By: Natasha Archary
If you’ve watched any of those reality talent shows, you’d be familiar with the different forms of dance and music genres that jazz influenced over the years.
Shows like “So you think you can dance,” “America’s got talent”, and their worldly spin-offs have been a platform for art in the form of dance to take center stage.
The fluid, dramatic and emotional movements of contemporary dance has been closely slated as the epitome of jazz dance. And that’s not far off the mark. The fusion, experimental and exuberant bursts of choreography from contemporary dance forms encompasses the smooth and syncopated moves of jazz almost perfectly.
The origin story
Last week, we touched on the impact jazz has had on American cultureand we shared that jazz was first introduced in the US from as early as the 1920s. With origins linked to Africa before the slave trade in America, we know that somatic culture with regards to African dance heavily influenced not just the music but dance too.
The explosive, sensual and rhythmic movements from traditional African dance can be seen in many contemporary dance routines. African dance defied racism. It was birthed in a time where being black meant silencing right and the emotions that were given life from the dance was enough to be heard.
Other dances that jazz influenced
While contemporary dance is seen as the more classical of the dance genres, jazz also influenced the not so classical with moves that were unleashed from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These include: The Charleston, Jitterbug, Cakewalk, Black Bottom, Boogie Woogie, Swing (made popular by Dirty Dancing)and Lindy Hop.
New Orleans became one of the hot spots for jazz clubs in the US and due to the vibrant setting and chilled vibe, jazz lounges took the world by storm with many countries soon adopting the culture.
There are a few really good jazz bars, lounges and clubs in South Africa as a result of the country’s love for all things jazz.
Move to the rhythm
With jazz moving on to other parts of the world, the eclectic beats and movements of the areas that welcomed the music, soon meant it became a monster all its own. Latin fusion, for one turned the magic of the harmony into something else.
Pulsating melodies and a faster beat meant dance moves and choreography had to match and sexier, hip gyrating turned jazz into something else. It soon progressed into an ever evolving genre of music as can be attested to throughout the month of Jazzuary on Kaya FM.