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Jazz Dance: The History, Culture, and Evolution of the style

Jazz dance is a performance dance genre that originated in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterised by its unique movement style, a fusion of African and European dance forms.

The history of jazz dance can be traced back to the African American vernacular dances of the late 1800s. Enslaved people forced to work on plantations brought these dances to the United States.

As Jazz music became increasingly popular in the early 1900s, so did jazz dance. Jazz dance pioneers such as Josephine Baker and Earl Hines popularised the genre. Baker was known for her sensual and erotic dance style, while Hines was known for his acrobatic and high-energy style.

Jazz dance continued to evolve in the United States during the mid-20th century.

Jazz is a musical and dancing style that is experimental, free-form, and fluid. Fusion, innovation, and vivacity best describe it. Jazz dance is an American art form that draws inspiration from all over, much like jazz music.

Jazz performances capture the audience's attention with their smooth, rhythmic movements.

Continue reading to know more about the history of Jazz dance and where to find jazz dance classes in East London.

Initial Conduct

Some of the oldest jazz roots are thought to have come from New Orleans in the 19th century and were mistakenly brought to America through the slave trade. Dance was an important part of the sacred and festive traditions of the rich somatic cultures of the African people.

African dance was incorporated into social gatherings and religious ceremonies in America to retain a person's feeling of identity and origin.

Since the 1600s, unscheduled and scheduled performances of the ferocious, seductive, earthy, and rhythmic dances have captivated the public. Travelling minstrels quickly imitated the dancing and incorporated the cultural element into their mocking, funny performances.

However, African dance overcame racism because it was too captivating to mock or ignore. Instead, the techniques found their way to vaudeville and eventually Broadway, where they influenced ballet, tap, and early modern dance routines.

The Style Generally

These radically non-classical dance routines gave rise to the Charleston, Jitterbug, Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Boogie Woogie, Swing, and Lindy Hop trends in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Jazz musicians created new genres using African rhythms, particularly drumming. With its blues, spirituals, ragtime, marches, and Tin Pan Alley sounds, New Orleans was the epicentre of the invention.

The Congo Square in New Orleans was established as a venue for improvised music and African dancing in 1817. That served as a crucial early venue for one of New Orleans' most famous exports, the distinctively American art form known as jazz, and it served as a breeding ground for many jazz musicians and performers.

But as the dancing evolved, it generally settled into the upbeat jazz dance we now refer to as tap. Even the formal, classical ballet performed in Europe was influenced by the rhythms, giving it a distinctly American edge that spawned the hybrid dance forms that first surfaced in the middle of the 20th century.

Who's in the Forefront?

A gifted modern dancer named Jack Cole started incorporating African and East Indian dance into his choreography in the 1930s. He significantly impacted some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century, whose inventive and spirited movements lit up Broadway and Hollywood.

Contract Hollywood dancers, such as the unflappable Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon, who later collaborated famously with the legendary Bob Fosse, were taught the jazzy technique by Cole. Jazz dancers weren't just skilled amateurs anymore.

They have extensive training in modern, tap, and ballet. Jazz dancing evolved alongside "legitimate" dance styles and soon became a mainstay in all entertainment venues. Many Jazz adult dance classes also exist today.

Breakin' and Broadway

Visit Broadway, which is currently the centre of performance jazz, to see fusion in all its glory. Fosse's well-known dance was transformed into circus aerials and acrobatics for a recent Pippin production. The modern world has a big impact on The Lion King.

Cats feature ballet and modern dancers imitating cats' movements in a highly conventional jazzy way. Hamilton's culinary scene is enhanced by hip hop. A high-energy hybrid is created when breakdancing is performed on Broadway—just a lot of jazz.

Jazz hasn't significantly deviated from its roots since West African immigrants from the Gambia, Mali, and Senegal landed in the South Bronx and created the tutting, popping, moonwalking, and other hip hop traditions.

Audiences remain interested as long as the tricks are creative and exceedingly well-executed. It is what you can make it out to be. Whether performed on stage, in front of an audience, or on a screen, its sensual and rhythmic choreography draws cheers from the dancers.


Jazz choreographers are free to pursue any course they see fit; the future of jazz hasn't even been conceived. However, it is guaranteed that amazing, spectacular, unforgettable, and mind-blowing jazz dancing will continue to grow and draw new enthusiasts.

Jazz is the result of blending several foreign cultures and sources of inspiration into a compelling, singular experience that may be difficult to define but that you will always be able to identify. Today, you can find many Jazz adult dance classes in East London!

Adore Dance offers Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Commercial, & Dance Fitness Classes from a purpose-built dance facility in Hackney Wick, getting adults and kids moving in East London. Our lessons are conveniently located near Stratford, Hackney, Homerton, Bow, and other nearby districts. Book Jazz dance classes in East London today!

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