Jazz dance is a form of self-expression. Even though it mixes different dance styles, each jazz dancer must rely heavily on originality and improvisation. Jazz dances can be performed to any type of music from African rhythms to modern day hip-hop.
Jazz dancers also use bold, dramatic body movements, including body isolations and contractions, fancy footwork, big leaps and quick turns, and their gracefulness and balance usually comes from a strong jazz training. There are two main jazz tehniques: center control, where the body's center is the focal point from which all movement emanates, thus making it possible to maintain balance while executing powerful movements, and "spotting" which allows a dancer to do Pirouettes and fouetté's without getting dizzy. This jazz dance technique requires the dancer to focus on a main spot in front of them until right before the body turns and the head whips around back to the same focus.
During the jazz age, popular forms of jazz dance were the Black Bottom (dance),the Jitterbug, the Boogie Woogie, and the Lindy Hop. In the 1950’s, jazz was popularized by Bob Fosse and was incorporated into Broadway musicals, such as Chicago. Today, jazz dance is present in many different forms and venues. It is commonly taught in dance schools and performed by dance companies around the world. It continues to be an essential element of musical theatre and cabaret. Jazz dancers also perform in music videos, in competitive dance tournaments, on the television show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” and the new movie “Make it Happen,” which mixes jazz and hip hop styles.
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