How to choreograph a jazz dance

Ksenia's Blog 6 Tips On How To Create A Choreography In Solo Jazz Dance • Ksenia's Secrets Of Solo

Here are 6 major tips and ideas that will help you work towards a wholesome solo jazz dance choreography rather than create just another combination of some classic jazz steps rearranged in a different way. To make sure that each decision in your choreography is a choice and you are saying something with it it is important to think of this tips.

"The Art of Starting or The Magic of Inspiration"

When we talk about creating choreography in solo jazz dance, or creating absolutely anything, there is always a presence of the Mysterious and Charming Angel of Inspiration. I think nowadays there is quite a sober attitude to the magic of inspiration as the main source of any creation. I really like the quote from composer John Williams, who created scores for Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones:

The romantic notions of how inspiration comes are just that - notions. Composing music is hard work. Any working composer or painter or sculpture will tell you that inspiration comes at the eight hour of labour, rather than as a bolt out of a blue

John Williams

Another idea concerning inspiration is from the famous Russian writer Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol. I noticed this when I was very young. He spoke about how every day he would sit in front of a white piece of paper. He would sharpen his pencil almost as a ritual to get into the “zone” and think, wait, until the idea or a phrase came, to write it down. The key here is to actually start doing whatever you decided to create. Come to the studio, take a brush, sit in front of the piano….

The art of making a choice

When you go into the creation process on your solo jazz dance choreography you will face one big task - making a choice. Making a choice can be the hardest thing on earth if you have no idea of what is the end picture. Equally it can be quite exciting and enjoyable if you know in which even approximate direction you are going and what you are trying to say.

The creation process is the process of cutting and editing to limit the choices even more in order to use only what is best fitted to the end picture.


Another insightful though on making choices. We might think that when we create choreography that we have an infinite amount of possibilities and option. It might frighten us or vice versa excite. But that is not the truth. As Jonathan Burrows writes in "A choreographer's hand book", we can only do what we can do and we can't do what we can't do. Very simple idea though so unusual and insightful to think that in creation we are already limited in fact. This idea help to manage how I work with my body and with my skills. Similarly help me in how I envision the choreography and how much I decide to push the boundaries or not.

Below I am going to describe in great detail 6 tips on how to on how to create a choreography in solo jazz dance. Although I number each idea and present it in a linear way in this blog, it's important to mention that it doesn't really happen linear when I work. The thought process and direction of attention described in each stage can overlap and happen in a moment. What is important, is to think of these point,  ask yourself related questions to make sure that each decision in your choreography is a choice.

1. Analyse of the music

Composing of any art form relies on the same processes. In some sense it is a task of making choices, which is the hardest task of all, I think.  From the world of body movement, we chop and cut and choose until we refine what fits the best way to our idea. By making choices I mean the process of narrowing down and limiting your options that will lead you to harmonic and wholesome piece. To help make choices when creating a choreography in solo jazz dance we can use our intuition and creative sense or if those are sleeping - guidelines.

Stage I: Make a general overview of a song

Majority of the time I start with the tune for my solo jazz or any other choreography. I hear a song that inspires and moves me, that makes me want to dance. If you are starting with the music as well, to create a routine or a simple choreography, first of all pick and analyse the structure of your tune. I will give an example of how I work with standard jazz tunes.

  1. listen to the tune a few times;
  2. figure out what’s the form. If it’s jazz, blues, something else
  3. get to know your AABA form or any other form AB, ABC, ABCD etc;
  4. figure out the solo parts:
    • how many solos
    • what instruments are soloing
    • how long is the solo (ex. over 1 form or more)
    • are solos purely for 1 instruments or is there a dialog of 2 or more soloists
  5. do musicians trade 4’s
  6. are there any other fills, shifts, bridges

I'd love to give the example of my latest choreography Broad Way, because the memory of creating it is so fresh. The structure of the tune “Broadway” by Oscar Peterson is AABA, it’s a jazz tune. I have the “head” melody of AABA, then guitar solo with some lovely piano fills over 2 AABA forms. Then piano solo over 2 full AABA forms, AAB and then back to the “head” A part, looping the last 4 bars three times for the ending of the tune.

Stage II: Make an Emotional Analysis of a jazz song

Sense your jazz tune from the “emotional” point of view:

  1. what’s the VIBE (dramatic, funny, lyrical, etc)
  2. what’s the COLOUR of the tune (dark - light or maybe it has a specific color as well). I like how by feeling or seeing the color in your imagination you can evoke certain emotions. That can help in choosing the pace of the dance, the costume.
  3. what is the MOOD (in what mood does the song put you, which mood does it create; for instance melancholic, enthusiastic / driven, joyful, preoccupied, humorous, romantic, mellow, etc. )
  4. what is the DEVELOPMENT of the tune: where is the up and down of the energy and drive; where is the main point from which the tune takes off (or maybe it doesn’t really take off and go on the same level of the intensity?)

When this thought process happened, you know your tune, you have your mood, you can go into the details.

An example:

To me, the first association with the tune for my solo jazz choreography “Broad Way” choreography was “orange sunrise”.The bright color, bleeding on to the grey world. Fresh, free-spirited awakening feel of the sunrise. The joy and tenderness of the beginning of the new day. Combining with the feel of the movement that I wanted to use, inspired by my studies in Senegal. The image of the sun rising on the horizon, that image that one can see in the painting of African savannah. The image that I saw every morning in Toubab Dialaw, waking up at 6 am and stretching, greeting the sun,  preparing for the day of classes in Ecole Des Sables. So the keywords are orange, sun, beginning, awakening, tenderness.

Ksenia Parkhatskaya in her solo jazz dance choreography "Broad Way"
Stage III: Go into the Specifics of the jazz tune

When you are diving deeper into your tune, ask yourself if there are any particular interesting RHYTHM BREAKS that the drummer does, maybe you can learn it, scat it and create the dance move exactly to that rhythm.


A great inspiration for the footwork, phrasing and rhythm are RIFFS. Notice where, how many, what kind of riffs you have in a tune - maybe you can visualize them in your dance.

In the tune “Broadway” by Oscar Peterson you can hear a very strong riff / melody played by the piano in the “head” in all A parts. Listen to the first AA (B) A (00:10 - 00:51)  and the very last, closing A (04:04 - till the end). I learned the melody and dancing it. I find riffs fascinating, powerful and groovy.

Listen here to "Broadway" by Oscar Peterson .  Listen and feel are there any particular licks or runs that are catchy and strong.

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, (August 15, 1925 – December 23, 2007) a Canadian jazz pianist, virtuoso and composer.

In my “Broad Way” solo jazz dance choreography there were tons of them for me. Just to give a few examples:

1:07- 1:11 - those hanging notes, swinging brushes of movement. As you can see I really love to give adjectives and / or verbs to what I hear that helps me find the right voicing or movement;
1:42 - 1:50 - a wonderful repetitive run of guitar licks. Staying on one little phrase for a certain time can be really powerful;

2:46 - 2:54   &    3:24 - 3:42 - are one of my favorite moments, 2 parts of intensifying runs. A repetition and persistence of sorts:


One of the most powerful rhythms to me are PAUSES. Pay attention if there are some significant pauses in the melody, complete silence, breaks. What are you going to do with them is an artistic choice at each one.


The universe of the CONTEXT can open many doors to your search for the language you will use, costume, mood, story. Investigate if there is any interesting BACKGROUND OR STORY about the tune. Possibly it signifies an important event, describes the story of a person, move or action. If the tune represents a musical era or change of musical tradition, a way of playing you can implement it in your dance.

When you compose a part of the SOLO ask yourself which way does the soloist choose to play his part, what is the musical approach:

  1. has he chosen to be discreet in his playing;
  2. does he create a fountain of notes and tricks;
  3. did he invade with huge drops of chords;

It’s always interesting to dive into the state of the musicians and imagine his body movement. When I hear a certain musical phrase, I imagine did the pianist gently touched the keys as a raindrop or slammed them with a fat tension chord. Then I would listen deeply if he or she chose to play a phrase with loads of space spreading the notes to resonate or he decided to attack the phrase with a lashing rain of triplets. And then I myself as a dancer can choose to support, mimic or oppose it. Sometimes just enough to grab the feel, sentiment and use it, not necessarily dancing the exact solo part.

You can see in this little section guitar is playing lots of notes but I chose to step halftime, because the phrase for me was about the low key and preparation for something that’s about to come, so I prioritised it. Watch here:  1:52 - 2:00

2. Visualise choreography as a whole

There was a time when I started creating my own showcases when I was doing it like a Lego construction. I would just build it step after step, eight after eight, using all the vocabulary I have got in my bucket until it’s all used. This was my dance childhood and to be honest I do not consider that a choreography. I would more likely call it a routine.

Four Women

A choreography to me is something bigger, that has an overall thought, perspective, refined language, chosen image, symbol and etc. The first piece that I created in a different manner was “Four Women” (song by Nina Simone). It grabbed me with its ritualistic repetitiveness, almost a mantra- like melody and the strong story. That is when for the first time I envisioned the whole frame of the piece from the beginning till the end, distinguished the parts and imagined the language I would use for each part in order to underline the differences and at the same time support the common ground. Once this work of envisioning the whole piece was done, then I went inside into each part to find the movement and rhythm.

In the song “Four Women” there is a strong narrative, a story of four different black females. To tell that story in the movement I used the cue from the lyrics and chose to dance the piece facing 4 different directions, for each woman:

Aunt Sara(h) -  facing the audience with my back
Safronia - profile to the right supporting the words
Sweet Thing - profile to the left
In suspense, transition before the last story of Peaches, who to me was a representation of all the female characters in the song, I chose movement in a circle uniting the first 3 female characters.
Peaches - facing front to the audience

"S T A G E S" - a solo jazz dance choreography by Ksenia Parkhatskaya. Filmed in "The Everyman" Theatre in Cork, Ireland.

For instance, this choreography of mine, “S T A G E S” had already a very clear development and dramaturgy in the song “Shiny Stockings”.

It had clear ¾ part followed by 4/4, repeating this way twice. ¾ feel carried a sort of explorative mood, where 4/4 part, in contrast, had this confidence. Then the tune goes into double-time feel, that brings excitement and playfulness. After it jumps into a powerful drum section, that has this ritual, madness and challenge feel that takes over the dance and movement to bring it to a higher level. It goes to acceptance and then drops to a slow peaceful jazz feel, where you are swimming in comfort. The final part of the tune is the free-spirited improvisation, where you are in full control and you do not need the beat to carry you through and show you the way. You are the beat itself. Once I heard this and saw the mood of the dance developing through my movement and emotions, I could compose within each part, but the frame and the full development was there.

Envisioning the whole piece, even if you are not sure about the end or start helps you to create perspective, development, and unity without it looking like a broken mosaics of elements stuck together. It helps you create a framework within which it’s easier to work on details. It limits your choices, which is a good thing.

I like to watch my choreographies in my head, in my imagination screen. There you can do anything and you can direct as well.

3. Use improvisation as a way of choreographing in solo jazz dance 

I love to start with the improvisation. Sometimes it’s just an improvisation, sometimes I have a specific task for myself depending on the tune. I always film my improvisations so that after the rehearsal I can take a look at the videos and see what speaks to me, which parts I like in order to keep them for future development, or maybe none of it is there yet and I would need to keep searching. With the pieces that I like, I start forming, sculpting and making it mine. By the way, I do not always start from the top. Sometimes there is a part in the middle of the tune that I feel and hear and ready to choreograph. I go with the flow. It doesn’t have to be chronological.

For "Broad Way" my first few improvisations were with a task to use as much traditional African movement as I can. Then I found some moments that really felt groovy and with the music and used it in the choreography.

Improvisation helps me compose with big brushes rather that mili meter by mili meter of steps. It as well helps me avoid being too “mathematical” and predictable for myself. But to go with the feel, mood, color, musical phrases that vary.

4. Find specifics for your solo jazz choreography

Many of the methods I use now are actually to avoid the “mosaic” and “step-based” ways of choreographing (ie. to use all the new steps you know), in other words again to limit your choices.  Step-based, mosaic dance pieces all look very similar. Just some groovy stuff put together and that’s it. And if you raffle the steps maybe you can make 10 more routines out of it. That doesn’t interest me.  How to make one choreography different from another. Find the specifics for each one, the language, the core. Examples of the specifics:

  1. Compose a piece of 16 eights and then use only that material for the whole piece. Mix and match it, change rhythms, rotate, bring it up or down...but use only it. Many world class 1h contemporary pieces are based on a short movement sketch that is expanded with different tools.
  2. Make the core of your choreography for instance step variation (ie. make the fall of the log the star of your dance and play with it in all possible ways throughout)
. So many benefits to this one. You will open the door to your own curious and innovative laboratory. Your piece will become more personal and creative if you will start playing around and with your "focus move" instead of using tons of others steps.
  3. Your specific might hide in using directions. All you do for this or that reason you do it using 360 space.
  4. It can as well be a a choice of a certain specific and constant quality (ie. fluid, soft, robotic, angular, rigid, sporadic, etc)

Think of it, it’s like songs. There are only 12 notes but how many different songs there are and what makes one song differ from the other… - the chord progression and the key. It’s a limitation of sorts.

5. Search for emotional movement Konstantin Stanislavski - a Russian theatre practitioner. Outstanding character actor and creator of "the system" for actors.

In my teachings of solo jazz dance I juxtapose emotional movement and physical movement. Physical movement is just an action of the muscles and body. It does not carry any other layer. Emotional movement carries a lot of information around the physical movement about the environment, mood, energy, intention and so on.

Create the environment and situation or a task for yourself. All of a sudden you will see how from that seed of context the new world with it's rules, qualities, colours and characters will grow in your imagination. The great Konstantin Stanislavski, the creator of the method, the technique for actors, taught the difference between an EMOTIONAL & PHYSICAL MOVEMENT. Physical movement is generic. For instance, if I ask 10 people in the room to lift their hand, they will all lift the hand in almost the exact same manner and way. Emotional movement carries a little story - the intention, the purpose, the reason, - all of which create the emotional state. So the magical question is “WHAT FOR?"

Experiment with the emotional movement

Make a quick experiment: you are going to lift your arm, just before ask yourself “what for am I going to lift my arm?” and quickly answer with a VERB (i.e to greet a friend, to touch the sky, to catch a fly, to grab a mosquito, to say goodbye etc…), then right away do the action.

Did you notice, how the physical action turned into emotional action with no words needed. Repeat this several times and change the answer to the question, meaning change the intention. The more you do it, the more start to inhabit the situations with more details. For instance, where are you, who are saying good bye to, do you like this person, are you going to miss him or you are happy they are going away, is is a quick good bye or a long one, when are you going to see them again , etc.

I use emotional movement when I dance any dance form and solo jazz included. Sometimes my subconsciousness and muscle memory bring out interesting ideas without me even thinking. Other times I find them to make my dance my own story and create a different feel, world, impression. I do believe that physical movement by itself in the arts is boring. The dance step for itself can be just a flashy moment but that’s all. When the movement carries something more, even if you can’t put it in the words, it’s much more intriguing and curious.

6. Plan your tension curves

Tension curves are the most essential component of the storytelling in any art form: beginning - development - conflict - suspense - resolution (- post finale). Most often used in narrative forms of art, the idea of tension curves & overall dramaturgy can still be present and powerful in dance.

Create Contrasts

In the case of the majority of swing dancers, we choreograph to an existing tune. If the tune is good and has a beautiful overall dramaturgy in itself we just need to open ears, listen to it and use it. But not all the tunes have it, not all of them have curves of moods, a relationship of tension and release, resolution and so on. That is where we need to be more creative. Simple tools for choreographing the emotional tension can really bring your piece good development, for instance:

  1. big moves - small moves;
  2. energetic part - easy/ slow/ relaxed part;
  3. busy/ noisy part - still/ quite part;

The idea of the dance piece is travelling through curves of drops and lifts. Contrasts that are getting bigger and more dramatic this way.  Creating overall dramaturgy is so precious to me and it's something I try to consider in all the pieces I do.

Remember, repetition is good

Sometimes we are scared to be boring if we repeat the same things within the choreography several times. We should eliminate that fear. Listen to swing or jazz tunes. Things get repeated all the time! All the A sections of the AABA form or famous and beloved by everyone: riffs.* What will we do in the swing without repetitive phrases in music!? They give us several chances to unite with the musicians and “hit” the right moment with our move. And only because they repeat 3, 4, 5 times we can have an opportunity to catch it and surf on the wave of musical heaven.

I was like that at the beginning of my composing journey. I wanted to put all the steps I know to make it exciting. And then I read somewhere that you need to repeat a step, a thing, at least 2 -3 times so that viewer can actually acknowledge and process it. Have you ever noticed how during the jams, competitions or shows, the biggest applause is happening when a dancer, musician repeats, sits firmly on a move/ note and drives it like a groovy, fundamental steady Ferrari. Once again, no need to use all the vocabulary you know in the world out of fear to be boring.

•Riff if a repetitive phrase that is often played by the horn section as a support for the solo. It creates a strong groove, helps to develop and to swing the tune.

"Broad Way" jazz dance choreography by dancer Ksenia Parkhatskaya. Filmed in Nau Bostik, Barcelona.

For instance "Broad Way" I repeated the whole junks of all the A parts of the "head". I wanted them to be recognisable and clear as the melody. I call those moments " coming back home".  After a journey of the whole choreography, I came back to my "home" dance phrase. As well a repeated many other moves for several bars (learning from Oscar Peterson) and following his phrasing.

Final word

These are some of the ideas and methods I use when I work on creating a solo jazz dance choreography. Sometimes I would leave this knowledge out of my studio if I an in a state of flow. I would invite the method if I am stuck in my creative process. It’s good to keep learning and be curious in order to approach each new choreography from a new angle, with a new vision. For me, it’s essential to keep developing, challenging and surprising myself within each new choreography. To create a new character, be in a "new for me" mode. I would style each one and say something with it. The more you develop, the more your choreographies do as well!

Next time you create and feel like you are creating the same jazz routine over and over again, follow these 6 tips. They will guide you to new territories. Equally they will help you create choreography that is not a generic lego constructed of moves, but actually a wholesome piece.

"S T A G E S" a jazz dance choreography by Ksenia Parkhatskaya. Filmed in "The Everyman" Theatre in Cork, Ireland.

To learn more about improvisation, solo jazz dance and dance in general  with Ksenia Parkhatskaya consider signing up for Secrets of Solo online dance classes. You can check subscription plans here. 

Jazz dance | Definition, History, Characteristics, Types, & Facts

Related Topics:
dance Charleston jitterbug eagle rock slow drag

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jazz dance, any dance to jazz accompaniments, composed of a profusion of forms. Jazz dance paralleled the birth and spread of jazz itself from roots in Black American society and was popularized in ballrooms by the big bands of the swing era (1930s and ’40s). It radically altered the style of American and European stage and social dance in the 20th century. The term is sometimes used more narrowly to describe (1) popular stage dance (except tap dance) and (2) jazz-derived or jazz-influenced forms of modern dance. It excludes social dances lacking jazz accompaniment—e.g., the rumba and other Latin-American dances.

Jazz dance developed from both 19th- and 20th-century stage dance and traditional Black social dances and their white ballroom offshoots. On the stage, minstrel show performers in the 19th century developed tap dancing from a combination of Irish jigging, English clog dancing, and African rhythmic stamping. Tap dance and such social dances as the cakewalk and shuffle became popular vaudeville acts and appeared in Broadway revues and musical comedies as these replaced vaudeville early in the 20th century. In addition, comedy, specialty, and character dances to jazz rhythms became standard stage routines. By the 1940s elements of jazz dance had appeared in modern dance and in motion picture choreography.

Although the stage popularized certain social dances, many others were transmitted mainly in social gatherings. The dances that gave rise to social forms of jazz dance developed from rural slave dances. In both early dances and 20th-century jazz dances, there is a noticeable continuity of dance elements and motions. The eagle rock and the slow drag (late 19th century) as well as the Charleston and the jitterbug have elements in common with certain Caribbean and African dances. In addition, the slow drag contributed to the fish of the 1950s; the ring shout, which survived from the 18th into the 20th century, in isolated areas, influenced the cakewalk.

About 1900 the cakewalk, popularized through stage shows, became a craze in European and American ballrooms. In its wake appeared other social dances such as the Charleston (1920s), the jitterbug (1930s and ’40s), the twist (1960s), and disco dancing (1970s). Some, like the fox-trot, borrowed European dance steps and fitted them to jazz rhythms. The growth of radio, television, and recording, which popularized Black music among wide audiences, greatly aided the diffusion of these dances. Fusing ballet with jazz has led in recent years to the formation of such troupes as Canada’s Les Ballets Jazz.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn.

Jazz dance. Basic principles - online presentation

As the practice of building competitive programs over
shows, high marks for components can now be obtained for those programs
that are distinguished by an unusual style, originality
imagery, new movements for the head, arms, body and legs of the skater.
In other words, those decorations that will enable
to get the highest marks. In this seminar, we want to give you new
knowledge about the approach to the training process from the point of view of your
coaching activity and the search for new ways to build classes, both on
ice and in the hall. A modern coach is not only a person who teaches
the technique of figure skating, but also a competent specialist in the field of
music and setting up competitive programs.

2. Relevance

The relevance of this topic is dictated by the importance of
choreographic training in figure skating.
At present, when evaluating the programs of figure skaters
, the marks received for the components play an important role. For
In order to increase the score for such components as
Choreography, Interpretation, Presentation, it is necessary
to increase the level of dance, plasticity of figure skaters,
to increase their knowledge in the field of choreography and dance
Attention should be paid to one of the most attractive and
most important current directions in choreography -
Jazz Modern. According to many experts, it is the jazz class
, along with classical choreography, that will help
for an athlete to reveal his dancing abilities, as well as
are an excellent special physical training,
aimed at improving coordination and
strength abilities, flexibility.

3. History

Until the mid-1950s, jazz dance was a dance style that
originated from African-American Native dance of the late 19th century and mid-20th century.
Jazz dance was often referred to as tap dancing, because tap dancing to jazz music was
is one of the mainstream dances of that era. Developing over time as a jazz dance,
has spawned a variety of social and concert dance styles. Later, during the
Jazz Age, popular forms of jazz included Cakewalk, Black Bottom,
Charleston, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, Lindy Hop. Today, many of these
dance styles are still popular and continue to be practiced by students and educators.
After the 1950s, founders such as Katherine Dunham (photo) took the essence of the traditional
Caribbean dance, turned it into a theatrical art. With the growing dominance of
other forms of recreational music, jazz dance evolved on Broadway into the
new plastic style that is taught today and is known as modern jazz, while
as tap dancing separated and went its own way. The largely theatrical
style of jazz dance was popularized by the work of Bob Fosse as can be seen in
Broadway shows such as Chicago, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, and Pajama Room 9.0003 game". Modern jazz continues to be an essential element in
musical theaters and is often seen in music videos and
dance competitions.
The basic principles of modern jazz dance relate primarily to
movement techniques. They have developed in the process of evolution of various
systems of dance. These principles were borrowed mainly from jazz dance and from modern dance, as well as from classical ballet.

5. Technical features of this style:

1. Use of the collapse posture in the dance.
2. Active movement of the performer in space.
3. Isolated movements of various parts of the body.
4. Use of rhythmically complex movements.
5. Dance polyrhythm.
6. Combination and interpenetration of music and dance.
7. Individual improvisations in the general dance.
8. Functionalism of dance.

6. Collapse posture

It is a kind of body holding when there is no tension and
elongated upwards, as in classical ballet.
The body is free and relaxed, its curves are slightly exaggerated,
the knees are bent, the torso and head are slightly tilted forward.
The main difference between jazz dance, modern dance and classical ballet
, first of all, lies in the holding of the spine. If in classical ballet
the spine is the axis of the whole body, the axis
of rotation and jump, and there is even a special term
"put back", then in jazz dance everything is diametrically
opposite - the spine is soft and relaxed. In modern dance, the spine, as in classical dance, is the axis
of movement, but this axis is not always directed strictly vertically, and
very often bends and rotates in various departments. With
tension, the movement of individual centers, for example,
the pelvis or chest, is impossible, while with sufficient relaxation
such movements are possible.

8. Isolation and polycentry

In jazz dance, the body seems to consist of separate parts-centers: these are the head and neck,
shoulder girdle, chest, pelvis, arms and legs. Since the arms and legs consist of
separate joints: in the hand - the hand, forearm, in the leg - the foot and ankle, then
these parts of the centers, which are called areas, can also be isolated and
perform movements independently of other centers. These centers can move independently
spatially and rhythmically, and this is precisely what creates the
polycentric movement. Each part of the body, or each center, has its own
field of tension and its own center of movement. 0003 traffic isolated centers can be combined with each other
(coordinated). With the movement of 2 centers at the same time, we are talking about
bicentric, 3 - tricentric, with the movement of all centers - polycentric.
Polycentric is the fundamental principle of dance technique. In order
to translate it into a real
appearance of dancing, there is a technical technique
called isolation, which implies that each part of the body,
the center, moves independently of the other part.
Isolation is the basic technique that starts learning
jazz dance.

9. Polyrhythm

In jazz dance centers can move not only in different spatial directions,
but also in different rhythmic patterns, metrically independent of each other. Polyrhythm -
is the movement of different parts of the body in different rhythms.
Polyrhythm is closely related to music. Modern music, especially jazz music, is
monometric in its structure, i. e., the imposition of various rhythmic patterns is not
occurs, however, during the improvisation of one or another instrument on the main,
basic rhythm, the improvisation rhythm is superimposed. This leads to the appearance of such a musical concept as
swing, that is, a certain
pulsation of the main rhythm associated with a shift in the
melodic pattern and rhythmic basis of the work. It is this
shift that cannot be recorded with musical notation, but it greatly affects the
dance movement, which is performed to swing music, so the dancer
must feel the musical swing with his body and try to embody it in motion.
This is where not only the musical, but also the dance concept of swing comes from. In dance
, this concept means swinging, motor-rhythmic movement of any part of the body
or the whole body.
An example of a polyrhythmic movement is a percussionist, who simultaneously creates various rhythms with his hands and
with his feet and often sings.
All of the above also applies to music of a different genre used to create
choreographic work. Modern music, not only jazz, in general
is very complex in rhythmic structure. Of particular difficulty for the performer is
odd sizes, which are unusual for the aesthetics of classical ballet. This requires careful attention to the development of rhythmic perception in students.

10. Animation

This concept is closely related to rhythm in music. It means that a single movement
is decomposed into its component parts, phased or, by other
in words, multiplied, to the rhythm of the music.

11. Coordination

When two or more centers move simultaneously, it becomes necessary to coordinate them
. Coordination is carried out in two ways: by an impulse, at which
two or more centers are set in simultaneous motion, or
the control principle is applied, i.e. the centers are included in the movement
sequentially. A wide variety of centers can be coordinated: head and
arms and head, shoulders and head.
In jazz dance there is a concept that at first glance contradicts isolation,
when one center activates another center, as if controlling it, but with control
there is a noticeable time gap between movements. Initially,
one center begins to move, then after a certain period of time another, a third, etc. When the center is activated, we expend a certain
muscular effort, which is called an impulse.

12. Movement principles borrowed from modern dance

As already discussed earlier, the development of a particular system
of modern dance
is associated
with the names of
choreographers, performers. These systems were based primarily on a certain philosophical approach to movement. This
was expressed in productions, but the training of the performers
forced them to look for a special individual system of education. In
modern dance, unlike jazz dance, the entire body of the performer
takes part in the movement, i. e. the basis of the movement is
spine. And it is the work on the mobility of the spine
that underlies many modern dance systems. Modern jazz dance in
some sections of the lesson borrows from various techniques
exercises aimed at developing the mobility of the spine.

13. Basic movements of jazz dance.

relative decrease
body volume.
Release - the opposite of
i.e. expansion,
when the body expands in
Contraction and release are closely related
Contraction is executed on exhalation
, release on inhalation.

14. Levels

Modern jazz dance actively uses the dancer's movement
not only horizontally, but also vertically. The location of the
performer on the floor (in the stalls) is used quite often. The
level is the location of the dancer's body relative to the
earth. Main types of levels: standing, sitting, standing on all fours,
squatting, kneeling, lying down. In addition, there are
so-called acrobatic levels: splits (transverse and
longitudinal), "bridge", handstand, stand on the shoulder blades
("birch"), wheel, rolls, somersaults.

15. Jazz Class Lesson

In a modern jazz dance lesson there is no such definite sequence of
movements as there is in classical dance. Many teachers, having studied the main basic schools
, create their own teaching system
, which combines several areas.
In the American and Western European systems of choreographic education
there is no single methodology. Each teacher is
self-valuable creative personality and has the right to search for their own
pedagogical techniques and methods. The value of a teacher lies primarily in his uniqueness, his individuality. Each teacher
has the right, based on basic concepts, to look for his own path, his
technique and vocabulary. Next, we will look at the basic concepts

16. Sections of the lesson on the jazz class

I. Warm up.
II. Insulation.
III. Exercises for the spine.
IV. Levels.
V. Cross. Movement in space.
VI. Combination or improvisation.

17. Warming up

The task is to bring the motor apparatus into working condition, warm up all the muscles.
According to functional tasks, groups of exercises can be distinguished:
1) - these are exercises of a stretch nature, i.e. stretching associated with static
muscle tension in various parts of the body.
2) exercises associated with tilts and turns of the torso. They help warm up and
to bring the spine and its departments into working condition (it is on the spine
that the main load falls in the further parts of the lesson).
3) exercise is associated with warming up the legs. There are many borrowings from
classical dance
4) exercises related to the relaxation of the spine. With a combination of all
exercises, the necessary warming up of various muscle groups is achieved.
The following warm-up system is possible, which, of course, may vary
depending on the objectives of the lesson:
1. Exercises at the barre: kinks and torso bends, stretching, plie.
2. Warming up in the middle of the hall: torso bends, bends, tension exercises and
warming up
of the spine,
borrowed from a classical dance lesson.
3. On the ground: exercises for the spine, exercises of a stretch nature,
exercises for warming up the foot and ankle.

18. Isolation

This part of the lesson is more action-packed than the previous one. And if at
warming up the whole body is activated, then during isolation there is a deep work with
muscles of various parts of the body.
First, the teacher needs to achieve sufficient freedom of the spine. For
, several tension and relaxation exercises are used to
so that students more freely distribute tension on the spine.
Isolation, as a rule, is subjected to all centers - from head to toe. However,
combinations are possible when one movement is sequentially executed
head, one shoulder, one chest, one arm, one pelvis,
one leg. When executing such "chains" it is very important to use the
control principle, to transfer impulse from one center to another.
The main task of the teacher during the study of the movements of isolated centers is to ensure that the movements are really isolated, so that during the movement of one center
the other does not move.

19. Exercises for the spine

If the isolation technique is borrowed from jazz dance, then
movement of the body as a whole, without isolation of individual centers, the originality of modern dance. The basis of this technique is primarily 90,003 of the entire spine, so the main task of the teacher is to develop mobility in all its departments in 90,003 students.
Types of movements:
- torso tilts
- torso bends
- spirals
- body roll ("wave")
- contraction, release, high release
- tilt, lay out


Levels Modern jazz dance is quite wide uses the movements of
performers on the floor (in the stalls).
Basic levels:
- standing
- squatting
- kneeling
- sitting
- lying down
The objectives of the levels during the lesson are varied. First, isolation exercises are performed at
different levels.
Secondly, in the stalls it is very useful to perform exercises
of a stretch nature, that is, stretching. In the levels "sitting" and "lying"
there are a lot of exercises on contraction and release. And,
, finally, the change of levels itself, a quick transition from one
level to another - an additional exercise for coordination
for figure skaters.

21. Cross. Movement in space

This section of the lesson develops dance skills and allows
to acquire the manner and style of modern jazz dance. There are few traditional,
fixed steps, jumps and rotations. Each of the 90,003 teachers is free to improvise and vary, as his pedagogical instinct tells him.
Types of movements:
- steps;
- jumps;
- rotations.

22. Combination or improvisation

The last, final section of the modern jazz dance lesson is
combination. Here everything depends on the imagination of the teacher and his ballet master's abilities. There are no recipes for building a combination: they can be for
different types of steps, movements of isolated centers, rotations.
There may be combinations in the stalls associated with the provisions of contraction and
release, as well as non-traditional movements on the floor such as rolls,
somersaults, etc. angles,
alternation of strong and weak movements, i.e. the use of all means of
dance expressiveness, revealing the individuality of the performer.
This part of the lesson is especially important, it helps to reveal the strongest sides of the
figure skater, shows his individuality. This will help the coach,
choreographer, to choose the most suitable image for staging the program.


When preparing the lesson, it is necessary to divide the lesson material into parts and
define the time for each of them. There is no need to use all sections of the lesson every time
, a more detailed
study of two or three sections is possible.
Approximate distribution of time for an hour and a half lesson:
Warm-up - 5-7 minutes,
Isolation - 20 minutes.
Spinal Mobility Exercises - 10 min.
Levels - 15 min.
Cross - 15 min.
Combination or improvisation - 15 min.
At the end of each lesson, you need to have a few minutes for
breathing recovery and some relaxation exercises.
Thank you for your attention

What you need to know about jazz dance - Totem dance Theater

Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 18:12

Jazz dance - has directly African roots (folklore dance). Before turning into a stage form, this dance has come a long way. The history of the emergence of jazz dance begins in the 18th century, when the art of the black population of the United States received equal rights with the art of white Americans. It was the fusion of “black” and “white” dances that gave impetus to the emergence of a stage form of dance, which later became known as jazz dance. And it happened at the beginning of the 20th century.

Jazz dance was very popular, used in shows and revues, in musicals and cinema, in variety shows and dramatic performances. His style was often borrowed from everyday dance. This style of dance is alien to the ideas and philosophy of modern dance, or the refined romanticism and sublimity of classical ballet. Jazz dance is primarily a dance of emotion, energy and strength. As an example, we can cite such well-known performers and choreographers: Jack Cool is considered the founding father of jazz technique. He was the inspiration for Mutt Mattox, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon and many other choreographers.

Bob Foss is a renowned jazz choreographer who created a new form of jazz dance influenced by Fred Astaire and burlesque and vaudeville. Luigi is a dancer who created a special warm-up technique (a jazz exercise designed to prepare the body for dancing) after he became paralyzed in a car accident.

Jerome Robbins is the choreographer of many famous musicals: Peter Pan, The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl and West Side Story. He also founded the ballet company Ballets USA.

The musical basis of jazz dance is, as a rule, jazz music, which is distinguished by its stylistic diversity. But today, the greatest interest and difficulty for jazz dancers is the comprehension of the fusion of jazz and electronic music..

Many people think that jazz is only for the older generation, music that you can relax to have lunch or fall asleep to, music is easy listening. In fact, jazz dance can be performed to the uptempo sometimes even aggressive rhythms of Swing / Bebop, Afro Cuban, Brazilian, Latin, Funky Jazz .. The most important feature of jazz dance is improvisation. It helps the dancer to reflect the changes that are taking place in the surrounding world (aesthetic and social). Distinctive features of jazz dance are also sensuality, emotionality. The soul in jazz dance lives with the body, in the same rhythm, tune. ....

Blues jazz is a slow, sensual and emotional dance performed to blues music. Blues-jazz dance can express loneliness, sadness, longing, suffering, anger and joy, as well as love, passion - any experience from the whole spectrum of human feelings and emotions. Expression is a very important factor in jazz dance. Music is expressed through dramatic grandiose movements..

Modern jazz dance offers unlimited possibilities, requiring creativity and individuality from the performers. Someone wants to have fun, someone seeks to convey the mysterious, incomprehensible vicissitudes of life, others are fascinated by pure movement, composition, rhythm ....

Jazz modern
Jazz modern is the basis of pop dance. Modern has its origins in classical choreography and focuses on finding balance and using the body to create form in space.

Africans and African-Americans are considered to be the creators of jazz dance. Improvisation is inherent in the very nature of Afro-Jazz, with the help of which a person expresses his emotions and mood. The movements are clear and complete. The body sensitively repeats the whimsical pattern of music! The emphasis of the step is not on repulsion, as in ballet jumps - on the contrary, the momentum of movement is directed towards the ground..

Blues-jazz dance is a more plastic version of jazz that maintains a clear rhythm. A striking feature of jazz dance is the independence of body parts from each other, in which they each move along their own trajectory. Parts of the body are so prepared that they can move not only in isolation, but also in opposite directions. Today's jazz dance is hard rhythms, emotional pressure, even some aggression. It contains elements of hip-hop, break, rap, funk. The dance figures combine complex hand translations and intricate body movements that fit into the intense rhythm of the music. Broken movements, asymmetrical figures, spectacular throws to the floor - the dance depends on the music and the choreographer's imagination.

Jazz. Technique
The technique and style of each artist depends on the level of his training. Today we find many variations in styles. Some are attracted by primitive African technique, others combine modern with ethnic dance, others use tap-dance...

To excel in jazz dance, the dancer must also practice classical ballet techniques, which allow excellent control of his body, give strength to muscles, improve balance (balance), and also perform sharp and clear movements inherent in jazz dance.

isolation technique.
Among the technical principles of jazz dance, the idea of ​​isolation is central. There can be no jazz dance without it. An artist in jazz dance can completely free his body, make it an instrument of dance only when he masters the technique of isolation.

Tension and relaxation.
Another important factor is awareness of the need for tension-relaxation (contraction-release). Without this, the dancer cannot work in isolation. Tension and relaxation coexist. If one part of the body is relaxed, then the tension is held by the rest of the body.

Pelvic area.
Many jazz educators today emphasize the importance of this area, which is associated with many movements in jazz dance and which gives the dance sensuality and passion.

Some basic elements of jazz dance: ball change, twist, pivot step, touch step, Pique passe, stag leap, jete`, pencil spin, barrel turn, fan kick, jazz walk, jazz run, hip walk, chasses, cat walk and the catch step.

Jazz and other styles of dance.
Modern jazz dance has borrowed terminology and individual movements from various dance styles. From ballet, he took French terminology and some movements, positions of arms and legs. Modern gave jazz dance the greatest freedom in liberating the torso and including it in active work. The step was borrowed emphasized rhythmization of movements. Ballroom dancing also influenced the formation and development of jazz dance. How popular dances influence him. At the turn of the century it was a Charleston. When Latin American dances became popular, the basic steps were also borrowed) steps from Cha-cha-cha, Mamba, Samba).

The influence of hip-hop, r'n'b, latin, contemporary, funky, house, free style styles is also great. There were new movements of the arms, hips, rhythmic changes.

Different styles can intersect in Jazz dance - traditional (classical jazz of musicals), lyrical, afro or modern, contemporary. Since inventiveness and improvisation are so important in jazz dance, many dancers bring completely different styles to their dance. History of Jazz Dance

Jazz Dance came out of Africa. African culture was gradually connected with the European tradition. It was especially intense at the beginning of the 20th century. People were fond of such musical and dance styles as reg, Charleston. Jazz has touched many areas of modern art. The African essence of jazz was especially revealed in popular music and dance, which were thoroughly transformed by American show business at the beginning of the century. The professional study of jazz, the basics of jazz dance, began in the 1940s. The outstanding artists of this generation were Jack Cole, Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus.

Jack Cole, trained as a modern dancer, developed jazz styles, emphasizing the isolation of a technique strictly based on black and oriental dance traditions. Catherine Dunham and Pearl Primus included black original ethnic themes in their choreography. They inspired and stimulated the development of black American modern dancers in the 1940s.

The names of the performers who worked with Kole, Dunham, Primus, we see among those dancers and choreographers who have achieved outstanding results. These are Matt Mattox, Gwen Verdon, Carol Hyney, George and Effil Martin, Baz Miller, Talley BEATTY... After World War II, an active offensive of jazz began on the European continent. A special interest in jazz dance was fueled by numerous musical films, the pinnacle of such public interest was the grandiose success of West Side Story. Jazz dance in America has made spectacular progress - the Alvin Ailey dance troupe (http://www. ) introduced viewers to the richness of African-American traditions and to the highest results they have achieved by seamlessly combining ballet, jazz and ethnic dance .

Jazz dance also influenced the ballet of Europe. Classical dancers and choreographers, for example, from England, mastered modern jazz traditions. Frederic Ashton produced Jazz Calendar in 1968 for the Royal Ballet.

The dance boom aroused public interest in such areas as soul, beat, Afro-jazz, tap, as well as in ballet and modern dance. At the end of the 60s, international summer workshops and courses began to be held in Germany, Belgium, France, where dancers and teachers from all over the world presented the technique and styles of jazz dance, initially gaining their knowledge from such American teachers as Matt Mattox, Walter Nix Walter Nicks, Luigi (Luigi, Gus GIORDANO. Many dancers continued their studies in the USA, while teachers from America settled in Europe.

During the 70s, international dance workshops spread throughout Europe, where teachers representing the new generation worked. Fred Benjamin Fred Benjamin, Rick Odums, Danny Daniels.

Entertainment and commercialism dominated the development of jazz dance in Europe. Private schools were opened, access to which was open to everyone. Dance academies have avoided including jazz dance as a discipline in the core curriculum. Jazz dance promotes the flexibility and sensitivity of classical and modern dancers. Jazz dance is all about rhythm and technical skill. This was recognized in countries such as Germany and Bulgaria, where classical dance academies included jazz dance in their curriculum.

Jazz dance moves forward through the use of various material: ethnic dance, ballet, tap, as well as street styles. Modern jazz dance destroys the boundaries between them, bringing together all styles, forms, directions.

The transformation of jazz dance into dance theater and the combination of professional technique and choreography created modern jazz dance.

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