Jazz As a Dance Form
Few people these days know about the real origin of jazz music, and even fewer people understand the origin of jazz as a dance form. There are many influences that helped shaped the form of jazz. Since there are so many, it’s difficult to point to any one of them as the true origin.
Jazz has a lot of theoretical birthplaces but it’s one true home is New Orleans. New Orleans became the first “melting pot” of America before that term was even coined. It was common for there to be influences in culture from French, Spanish, German, English, and former slaves and black free men and women. This was the perfect place for such a blended and mixed musical style to call home.
Jazz dance of course had to be just as unique and different as the music it was meant to be an expression of. Jazz was much more ‘brazen’ than dance in the past had been and at the time of course seemed a little bit immodest or impolite. Mainstream, wealthy, and polite society of course had no interest in it. However there were still many places where the dance form was readily embraced. For the most part, at least in the beginning, it was only in underground cultural circles that you might find it. It then made it’s way into popular culture later.
Jazz music dance was popular and then went fairly underground again, except in certain places like Memphis, Kansas City, New Orleans, and St. Louis where it is a very deep part of the culture. In recent years there has been a resurgence of this once popular music and dance style and certain musicians bringing back the ‘big band’ style sound that went along with jazz as both a music and dance form.
When it comes to dancing in the jazz form, there are no real rules you have to follow. It’s not rigid as a style like many other styles have to be. The most notable form is ‘tap dance’ but jazz dance is definitely not limited to that. Many other styles fall under the large category of ‘jazz dance.’