Chicago Jazz Dancing Lessons
Meet our Chicago Jazz Dance Instructors
Jill Flack – Resident Instructor
Jill has been dancing and performing for her entire life. She has danced Jazz competitively. Learn more about Jill Flack.
Dennis PaSamba – Master Instructor
As a master instructor at I Do Dance Studio, Dennis performs and teaches Jazz as well as a variety of latin and modern styles. Learn more about Dennis PaSamba.
All about Jazz Dancing
Jazz dance has been one of many popular dance styles for several decades all over the world. Its popularity grew out of African American culture, and it later brought in beautiful elements of traditional Caribbean dance. Taking up jazz dance lessons has several advantages, which will be revealed after diving further into the rich history of this incredible dance style.
The Origin of Jazz Dance
Jazz dance can be looked at as a sort of umbrella term that applies to several related dance styles. But every style, including ballet, tap dance, African American dance and jazz dance, remains connected through common roots.
Tap dance and jazz dance were used interchangeably up until the mid-1950s because the moves of tap dance, which was the more popular performance dance at that time, were set to the tune of jazz music. Later in the jazz age, other forms of jazz dance were born, including the Jitterbug, the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, the Black Bottom, the Cakewalk, the Boogie Woogie and Swing dancing.
Pioneers in the dance world, such as Katherine Dunham, integrated components of Caribbean dance into jazz dance after the 1950s and turned it into more of a performing art. Jazz then evolved into a newer, smoother style of dance. This style is taught today and is referred to as modern jazz dance. Performance jazz dance was further popularized by director-choreographer Bob Fosse, who used it in notable Broadway shows, such as The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Cabaret and Chicago.
Today, jazz dance exist in many styles and forms. It continues to be taught in dance companies and is used in a variety of performances around the world. Jazz dance is crucial in the world of musical theater choreography, where it may be meshed with other dance styles in any given show. You also will see it used in the competitive dance industry, in music videos and in popular reality shows focused on dancers’ skill and technique.
Technique is Key
Speaking of technique: it lays down the groundwork for any style of dance, and it’s no different for jazz. You need a strong technical foundation if you want to excel across all dance styles and performance types. Turns and leaps, which call for perfect posture in order to properly execute, require excellent technique.
Those looking to learn how to jazz dance will find that performing its powerful and sharp movements is much easier if they happen to also have experience with ballet technique. The biggest difference between the two is that ballet uses the upbeat for movement, whereas jazz uses the downbeat.
A Rewarding and Fulfilling Activity
There are many benefits of learning how to jazz dance. The fast-paced nature of jazz dance calls for great focus, stamina and balance, and you will often take on complex moves, sequences and twists that will push both your mental and physical limits.
In addition to being a good way to exercise, it also can be a tremendous stress reliever, and it provides an outlet for artistic expression. Learning how to jazz dance is hard work, but by taking a closer look at the advantages it becomes clear that it’s well worth the effort.
The quick movements of jazz dance require maximum effort, and sequences can run up to several minutes at a time. This means your body is going to be fully engaged and in motion for extended periods of time. The level of cardio exercise that jazz dance demands is at a high enough level to get your heart beating and to naturally release endorphins, which typically occurs after quality physical exercise. This not only will increase your level of stamina and improve your ability to handle more intense jazz dance moves, but it also will help relieve stress.
Improved Muscle Memory
Your body isn’t the only thing that gets a workout when you learn how to jazz dance; your brain gets one as well. It tells your body when to make each and every move, which requires the use of your memory. While executing each movement and sequence requires your body to work hard in order to keep up with the tempo of the music, your brain must work just as hard to commit every move to memory. Focusing your mind on memorizing moves leaves very little of your brain to think about outside stressors. That’s one reason so many people choose to take jazz dance classes; it allows them to focus on the present and relieve stress.
Opportunity for Artistic Expression
In addition to all the physical and mental benefits of learning and practicing jazz dance, you will benefit from having an outlet to express yourself artistically. Jazz dancing is one of many ways art is expressed through movement. It’s essentially a full-bodied way of revealing your artistic insights and emotions; it gives your body the chance to experience a variety of physical movements while allowing your brain to dictate the personality of how you express the movements. Performing these actions together help strengthen the connection between your body and mind.
Anyone Can Benefit from Learning Jazz Dance
Whether you already have taken professional dance classes, or you are thinking of using jazz dance as a starting point, it is a good way to get in shape, have fun and learn how to do something that you can enjoy with others, including a special partner or a group of friends.
Jazz dance will open you up to a whole new world of rhythm and motion that will stick with you forever, and our expert instructors will make sure you have the best experience possible and that you take advantage of all the benefits that jazz dance has to offer.