Jazz Dance is a classification shared by a broad range of dance styles. Before the 1950s, Jazz Dance referred to various dance styles. In the 1950s, a new genre of Jazz Dance, modern Jazz Dance, emerged, with roots in Caribbean traditional dance. Every individual style of Jazz Dance has roots traceable to this distinct origin. Jazz was a big hit in the early 50's and it is still a well loved style of dance all over the world.
Beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s, Jazz Dance transformed into a theatre-based performance form of dance that required trained dancers. Choreographers from the modern and ballet dance worlds experimented with the Jazz Dance style. Jazz Dance was profoundly influenced by Caribbean and other Latin American dance styles.
Throughout its history, Jazz Dance has developed in parallel to popular music. This pattern of development has resulted in a few elements of movement key to the dance style, the most important being that jazz is the physical embodiment of the popular music of a given time. Syncopated rhythm is a common characteristic in jazz music that was adapted to Jazz Dance in the early twentieth century and has remained a significant characteristic.
Improvisation was, and still is, an important element of Jazz Dance, as it is an important element of jazz music.
A low centre of gravity and high level of energy are other important identifying characteristics of Jazz Dance. Other elements of Jazz Dance are less common and are the stylizations of their respective choreographers. One such example are the inverted limbs and hunched-over posture of Bob Fosse.
Notable directors, dancers, and choreographers:
Michael Bennett, director, writer, choreographer, and dancer who was a tony award winner. "A Chorus Line" and "Dream Girls" are examples of some of his work.
Busby Berkley, movie choreographer in the 1930s and 1940s famous for geometric pattern and kaleidoscopic arrangements
Jack Cole, considered the father of Jazz Dance technique. He was a key inspiration to Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, and many other choreographers.
Bob Fosse, a noted jazz choreographer who created a new form of Jazz Dance that was inspired by Fred Astaire and the burlesque and vaudeville styles.
Michael Jackson, known as "The King of Pop"
Gene Kelly, award winning dance film icon. Known for continuing his career for over 60 years. Work can be found in "Singin' in the Rain" and "On the Town".
Jerome Robbins, choreographer for a number of hit musicals, including "Peter Pan", "The King and I", "Fiddler on the Roof", "Gypsy", "Funny Girl" and "West Side Story".