JAZZ DANCE: Any of various dances characterized by the use of improvisation and influenced by rhythms and techniques of jazz music.

After centuries of ballet, jazz dance was introduced in the 1900s. With the end of World War I, people started to enjoy life and lived it to the fullest. This was time of the “flapper.” People went to cabarets, night clubs and speakeasies that replaced ballrooms. Dance became more informal, embracing and switched partners.

The birthplace of jazz can not be pinpointed to one spot. Places like New Orleans, St. Louis and Memphis are some of the places that jazz originated from. The music had a connotation to sex.

True jazz can be characterized by certain features, such as the beats are stressed on two and four and not one and three. The tempos were often fast and upbeat.

Swing dancing can be classified under jazz dance. In the 1930s, swing dancing took place and used side-to-side movement. The accented beats allowed dancers to do swing steps all over.

Since the beginning of the jazz era, jazz dance has evolved into multiple forms. Dancers have taken the basics of jazz and incorporated their own style to any type of music. Although jazz and swing music are still popular, other types of music have been adopted into the jazz dance.

Here is a brief time line:

1920s was the Jazz Age that featured Louis Armstrong with dances such as the Charleston.

1930s was the time of Swing that featured Duke Ellington with dances such as the Lindy Hop.

1940s was the the time of Bebop that featured Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie with dances such as the Jitterbug.

1950s was the time of Cool Jazz that featured Miles Davis with dances such as the Stroll.

1960s was the time of Free Jazz that featured John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor with dances such as the Twist.

1970s was the time of Jazz Rock Fusion that featured Herbie Hancock and Mahavishnu Orchestra with dances such as the Hustle.

1980s was the time of Contemporary Jazz that featured Bobby McFerrin and Michael Brecker with dances such as the Electric slide.

1990s was the time of Acid Jazz, yet Contemporary Jazz continued. It featured The David Pavkovic Band and Groove Collective and the Hip Hop influence began.