Jazz or Jazz Dance is a contemporary dance. It had its beginnings at the beginning of the 20th century in America, whereby many elements have an African and clearly older origin. Dancing Jazz is a very varied style of dance that is very rhythmic and harmonious and that uses the whole body. Unlike many other dances, however, jazz is relatively demanding to learn, as one has to learn many special techniques.
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History of origin
Dancing Jazz dance originated in the USA, probably in New York, at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, various cultures and social groups came together and danced and played music together for their own entertainment. Through the influences of many African people, Jazz Dance also came into being. Over the coming years, the dance was developed further and further and became known first beyond the borders of New York and then also beyond the borders of America.
Even though jazz music is better known than dancing Jazz, the dance is now also known and popular worldwide. It arrived in Germany in the mid-1950s and was taught directly in various dance classes. It was mainly Americans who travelled through Germany or other European countries who spread jazz more and more.
In the beginning, jazz was mainly danced to jazz music. This also came about through the influences of African-American people in the metropolises of the USA. Typical of jazz are wind instruments and drums, as well as pianos and string instruments. The music has an improvisational feel and is very rhythmic. Influences of blues and swing cannot be denied.
In the meantime, jazz has in turn had an effect on many other musical styles, so that influences can always be heard. Nowadays, however, jazz is not only danced to jazz music, but also to pop music, such as current charts.
Unlike many other dances, Jazz Dance is not clearly divided into different styles. The different dance styles have rather developed through a mixture with other dances or external influences and have thus given rise to completely new dances.
Classical and simple jazz is usually called Jazz Dance to make the distinction from jazz music clear. What is meant, however, is normal jazz. It is an intensive, rhythmic and technical dance that captivates through the spontaneity and individuality of the dancers.
Modern Jazz is a mixture of Jazz Dance and Modern Dance. Modern Dance itself is a modern form of ballet, but is very similar to it. This is why modern ballet is often referred to as modern dance. It is precisely this influence of ballet that distinguishes Modern Jazz from normal Jazz Dance and describes the dance very well.
Because this variation is physically very demanding, it has developed into a sport called Jazz and Modern Dance, or JMD for short. In Germany there are even leagues for this sport, so that competitions take place regularly.
Jazz Funk or Funky Jazz Dance combines several dances. On the one hand, of course, Jazz Dance and, on the other, funk. However, elements of hip hop or street style are also added, resulting in a fast, rhythmic and versatile dance. Musically, this dance style is also accompanied by a mix of jazz, funk and hip hop music.
Lyrical jazz is less widespread, but also belongs to jazz. It combines jazz with ballet and acrobatics and is also simply called lyrical dance. Some influences of modern dance are also incorporated, so that this dance is also called modern lyrical Jazz Dance. This variation is a melancholic and emotional form of jazz. It is also quite demanding to learn, but the end result is a soulful and expressive dance.
Description of dancing Jazz
Jazz Dance is a very varied, movement-intensive and at the same time harmonious dance. It is danced relatively fast and mostly in groups that perform whole choreographies. The dancers are in a fixed formation, but this can be changed in the course of the dance, as they move a lot through the room or across the stage.
Jazz also differs from many other dances in terms of basic steps, as there are none here. Rather, Jazz Dance is a stringing together of certain figures and step sequences, but these do not require basic steps. When the dancers move around the room, for example to another formation or to a new figure, they simply walk, run or tap to that spot.
Dancing Jazz does not need basic steps, but it is not without basic elements that are present in many jazz choreographies. These include isolation (turns of individual body parts), contraction (rounding of the back), release (letting the body go loose again after a rigid figure) and layouts (stretching the upper body upwards). There are also the aforementioned movements in space called jazz walks and various forms of turns.
Figures in Jazz Dance can usually be divided into steps or poses for the body (e.g. shimmy), the feet (e.g. boogie down), the head (e.g. pecking) and the hands (e.g. jazz hands). Through the long history of dance, more and more figures have been added, making it almost impossible to list them. Which figures still exist and what they look like can best be learned in a Jazz Dance course.
Worth mentioning about dancing Jazz
For many dances it is not quite clear where the name originally comes from. However, this question is least clear in the case of jazz. There are many myths, attempts at explanations and theories, but to date it has not been possible to clarify where the name actually comes from.
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