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History of Jazz Dance

Learn the history of jazz dance from jazz dance expert Liz Piccoli in this Howcast dance video.


Jazz dance originated in the 1800's with the African Americans who were brought over to America on the slave ships. And it was, you know, an expression of their emotion and their physicality. They started using isolations and body movements that were indicative of their culture. From them, New Orleans developed this great jazz music culture and jazz dance continued on in its form and its development.

In the 1930's and 1960's, it surged into the musical theater route. And certain choreographers, such as George Balanchine, Jack Cole, Jerome Robbins and Fosse, where using jazz in their musical theater choreography and making it into their own expression of choreography and art. They started using their own style of isolations and contractions and it really, it made a popular rise in the national eye.

And as jazz has progressed, it sort of kind of has fed in to progression of music. As music enhances, jazz enhances and choreographers feel the jazz music in a different way and then create different movement. That's where contemporary is coming in to the picture and hip-hop, everything is sort of fusing together. And it all stems from our jazz roots in America.

There are some popular icons that brought jazz in to the forefront. Of course, King of Pop is Michael Jackson with his innovative jazz moves. And also Katherine Dunham is the female choreographer who created isolations, as we know them today. Jerome Robbins was another fantastic jazz choreographer that you should know. And he did "Gypsy", and of course "West Side Story", which is some of the most famous and sexy jazz choreography that's out there.

And that's just a little bit about the history of jazz dance.

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