What do you think of when you think of jazz? And what makes a jazz dance just that? Where did jazz even come from? In this article, we’re talking all that Jazz.
While hip hop is known for it’s rhythmic variations and isolated movements, these aspects were also at the forefront of jazz as it emerged as a style in the 1930’s. Both Hip Hop and Jazz are heavily influenced by African and even East Indian Dance, with jazz dance coming from the same influences that sparked jazz music.
Traditional Jazz combined a stance that grounded weight lower to the floor, using a deeper plie, with a sharper and more dynamic musicality than had been expressed before. In jazz, lines could be broken or a-typical, unlike the structured and formal ballet. Jazz, also emerging from the Vaudeville era, was about the feeling expressed through performance. In vaudeville, entertainment was the goal. These qualities fused together to become jazz dance.
Today, jazz is a little more difficult to define. As dance has grown and evolved, contemporary and lyrical have developed out of traditional jazz, and hip hop has taken a life of its own. Jazz itself, seems to be lost in the middle of the evolution. Or has it?
Many choreographers and judges will tell you that what they see being called jazz today has little artistic depth or truth to the style. Skill after skill, a couple of sharp arm angles, and an upbeat song seem to be a common recipe for today’s jazz routine.
But we think that there have been some awesome Jazz choreographers Tyce Diorio, Brian Freedman, Wade Robinson and Sonja Tayeh, who understand that jazz is a combination of many elements. Yes, extension, control and musicality, but also depth of performance and entertainment. They show us the hallmarks of jazz, performed and conceptualized in a new way. Jazz is becoming, like so many things in our world, a fusion. A gathering of influences and a convergence of styles, which makes the debate over what it is and what it isn’t even more alive and interesting than ever.
What do you love about jazz? Share with us in the comments!