better contemporary dancer.
But learning all of these basics is good but not enough if you don’t have the passion and zeal to be a fabulous jazz dancer. No number of techniques can teach you how to feel the rhythm and music. There have been great jazz dancers who hadn’t learned any techniques but were amazing because of their love for dance.
We use techniques to hone our dancing skills but passion is what makes you a dancer in the first place. If you are passionate, you are a good dancer. And if you infuse techniques and everything else, you can become a better dancer.
But most importantly, hold on to this passion because this is what will take you to becoming the next great jazz or any other dancer for that matter.
Types of jazz dance
As we have repeatedly mentioned above, Jazz includes a lot of other dance styles. That is these dance styles originated or have taken their inspiration from Jazz. And hence, they fall under this category.
There are many dance forms that fall under jazz but we are only going to list the most widespread ones. These are:-
- Lindi Hop
- Boogie Woogie
- Traditional Jazz
- Black Bottom
- Street jazz
- Traditional African American Jazz
- Tap dance
- Modern Jazz
- Funk Jazz
- House Dance
- R&B Jazz
- Jazz Hip-hop
- Contemporary Jazz
Amongst other jazz styles.
Jazz Dance: Its benefits
Jazz Dance has many benefits that we are going to discuss and explore in this section. Like any other dance form, jazz too is extremely beneficial for our physical and mental health. Let us discuss briefly them both.
- Benefits to our physical health:-
Let us discuss the obvious benefits of jazz dance first. Dancing is a wonderful form of exercise that not only helps us lose weight but also makes us fitter by building our stamina. Dancing of any type helps to build your strength and stamina.
It strengthens your body and provides you with more stamina to accomplish more tasks and duties. You become more energetic too.
As mentioned earlier to be a jazz dancer, you need to work on your flexibility by doing stretching exercises. Hence, your flexibility also improves. In addition to that, when you are dancing, you are utilizing muscles in your body (arms, legs, and torso) that you normally don’t use on an everyday basis.
This helps to strengthen those muscles of yours that have been lying dormant till now. Also, learning jazz helps to improve your balance and posture. Thus, relieving you from back pains, that might be a result of bad posture.
Not to mention, the biggest benefit of losing weight and having a fitter and firmer body that you can be proud of.
As you can see, learning Jazz dance has a lot of physical benefits for you.
- Benefits to your mental health:-
Now, let us talk about the lesser known but more important benefits to your mental health.
Learning anything requires discipline and hard work and that is just what learning jazz teaches us.
It teaches you the importance of hard work and dedication. And as many dance performances include a group, learning jazz also teaches you how to work with other people in a group. That is, it helps in your social skills as well.
Also, learning any type of dance requires good motor-eye coordination. As you have to be quick on your feet and learn new choreographies every time, your brain faculties are also working overtime when you are dancing.
Plus, whenever you do any physical activity, it releases ‘endorphins’- the ‘feel good’ hormones that put you in a joyful mood. And don’t forget that whenever you accomplish anything (like becoming a good jazz dancer here), you become happy and confident.
Jazz dance teaches you to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. And this confidence helps you in other fields and in life in general as well.
India’s Jazz dancing scene and our objective here at Artistzo
Now, that we have seen the multiple physical and mental benefits of being a jazz dancer. Let us see check out the dancing scene in India and the scope of being a jazz dancer here.
Jazz dance has become a popular dance form in the metro cities recently. A big contributor to this popularity is the brand Danceworx (founded by the famous dancer Ashley Lobo). Danceworx is a famous modern dance institute that has branches all over Delhi and Mumbai.
And now we have a lot of other dance institutes that teach jazz and other modern dance forms. So as far as learning Jazz dancing goes, we are expanding and doing well in the metro cities. But, what about the professional scope for a jazz dancer in India?
Unfortunately, the career prospects of a jazz dancer are very limited. Those who learn jazz dance can either hope to become choreographers for movies or events. Or maybe have their dance studio someday where they can teach others jazz dance.
But financially this field is still unstable. And the reason for this is ignorance. There is still a large part of our population unaware of this beautiful dance form. And we here at Sharehiss want to change just that.
We want to promote and spread awareness about the beautiful jazz dance style. So that more and more people become aware and want to follow the footsteps of great jazz dancers. And you can use with this. Just share your jazz dance videos to Sharehiss and we will share your videos with the world.
Spread awareness about jazz and simultaneously, showcase your talent to the world and become famous.