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Jazz Dance History

and Famous
The student will have a clear

understanding of the development of

jazz dance as an American art form.
Identify the major works of

historically significant jazz dance

Compare and contrast the works of

these choreographers using proper

dance vocabulary.

Definition and Origin

Definition of Jazz Dance
A stylized form of theatrical dancing
conceived in America, given birth by the
established and varied techniques of
dance (folk and classical) brought to us by
our ancestors from every corner of the
world, and influenced by the musical styles
of each succeeding decade. Jazz is a blend
of African dance, European classical dance
and American Modern dance.

Jazz Dance Styles

The Blues:
Modern Jazz
West Coast

Katherine Dunham
Katherine Dunham: combined AfroCarribean styles with modern and ballet
idioms. She was very influential on the
development of jazz dance in America. She
researched folk forms from her birth place
of Haiti and theatricalized them.
Appeared in 1940 dancing in Le Jazz Hot
1943: Her dancers appeared in the film,
Stormy Weather

Katherine Dunham

Pearl Primus
Pearl Primus: incorporated more African
dance traditions into her movement.
During the 1940s she performed mixed
elements of dance including: African,
Carribean, African American rhythms to her
Concert Dance Performer

Pearl Primus

a. Agnes De Mille: originally came from a ballet

background but stepped out of those roots to ad

emotional connections to the story line and express
the writers ideas solely through movement. It was
her choreography that spawned the use of jazz, folk,
ethnic, ballroom, classical ballet combinations to
create what we know as jazz. Shows
choreographed include:
i. Oklahoma: 1943
ii. Carousel: 1945
iii.Brigadoon: 1947

Agnes De Mille

Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly: was actually a teacher in
Pittsburg at the Gene Kelly school of
dance. Went off to Broadway and much
success. He later went on to
choreograph, dance, act and star in
feature films. His style was acrobatic,
airy and comical. Musicals
choreographed include:
Anchors Aweigh: 1945
Zeigfeld Follies: 1946
American in Paris: 1951
Singin in the Rain: 1952

Gene Kelly

Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins: his choreography
was graceful and elegant but added
comic elements. He is sometimes
noted as the true father of jazz dance
and he required his dancers to act as
well as move. This took dance direction
of a musical to a new level. His works
Wonderful Town: 1953
Fiddler on the Roof: 1964
West Side Story: 1957

Jerome Robbins

Bob Fosse
Bob Fosse: sexy, provocative and on the
cutting edge. Was a performer and trained
dancer in musicals before he went onto
direction and choreography. Used isolations
heavily in his style. Basically took what
Robbins did and pushed the boundaries.
Damn Yankees: 1955
Sweet Charity: 1969
Cabaret: 1972
Chicago: 1975

Bob Fosse


Read Article and we will share thoughts on
the development of jazz dance in America.
Please answer questions on the worksheet.