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					Brief History of Jazz
& Musical Theatre Dance


       By Wendy Oliver
       Adapted by Sara MacInnes
       for use with Dance 11 students at
       Millwood High School
                               Origins of Jazz Dance
                                          • Found in the rhythms and
                                            movements of African dance
                                            brought to the US by slaves.
                                          • As slaves, Africans were cut off
                                            from families, languages, and
                                            tribal traditions.
                                          • Slaveowners forbade
                                            drumming and African dancing,
                                            yet slaves found ways to
                                            express their cultural identity by
                                            stamping, clapping, and making
                                            rhythmic vocal sounds.
                                          • African Americans created new,
                                            hybrid forms of dance that
Adzido Pan-African Dance Co.                blended elements from new and
                                            old cultures; eventually these
                                            dances evolved into jazz dance.
Vintage Jazz
 • The youth of the 20s scandalized their
   elders in the cabarets, night clubs, and
   speakeasies that replaced the ballrooms of
   pre-war days.
 • Jazz originated at the close of the nineteenth
   century in the seamy dance halls and
   brothels of the South and Midwest where
   the word Jazz commonly referred to sexual
   intercourse.
 • Southern blacks, delivered from slavery a
   few decades before, started playing
   European music with Afro modifications.
 • The Savoy ballroom was an example of a
   dance hall which served the predominately
   African-American neighbourhoods and was
   known for it’s jazz in the 20s, 30s and 40s
1920’s
    • After WWI in the 1920’s,
      jazz dance and music
      became part of the
      American social scene.
    • Dixieland jazz music was
      popular, along with the
      Charleston (first use of
      isolations in social dance)
    • Partnered social dance to
      jazz music was the
      “popular dance” of the
      era.
                   1930’s: Swing Era

• The time of Duke
  Ellington, Louis
  Armstrong, and big bands.
• Well-known dances of this
  time were the jitterbug and
  the boogie-woogie.
• Ginger Rodgers and Fred
  Astaire danced in many
  famous movies during this
  time.
• Jazz music and jazz dance
  were inseparable.
                                       1940’s: WWII Era
                                               • WWII put a stop to the
                                                 popularity of social jazz dance.
                                               • Also, jazz music was evolving
                                                 into a style called “bebop,”
                                                 which was rhythmically
                                                 complicated and hard to dance
                                                 to.
                                               • Jazz dance moved from the
                                                 dance halls to the stage,
                                                 becoming prominent in
                                                 Broadway shows and movies.
Fred Astaire & Ginger Rodgers                  • Jazz dance became influenced
                                                 by ballet and modern dance as it
                                                 became more professionalized.
                                               • Jazz choreographers developed
                                                 specific techniques to train
                                                 dancers for shows.

                                1944
                       Mid-century Musicals
• In 1943, Oklahoma marked the
  beginning of dance as a major
  part of musicals; choreographed
  by Agnes DeMille.
• Singin’ in the Rain was
  choreographed by Gene Kelly
  in 1952, starring Kelly and
  Debbie Reynolds.                  Oklahoma

• West Side Story was
  choreographed in 1957 by
  Jerome Robbins, also known
  for his work in ballet.
• Musical theatre choreographers
  blended jazz with other dance
  forms to create dances that
  worked with a specific story.
                Singin’ In The Rain

Donald O’Connor, Gene Kelly,and
  Debbie Reynolds (only 18 at
  the time) starred in this 1952
  classic movie about the early
  days of talking pictures.
Dance (including tap, soft shoe,
  ballroom) played a large role in
  this movie. The title number
  shows Kelly kicking and
  splashing in the gutter during a
  downpour, brandishing his
  umbrella and jumping on a
  lampost to express his
  exhuberance.
                      Katherine Dunham
• An African-American dancer
  who studied towards a doctorate
  in anthropology
• Researched Caribbean dance
  and brought vocabulary back to
  US
• Rekindled an interest in Black
  roots of jazz dance
• Had her own dance company
  and dance technique;also
  choreographed for Broadway        Cabin in the Sky

• Her 1939 show Tropics & Le
  Jazz Hot was an immediate hit
• Eventually established a school
  in East St. Louis
Jack Cole, “Father of Jazz Dance Technique”
                      • Developed an innovative
                        training technique using
                        body isolations and
                        movements borrowed
                        from Eastern culture
                      • Choreographed for film
                        and Broadway including
                        the shows Kismet (1953),
                        Man of La Mancha
                        (1966), & Gentlemen
                        Prefer Blondes
                      • He also served as a
                        movement coach to
                        Marilyn Monroe and other
                        actors.
            Luigi

•In the 1960’s, dancer Luigi became famous
•Developed his technique as result of car
accident which left him
paralyzed on right side. Doctors said he’d
never walk again, but operations, physical
therapy, and his own dance technique brought
him back to health.
•His technique requires extreme muscle
control, and grace; it is influenced by ballet.
•In his youth, he danced in many movies
including “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Annie Get
Your Gun,” and “White Christmas.”
•Known as a master teacher rather than a
choreographer
Bob Fosse
     • Performed in vaudeville and
       Broadway beginning as a child
     • Became famous in the 1970’s
       for shows such as Sweet
       Charity (1967) and Chicago
       (1975).
     • Movie All That Jazz (1979) was
       about his life in the fast lane
     • First director to win an Oscar,
       Tony, and Emmy in one year
       (1973).
     • His style has been called “slick,
       erotic, and intense.”
         Characteristics of Jazz Dance Today


• Bent knees, low center of
  gravity
• Body isolations
• Syncopation
• Pirouettes & high kicks
• Movement emanating
  from torso and pelvis
• Percussive movements
• Jazz shoes
                          Jazz Dance & Music
• Most jazz choreographers today
  work with current popular music,
  not jazz music; jazz dance has
  mostly separated from its original
  source
• However, there are a few jazz
  choreographers who believe that        Danny Buraczeski

  jazz dance should be done to jazz
  music
• Danny Buraczeski says “Jazz is
  such rich music. I don’t use it as
  atmosphere or background. The
  music is the subject matter.”
                   More About Music
                           • Billy Siegenfeld says that jazz
                             dance must have “swing,” which is
                             a syncopated rhythm (accents on
                             the offbeat)
                           • He says “jazz dance must be
                             judged for its “jazzness” by the
                             same criterion applied to jazz
                             music…It’s the rhythm…not the
                             melody, and not the harmony.”
                           • “As a proponent of swinging jazz
                             dance…I feel that this yoking of
                             rock music and jazz movement
                             constitutes a paradox. I am
                             interested in challenging this
                             practice.”
                           • His company is the Jump Rhythm
Billy Siegenfeld             Jazz Project
Mia Michaels
       • Has her own company,
         Reality at Work (R.A.W.),
         and choreographs
         musicals
       • Has toured Korea, Europe,
         and US
       • Unisex style which
         sometimes requires
         women to lift men
       • Uses huge dynamic range,
         ear-high extensions, and
         balletic leg beats.
                        Twyla Tharp
• Choreographer/director of Movin’
  Out, (opened in 2002) on Broadway,
  with music by Billy Joel; about a
  group of friends as they move
  through the decades
• Named “Best Show of the Year” by
  Time Magazine
• Tharp also has her own modern
  dance company, and has
  choreographed for ballet companies
• She has choreographed films
  including White Nights with
  Barishnikov and Gregory Hines, and
  Amadeus
• She has been awarded 17 honorary
  doctorates
                          Susan Stroman
                                 • Directed & choreographed
                                   Mel Brooks’ The
                                   Producers, winner of the
                Contact
                                   2001 “Best Musical” Tony
                                   Award
                                 • Created Contact (1999), a
                                   Broadway musical based
                                   on three stories told in
                                   dance; she says, “Every
                                   step I do is plot-oriented.”
                                 • Has also choreographed
                                   for the Martha Graham
                                   Dance Co. and the New
                                   York City Ballet
The Producers
                Savion Glover
In 1996, at the age of 22,
Glover created (with
George Wolfe) Bring in
Da’ Noise, Bring in Da’
Funk. This show traced
the history of Black
Americans including
slavery, chain gangs, and
street life, but didn’t have
a plot or characters.
Dancing was the primary
focus of the show.
          Jazz & Musical Theatre Dance Today
• Musical Theatre Dance today is
  still strongly based on jazz
  dance, although other
  influences are also apparent
• There are many varieties of jazz
  dance today, including African,
  lyrical, modern, and rock
• Jazz dance has responded over
  the decades to the needs and
  desires of those doing it, from
  social dance to professional
  performance
• Related trends like break
  dancing and hip hop have also
  influenced jazz dance
• Jazz dance remains strongly
  linked to the popular music of
  our time
                           References for Images
http://www.adzido-pan-african-dance.co.uk/images/sepdanc.jpg
www.miracosta.cc.ca.us/Dance/jazz.gif
http://www.lindyhopping.com/pics/charleston.jpg
www.swingdanceuk.com/Simon.htm
http://membersaol.com/movieboy3/bin402.jpg
http://members.aol.com/mgmfanatic/stlouis1.jpg
www.rnh.com/news/spring2002/graphics/oklahoma.gif
Hometown.aol.com/starwarse/fan/images/honesty-image(1).jpg
www.theatredance.com/choreographers/jcole.gif
www.100megstree4.com/csministries/moviepics/gentlemen.jpg
www.encoremusic.com/piano/1700516.htm
www.streetswing.com/histmain/gif/1lndyhp2.gif
http://www.lcqworks.com/movies/pictures/singing%20in%20th
e%20rain.html
www.pbs.org/wnet/freetodance/behind/images/4a.gif
http://www.luigijazz.com/images/testil.gif
http://www.uttyler.edu/cowan/season/gifs/fosse.jpg
www.imagination.com/moonstruck/chicago.gif
Web2.htrigg.smu.edu/…/Fall97/DC.09-10-97/jazz.gif
                       References cont.’

•   www.talentcastmodels.com/images/mia_dance.jpg
•   http://www.dancespirit.com/images/backissues/ang01/ontap.jpg
•   http://www.arborweb.com/images/twylatharp.jpg
•   www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/moving_out.jpg
•   http://citypaper.net/articles/012402pcis/th.contact.jpg
•   http://www.jorgeplace.com/SusanStroman_producers2.jpg
•   http://www.dance-centre.com/images/opening
•   http://www.richardavedon.com/editorial2004 (Glover)
•   http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00790/Haley/History%20Of%20Jazz%20Dance%20
    done.htm
•   Reynolds, Nancy & McCormick, Malcolm. No Fixed Points. New Haven: Yale
    University Press, 2003.
•   Stearns, Jean and Marshall. Jazz Dance. New York: Schirmer Books, 1964.
•   Ambrosio, Nora. Learning About Dance. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing
    Co., 2003.
•   Sigenfeld, Billy. “If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music!” in Dance Teacher Now, October,
    1990, pp 50-54.

				
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