Dancing Jazz

Jazz Dancing 🕺🎶🎷

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. Jazz dancing 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.

Table of Contents

History of origin

Jazz dancing 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.

Worldwide Spread

Even though jazz music is better known than Jazz dancing, 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.

Dance styles

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.

Jazz Dance

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

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

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

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 Jazz dancing

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.

Basic Steps

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.

Further Steps

Jazz dancing 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 Jazz dancing

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.

What is Jazz dancing?

Jazz Dance is a very varied, movement-intensive and at the same time harmonious dance that had its beginnings at the beginning of the 20th century in America. Moreover, jazz belongs to contemporary dances and is relatively demanding to learn.

How do you dance to Jazz?

Jazz is danced relatively quickly and usually in groups that perform entire choreographies. The dancers are in a fixed formation, but this can change in the course of the dance as they move around the room or across the stage a lot.

What makes Jazz so special?

Jazz Dance is varied, very rhythmic but also harmonious, using the whole body. In addition, the dance is very varied.

What is the difference between Jazz and modern dance?

Jazz and modern dance are two different dance styles, although both are combined in modern jazz or jazz and modern dance (JMD). In modern dance, the influences of ballet are much more present than in jazz.

What do you need for Jazz Dance?

To dance jazz you need a good sense of rhythm, a reasonable level of physical fitness and the ability to remember movements. Apart from that, you just need to be motivated and willing to learn and you can start learning Jazz Dance right away.

Where does Jazz Dance come from?

Jazz Dance comes from America, more precisely from the large metropolises of the USA. There, many African-Americans came together and developed the dance, so that jazz also has many African influences.

When was Jazz Dance invented?

Jazz originated in America at the beginning of the 20th century, although many elements have an African and clearly older origin.

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