Student’sName Instructor’s Name Course Date
JazzDance: Description, History, and Relevance
Jazzdance is a genre that presents the originality and individual styleof the performer. It illustrates rapid, sensual, rhythmic, and sharpmovements. The dance traces its origin from African roots. In itsfullness, it is a continuum of the healthy relationship between thedances of Black Americans and traditional African cultures and theassociated influence of both dances on American theatrical, social,and popular dance. The traditions contained in West African culturesare the roots of jazz dance. According to the Guarino and Wendy (4),culture, dance, and music are functional aspects of the daily life ofpeople. Therefore, jazz music expresses the sorrows, joy, anddifferent life passages experienced by individuals. The developmentof jazz dance occurred on the plantations (Guarino and Wendy 4). Inessence, the Black Americans used the dance to communicate theirsorrows to their master’s. Years later the White population alsoembraced the dance. Nevertheless, the acceptance of the dance byWhite Americans necessitated for a “cleaning up” of the dance bymaking it less sensual and more dignified. In essence, it evolvedthrough either blending or appropriation from the viewer`sperspective.
Theevolution of jazz dance took place majorly between the 1890s and1930s. Black dancers embraced the Eurocentric verticality of theclosed ballroom position and their Cakewalks. A combination of joyousdance sensuality and black musicals in the 1920s resulted intochoreographed segments that replaced the improvisation of Africans.Therefore, the evolved jazz dance contained both European and Africandance elements. The creativity and vernacular dance of the BlackAmericans had a rich influence on the White’s during the evolutionperiod. In essence, it is proper to regard jazz dance as the productof the interplay between circumstances during its development period. The changes in conditions and time led to the absorption of newrealities by the jazz dance genre and music. A proper view of purejazz should include the inching together of European and culturalforces towards a common space and time in the USA. As the twodisparate cultures move closer to the shared space and time, theygathered speed until the point where they merged to form pure jazzwitnessed between 1910 and 1930. During the period, the Americansocial jazz dance exhibited the closest resemblance to its NewOrleans roots. This was the era of the Snake Hips, Lindy, Charleston,among other vernacular styles (Guarino and Wendy 9).
Thehistory of jazz music determines the history of jazz dance. Theevolution of jazz dance until the 1970s is complex. The evolution ofjazz dance reveals multiple aesthetic approaches, dance and musicalentities, cultural fluidity, and interactions. It can be stated thatdiscovery and experimentation gave rise to jazz dance. The growthentailed the embracing and absorption of diverse influences whilemaintaining individualistic freedom and expression. The history ofJazz reveals evolving ideas, meanings, movements, sounds, values,pluralities, contradictions, contestations, and the multipleconstructions of what constitutes the dance. Therefore, vernaculardance and music and African-American folk dance blended to form jazzthrough a creative inspiration process. The initial dances integratedimprovisation besides including the community’s power to includeindividual creativity using human experience and storytelling. Duringthe evolution period, there was an increase in opportunities forpresentational performance and venues for African-American dancersand musicians as well as dance troupes. These factors acted asincubators of the dancing talent. The African propulsive rhythms andmovements were still evident in the dances (Guarino and Wendy 45).However, the dances maintained the solo style used by White dancesindicating a blend of Black and White cultures.
Theentire world recognizes jazz dance because of its rich culturalheritage that originates from the African-American experience. Thedance has continuously reflected the American culture ever since itsinception in the 1920s. The form of dance and music stands out as theonly true and original American form of art to date. Jazz alsoprovides insights into values such as freedom with responsibility,teamwork, the correlation of goal accomplishment and hard work, unitywith ethnic diversity, and most importantly, the American spirit. Inessence, studying jazz dance enables students to appreciate,understand and respect America’s cultural heritage.
Thegenre also provides a real democratic example by communicatingindividual freedom but heightening the crucial role played bypersonal responsibility (JIA 1). Being a form of music and dance andbecause Americans love to dance and music, jazz also entertains thesociety. However, showbiz is not the primary goal of the jazz dance.It has turned out to be a critical component of the US culture andthe American life itself. This provides a solid explanation for thedecision of the US magazines, newspapers, and televisions to allocateconsiderable space and time to jazz material.
Thedefining attributes of Jazz dance explain its increasing prominencein the society today. Rather than mere entertainment, the dance aimsat intensifying the emotions that listeners interpret from the music.The paper underscores the fact that Jazz dance is a significant genrein entertainment.
Guarino,Lindsay, and Wendy Oliver. JazzDance.University Press of Florida. 2014. Print.
Jazzin America (JIA). Jazz In America Philosophy. Thelonious MonkInstitute of Jazz. 2016.<http://www.jazzinamerica.org/Overview/Philosophy>