“Jazz; that’s kinda like ballet, right?”

Dancers ages 9-11 are invited to a free trial of Jazz 1 on Tuesdays in September at The Capoeira Spot!
…but what is jazz dance? 

When you think of jazz music, what comes to mind?

Maybe you think of 1920s swing era jazz, like Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing, or 1950s era Dave Bruebeck’s “Take Five” (this is what I think of!). Now, think of all the dances people did to those–and other popular styles of music:

Like the “Black Bottom” from the 1920s:

black bottom









or Lindy Hop of the 1940s:


…and groovin’ to 1970s R&B and funk:

This, folks, is American Jazz Dance.

Textbook definition:

“Jazz dance mirrors the social history of the American people, reflecting ethnic influences, historical events, and cultural changes. Jazz dance has been greatly influenced by social dance and popular music…the two forms evolved together, each echoing and affecting developments in the other,”  (from “Jump into Jazz” by Minda Goodman Kraines & Esther Pryor”).

…or what you’d tell your neighbor:

“Well, ‘Jazz dance–like jazz music–developed from all of the popular dance trends and cultural influences in America over the years.'”

In jazz class, we teach our students pieces of American history through movement, such as a chasse ball change from the lindy hop, shuffling feet and rolling hips from African and Latin cultures, or popping shoulder and chest isolations seen in Broadway shimmys or Hip Hop. The core movements of these historical dance styles–as well as those of ballet and modern techniques–contribute to jazz dance technique. Learning them helps the student develop rhythm, coordination, range of motion and control of individual body parts, and more. We also focus on flexibility, core strength, individual self-expression, and improvisation. Who knows: you could create the next jazz trend!

What does jazz look like now?

Here is an example of intermediate jazz dancers working on their turning skills in what we call across-the-floor “progressions:”

…and here’s the kind of contemporary jazz we see on So You Think You Can Dance:

…and don’t forget our beginning jazz dancers from DDA’s first year-end production, “Starry Night:”


DDA’s jazz classes are available for boys and girls ages 6+.


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