Introduction Dance is a series of movements, performed in patterns and these patterns are formed as a whole. Every human society practices dance, either in groups, in couples or as an individual. People use dance as a form of expressing themselves, their feelings or their histories. Dances are performed in different situations. It could have emotional reasons, but it's also used as preparation for battle. Dance is also a good exercise for your body. Dancing keeps you fit and also keeps you in shape. Most people mistake themselves in thinking that dancing is effortless. It seems, but it is not. Dancers need an amazing strength to perform the techniques in a good way. When dancing your stomach is one of the most vital sources. Dancers have to contract their muscles to keep on standing straight.
I’m going to have a better look at jazz dance. This dance has several different movements and techniques, which have to be learned properly. These techniques should create an ideal image of beauty in your dance. Some dancers try to reach this ideal in their life. Jazz dance is a developing form of popular and artistic dance movements. It changes as our (popular) culture changes. It includes individuality and improvisation. With individuality I mean the style which a dancer puts in his dance. One dancer may use more classical movements while the other uses more sexy movements. Many kinds of dance can be seen as jazz dance. Dances like the Charleston and Black Bottom are known as jazz dances. Also Fred Astaire’s style and the one from Alvin Ailey are considered as jazz dance. These different sorts of jazz dance can be tied together by looking at the rhythm. The rhythm of jazz dance finds its origin in African dances. Roots The period in time of American slavery and the history of jazz dance are linked to each other, for jazz dance is a mix of African and European traditions in an American environment. The commitment of the African people was torn apart because of slavery. They weren't only brought in a situation of oppression, but also their essential ways of co-operation were taken from them. In their culture dance and music were important aspects. Dancing helped them to feel secure and strong. They believed that you could speak to ghosts and God by dancing for them. It should bring them victory, power, happiness and health. Africans danced in celebration of birth, puberty, marriage, and death. There were also dances to demonstrate competitive skills. The African music had complicated rhythms. They made use of various types of drums, as well as string instruments, chimes, reed pipes, and other instruments. Different rhythms are used and they can be found in both movements and musical elements. The term used for this is polyrhythmic. Isolation shows a clear image of polyrhythmic: the individual movements of for example the head, shoulders, hips, etc. Some important characteristics of the African way of dance are bending knees, making use of the whole foot sole etc.
In the first period of the slavery in America, the slaves succeeded in bridging the hostility between tribes. In their oppression they managed to keep their culture. The reliance on dance movement to interpret life carried over to the culture of the Afro-American during the time of slavery. They adapted their African culture to the new surroundings. Soon European, American and African ways of expressing were mixed together. The African way of jazz dance stayed intact for a great deal. However some changes and improvements did affect the way of dancing. In time the (popular) culture changed, which had some influence on ways of dancing. These changes made little improvements to jazz dance.
A regular jazz dance lesson
Every jazz dance teacher uses his/her own personal style. I'm going to describe a jazz dance lesson in the way that I'm being taught jazz dance. Warming up Usually we start with a combination of some basics to warm up a bit. In this combination we warm up every part of the body, from head to toe. This warm up is done to prevent your muscles from injury of any kind. After that we start doing plies and some more ballet exercises. These ballet exercises are very important, because classical ballet is the actual basis of jazz dance. Also we do some muscular exercises. Sit-ups, push ups etc. Some chasses and plies are practised too and some other dances, which go from one corner of the room to the other. Some exercises are done individually and others together. Practising a dance After the dancing across the room we usually start to practise the actual dance. In our jazz dance class we produce one or two dances in a year. We are now busy with a dance done with sticks. It’s an African tribe kind of dance. We usually practise a dance in little bits. Every lesson we’ll do a bit of the whole dance. When doing this you’ll forget the movements not that easy. In the end when we’ve finished it we repeat the whole dance. This takes a couple of lessons. After those lessons we are ready to perform. Cooling down Then after practising the dance, the lesson is almost finished we do a cooling down. We stretch our muscles a bit and do some basics. The music You might think jazz ballet should be danced on jazz music. Well perhaps this happened in the past, but today it is danced on pop, rock and lots of other sorts of music. My opinion
I have already been dancing for three years. For me it’s a form of expressing myself. It helps me to express my creativity, but also my feelings. When dancing I give something of myself to the dance to create individual movements, which fit with my personality. When I look around during a jazz dance lesson I see the same dance, but different styles. Every dancer has his/her own ways of moving their body. This could be sexy, classical, and so on. For me dancing is relaxing. When dancing I can forget everyday trouble. I’m focused on the dance and on trying to perform it the best I can. When stressed I like to dance for some time. Dancing is a good way of expressing feelings. When angry feelings are expressed, the movements are hard and usually faster. When expressing love feelings the movements are smooth, soft and tender.
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