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What is Jazz Ballet?

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By Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Jazz Ballet or Jazz Dance as taught and examined at a dance school or competition today is basically another deviation of classical ballet, although it hasn’t always been this way originally developing from strong African American roots with references to early Caribbean dance.

Today a great jazz dancer requires technique, flexibility, and strength to showcase dynamic movement, fluidity as well as percussive sharpness with their bodies.

Jazz dance is a cornerstone of any multidisciplinary dance school. Once the domain of fan kicks and spirit fingers, as popular culture and music evolve so does jazz dance, with many sub-genres and styles being created from its core. Jazz lessons can differ from teaching classic traditional style to incorporating the latest moves from music videos into a class.

Some movement forms that characterize Jazz dance are moving from a parallel position of the feet, dynamic jumps, isolations of the ribcage, body rolls, high kicks, fan kicks, strong and sharp arms, and head movements, and of course those spirit fingers.

Some popular variations of Jazz Dance that are taught within one or in separate classes are Jazz Ballet, Broadway or Musical Jazz, JFH (Jazz/Funk/Hip hop), lyrical jazz, and burlesque.

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!