What is Street Jazz?

By Lesley Mealor / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Street jazz is a lively, eclectic and unique form of jazz dance that focuses on movement that evolved outside of a studio setting; “in the streets”, if you will. Drawing from an individual form of expression, street jazz includes elements of house, vogueing, wacking, locking, popping, and improvisation for a high energy class.

While jazz dance itself grew out of the African diaspora and grew to include social dance styles, which were highly improvisational in nature, it was later codified into a structure that included elements of ballet and modern dance. Street jazz is a branch of that original jazz dance family tree, developing in the late 70s and 80s as pop culture shifted to a more tv and music video focused world. 

A street jazz class will follow the traditional class structure including a warm up, across the floor exercises, and combinations in the center. In a street jazz class, you will likely wear street clothes, sneakers or trainers, and dance to popular funk or R&B music with a percussive rhythm. The emphasis is more on individuality, intricate movement patterns, and individuality and less on perfect technique or flexibility. 

Some famous street dancers include sisters Norah, Yarah and Rosa, Toni Basil, Mr. Wiggles, and The Fly Girls from “In Living Color”.

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!

About the Author

Lesley Mealor

Lesley Mealor is a dance industry professional, with over 15 years of experience in all facets of the dance world, from dance education and adjudication, to dance retail and product development, to on-stage experience. A graduate of Oklahoma City University with a degree in Dance Performance, Lesley serves as the co-host of Making the Impact - A Dance Competition Podcast, and is a director of events for Spirit of Dance Awards. She resides in New York City with her plants and her cat, Charlotte.