Jazz Dance

What do you imagine if you hear the word combination “jazz dance”? Crazy performers doing the Charleston in the nightclub somewhere in Harlem? Or probably recover Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly’s jazz dancing pictures where they are performing in front of an amused audience in Broadway musicals? Or you may wonder about the mastery of competitive dancers kicking, stepping, and strutting in their glittering costumes on a stage.

All these images are correct, and there is much more behind them. To learn more jazz dance facts, starting with the main thing is important. It is a type of modern dance affected by jazz music's rhythms, sounds, and techniques. This style is mostly individual, with a strong emphasis on showcasing skills. Jazz dancers are usually masters of improvisation, and watching professional jazz dance groups is a true pleasure. They are always so cooperative in achieving the desired look and feel.


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      In fact, jazz dance is uniquely American. It emphasizes syncopation, isolation, and groundedness. Though many people believe that it has changed into a commercial commodity and is continuously losing its African dance roots.

      Since this dancing style has become immensely popular in Canada nowadays, “Hips Don’t Lie” dedicates its mission to the preservation of the classic jazz form of this stunning style. We are a prominent Canadian dance company in Toronto and GTA that offers jazz classes and performances. Our best entertainment acts for hire can become a great addition to the festive mood of your celebrations and special days.

      If you want to get more jazz dance information, you have also arrived at the right place. So, let’s come together.

      History of Jazz Music and Dance

      So, what is a jazz dance meaning? It is a social dance style. It originated at the beginning of the 20th century from the blend created by African American dancers. They attempted to combine traditional African movements with European-style features.

      When we follow the entire jazz dance history, we can see that, though born at closed social gatherings, jazz dances were meant for performances. The format was a call and response, like in jazz music. Accordingly, there was a lot of room for improvisation. Jazz dance teams created conversations between their bodies on the one hand and the musicians and their instruments on the other. Pairing traditionally eye-catching African movements with the structure of such European dances as the Charleston and the Cakewalk added a lot of stunning vibe to the style.

      Therefore, what is jazz dance as the first jazz dancer might see it? In 1917, the first dance of this kind appeared, inspired by the jazz pianist Spencer Williams and his highly rhythmic song “Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble.” To dance jazz variations like this, a performer held the body still, apart from the shoulders that moved back and forth.

      jazz dance style 1

      The Charleston and the Lindy Hop appeared at that time. They became the basis for the first and the best jazz dance performance activities. People used to enjoy Lindy Hop and jazz dancing when the Great Depression started in October 1929. Apart from these styles, Aubrielle was also popular. Those three styles became known as swing dances.

      Though it is difficult to provide a contemporary jazz dance definition, what we know as a jazz dance performance today is the result of television shows’ influence and the deliberate work of many dance companies and choreographers, such as Mandy Moore and Sonya Tayeh. Some other types of jazz dance, like commercial jazz, popular in the 1980s, can be seen in different music videos. For example, clips by Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. Both varieties - commercial jazz and contemporary jazz - became featured at competitions.

      There is one more jazz dance style, Latin jazz, developed by Maria Torres and popularized at Broadway Dance Center. It places emphasis on isolation and hip movements. You can see this style in different TV dance shows and in films such as “El Cantante” and “ Dance with Me.”

      “Hips Don’t Lie” follows the trends of jazz dance in Toronto's development and popularity. So, we feature almost all contemporary jazz styles, and our professional jazz dance troupe and experienced instructors will provide the most unforgettable emotions to our clients.

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      What Is Jazz Dance? - Routines and Features

      So, what is jazz dancing, and what do its routines look like? Most jazz dance companies in North America are committed to including jazz style or works influenced by it in their repertoire.

      If you are a beginner or just want to get the jazz dance explained, you need to know and recognize several simple moves. They are the following:

      1. Ball change - a quick shift of the weight from one foot to the other.
      2. Box step or jazz square - the move creates a square pattern on the floor by stepping across, back, to the side, and, finally, to the front.
      3. Chasse looks like a gallop with pointed toes because dancers jazz by taking a step out in any direction, and then they jump, “chasing” one leg with the other and landing on the first leg.
      4. Charleston - the common move for this dance where dancers shift their weight from one leg to the other and kick the free leg out at an oblique angle, either in the forward or backward direction.
      5. Jazz Pas de Bouree - dancers make three steps transferring their weight quickly from one foot to the other.

      You feel intrigued, don’t you? If you want to get a complete jazz dance description or the overall idea of what this style looks like, come to “Hips Don’t Lie.” We are a well-known jazz dance company in Toronto with a lot of experience and dedication in this very style and many others, so you will be truly entertained and amazed.

      jazz dance style 2

      Something About Jazz Dance Styles and Subgenres

      If you have watched a jazz competition or attended classes, you might have noticed differences in style between various jazz dance groups. These differences are a result of several subgenres’ development.

      Many jazz dance companies, studios, and choreographers created different subgenres to attract public and business attention. For instance, if a person knows something about Funk music and dance, they may get interested in the offer of Jazz Funk classes or performances because they sound similar to these people. Competitions that announce both Modern Jazz and Lyrical Jazz in their program can attract a wider audience, and more tickets will be sold out.

      Let’s look at the most popular subgenres of the jazz dance style and how they are developed or interpreted by professionals.

      Jazz Funk

      This subgenre derives a lot from Hip Hop but is also influenced by ballet and Modern dances. In fact, the jazz dance means the bridge between African American and European cultures, even though it is considered the African American style in the USA and Canada.

      For those enthusiasts who wanted to dance Funk or Hip Hop but didn’t feel comfortable with African or jazz music, Jazz Funk became a crossover style.
      Nowadays, performers of funk jazz dance in Toronto use pop music that involves the features of Funk and Hip Hop. The moves here are a combination of conventional jazz steps and the figures that appeared after 1970.

      Jazz Funk

      Lyrical Jazz

      Percussion or brass is essential in the Jazz style. However, many performers of jazz dancing in Toronto and different parts of the USA and Canada got fascinated by the emotional ballads featured in music videos. So, lyrics started to play an important role in the history of jazz dance and its development. Therefore, many American and Canadian dance companies began to release the shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” where they called dancing to music with lyrics “Lyrical jazz.” The choreography in them combined jazz steps with the lyrical content, which made the dance more expressive.

      The movements represented in this subgenre are slower, smoother, and more ballet-like, meant to match a lyrical song better.

      Lyrical Jazz

      Modern Dance Jazz

      This style is more grounded than Modern dance, so it makes a bridge between Modern and Jazz with its more technical approach. Marta Graham was a pioneer of modern dance with her unique manner of “Contraction and Release.” The choreography here aims to express freeing and constricting emotions shown by the head position. This technique is widely used in Modern Jazz, paired with rhythmic jazz-like steps.

      Modern Dance Jazz

      Commercial Jazz

      A jazz dance troupe working in this subgenre is aimed at professional and highly paid work and advertisements. The choreography is often encountered in music videos. You can see it in Britney Spears, Paula Abdul, and Janet Jackson’s video performances. The dancers usually do jazz squares and Pas de Bourees in the background of their presentations. They make an emphasis on trendy moves, abrupt turns, and tricky jumps.

      Commercial Jazz

      What Role Does Jazz Dance Play in Modern Dance Culture?

      The initial meaning of jazz dance has been preserved by the efforts of every local jazz dance group and company that performs on the market today. Nowadays, it is recognized as the Number One American dance style that is also well-appreciated in Canada.

      The prominent dance professionals emphasize the importance of the jazz style in contemporary dance education. They have developed the sets of foundation requirements for new dancers and dance teachers based on the achievements of previous choreographers and presenters.

      New trends also appear in this field, such as Electro-Swing, but they also follow traditional approaches. Coming back to the original jazz music of the 1920s is also an excellent trend that ensures a prominent place for this style in social spaces.

      jazz dance style 3

      The new developments get inspiration from American cultural history and the unforgettable works of such dancers and choreographers as Katherine Dunham, Jack Cole, Josephine Baker, Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Talley Beatty, Cyd Charisse, pat Taylor, and many others.

      If you want to get an authentic learning experience, find a professional jazz dance group near me and opt for in-person or online classes. If you want to learn the basic techniques, “Hips Don’t Lie” is the right place for you.

      We are also the best option if you are searching for jazz dance troupes for hire near me. Our well-known and highly professional company offers the best dance acts for hire for any special occasion. We are open to your requests, requirements, and ideas, trying to follow the jazz dance traditions and implement the new stylistic findings on the floor.

      You will be impressed by a variety of offers related to jazz and other dancing styles from “Hips Don’t Lie.” If you are interested in our latest idea of the 5-style performance, our classes, and shows, contact us now.

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      What is jazz dance?
      Jazz style is a mixture of African American dancing movements, music, and choreography with classic European dancing presentations. Actually, it is a bridge between African American and European cultural traditions.

      Why is it called jazz dance?
      The style got its name from the musical direction of jazz that appeared in New Orleans due to the efforts and talent of African American musicians. Using jazz music for dancing performances formed the grounds for calling a newborn dance style “Jazz.”

      What is jazz dance known for?
      This dance is known for its intensive rhythms, extreme syncopation, and groundedness of all movements that emerged from African dancing styles and European ballet traditions, as well as for its isolation moves presented on the floor. Jazz style is uniquely American, and it is gaining more and more popularity in Canada and many European countries.

      What are the 5 characteristics of jazz dance?
      This style is characterized by its clearly expressed syncopation. It is performed in different types of music, beginning with jazz and ending with pop music. The dance also combines the features of Hip Hop, Lindy Hop, Charleston, and the Cakewalk. Groundedness and isolation are also their characteristics. The dance provides a lot of space for showcasing and improvisation, and this characteristic is also worth mentioning.

      What are 3 facts about jazz dance?
      If you want to know more about this style, there are many interesting facts related to it. The most amazing ones are probably the following. First, it is a bridge between African American and European cultures. Then it appeared at the beginning of the 20th century and became extremely popular during the Great Depression in America. Finally, dance has been continuously developing, so several subgenres, like Modern or Lyrical Jazz, may differ greatly in their choreography and basic elements.

      If you want to learn more, visit our “Hips Don’t Lie” studio in Toronto.

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