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The History Of Jazz Dance

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People have their own opinion on how and where Jazz dance originated from, but truthfully it actually originates from Africa. The Jazz dance that we know today is the evolved vernacular dance style of Africa. Very early versions of Jazz dance date back to the slave trade. America would take people from Africa to come and work for their cotton plantations and other work forms as slaves. On these cotton plantations the slaves weren’t aloud to communicate, if they communicated with one-another they would be punished.

To avoid being punished or worse, killed, the slaves had to get think smart about how they were going to communicate with each other. So they developed their own communication system without using words. They would use sounds and rhythms and they would also pat different parts of the body, as well as use objects to communicate. I think this was a really clever idea, because the rule was that they were not aloud to talk, they did not say anything about making sounds to communicate. They knew the slave owners would catch on eventually to what they were doing so they became smart with how they did it. They would maybe have a short conversation using these sounds and rhythms and then they would leave it for a couple of days just so it does not look too obvious that they were actually talking.

This way of communication then became a dance style known as Juba Dancing, this style is still being used today in modern times. Perhaps the best example of modern Juba dancing is in the musical Stomp, where the cast make sounds by patting parts of their bodies and use objects to create a sound. When the slave trade ended in 1807 the slaves now had their freedom, so there was so need to have to use Juba dance as a communication method anymore. This meant the evolution of Jazz dance took a break for a long time. The next step in the evolution of Jazz dance is the Charleston. The Charleston is the evolved version of Juba, Early examples of Charleston still shared many of Juba’s qualities, early mentions of Charleston date back as far as 1903.

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By the 1920’s Charleston had evolved into the rhythmic and crazy style we know it as today, thanks to the American Boom of the 1920s dance halls opened up all over the country and people were doing this crazy, expressive and fun style. It was popular among black communities because of the elements it shares with Juba. The change in music in that time also plays a part in Juba evolving into Charleston. Examples of Charleston are seen in modern dance styles today, most notably Break Dancing.

As we move into the late 1920s and early 1930s, a new style known as Lindy Hop has become popular. Lindy Hop gets its name from an American military officer called Charles Lindbergh, who in 1929 flew from America to Paris, when he did this the newspapers read “LINDY HOPS THE ATLANTIC” and thats where the name comes from. Although Lindy Hop is a partner dance it is slightly similar to the Charleston. If you watch an example of Lindy Hop it looks like a more upright and slower version of the Charleston just with a partner. Many people believe that Lindy Hop is the early predecessor to Rock n Roll. I personally believe that Lindy Hop as a style never changed, the speed in which it is danced changed because music got quicker and became more upbeat as the years went on but essentially it just changed its name.

After Lindy Hop people called it Jive and then some people referred to it as Boogy Woogy and then after that, thats when Rock n Roll got its name. Rock n Roll became the most popular style of dance in the 1950s and 60s everybody enjoyed dancing Rock n Roll. The reason that Rock n Roll was so popular was because of the music at that time.

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The History Of Jazz Dance. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from
“The History Of Jazz Dance.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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