Jazz Dance : A History of the Roots and Branches [1 ed.] 9780813048741, 9780813049298

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Jazz Dance

University Press of Florida Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers Florida International University, Miami Florida State University, Tallahassee New College of Florida, Sarasota University of Central Florida, Orlando University of Florida, Gainesville University of North Florida, Jacksonville University of South Florida, Tampa University of West Florida, Pensacola

University Press of Florida Gainesville Tallahassee Tampa Boca Raton Pensacola Orlando Miami Jacksonville Ft. Myers Sarasota

Jazz  Dance A History of the Roots and Branches

Edited by Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver

Title page: A male dancer strikes a Michael Jackson pose. 123rf.com, stock photo. Copyright 2014 by Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America. This book is printed on recycled, acid-free paper. This book may be available in an electronic edition. 19 18 17 16 15 14

6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Jazz dance : a history of the roots and branches / edited by Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver. pages cm Includes index. isbn 978-0-8130-4929-8 1. Jazz dance—History. 2. Dance—History. I. Guarino, Lindsay, editor. II. Oliver, Wendy, editor. gv1784.j38 2014 793.3—dc23 2013038956

The University Press of Florida is the scholarly publishing agency for the State University System of Florida, comprising Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, and University of West Florida.

University Press of Florida 15 Northwest 15th Street Gainesville, FL 32611-2079 http://www.upf.com


List of Figures ix List of Tables xi Preface xiii Introduction xv Wendy Oliver

Part I What Is Jazz Dance? 1

1 Jazz Dance as a Continuum 3 Patricia Cohen

2 The Family of Jazz Dance 8 Bob Boross

3 A Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Manifesto 12 Sheron Wray

4 If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music! 17 Billy Siegenfeld

5 Jazz Dance Styles 24 Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver, with author contributions

Part II Jazz Dance History 33

6 The African Origins of an American Art Form 35 Takiyah Nur Amin

7 Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 45 Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

8 Jazz Dance from 1970 into the Twenty-First Century 59 Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

9 Historical Movement Chart 69 Tom Ralabate

Part III Master Teachers and Choreographers, 1930–1990 73

10 The Authentic Jazz Dance Legacy of Pepsi Bethel 75 Karen Hubbard

11 Jack Cole and Theatrical Jazz Dance 82 Teal Darkenwald

12 Katherine Dunham’s Mark on Jazz Dance 89 Saroya Corbett

13 Bob Fosse’s Jazz Revolution 97 Cheryl Mrozowski

14 The Legacy of Gus Giordano 103 Michael McStraw

15 Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance 109 Bob Boross

16 Luigi, Jazz Dance Icon 113 Patricia Cohen

17 The “Free Style” Jazz Dance of Matt Mattox 119 Bob Boross

18 Donald McKayle, Jazz Dance Then and Now 125 Bob Boross

19 Lynn Simonson and Simonson Technique 130 Kimberly Karpanty

Part IV Related Forms and Styles 137

20 Tappin’ Jazz Lines 139 Ray Miller

21 Jazz Dance in the Broadway Musical 153 Kirsten Harvey

22 The Transmission of African-American Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance 164 Gill Wright Miller

23 Jazz Dance, Pop Culture, and the Music Video Era 174 Melanie George

24 Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon 184 Moncell Durden

Part V Perspectives on Teaching and Training 195

25 Jazz Dance Training via Private Studios, Competitions, and Conventions 197 Lindsay Guarino

26. Jazz Dance in Higher Education 207 Kim Chandler Vaccaro

27. Jazz Dance as a Gateway to Community Engagement 217 Lynnette Young Overby

Part VI Contemporary Topics in Jazz Dance 229

28 Jazz Dance and Racism 231 Carlos Jones

29 Vernacular Jazz Dance and Race in Hollywood Cinema 240 Susie Trenka

30 Jazz Dance as American Export in France and the United Kingdom 249 Sheron Wray

31 A Study of the Power of Club Jazz in 1980s London 261 Michèle Scott

32 Performing Energy: American Rhythm Dancing and the Articulation of the Inarticulate 268 Billy Siegenfeld

33 A Journey into the Heart of Jazz Dance 279 Jill Flanders Crosby

Appendix: A Sampling of Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Companies 289 List of Contributors 295 Index 301

Dancer Paige Sabo in a pose inspired by Bob Fosse. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.


I.1. 1.1. 2.1. 3.1.

4.1. 5.1. 5.2.

5.3. 6.1. 6.2. 7.1. 7.2. 7.3. 7.4. 8.1. 8.2.


10.1. 11.1. 12.1.



Jazz Dance Tree by Kimberly Testa xvi Miguel Perez, 2000 4 Author Bob Boross teaching a jazz dance class, June 2003 9 Wynton Marsalis with dancers Sheron Wray and Jared Grimes, September 15, 2011 13 Billy Siegenfeld, 2007 19 Dancer Paige Sabo in a pose inspired by Bob Fosse, 2008 27 Dancer Olivia Rehrman in the contemporary jazz dance style, 2011 28 Hip-hop dancers in performance at the University of Arizona 30 “The Bamboula” by E. W. Kemble, 1886 40 The Cake Walk, 1896 41 The Charleston, 1923 48 Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers at the Savoy Ballroom 49 Mura Dehn and Roger Pryor Dodge, 1938 51 Jimmy Slyde 53 JAZZDANCE. Dancers: Jane Blount and Robert Smith, 1987 63 Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Dancers: Ivan Nunez Segui, Dinou Marlett Stuart, and Sarisa F de Toledo, 2012 65 River North Dance Chicago. Dancers: Hanna Bricston and Michael Gross, 2011 66 Pepsi Bethel, 197? 76 Portrait of Jack Cole, 1937 83 Katherine Dunham and Vanoye Aikens in Katherine Dunham’s L’Ag’ya, 1952 90 Bob Fosse holds his Oscar at the 45th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood on March 27, 1973 99 Gus Giordano teaching Giordano Technique, 1983 104


15.1. Frank Hatchett coaching a young dancer at a Broadway Dance Center workshop event 110 16.1. Luigi, early 1990s 114 17.1. Matt Mattox teaching in France, 1993 120 18.1. Donald McKayle 126 19.1. Lynn Simonson, July 1998 131 20.1. William Henry Lane “Master Juba,” 1850 143 20.2. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, 1933 146 20.3. Brenda Bufalino and Honi Coles, Riverside Theater, London, 1980 149 21.1. Cabaret, ECU/Loessin Playhouse, East Carolina University, November 2012 158 21.2. A Chorus Line, Wheaton College, Norton, MA, November 2007 159 22.1. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece, Revelations, 2007 168 23.1. A male dancer strikes a Michael Jackson pose 177 24.1. Hip-hop dancer Buddha Stretch, 2009 190 25.1. Dance Works Studio competes at Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Utica, NY, 2012 203 26.1. The University of Arizona Dance Ensemble performs ITZaJAZZthing by Michael Williams, 2009 214 27.1. College student Saza Dimmick teaches a jazz dance class, 2011 218 27.2. The Kolb Learning Cycle 221 28.1. From the jazz ballet Fantastic Voyage, 2011 232 29.1. Fayard and Harold Nicholas dancing in Stormy Weather, 1943 243 30.1. Rick Odums teaches a jazz dance technique class in France, October 2012 256 31.1. We are we and I am me, a concert jazz piece choreographed by Michèle Scott. Lewisham College, London, England, 1989 263 33.1. Jill Flanders Crosby dancing in the field, Dzodze, Ghana, 2006 283 A.1. G-Force, Giordano Dance Chicago, 2012 290 A.2. Kongas, OFFJAZZ Dance Company, Nice, France, 2003 293 A.3. Jarrod Mayo, Savage Jazz Dance Company, 2012 294

x · Figures


6.1. Final revision of origins and percentages of Africans imported into British North America and Louisiana 37 6.2. Ethnic groups by region 39 27.1. Eyler’s reflection map template 227


Detail: Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Dancers: Ivan Nunez Segui, Dinou Marlett Stuart, and Sarisa F de Toledo. Photo by Trudie Lee. By permission of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.


The idea for this book evolved out of a conversation at Providence College in the spring of 2010. While making copies of jazz dance–related articles, we lamented over the lack of a textbook that would best serve our college students. We went on to discuss exising jazz dance textbooks, and our consideration led us to believe that most textbooks were best suited for a beginning student looking for an introduction to, or a general overview of, jazz dance. There was one exception we could think of. Virtually every jazz dance practitioner is familiar with Jazz Dance by Marshall and Jean Stearns, which provides a history of jazz dance during the jazz age. This seminal textbook is the “go-to” book for those studying jazz dance in higher education, yet the history presented in the book ends in the 1950s. We could not think of another book that provided the depth and breadth of the Stearns’ text in the subsequent era. So how, we asked, could we take it upon ourselves to deliver the philosophy, history, and a discourse on jazz dance, picking up where the Stearns left off? Our initial observations led us to a formal review of jazz dance literature, from magazine articles to scholarly books. Our findings were consistent with our assumptions: there existed a real lack of literature that adequately addressed the depth of jazz dance in its past and present states. We pored over books that made jazz dance sound fun and exciting but that only skimmed the surface of its history. Several books gave instructional methods on technique, but none discussed pedagogy or analyzed teaching specific to privately owned dance studios or higher education. Contemporary jazz dance and its place in society today seemed to be uncharted territory. With so much ground to cover, we concluded that it would be best to construct a new reader. As we reached out to other jazz dance educators in higher education, we found that they shared our frustrations. Two recurring themes developed out of these discussions. First was the feeling that jazz dance was regarded as less important than other dance studies in college curricula. Ballet and xiii

modern were considered “high art,” and jazz dance was demoted to a backseat in dance studies. Second was a general lack of consensus when considering the nature of jazz dance. We felt that much of this must stand in direct relation to the fact that there are so few books on jazz dance. Each educator seemed to be defining the art form according to personal beliefs, resulting in conflicting answers to the question “What is jazz dance?” Because of this, we found ourselves in the midst of a much more controversial topic than we had ever anticipated. Problematic issues of ownership, race, and racism drew passionate responses from many of our colleagues. We were intrigued by this discord, and it helped to define the direction of the book you are about to read. The process of constructing this book was a true collaboration. In addition to revealing the many different perspectives on jazz dance, we also tried to uncover certain facts, or constants, which held true among us all. This effort inspired us to create an online glossary where we defined jazz dance styles and terminology, allowing each author the chance to refute the definitions we set forth or contribute their own knowledge and experience. The definitions gleaned through this process are the substance of the section entitled “Jazz Dance Styles.” Opening this door led to many weeks of dialogue, pushing and pulling at definitions while sorting through conflicting experiences and attachments. Many months later, we again found ourselves navigating our way through a web of contradictory opinions when we asked for input on the image of the jazz dance tree that accompanies the introduction. Just when we thought the manuscript was finished, there emerged fresh debates and provocative, yet respectful, conversations. This sort of passion and intensity prevails in each author’s research; while you may at times notice contrasting opinions among authors, we hope that you are able to sense the shared appreciation and respect that evolved out of this collaboration. We would like to express our thanks to all authors for offering time, expertise, and enthusiasm to this book. It is because of their insightful contributions that we feel we are able to capture and disseminate jazz dance with all the vibrant energy that drew us toward the form in the first place. We hope you stop for a minute to reflect on your own jazz dance training and experience while reading this book. Compare your relationship to jazz dance with the many perspectives you read, and see what truths about jazz dance you can extract. By thinking critically about what jazz dance was, is, and can be in the future you can continue the dialogue that we have found so engaging.

xiv · Preface


The term jazz dance has multiple meanings and styles of expression that have evolved over the past century. These multiple definitions have been an obstacle to creating a comprehensive history and discussion of the art form, since the question of what to include must be answered before the story of jazz dance can be told. The purpose of this book is to provide an overview of jazz dance past and present, including a look at the different ways that jazz dance has been defined and expressed since its inception. Rather than focusing on one particular type of jazz dance, this book seeks to include all forms that call themselves “jazz” as well as some related genres that do not. An image can help to visualize the relationships among various elements of the jazz dance story, and in this case, a large tree is an apt image: a tree has roots, a trunk, and branches, as does jazz dance. The roots of jazz dance are African, and particularly West African. Enslavement forced huge numbers of West Africans to the United States, along with their music and dance. During the time of slavery, African dance evolved into African-American dance, influenced by many factors including a mixing of Africans from different tribes and countries, restrictions imposed upon slaves regarding dance and music practices, and incorporation of European-based movement observed on the plantation.1 Both before and after emancipation, there were exchanges among dancers of African and European origins. It was all of these roots that ultimately generated the “jazz age” of the early 1900s. The trunk of this metaphorical tree is vernacular jazz dance, which was born in the jazz age. Two of the best-known dances of this time period were the Charleston and the Lindy Hop. These dances and others like them were experienced both socially and as performances, in the jazz clubs, dance halls and theaters of the 1920s and ’30s. Vernacular jazz dance of that era, also known as authentic jazz dance, has been preserved and promoted by several


Figure I.1. Jazz Dance Tree by Kimberly Testa.

aficionados, including Mura Dehn and Terry Monaghan, and is still a part of the jazz dance scene today. However, vernacular jazz dance continues to grow and evolve. The branches on the jazz dance tree are many and varied. One large branch of the tree, theatrical jazz dance, blends elements of ballet, jazz, and other genres to create a mixture that is commonly seen in musical theater, commercial dance and on the concert stage. Another branch on the tree xvi · Wendy Oliver

represents tap dance, which shares most of the rhythmic proclivities of jazz dance, but expresses them mainly through the feet. Another large branch on the tree is hip-hop dance, which uses hip-hop music as its driving force. Although it does not share a rhythmic closeness to jazz music, it has retained other elements of its African roots including improvisation, competition, and individual style. Each of these large branches has smaller branches representing the variety of styles within that “branch.” Ideally, this tree would be seen three-dimensionally, so that the intertwining of branches would be evident. Even though the branches appear to be growing apart from one another, they are in fact crisscrossing and creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. One purpose of this book is to honor the tree’s roots and trunk, and to explain the basic characteristics inherent in both African dance and vernacular jazz dance. Authentic jazz dance and jazz music developed synchronously; dance scholar Constance Valis Hill notes that they shared “rhythmic motifs, polyrhythms, multiple meters, elements of swing, and structured improvisation” among other qualities.2 Additional dance scholars such as Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, and Kariamu Welsh-Asante have noted and analyzed the characteristics of Africanist dance as well, making it possible to better understand what elements of vernacular jazz and African movement were adopted and adapted within various branches of jazz dance.3 As vernacular jazz dance elements began to merge with ballet and modern dance in the 1940s, a new form was generated that many say lost the true essence of jazz dance and music. Dance scholar Marshall Stearns wrote in 1959: “Today, schools of the dance seem neither to know nor to teach the true jazz dance. . . . Perhaps the core of the problem is the music, and especially the rhythms upon which the real jazz dance is based.”4 And in 1963, dancer/ choreographer Jack Cole said that true jazz dance was “what we used to see in the dance halls in the twenties and thirties . . . the Camel Walk, the Charleston, the Lindy Hop. . . . [A]lmost all that is called modern jazz today is a misnomer.”5 It is puzzling that when this new form of dance took the stage, it did not receive a new name. One that was suggested in Cole’s article was “Broadway Commercial.” However, that name did not stick, and thus we are left today with the problem of distinguishing some very different genres that are all called “jazz.” This book differentiates among the different forms of jazz dance by using defining adjectives such as “authentic,” “theatrical,” “Latin,” and “rhythm-generated.” In addition to considering the different kinds of jazz dance found in today’s society, it is fruitful to examine jazz dance as the center of a distinct Introduction · xvii

constellation of movement characteristics, aesthetic leanings, rhythmic patterns, and choreographic material, and see what has developed from it. The incredible richness and diversity of dance that has grown from or been influenced by African roots is phenomenal, and jazz dance is arguably the most central of all these forms, due to its wide-reaching influence. Book Overview

The book is divided into six parts, the first of which is “Defining and Understanding Jazz Dance.” This section includes four personal statements on jazz dance and an overview of jazz dance styles. Part II, “History of Jazz Dance,” gives a broad-based overview of jazz dance as an art form, beginning with a chapter on the African roots of jazz dance. From there, the history continues with the post-emancipation period through the mid-twentieth century. Finally, the closing article brings the narrative up to the twenty-first century, discussing the broad variety of jazz styles in contemporary times. “Master Teachers and Choreographers,” part III, profiles some of the people responsible for shaping the path of jazz dance history from the 1930s through the 1980s. This is a sampling of well-known artists and teachers who were movers and shakers in the jazz dance world; some are still teaching today. Next is a look at some of the branches on the jazz dance tree in part IV, “Forms and Styles.” The purpose of this section is to examine forms that are not necessarily called “jazz dance” but are related to it. For instance, jazz, tap, African-American concert dance, and hip-hop all share African roots. And musical theater dance is a true hybrid that blends influences including all of those plus ballet, ballroom, and modern dance. Because of these overlaps, some of the histories of these forms are similar to each other and to the history of jazz dance, thus requiring some repetition of the narrative. Part V, “Perspectives on Teaching and Training,” analyzes the world of the private dance studio, the college/university dance program, and community education. Each of these institutions has a different “take” on jazz dance education, and fulfills a different role within the world of dance. Because the teaching and training of dance students affects the state of the art in the future, this is an important topic for consideration. Finally, part VI, “Contemporary Topics in Jazz Dance,” examines many different ideas on the minds of dancers and dance writers today. The first two articles examine racism within different aspects of jazz dance history, noting parallels between societal attitudes of the times and their expressions

xviii · Wendy Oliver

within the art of jazz dance. The next two articles focus on jazz dance outside of the United States, primarily in the UK and France, but also in Japan. The authors point to the strong influence that American jazz dance has had in these countries as both a performance form and a social dance expression in the club scene. The final two articles focus on aesthetics and the nature of jazz dance from the perspective of seasoned performers who have spent decades investigating the question of “what is jazz dance?” Finally, an appendix profiles a large sampling of jazz dance companies of the twenty-first century from around the world. These brief descriptions give the reader a feel for the range and scope of jazz dance as a performing art today. We hope that the sum of these many parts is both a broader and deeper understanding of a uniquely American dance form, with its African roots and multiple permutations that have evolved as it has mixed with other dance forms and styles. Furthermore, the chapters on tap dance, black concert dance, and hip-hop show the connections among these dance genres and the many varieties of jazz dance. Notes 1. Lynne Fauley Emery, Black Dance: From 1619 to Today, 2nd ed. (Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book, 1988), 80–138; Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 37–50. 2. Constance Valis Hill, Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 4. 3. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, “Stripping the Emperor: The Africanist Presence in American Concert Dance,” in Moving History/Dancing Culture: A Dance History Reader, ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 332–41; Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, “Dancing under the Lash: Sociocultural Disruption, Continuity, and Synthesis,” in African Dance, ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002), 101–30; Kariamu Welsh Asante, “Commonalities in African Dance: An Aesthetic Foundation,” in African Culture: The Rhythms of Unity, 3rd ed., ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante and Molefi K. Asante (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1996), 71–82; Cheryl Willis, “Tap Dance: Manifestation of the African Aesthetic,” in African Dance, ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002), 145–60. 4. Marshall Stearns, “Is Modern Jazz Hopelessly Square?” in Anthology of American Jazz Dance, ed. Gus Giordano (Evanston: Orion, 1975), 43. 5. Clayton Cole, “It’s Gone Silly,” in Anthology of American Jazz Dance, ed. Gus Giordano (Evanston, IL: Orion, 1975), 73.

Introduction · xix

PART I What Is Jazz Dance?

The opening section of this book includes individual statements on the nature of jazz dance and a brief discussion of jazz dance styles. Using a personal perspective, four authors answer the question “What is jazz dance?” based on knowledge and experience as a practitioner and scholar of jazz dance. These reflections are followed by a glossary of jazz dance styles. Pat Cohen, Bob Boross, Sheron Wray, and Billy Siegenfeld have all performed, taught, and written about jazz dance, and bring their unique perspectives to the page. Cohen recognizes the historical, cultural, social, and kinetic continuity that links the many styles of jazz dance; she calls this the jazz dance continuum. Boross discusses the defining characteristics of jazz dance in terms of movement, rhythm, and expression and feels that limiting jazz dance as one particular thing would preclude its infinite possibilities. Wray’s interpretation is centered on four core principles derived from an African aesthetic. She encourages personal style, improvisation, a deep connection to music, and dynamic play to remain at the core of jazz dance today. Siegenfeld feels that it is the contrasting rhythms in swing music that evoke a true jazz experience, and therefore jazz dance must be danced to jazz music. After these four opinions on the nature of jazz dance, an additional chapter gives an overview of several types of jazz dance and their specific characteristics. Although it is not possible to include

Billy Siegenfeld. Photo by William Frederking. By permission of Billy Siegenfeld.


every style, the most common varieties are defined here in order to avoid confusion over terminology within the book. Dance forms related to jazz dance, such as tap and hip-hop, are also defined. Jazz dance is a complex subject. Part I looks at how it has come to be a genre that means many things to different people. Comparing and contrasting various definitions of jazz dance is an important step in working toward a true understanding of its nature. At the heart of this web of contrasting opinions, experiences, and definitions is a community of people dancing a dance form that evokes passion and excitement, generation after generation.

2 · What is Jazz Dance?

1 Jazz Dance as a Continuum Patricia Cohen

I find the multitude of jazz dance labels and descriptions fascinatingly analogous to the story of the elephant and six blind men. While each man describes a different entity based on the body part he has touched, the wise reader knows that they are referencing the same animal. The linking element (sight) is missing, thus interrupting the connection between trunk and tail. In jazz dance, too often that missing link is African-American vernacular dance. Acknowledging the entirety of the genre allows us to establish historical, cultural, social, and kinetic continuity, which I call a continuum. Another metaphor is the tree described in Wendy Oliver’s introduction. Jazz dance has deep roots in West African culture. The solid trunk contains the cultural, kinetic, and social history of African-Americans, while the thick branches represent the vernacular and theatrical offshoots of jazz dance. Perhaps the tree’s verticality connotes the influence of a Eurocentric aesthetic, while horizontal branches represent the African connection to the earth. Smaller branches and interweaving vines create the complex and everevolving genre we call jazz dance. As public awareness of dance increases as a result of popular television shows, the term jazz dance is used loosely to suggest movement that is rapid, sharp, rhythmic, and sensual, if not sexy. Dancers from private schools of dance enter competitions in categories of jazz including lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, classical, and more. Some college dance students may have prior knowledge of jazz dance’s African roots, but few are able to offer a precise definition beyond “theater dance,” “black dance with African roots,” or “ballet with a beat.” Most students of jazz dance have studied the form in 3

Figure 1.1. Miguel Perez, 2000. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.

private schools of dance in their hometowns or in New York City studios, where the vocabulary of ballet is used to describe steps: pas de bourrée, pirouette, jeté, and so on. When the roots and trunk remain unacknowledged, the continuum is disrupted. However, once we accept the “strong relationship between the dances of traditional African cultures and the dances of black Americans,”1 and the influence on American social, popular, and theatrical dance, the continuum is established. We understand that the roots of jazz music and dance lie deep in the traditions of West African cultures, in which music and dance are functional aspects of everyday life—its passages, its joys, its sorrows. Vernacular jazz developed with the times on the plantations and, after the Civil War, in the juke joints of the South and the honky-tonks and dance halls in the North. Animal dances like Buzzard Lope, Turkey Trot, Scarecrow, and Fishtail, like the descriptive Itch, Slap the Baby, and Pickin’ 4 · Patricia Cohen

Cherries, were observed by white people who found the dances intriguing if intimidating because of their loose-limbed and articulate torso movements. Thus during the dance-crazy ragtime era, instructors like Irene and Vernon Castle “cleaned up” the dances, making them more dignified, less sensual, and therefore more acceptable to whites. Black dancers adopted Eurocentric verticality for their Cakewalks and later the closed ballroom position for the Lindy. Black musicals of the 1920s combined the joyous sensuality of black dance into choreographed segments, which replaced the Africanist element of improvisation. Whether via appropriation or blending, depending on the viewer’s perspective, jazz dance evolved through the first half of the twentieth century to include elements of both Africanist and European dance. The influence of black vernacular dance and creativity on whites during this period is clear. As a college-level jazz dance teacher, I have begun to ask my students, “Where’s the jazz?” rather than the elusive “What is jazz?” We have adopted a social and kinetic guide compiled from scholarly observations of West African dance, African-American vernacular, and authentic jazz dance as a point of reference and a teaching tool. They include the following: Social elements Community—the circle Individual creativity within the group Vocal encouragement Lack of separation between performer and spectator Friendly challenges among the dancers Confrontational attitude (“in your face”) Joyousness Call-and-response Interaction (conversation) between musicians and dancers Kinetic elements Use of the flat foot Bent hip, knee, and ankle joints Articulated, inclined torso Body part isolations Groundedness (earthiness) Improvisation Jazz Dance as a Continuum · 5

Embellishment and elaboration Polyrhythms and syncopation Polycentrism Angularity and asymmetry Personal expression and creativity 2

In addition, the dancer exudes what Robert Farris Thompson has called “aesthetic of the cool,” in which the dancer creates the simultaneous appearance of control and effortlessness.3 Thus the continuum, as presently conceived, has two aspects: 1. The location of the dance event vis-à-vis the tree visualization. For example, we analyze whether the dance is representative of the trunk of the tree or is more closely associated with a theatrical or vernacular branch. We ask to what extent the Africanist elements are blended with Eurocentric movement and social patterns. 2. The extent to which the kinetic and/or social elements noted above are realized. Does the dancer/choreographer acknowledge the roots and trunk of the tree? How do we know if s/he does? Which elements are present, and which are missing? Knees may be bent and the body grounded, as in jazz (and modern) dance, but if the “aesthetic of the cool” and “in your face” attitude, or improvisation and embellishment, or sense of community and conversation are missing, the continuity is interrupted. Conversely, the dancers may express joyfulness or a confrontational attitude, but if the torso is consistently vertical and uplifted, the continuity is again interrupted. In each case, I would place these examples within the offshoots of the tree, understanding that new or blended dance forms may result. When exploring the question “Where’s the jazz?” we ask whether the swing dancers in original Savoy Ballroom film clips and the swing dancers on TV’s So You Think You Can Dance equally qualify as jazz dancers. In “Ballin’ the Jack,” an instructional song and dance, how does the polite hip roll suggested by the lyrics “twist around and twist around with all your might,” learned by a white girl in a group social dance class, correspond to the sexual connotations of the hip grind described by scholars?4 Most of today’s self-identified jazz dance classes have lost the sense of community and challenge, vocalization, call-and-response, “aesthetic of the cool,” and improvisation. Using live music has become increasingly rare, eliminating the dancer-musician dialogue. The resulting contemporary or

6 · Patricia Cohen

theatrical jazz dance blends some of the kinetic elements of vernacular jazz with the influences of ballet and modern dance, while eschewing most of the social elements. I believe we must refer to these dances as jazz-influenced or jazz-derived. They are located in the intertwined branches of the tree. Another interesting question arises: if a dance form meets some/most/ all of the elements, is it necessarily defined as jazz dance? Examples: African dance, hip-hop, tap. Although breaking meets all the social and kinetic criteria, would practitioners of hip-hop call their form “jazz dance?” I think not. Even when performed as entertainment for an audience, at its heart, jazz draws on the experiences and the vernacular dances of its people—from Charleston and Jitterbug to salsa and hip-hop. The vernacular forms are subsumed into the art form and used as yet another tool for self-expression. We may use the terms jazz-derived or jazz-influenced to describe contemporary blendings, but the dance form will always be on the cutting edge of responsiveness to the pulse of the people. When we accept the concept of jazz dance as a continuum based in West African roots, with diverging vernacular and theatrical branches, each of which is continually creating new offshoots that gradually but inevitably generate newer blended jazz dance forms, we may also accept a broader definition of jazz dance. We will continue to ask, “Where’s the jazz?” Notes 1. Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 24. 2. For further explanation of these terms, see the definitions for authentic jazz dance and vernacular jazz dance within the section of this book entitled “Jazz Dance Styles.” 3. Robert Farris Thompson, African Art in Motion: Icon and Act (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), 43. 4. Nadine George-Graves, “ ‘Just Like Being at the Zoo’ : Primitivity and Ragtime Dance,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake, ed. Julie Malnig (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 59.

Jazz Dance as a Continuum · 7

2 The Family of Jazz Dance Bob Boross

Since jazz dance is a shared creation of countless individual contributions, there can be no definitive answer to the question “What is jazz dance?” Yes, the initial manifestation was a recognizable product of a particular time and circumstance. But as time passed and circumstances changed, so did jazz dance change as it absorbed new realities. My take on the puzzle of how to define it is that the family of jazz dance exceeds the original creation and has taken shape in various configurations, however diluted, of that original jazz purity. To limit jazz dance as one particular thing would preclude the infinite possibilities of what it can become. To relate this philosophy to my personal practice, I’ve been fortunate to experience the original form of jazz dance along with many of the newer forms. I’ve studied vernacular jazz dance with Pepsi Bethel and also as part of theater dance classes with Lee Theodore, scatted jazz vocals while hitting jazz accents with Billy Siegenfeld, and mastered the precise body isolation exercises of Matt Mattox. I’ve “vopped” with Frank Hatchett, and I’ve slinked through slithery theatrical jazz dance combos with Michael Owens. I also feel that much of my awareness of jazz rhythm comes from my tap dance teachers, Paul Draper, Bob Audy, and Brenda Bufalino. All of these teachers would in some way describe themselves as “jazz,” yet I would only characterize Bethel as being of the pure jazz formation. The work of the others embodied elements of the original form, mixed with varying ratios of ballet, modern, and social dance. The jazz dance gene, however subtle, was and is alive in their work.


Figure 2.1. Author Bob Boross teaching a jazz dance class, June 2003. By permission of Frank Peters.

This is also how I approach the teaching of jazz dance history at Radford University in my course The Changing Nature of American Jazz Dance. I begin by informing my students of how disparate African and European cultural forces inched slowly toward a common time and space on the American continent, slowly picking up speed on their journeys, until at one certain point they merged, creating jazz dance in its greatest purity. Of course this would be the jazz era of the 1910s–1930s, when American social jazz dancing was closest to its New Orleans roots. It was the time of the Charleston, Lindy, Snake Hips, and other vernacular dances—an explosion of fresh jazz dance movements danced to jazz music by those people who created them. But as time passed, new realities shattered the upsurge of jazz dance, resulting in shards of jazz purity being flung far into future times and spaces. The shards carried the power and value of the original form and became the

The Family of Jazz Dance · 9

catalyst in the formation of new jazz dance personas. Potency and purity may have been lost in the process, but these newly emerging personas still carry the genes of the original form of jazz dancing. So what are these “genes” of jazz dance that continually resurface? For a detailed investigation I could point you to the writings of Marshall and Jean Stearns,1 Brenda Dixon Gottschild,2 and Felix Begho.3 For now I’ll briefly outline these genes as characteristics of movement, rhythm, and expression. Jazz dance takes formation in some visible percentage of all three. On a pure movement level, there would be the low, grounded stance of the body, combined with a relaxed muscular feel. The knees are primarily bent, and the body moves in natural ways, mostly in a parallel leg position. The impulse for movement often begins in the pelvis, with an initial sharp impulse that releases through the arms and legs in a diminishing flow of energy. This close connection of sharp and smooth gives the body a decisive energy of attack that links to the next coming attack through a rolling wave of movement intent. Body isolations come into play when the dancer either imitates accents in the music or creates a counter-rhythm of sophisticated body hits and stretches. Accents are felt in the shoulders, ribs, hips, head, arms, and knees—the entire body can be utilized to reflect rhythmic response. Jazz music has a sophisticated use of rhythm, and a jazz dancer should in some way draw from this deep well. This is of prime importance when the music used is not jazz. Whether it takes shape in sly syncopations or the play of sharp and soft accents that gently slur the center of a straight beat, the jazz dancer should display a skill in internalizing qualities that are found in jazz rhythms and making those rhythmic qualities visible in the body. On the level of personal expression, components can be improvisation and/or emotional connection. Jazz dance can be improvised entirely “on the spot” in a direct and spontaneous relationship between the music and the personal movement choices of the dancer. Or it can result from an emotional connection—how a dancer feels when the music washes over him or her. When emotions are linked to movement, the dancer projects a body language that can express inner feelings. More so than any other concert dance form, jazz dance involves “feeling” and “being” the dance, as opposed to a detached inhabitation. To judge a dance as being “jazz” would then require an eye keen enough to decipher these key components of movement and emotion, with the goal of determining the ratio of jazz to non-jazz dance characteristics. Dances high on the scale, for instance, would be Bob Fosse’s Sing, Sing, Sing, Donald McKayle’s District Storyville, Daniel Nagrin’s Strange Hero, and many sections 10 · Bob Boross

of Alvin Ailey’s Blues Suite. Lower on the scale would be Peter Martin’s Jazz (despite its Wynton Marsalis score), Garth Fagan’s Griot (again with a Marsalis score), and a majority of the so-called contemporary jazz dances that appear on the television show So You Think You Can Dance. To my eye, the defining characteristics of jazz dance movement are strong and visible in those former dances, but are minimal or even nonexistent in the latter. To restrict the “jazz dance” label only to vernacular examples is limiting, as there would be many fine examples of dance in later decades that would draw from the defining jazz characteristics in strong enough doses to honor and make visible the roots of jazz dance. We pay our respects to the founders of jazz dance when we continue to use their remarkable inventions with reverence. I feel that a dance can be seen as “jazz” as long as the choreographer is knowledgeable of jazz dance history and its defining characteristics and utilizes those characteristics in a fashion that honors the jazz dance heritage. Notes 1. Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance (New York: Macmillan, 1968). 2. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996). 3. Felix O. Begho, Black Dance Continuum: Reflections on the Heritage Connection between African Dance and Afro-American Jazz Dance, 2 vols. (New York: New York University, 1984).

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3 A Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Manifesto Sheron Wray

Jazz dance is centered on four principles derived from an African aesthetic: rhythmicity, a formidable relationship with the music, improvisation, and dynamic play. Rhythm is intimately connected to music. There is, however, also independence in how this rhythm manifests. It is not like the concept of music visualization referred to in many modern dance textbooks. It is, instead, a jazzcentered articulation of rhythm that responds to the rhythmic framework of the music not by paralleling it but by being in dialogue with it. Therefore, the choreography should have its own rhythmic trajectory that interlaces with the music. At times this counterpoints the rhythmic and melodic ideas, and at other times it weaves its way through the instrumentation, depending on how the choreographer chooses to hear it. At times there may be a deep feeling connected with the bass line, whereas at other times there may be a need to express the melodic line. Within that rhythmic expression the choreographer or dancer attempts to produce complex articulation of the body, demonstrating multiple tones simultaneously. The movements in jazz dance convey the nuances of rhythm including the tone color that musicians produce. Rhythm expresses itself through time and space, and the jazz dancing body represents time as a mosaic, showing multiple spheres of action simultaneously.1 Transferring this idea to dance, constructing mosaic movement means that the phrasing and composition of jazz connects many uneven 12

rhythmic elements, while the physical shape of the individual parts remain unique. Rhythm also calls for stillness to make itself clear. Therefore, the jazz dancer must be able to bring high velocity movement to a forceful stop, which requires motor precision and control. Stillness must not be blurred. Its dynamic potential is intended to generate feelings of surprise for the audience. The jazz dancing body is multicentered, whereby every single part and surface has equal inventive potential. In other words, movements do not all contain the same aesthetic value. In jazz dance, different body parts juxtaposed will embody a variety of rhythmic tones and generate distinctive effects. It is important to state that music created by groups of musicians playing instruments is very different from music created by a producer using a computer that does not feel time. Playing music is a physical act. Musicians’ technique and feelings inform this creative act. This expression is a gift to the jazz dancer. As I remind my students at the University of California, Irvine, jazz music is America’s greatest cultural contribution to the world. Often students laugh at what they perceive to be a wild suggestion, but by attending concerts, listening to recordings, and reading, they learn that it is a commonly held truth. The origins of jazz music are founded in movement; the dancing and singing of African slaves have become the center of this iconic memory of Congo Square, New Orleans, in the eighteenth century. The epicenter of this conjugation of music and dance is the shared African heritage of its

Figure 3.1. Wynton Marsalis with dancers Sheron Wray and Jared Grimes, September 15, 2011. Sanders Theatre, Harvard University. Photo by Ernest Gregory.

A Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Manifesto · 13

founders. Vernacular dancing is at the root of jazz dance, and from this African perspective, dance and music exist together as a holistic activity, as one begets the other. Despite the synthesis with European musical principles that included mastery of western instruments and adoption of western harmonic principles, jazz music and dancing arose out of African-American social encounters where people pursued them for pleasure, social contact, and spiritual renewal, fulfilled through bodily expression; in this way both the dance and the music were essential and affected one another. Moving this principle forward in time, through further synthesis with European values and responses to a changing environment, I would argue that music remains the central creative force inspiring dancers and choreographers to generate work in this idiom. This distinction of developing movement directly from embodying the essence and attitude of the music is critical in choreographing or teaching jazz. Jazz is a music form that arose directly out of African-American communities, and like music of African origin, it has a significant improvised and individually defined component. Because of this, there are creative spaces for individual expression to shape the content of performance while maintaining a close engagement with the aesthetic intention of the whole. If jazz dance has an identity, then it must be found within the creative ability of the performers. The dancers themselves should be adept improvisers. To do this, they must have a deep appreciation of the music in order to demonstrate a sophisticated, rhythmic articulation of movement. In the case of jazz dance improvisation, it is necessary to investigate the components of the movement that make up the choreography so that it can be broken down and rearranged in limitless ways. Dancers should be willing to take risks with their spatial orientation and be able to transfer any movement concept from one part of the body to another. Improvisation also requires dancers to learn movement instantly, since there is an underlying friendly competition among the dancers and the musicians. This constant revitalizing and “re-membering” of movement causes the vocabulary to grow, to be shared among dancers, and to be acknowledged by the audience. Jazz dance is then a process of invention. In my view, it is not limited to one point of origin, that is, the choreographer, because the dancers and musicians also contribute to the creative process. This may have implications so far as the business of jazz dance, commercial production, and codification is concerned. In the commercial field or even in programming of concert dance, improvisation has not proved

14 · Sheron Wray

successful and is not very well understood.2 Mainstream dance certainly has not expanded to incorporate the African-centered model of improvisation that I believe twenty-first-century jazz dancing should portray. In the past fifteen years, more jazz dance companies have begun to engage with improvisation.3 However, even though improvisation is at the very core of the form’s history, many artists have not fully embraced this aspect of its aesthetic, perhaps due to the perceived risks of destabilizing the choreography or lack of serious training or interest in improvisation methods.4 Artists pursuing jazz dance today should bring to the field their own styles as choreographers, a deep connection with music, an ability to improvise and to develop that skill in others, and a sense of play. In most instances, the word play suggests something trivial and child-centered; however, in this context it relates to complexity. Margaret Drewal, who has done ethnographic research into performance in Nigeria, translates the Yorúbà term Etutu simultaneously to mean “serious play, investigation, and improvisation.”5 Jazz dancing contains a constant fascination with the tools that are at hand (the music, the body, the space, and the audience to whom it is finally transmitted) in order to make something that will stir the emotions of all of the participants, who then further feed into its creative realization. With the traceable complexity of jazz dance’s history (from Congo Square to minstrelsy to the ballrooms, black dance, Broadway, and So You Think You Can Dance), this concept of play manifests itself through precision, simultaneous movement and music invention, supple dynamic range, a risk-taking outlook, individual personality, irony, wit, and satire. Jazz dance has a rich soil in which it can continue to grow. However, it requires the dedication of teachers, choreographers, and dancers to explore its foundations so that new inventions will continue to maintain a deep connection with music. There is an ever-growing world of jazz and jazz-inflected music, coming from every continent, that is part of the global village we live in.6 I hold firmly to the view that pop music is not the future for jazz dance. It is important that jazz dance not limit itself to commercial trends and instead embrace its ability to generate new modes of movement invention through play and improvisation. Choreographers may feel that their dance is vulnerable if they allow dancers to express themselves within it. The opposite is true: if a dancer truly has the vivacity of jazz and can express rhythm to a high degree, s/he will undoubtedly add further definition to the choreography and bring to it an unparalleled life force. In simple terms, the maxim “You never know unless you try” represents a world of experiments waiting for future jazz artists to

A Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Manifesto · 15

embark upon. The challenge is to embrace the risk of improvisation and serious play through a finely honed sense of rhythmicity and a deep connection to the music. Notes 1. Paul Berliner, The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 44–45. 2. For further discourse on perceptions of dance improvisation, see Cynthia J. Novack, Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and American Culture (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 229. 3. Companies such as Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Rick Odums, and my own company, JazzXchange Music and Dance, have embraced live jazz music and improvisation in performance. 4. Sheron Wray, “To What Extent Does Jazz Music Place Restrictions upon Dance Improvisation? Can It Offer New Paradigms in Choreography and Performance?” master’s thesis, Middlesex University, 2002. I have devised a jazz-specific improvisation method called the Kaleidoscope Approach. It utilizes specific forms of jazz music such as blues, modal, bebop, and free jazz to bring dancers and musicians into an improvised dialogue. 5. For further discussion on Etutu, see Margaret Thompson Drewal, Yoruba Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 104. 6. France, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, Brazil, and Japan are examples of countries with world-class musicians who have developed their own jazz styles, including Jazz Rock, Contemporary Jazz, Township Jazz, Broken Beat, Latin Jazz, and Nu-Jazz.

16 · Sheron Wray

4 If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music! Billy Siegenfeld

In 1959, Marshall Stearns, noted jazz author and founder of the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, wrote an article for Dance Magazine entitled “Is Modern Jazz Hopelessly Square?” In it he questioned whether the dancing of the day that people called jazz did in fact reflect the essential characteristics of what he called “true jazz dance.” The nut of his argument can be found in the following excerpt: Today, schools of the dance seem neither to know, nor to teach the true jazz dance, although the “Modern Jazz” dance is increasingly popular in the big cities and spreading fast throughout the country. Why? Perhaps the core of the problem is the music, and especially the rhythms, upon which the real jazz dance is based. [The emphasis is mine.]

Stearns went on to emphasize that these rhythms, so obviously fundamental to jazz music, are based upon playing two patterns against each other. One is a repeating foundation rhythm; the second is superimposed upon the first and is made up of rhythmic patterns that are ever-varying. The clash between the two partners of this so-called polyrhythm results in the production of accents not on but off the downbeats of the foundation rhythm—a phenomenon known to jazz musicians as syncopation. Stearns contended that the “real jazz dancer” always incorporates such syncopated phrasing into the movement performance. In addition, another rhythmic effect emerges through the performance that clearly stamps the dancing as jazz. That phenomenon is called swing.


The article seemed to be declaring that dance can be considered jazz only when it uses movement primarily to express the rhythmic underpinnings of authentically swinging jazz music. In reading over this piece more than thirty years later, I find myself feeling moved, delighted, and, on a professional level, very encouraged. Stearns’s provocative and refreshingly cantankerous point of view seems to me as relevant to the issue of what constitutes jazz dancing in 1990 as it did in 1959. I wholeheartedly agree that dancing that does not reflect the rhythmic characteristics of jazz music cannot be considered true jazz dance. My intention here is to affirm the place of swing in contemporary jazz dance, even in the face of the current domination in popular music and dance consciousness by the monotonously one-rhythm sound of rock ’n’ roll. As a rhythmic phenomenon, swing has played an essential role in the development of jazz music for over fifty years. Any musician claiming title to being a jazz artist knows that he or she must demonstrate competence in this rhythmically complex performance technique. As a dance professional working in the jazz idiom, I perhaps naively assumed that today’s choreographers and dancers would operate under a similar artistic mandate. That is to say, I believed that they too would feel compelled to test their artistry against the swing standard. What I have learned over the past few years of observation and research seems to contradict this assumption. Very simply, in the current generation of jazz dance artists, swing appears not to figure at all as a necessary ingredient of creative practice. Indeed, the denial of this characteristic is so prevalent in the dance field that, with rare exception, classes in jazz dance are not taught to swing accompaniment. For many years now, rock ’n’ roll, not jazz music, has been the accompaniment of choice for jazz instructors. And jazz choreographers have been similarly swayed when selecting the music for the dances they present in their concert, theater, video, and film work. But rock ’n’ roll, in any of its stylistic guises, is not jazz. It is rock ’n’ roll, a persistently and predictably two-beat sound that neither swings nor is capable of inspiring swing in the dancing body. As a teacher, choreographer, and dancer of swinging jazz dance—that is, of the kind of jazz dance exemplified in the film work of Fred Astaire, the Nicholas Brothers, the early Bob Fosse, and, more recently, in the revival performances of the great tappers like Honi Coles and Jimmy Slyde—I feel that this yoking of rock music and jazz movement constitutes a paradox. I am interested in challenging this practice and in celebrating rather than denying the necessity for choreographing jazz movement to swinging jazz music. Before clarifying how swing can be worked into the structure of jazz 18 · Billy Siegenfeld

Figure 4.1. Billy Siegenfeld, 2007. Photo by William Frederking. By permission of Billy Siegenfeld.

choreography, let me say what is meant by the term. This might best be done by discussing the difference between rock ’n’ roll and jazz rhythms. It’s syncopation. Syncopation in jazz commonly involves articulating unusually placed accents performed in one rhythm against a series of regularly repeating downbeats in a second rhythm. Because these accents are voiced at moments when the ear least expects to hear them, they convey the quality of surprise. Most of the jazz choreography I see (with the exception of the tapping done by the older dancers who were raised on swing and bebop music) is performed to some style of rock ’n’ roll. But rock ’n’ roll primarily communicates only a single rhythm to the ear. This is a duple, or two-beat based, pattern that rock rhythm sections usually voice as one-TWO, three-FOUR, one-TWO, three-FOUR. This rhythm tends to repeat without any variation through the duration of a given piece of music. Since the “jazz” movements punched out to rock music tend to accent only the beats in this rhythm alone, the net visual effect is choreography without syncopation—at least in the sense of syncopation as surprise. It is in this respect that rock ’n’ roll differs fundamentally from swinging jazz. The latter communicates two primary rhythms to the ear, sounded If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music! · 19

simultaneously in what is called a polyrhythm. The swing polyrhythm is made up of a duple or two-beat-based rhythm and a triple or three-beatbased rhythm that supplies the syncopation patterns to which I referred above. The duple rhythm, which musicians count out in measures of four beats and dancers in measures of eight, serves as a kind of temporal foundation to the triple rhythm. This enables the triple to bounce along on top of the duple and syncopate offbeat accents against it. Today’s jazz choreographers, then, generally focus on creating movement that emphasizes the squared-off, two-beat essence of rock, and if they do happen to use jazz music, they still tend to adhere slavishly to the downbeats of the duple foundation rhythm. In short, their work disregards swing’s polyrhythmic mandate. My point is that if the movements of a dance have been consciously shaped to express a single, two-beat-based rhythm, by definition that dance cannot be considered jazz—even if every last movement in the piece replicates in shape a physical gesture borrowed from authentically swinging choreography. In the spirit of Marshall Stearns’s article, I would say that dancing is not primarily jazz because it looks like jazz. It is jazz because it sounds like the syncopations swinging musicians have been blowing off the bandstands for over a half-century. From this point of view, jazz dance must be judged for its “jazzness” by the same criteria applied to jazz music. It is the distinctive way in which the musicians use rhythm that forcefully identifies the music as jazz. It’s the rhythm that tells the listener, “That’s jazz!”—not the melody and not the harmony. Similarly, it is not a dance’s gestures in space (its “melody,” to borrow the analogy to spatial design that Louis Horst and Carroll Russell make in their book, Modern Dance Forms), or by its dynamic texture (its “harmony”) that stamps it with the jazz cachet. Rather, it’s the dance’s articulation of offbeat accents in a swinging rhythm that endows it with a jazz feeling. It is just these patterns of offbeat accents that the choreographer has to think of building into extended movement phrases as the structural basis of dances that swing. After that, of course, the struggle is to seam together the phrases into whole statements that may stand on their own as works of jazz art. When making my own attempts to swing a dance, I have grown to depend on the guidance of the bedrock rhythmic characteristics that define seeing in musical terms. I call these characteristics “swing principles.” Sifting through the sparse and often conflicting testimonies in the literature of jazz music, I identified four of them: polyrhythm, or the simultaneous performance of a duple or a two-beat-based rhythm and a triple or three-beat-based rhythm; 20 · Billy Siegenfeld

momentum, or the stimulation of the two rhythms with an optimum speed that makes each more malleable for polyrhythmic interplay; swing syncopation, or the accenting of an offbeat eighth note in the triple rhythm; and tension and relaxation, or the alternation between the rhythmic tension or suspense caused by offbeat accenting and the rhythmic relaxation caused by a return to the ongoing downbeats. In a recent group of dances I choreographed—which I call The Joy Spring Suite, after the title of the Clifford Brown hard bop classic to which the first duet in the suite is choreographed—I found it necessary to translate these principles into a movement language the dancers could understand. Over three months of rehearsals this task alone involved as much drilling as the teaching and fine-tuning of the actual steps in the choreography. For example, in order to clarify the principle of polyrhythm, the dancers had to rehearse constantly the ability to “play” two rhythms at once through the body gestures and footwork. What Marshall Stearns refers to as the twobeat-based foundation rhythm—which I have called the “ground rhythm”— compels the dancer to be aware of, if not actually move to, the pulse of the given music without varying its tempo at all. At the same time, the dancer has to punch out syncopations that deliberately accent against the downbeats of this ground rhythm. I call these syncopated patterns, which are fashioned out of a series of running eighth-note triplets and therefore convey the feeling of a triple rhythm, the “jump rhythm.” The dancers’ work is difficult. More than just perform the two rhythms with arithmetic accuracy in the superficial parts of the body, they must also reflect the motional qualities associated with each of these rhythms in the deep action of the spine. In general, the qualities of motion associated with the ground rhythm are sustained or swing-bounce, and those identified with the jump rhythm are either percussive, or staccato (to use the dynamic marking musicians use), or explosive (a motion that sharply explodes outward and then quickly decays). (Musicians refer to this quality as sforzando.) It requires a tremendous control of body dynamics—the outflow of energy—to modulate from one of these qualities to its opposite. I am intrigued by this issue of polyrhythm—of how, in jazz dance, the performer has to approach integrating two unlike rhythmic elements into a seamless movement performance. For the dancer, some of the work has to be devoted to refining a technique that might be called “double-intention phrasing.” Every swing phrase contains, by definition, two rhythms. Each possesses its own personality. Each, therefore, is powered by the engine of its own intention. Swing demands that the performer be at home so thoroughly with If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music! · 21

both that within the exact same duration of time the stating of one always embraces the awareness, if not the outright expression, of the other. Looking more closely at the apparently clashing personalities of the rhythms has helped me to clarify their relationship both to my dancers and to students generally. The ground rhythm, the adherence to which constitutes the performer’s pulse-accuracy or “time,” marches along in an unvarying four beats per measure. (Again, for a dancer, it’s eight beats to each measure of 8/4 time.) As mentioned above, it supplies the continuous temporal foundation upon which every swing jazz performance is built. As such, it gives off the character of reliability. The character of the second rhythm, the so-called jump rhythm, differs from that of its temporal bunkmate. It is not bound to the regularity of an unvarying downbeat repetition. By intention, its phrasing includes accents that occur not on but somewhere between the evenly spaced beats of the ground rhythm. Indeed, it is precisely this manner of phrasing that gives rise to its unique musical “personality.” Because the offbeats accenting in the jump rhythm rarely land squarely on any of the downbeats in the ground, because they do not touch down on any part of the performance’s rhythmic foundation, the jump rhythm has about it a kind of suspended, midair quality. As a consequence, when these offbeat accents work, they can cause an exhilarating kinesthetic giddiness, both in the dancer and in the audience. And they can also bring on another reaction. Just as the explosions of fireworks, once launched, can never be exactly calculated, the offbeats surprise. When a jazz dancer lofts a perfectly timed syncopation above the ground rhythm, the accent threatens to upset, if only for a moment, the ground rhythm’s unflappable steadiness. It is at these moments that much of jazz’s wit emerges. In the manner of a choice funhouse gag, the jump rhythm wags its syncopated tongue at the gravity-bound, steady-going downbeat tread of the ground rhythm. One of my great challenges in mounting jazz-rhythm-infused dances involves teaching the dancers how best to project these two states of physical-emotional readiness. They represent contrasting states, both of bodily tension and of dramatic intention. Expression of the jump rhythm phrasing requires daring physical wit—the sort of unpredictable stabbing and retracting we see in the play impulses of catnip-crazed kittens. Expressing the ground rhythm depends on conveying an unforced way of going about business. We find such physical sureness in the walking gait of a seasoned hoofer about to launch into the first bars of a favorite soft-shoe number. Swing emerges from balancing the expression of these contrasting states. Indeed, as a choreographer interested in sustaining swing through an entire 22 · Billy Siegenfeld

piece, I have discovered that the primary task is to keep the two sides of this delicate balancing act in equilibrium. At all times the ground rhythm and the jump rhythm must be allowed to assert themselves. But at no time can either be allowed to dominate to the point of canceling out the other. In a kind of evenly matched tug of war, the two partners must remain vigorously engaged. But they are engaged only in mock combat—in a contest, to borrow Edwin Denby’s description of Balanchine’s Agon, that “is nothing about winning or losing,” as Denby wrote in his 1959 article “Three Sides of Agon.” Too much ground rhythm—that is, too much on-the-beat accentuation— forces the dance to lose its rhythmic interest. In the jazz dances I have seen that churn out accents falling only on the downbeats, it soon becomes too easy to anticipate when the next rhythmic hits will occur. Despite the thrilling physical feats some of these pieces offer, viewing them, at least for me, is not really an occasion for gaining an exciting jazz rhythm experience. On the other hand, when too much explosive jump rhythm fills a dance, the audience is never given the chance to relax—to be given the kinesthetic pleasure of observing the dancers’ return, if only for a moment, to that simple, lovely action of moving easily to the beat. As audience, I often find myself in this tensed state when watching some of the contemporary tappers doing one of their lengthy a cappella breaks. It’s not just that the music backing them has stopped, thus denying the ear the sound stimulus of a steady downbeat pulse. It is rather that their unrelenting syncopations insist upon making reference to no ground rhythm. So swing phrase-making imposes a very definite constraint upon the jazz choreographer. If you want to sustain a dance’s swing, you don’t just bounce the movement up into the sparkling blue and have it doodle endless jump rhythms that have nothing to do with the underlying ground rhythm. Nor do you only try to match the movements to the most obvious inflections of the pulse. To make a dance that swings, the choreographer has to orchestrate a unity between these two fundamental rhythms that allows each to have its own say—and often at the same time! Only in this way will the dance begin to let loose with truly liberating syncopations—liberating because they are continuously referring back to the “jail” of the ground rhythm from which they explode. Only in this way will the offbeat accentuations that are at the heart of the jazz experience pop off the ground with the stunning unpredictability of a perfect accident. Note This chapter was originally published in Dance Teacher Now, August 1990, 50–54.

If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music! · 23

5 Jazz Dance Styles Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver, with author contributions

Here is a brief overview of jazz dance styles that are all part of the jazz dance tree. Styles are grouped in a way that suggests shared roots and aesthetic principles. Readers are encouraged to refer to this section as a glossary, but keep in mind that, just as branches of a tree intertwine and give way to new branches, many of the styles fall into more than one category and can overlap with other styles in their group. Authentic Jazz Dance

Authentic jazz dance developed alongside the jazz music of the 1920s–1940s. There is always a visible connection to African movement qualities and jazz music. Some examples include the Lindy Hop, Charleston, and the Camel Walk. The main movement characteristics of authentic jazz include a grounded swing quality, an inclined torso, syncopation, polyrhythms, polycentrism, and articulation of the torso. Syncopation is the accenting of the offbeat in music, or the space in between the beats. Polyrhythm means multiple rhythms; in authentic jazz dance it refers to the fact that the dancer may be dancing two or more rhythms simultaneously with different parts of the body (i.e., the torso and the legs). Polycentrism (many centers) refers to the fact that the movement may emanate from more than one place at a time, with different body parts moving independently of each other. Articulation of the torso means that instead of the torso moving as one piece (as we


usually see in ballet), particular portions of the torso may move in isolation (e.g., the ribcage) or the entire torso may move with a flow that emphasizes the flexibility of the spine. Social characteristics include (but are not limited to) the circle, improvisation, friendly competition, vocal encouragement, individuality within the group, “high affect juxtaposition,” and “aesthetic of the cool.” These last two terms were coined by scholar Robert Farris Thompson, who outlined ten characteristics of African art, most of which apply to authentic jazz dance as well. “High affect juxtaposition” refers to contrasting elements used within a single piece, for instance, a switch from one rhythm to another or from a serious to a humorous mood. “Aesthetic of the cool” is Thompson’s term for a specific attitude: “coolness is an all-embracing positive attribute which combines notions of composure, silence, vitality, healing, and social purification.”1 Tap Dance

An American indigenous style of dance that materialized as enslaved peoples of African descent fused their native dances with European elements including Irish step dancing. Tap dancing in all of its variations centers on the special agility of feet to floor contact based on simple and intricate rhythmic structures. The style grew to be synonymous with authentic jazz dance in the jazz era and then branched out in an increasingly theatrical fashion as tappers found homes on Broadway stages and in American movie musicals. Today the form is characterized by its use of shoes with metal taps on the balls of the feet and heels that act as percussive instruments. Styles range from the more commonly recognized Broadway-theatrical style with a focus on whole body movement, to rhythm tap, which uses the feet as the primary means for communication and is more closely related to its jazz roots. Tapping can be performed with or without musical accompaniment. It often includes elements of improvisation and makes use of syncopated rhythms. Club Jazz Dance

Club jazz developed in Britain in the 1980s as a response to classic American jazz music of the early 1900s. The complexity of the music intrigued some club dancers, who then sought out authentic jazz dance in movies featuring dancers such as the Nicholas Brothers, Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, and Mama Lu Parks. The main characteristics of the club jazz style are fast, intricate footwork, syncopated breaks, knee drops, spins, and splits.2

Jazz Dance Styles · 25

Jazz-Influenced Dance

Jazz-influenced is an alternative term for any type of jazz dance that is not authentic jazz dance. Some practitioners believe that all jazz dancing which evolved after the advent of bebop in the 1940s, when jazz dance ceased to grow alongside jazz music, should be called jazz-influenced dance. Jazz-influenced dance is distinctly different from its roots in “authentic jazz,” but is still commonly referred to as jazz dance. Rhythm-Generated Jazz Dance

This form is rooted in the African-American dance and musical traditions that gave rise to early jazz expression where music and dance were equal, conversational partners. Rhythm-generated jazz dance begins with a grounded body that generates movement and rhythm from the inside out. Those who make and perform rhythm-generated jazz dance often have a deep understanding of musical form and complex rhythms, and movements embody the “groove” of jazz, blues, or any jazz- or blues-based contemporary music. This integral relationship to the rhythmic foundation of music depends on incorporating factors such as relaxing the joints of the body so the body’s weight can sit into the music’s beat, making visible rhythms that play against as much as with the rhythms and affirming an intimate relationship with the concept of swing. Additional central qualities may include improvisation, call-and-response, high-contrast dynamics, and the simultaneous affirmation of the individual voice and the collective group.3 Theatrical Jazz Dance

Theatrical jazz dance includes many styles that are to be performed for an audience or are suited for a stage. Jack Cole is considered the father of theatrical jazz dance, and his work marks a period (1940s) where there was a shift from authentic jazz to jazz-influenced dance. The term theatrical jazz represents a fusion of styles, usually borrowing from ballet and vernacular jazz at the foundation, but it can also include ethnic styles, modern dance, tap dance, and any blend of jazz dance styles. Over time the style has evolved and become increasingly broad. The jazz dance styles below can all fall under the theatrical jazz dance umbrella: Afro-Caribbean Jazz Dance A blend of African, European, and indigenous movement and aesthetics, inflected with movement vocabulary specific to the Caribbean and performed to music of the Caribbean. Katherine Dunham was the main proponent of this style in the United States. 26 · Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver, with author contributions

Figure 5.1. Dancer Paige Sabo in a pose inspired by Bob Fosse, 2008. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.

Broadway Jazz Dance/Musical Theater Jazz Dance Although technically this term could include any type of jazz dance that has ever appeared on Broadway, it has usually referred to a blended dance form that includes some jazz elements mixed with either modern dance, ballet, tap, or any other style of dance appropriate to the particular show in question. This style is often narrative and usually serves an entertainment purpose. Broadway jazz became the foundation for choreography done in shows beginning in the 1940s. Classic or Classical Jazz Dance There are two definitions for classical jazz dance. 1. Same as “authentic jazz dance”; dance that developed alongside jazz music from the 1920s through 1940s. The Lindy Hop is an example. 2. Jazz dance originating at the time of Jack Cole, Matt Mattox, Luigi, and Gus Giordano; a time when jazz dance was codified, or developed into techniques that blended vernacular jazz elements with ballet, modern dance, and other forms. Jazz Dance Styles · 27

Figure 5.2. Dancer Olivia Rehrman in the contemporary jazz dance style. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.

Commercial Jazz Dance Any type of jazz dance that is associated with selling a product such as a car, clothing, or a song. It may also refer to jazz or jazz-influenced dance performed in large, for-profit venues such as Las Vegas nightclubs, on television, or in film. Concert Jazz Dance The common denominator is dance that is produced on the concert stage, separate from the musical theater context. It is usually a blended form, like Broadway, theatrical, or contemporary jazz dance. Concert jazz dance has specific compositional values derived from modern dance that are not necessarily present in commercial jazz dance. The impetus for concert jazz dance is to create original artistic expression through movement, rather than to create entertainment, although concert jazz dance may do both. Contemporary Jazz Dance The meaning of the term contemporary changes over time. Today it seems to refer to a fusion of styles with identifiable jazz dance characteristics. Style is typically unique to the choreographer rather than to the style itself, and the choreographer typically borrows from an eclectic movement vocabulary for individualized expression. 28 · Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver, with author contributions

Latin Jazz Dance Latin jazz dance has a Latin American inflection that can be expressed through specific movements, musical accompaniment, and costume choices. It is usually a blend of African, European, North American, and South American influences. This style can be danced theatrically or in a social setting. Lyrical Jazz Dance A style of jazz dance which began in the 1960s and is rooted in the lines of classical ballet. There is usually an emotional context, and the movement style is characterized by its fluidity and expressiveness. The movement is usually inspired by the lyrics or the lyric quality of the song, although it is possible to dance in a lyrical nature to instrumental music. Pop Jazz Dance Pop jazz dance is performed to popular music. This is the style most commonly seen today in jazz dance competitions, conventions, and private dance studios. West Coast Jazz Dance A style popularized by Joe Tremaine in the 1980s, West Coast jazz has influenced contemporary jazz styles and continues to be very popular today. The style is often performed to popular music and is usually flashy, funky, and well suited for commercial purposes. Since the 1980s, the style has evolved so that it embraces what is new, hip, and trendy. Vernacular Jazz

Vernacular jazz refers to everyday dances done by ordinary people. It grew out of dances from Africa and the West Indies, but it has visible European influences. It grew to reflect the free-spirited nature of America in the early 1900s through improvisation and with an emphasis on personality. Dances at that time were typically done in social settings and often with a partner. The term vernacular jazz often refers to the style of jazz danced in the early 1900s, yet essentially it includes any social dance styles that reflect a time, culture, and community. The form has changed, as it continuously and fluidly adapts to changes in society and culture. Popular music and vernacular jazz are often related, as seen in Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips, the Twist, and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. Hip-hop and authentic jazz dance are both examples of styles that can be considered vernacular jazz, as they do not necessarily require studio training or ballet technique, and they grew out of American culture and music. Hip-hop, authentic jazz, and other vernacular Jazz Dance Styles · 29

forms can range from recreational movement to disciplined forms studied through rigorous training. Vernacular and authentic jazz are similar but not exactly the same. All authentic jazz is vernacular jazz, but vernacular jazz is not limited to authentic jazz. While authentic jazz is vernacular jazz from the early twentieth century, vernacular jazz refers to more than one period. It is fluid and constantly evolving. The following styles are all branches of vernacular jazz dance: Hip-Hop Dance

Hip-hop is a social dance form with particular aesthetic principles, but the term hip-hop is also used as an umbrella describing forms that have grown alongside a broad hip-hop culture (including rapping, break-dancing, graffiti, deejaying, and beatboxing). The forms derive from African-American and Hispanic roots and borrow from early vernacular forms. But they are different from most jazz dance styles in their movements, rhythmic structures, and relationship to the music. Other elements often present in hip-hop dance include battles, improvisation (or freestyling), and ciphers. Breaking,

Figure 5.3. Hip-hop dancers in performance at the University of Arizona. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.

30 · Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver, with author contributions

popping, locking, party dancing, tutting, animation, ticking, strobing, and get-lite are all styles that fall under the hip-hop umbrella. Funk (Urban Funk)

Funk is a style of dance influenced by rhythm and blues. A strong emphasis is placed on the downbeat and grounded movement close to the floor. This style combines body isolations in an angular and disjointed manner. Pedestrian movements such as walking, clapping, and finger snapping are incorporated into the movements. Funk is commonly seen in club dancing. Projected “attitude” poses are common.4 Street Jazz Dance

Street jazz is derived from pedestrian movements with an emphasis on attitude or “funk.” It is a form that is vernacular in nature, so it is constantly changing as a reflection of popular culture. Over time street jazz has been used as a label for three distinctly different styles of jazz dance: 1. A style that emerged in early music videos, it absorbed influences from hip-hop dance and culture while becoming commercialized for mainstream popular culture. This urban style is characterized by percussive isolations, non-locomotor movement, and its connection to pop music. It was used by artists including Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul, and it has since evolved alongside popular music. 2. Vernacular dancing performed in a social setting. 3. Another term for club jazz. Notes 1. Cheryl Willis, “Tap Dance: Manifestation of the African Aesthetic,” in African Dance, ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002), 147. 2. Definition courtesy of Michèle Scott. 3. Definition courtesy of Jill Flanders Crosby, Michèle Moss, and Billy Siegenfeld. 4. Definition courtesy of Tom Ralabate.

Jazz Dance Styles · 31

PART II Jazz Dance History

Jazz dance history is rich and extensive. Part II explores this history from its origins to today. For the purposes of this book, the history has been divided into four sections: the roots of jazz dance during the slavery period in the United States; from emancipation through the 1960s; from the 1970s to today; and a historical movement chart. This history is intended to give a broad, sweeping overview rather than a detailed inventory of all aspects of jazz dance. Many things that are mentioned only briefly in the historical overview are presented in more detail later in the book. Takiyah Nur Amin illuminates the roots of jazz dance by looking at West African dance and its adaptations during slavery. She enumerates the particular tribes of the enslaved peoples brought to the United States and discusses the dance elements they shared. These distinct movement and social characteristics later serve as the foundation for jazz dance in America. As West African rhythms and movements fuse with a European aesthetic, the jazz dance tree begins to grow. Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss pick up the story after emancipation, tying the development of jazz dance to the concurrent development of jazz music. Beginning with minstrelsy and vaudeville, the authors sketch out the diverse journey of this dance form. The jazz age of the early twentieth century, the hybrid styles of Broadway, changes in social dancing after the advent of bebop Jimmy Slyde. Photo from Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. 33

music, and new dance techniques were all a part of the mix and bring us up through the 1960s. Crosby and Moss also look at the most recent decades of jazz dance history beginning with the 1970s. Jazz dance continues its journey of experimenting, blending, and innovating, resulting in contrasting jazz dance styles. As the genre accepts and adopts influences from American pop culture, global cultures, and other dance genres, its African roots become increasingly diluted in most jazz dance styles, until its most apparent truth becomes its changing nature. In addition to new jazz dance styles, the authors discuss the emergence of concert jazz dance companies, the revival of jazz as a social dance form, jazz dance training, and the relationship between jazz dance and various styles of music. The historical overview is followed by an historical movement chart, written by Tom Ralabate. It outlines vernacular jazz dance steps, movements, and styles by era and the musical styles that dominated during each period. Although many movements overlap and are adapted to other music styles, the organization of this chart clearly depicts how vernacular jazz dance never stops changing. The history of jazz dance is a fascinating and complex journey through American history with branches reaching far beyond the United States. We now see that jazz dance is a global phenomenon. Part II traces this journey through time, place, people, music, and culture, offering a vivid picture of the constantly evolving jazz dance landscape.

34 · Jazz Dance History

6 The African Origins of an American Art Form Takiyah Nur Amin

Jazz dance, a uniquely American dance form, is rooted in and informed by African movement idioms and aesthetics that traveled to the United States with the trafficking of African people, commonly referred to as the Middle Passage or the transatlantic slave trade. During the enslavement era, African dances were transformed into African-American dances with the addition of various movements derived from whites. Post-enslavement and throughout the twentieth century, African-American dance evolved in several directions, one of which was jazz dance. While the term jazz dance was not coined until the 1920s, the primary ancestry of jazz dance can be found by studying African dance forms and how they changed in the context of plantation life. Africa is the world’s second largest continent, with more than fifty countries and several thousand cultural groups. Which specific influences found their way into jazz dance? What were the dances and movement aesthetics of the Africans who came to the Western Hemisphere through this system of forced migration? What indicates the presence of the African aesthetic within the lexicon of jazz dance vocabulary today? And what are the implications of seeing African-based movement and aesthetics as the primary aspect of jazz dance, with other cultural influences adding onto that base? Diversity in the Diaspora

While many students are somewhat familiar with the presence of people of African descent in the West through the tragedy of the Middle Passage or 35

transatlantic slave trade, it is arguable that fewer know about the presence of Africans in the Americas prior to that long-standing historical incident. Scholars have worked to document the presence and widespread influence of African cultural groups in the West, not just before enslavement but also before European conquest and the purported discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Dr. Ivan Van Sertima painstakingly documented this crucial aspect of early history in They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America.1 Van Sertima forwarded evidence of the African presence in the “new world,” including details of expeditions launched from Mali to the West in 1310, studies of analogous cultural traits between African cultural groups and indigenous people of the Americas, and a thorough examination of artifacts, stone sculptures (including the famous Olmec Heads), documents, and other cultural data. Cheikh Anta Diop and John Henrik Clarke, among others, have also written about the pre-enslavement presence of African people in the West dating back to at least 750 bc, 2 leaving a rigorous body of work for any student interested in detailed study of this topic. While in-depth accounts of the movement/dance aesthetics of people of African descent in the Western Hemisphere during this period are not readily available, it is not a far-reaching assumption to suggest that even at that time, the movement/dance aesthetics of African people traveled with them. Regarding the much later transatlantic slave trade, it should be noted that the first group of enslaved Africans to come to what we know today as the first permanent settlement in the United States were brought as cargo by the Dutch to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Notably, the Spanish brought enslaved Africans even earlier in 1526, but it was to a shorter-lived settlement near present-day Winyah Bay, South Carolina, the site of the first revolt of enslaved Africans in the United States. Slavery was central to the context of European colonial efforts to establish trading settlements globally, with the Portuguese bringing enslaved Africans to the Caribbean some ten years before Columbus’s exploits. As such, by the time Africans were brought to the Jamestown colony, a million people of African descent had been brought to various parts of South America and the Caribbean to work in both the Portuguese and Spanish colonies.3 Information on the numbers of people transported to the West and cultural specificity among groups of enslaved Africans can be found in the work of Michael A. Gomez, who reports that “the total number of Africans imported into the Americas is somewhere between 9.6 and 10.8 million, while the total export figure is about 11.9 million. Concerning North America in particular . . . the total import figure [is] at 480,930 or 481,000 for the sake 36 · Takiyah Nur Amin

of convenience. The total is 5 percent of the 10 million or so brought into the New World. The Atlantic Slave Trade spanned some four hundred years, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. By 1650 the number of Africans transported reached 10,000 per year.”4 Gomez presents a “Final Revision of Origins and Percentages of Africans Imported into British North America and Louisiana” (table 6.1), which details the national point of origin for persons coming from the continent to the United States. While he accounts for 98.2 percent of enslaved Africans, the remaining 1.8 percent is explained as persons from what Gomez calls the “Mozambique-Madagascar contribution,” referring to people from those African nations. Given this information, one can assess that the persons accounted for in these percentages were primarily from the dominant cultural groups in each land mass. Therefore, the ethnic groups below were very likely the most prominent among Africans in the United States.5 It is important to note that these cultural groups brought their own distinctive beliefs, cultural practices, lore, and rituals including dance through the Middle Passage. By way of example, consider the dance masquerade Gelede of the Yoruba people, a “lavish, colorful three-day festival” that honors the spiritual potency of female energy and motherhood in the visage of Iyanla, the “Great Mother.”6 By contrast, the Zigbliti dance of the peoples of Cote d’Ivoire commemorates the daily pounding of corn.7 Cultural groups also emphasized different parts of the body while dancing. According to Jacqui Malone, “The Anlo-Ewe and Lobi of Ghana emphasize the upper body while the Kalabari of Nigeria give a subtle accent to the hips . . . the Akan of Ghana use the hands and feet in specific ways . . . strong contraction-release

Table 6.1. Final revision of origins and percentages of Africans imported into British North America and Louisiana Senegambia


Sierra Leone


Gold Coast (of Ghana)


Bight of Benin


Bight of Biafra


West Central Africa


Sources: Adapted from Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 29, and Walter C. Rucker, The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006), 126.

The African Origins of an American Art Form · 37

movements of the pelvis and upper torso characterize both female and male dancing in Agbor [Nigeria.]”8 This illustrates the salient point that African dances were not and are not all the same across cultural groups and landmasses. Notably, during enslavement in the United States there was no attempt to keep families or communities together or to maintain their unique cultural differences and proclivities; the disregard for the diversity of African societies was emblematic of most enslavement contexts. It was this lack of respect for African cultural differences and an increased need to create a race-based society in order to maintain the social status of white landowners that set the stage for the blending of cultural perspectives and practices that later began to emerge in this new context for Africans in America. Now that a picture is appearing of the cultural diversity of the African people who brought their traditions to the West, what were the dances that emerged from the blending of those communities in the context of enslavement and what are the aesthetic markers of these movement vocabularies? How do these movement idioms become the basis for what we know today as jazz dance? From Slavery to the Stage

Buck Dance. Juba. Pigeon Wing. Buzzard Lope. Turkey Trot. Snake Hips. Fish Tail. Fish Bone. Camel Walk. Cakewalk. Ring Shout. Water Dances.9 These names all refer to dances that emerged from the blending of various African cultural groups during the period of enslavement (see table 6.2). While the presence of drums and the act of drumming or using other musical instruments (a central characteristic in many African cultural groups) was routinely prohibited among enslaved people in various states, the presence of dance persisted on plantations, whether openly for the pleasure and entertainment of slave owners or in secret, sacred gatherings among the enslaved only.10 Additionally, while not all slave owners encouraged or supported the dancing of enslaved people, the aforementioned movement traditions still emerge in the historical record and have been noted by many dance writers. These dances have several characteristics in common: • the emphasis on patting the body/stamping the feet (to establish a staccato, consistent rhythm) as in the Buck dance, Jig, and Juba (also known as “Pattin’ Juba”) • the imitation of other living things observed in the natural world as in the Pigeon Wing, Buzzard Lope, Turkey Trot, Snake Hips, Fish Tail, Fish Bone, and Camel Walk dances 38 · Takiyah Nur Amin

• the emphasis on congenial but competitive dancing as in the Jig, Cakewalk, and Water Dance • the use of dance as a central commemorative and religious act as in the Ring Shout and Buzzard Lope11

The presence of these dance traditions in plantation settings is evidence that dance was a communal expression that became the basis of popular black dances in the U.S. post-enslavement. The diverse cultural groups noted in table 6.1 necessarily blended, creating a rich collection of African-derived movements that were later adopted, borrowed, and/or appropriated by dominant cultural groups. Dance scholar Katrina Hazzard-Donald notes that “though the ceremonial context and specific movements varied from group to group, the basic West African dance was strikingly similar across ethnic lines” and that “as a result, interethnic assimilation in the new cultural environment was more easily facilitated in dance than in other aspects of the African culture, such as language.”12 As an illustration of this blending, consider that from 1724 to 1817, people of African, French, and Spanish descent mingled in Congo Square, a plaza in present-day Louis Armstrong Park in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.13 Congo Square was a central gathering place for music and dance on Sundays where those assembled “did not constitute an audience of detached observers; for they joined the performers by clapping their hands, stomping their feet, patting their bodies, answering calls of chanters, adding improvised intonations and ululations (shrills in sometimes piercing

Table 6.2. Ethnic groups by region Senegambia Region

Wolof, Fula, Mandinka

Sierra Leone

Temne, Mende

Gold Coast [of Ghana] and Cote d’Ivoire

Akan, Fon, Mande, Kru

Bight of Benin

Yoruba, Ewe, Fon, Allada, Mahi

Bight of Biafra [including Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea]

Igbo, Tikar, Bubi, Bamileke, Ibibio

West Central Africa [Angola]

Kongo, Mbundu



Sources: Adapted from Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 29, and Walter C. Rucker, The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006), 126.

The African Origins of an American Art Form · 39

pitches), singing songs that accompanied the dances, shaking gourd rattles, and replacing dancers who became fatigued.” The dances at Congo Square, often patterned after West and Central African circle or ring dances, evolved over time to include European-derived styles accompanied by English-based songs alongside African-derived dances.14 By the 1830s, black sociocultural dances were being popularized for white audiences in minstrel shows, a form of theatrical entertainment that largely caricatured black people. While folk/vernacular dances of English, Scottish, and Irish origin were being performed as a part of this early theatrical tradition in the United States, the tradition of blackface was also gaining popularity. White performers covered their faces with black greasepaint or burnt cork and performed hyperstylized, satirized versions of black dances derived from plantation traditions; the most common finale of any minstrel show included the audience participating in a Cakewalk.15 By the time vaudeville developed in the United States in the late 1870s, touring groups of both black and white blackface-wearing minstrels had become commonplace in American entertainment. Vaudeville shows, which included such diversions as acrobats, jugglers, child performers, and chorus girls, had become the vehicle through which ragtime, a style of music from New Orleans, was being popularized. This new music, deeply grounded in African aesthetic principles with its emphasis on syncopation, polyrhythm, and percussive use of the piano, was the historical antecedent to jazz music. Early jazz dance was primarily a folk/vernacular form of movement that evolved alongside the development of jazz music in the United States; it was

Figure 6.1. “The Bamboula” drawn in Congo Square, New Orleans, by E. W. Kemble, in Century Magazine (1886). 40 · Takiyah Nur Amin

Figure 6.2. The Cake Walk. Created and “copyright 1896 by The Strobridge Lith Co, Cinti & N.Y.”

later amplified and hyperstylized for social and theatrical settings. The historical result of the African cultural presence in the United States and the dance traditions that emerged formed the basis for many American theatrical and stage dances that birthed minstrelsy, vaudeville, and what we know today as jazz dance. While it is important to recognize that European-derived couple dances were being popularized in America in the early twentieth century, social dances were circulating in black communities, which actively blended them with Africanist elements; the result was a bevy of popular dances including the Charleston, the Black Bottom, the Suzy-Q, and the Lindy Hop. Creative Threads, Aesthetic Connections

Scholars have worked to position the aesthetic characteristics of dances derived from West African cultural groups as the primary antecedent to dance forms that later emerged from black communities in the United States. Africanist aesthetics as described in contemporary scholarship affirm the centrality of African movement vocabulary, ethos, and approach to movement invention in jazz dance. In his groundbreaking 1966 article, An Aesthetic of the Cool: West African Dance, Yale University professor Robert Farris Thompson described the aesthetic traits of West African music and The African Origins of an American Art Form · 41

dance as “the dominance of a percussive concept of performance, multiple meter, apart playing and dancing, call-and-response, and, finally, the songs and dances of derision.”16 Building on Thompson’s research, Marshall and Jean Stearns, authors of the seminal text on jazz dance, described the characteristics of African dance identifiable in the United States as the use of bare feet, movement performed with bent knees, a crouched position with flexibility at the waist, the imitation of animal movement, emphasis on improvisation, the emphasis on centrifugal movement that “explodes outward from the hips,” and the emphasis on a propulsive rhythm or “swing” quality in the movement.17 Other dance scholars including Jacqui Malone, Kariamu Welsh, and Katrina Hazzard-Donald affirm the perspectives of Thompson and the Stearns when identifying the defining characteristic of African-based movement aesthetics.18 The defining characteristics for jazz dance are essentially analogous to the defining traits of primarily West African music and dance aesthetics listed above. What the Stearns note “as a powerful, propulsive rhythm, which can appear in the singing, the stamping, the clapping, and the dancing all at one time” coupled with their identification of the basic traits of AfricanAmerican dance as being rooted in “improvisation, the Shuffle, the counterclockwise circle dance, and the call-and-response pattern in voice, dance, and rhythm”19 are firmly ensconced in the lexicon of jazz dance. While it is evident that jazz dance today has absorbed other influences over time, it is grounded in an Africanist aesthetic in terms of its fundamental movement vocabulary, rhythmic structure, relationship to music, and approach to movement invention. Conclusion

Jazz dance is a uniquely American art form because of the amalgam of largely African and European cultural influences that blended—either by force or by choice—on this continent. While some recognize African cultural markers in jazz dance, others have construed those aspects as a “contributory” force in the development of the art form, or they have ignored them altogether. This perspective is dubious because it suggests that somehow Africanist elements were appended to a preexisting movement vocabulary that then gave rise to jazz dance. It has been demonstrated here that the dominant aesthetic inclinations of jazz dance are decidedly Africanist; it becomes clear that other cultural influences and dance styles found today within the lexicon of jazz dance were affixed to African idioms and movement approaches in order for the dance form we call jazz to emerge. By recognizing the primacy of African-derived 42 · Takiyah Nur Amin

movements in the makeup of jazz dance and acknowledging the mixed heritage of the form as ultimately the result of both cultural borrowing and appropriation between African and European influences, the rich roots of jazz dance emerge. We begin to understand this dance form as being grounded not only in an African-derived movement vocabulary but also in an African cultural ethos that continues to inform the dance today, even if its cultural roots go unacknowledged or are otherwise obscured. In this way, we understand that African people in the West before, during, and after enslavement contributed not to jazz dance but to the larger national and global dance landscape through jazz dance. By de-centering the primacy of non-African cultural contributions, we can understand jazz dance as an amalgamation of cultural influences that remains persistently African at its core. Notes 1. Ivan van Sertima, They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America (New York: Random House, 2003), 32–35. 2. James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (New York: Touchstone, 2007), 42–43. 3. Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2010), 42. 4. Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 18. 5. Ibid., 28, 29. Also see Walter C. Rucker, The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006), 126. 6. Barbara S. Glass, African-American Dance: An Illustrated History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007), 8. 7. Doris Green, “Traditional Dance in Africa,” in African Dance: An Artistic, Historical, and Philosophical Inquiry, ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002), 16. 8. Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 13. 9. Lynne Fauley Emery, Black Dance: From 1619 to Today (Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book, 1988), 94. 10. Many states and plantation owners feared that enslaved Africans would use drums to communicate with each other and as an aid in fostering rebellion. For more information, see John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 35–36. 11. Emery, Black Dance, 89–96. 12. Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, Jookin’: The Rise of Social Dance Formations in AfricanAmerican Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 18. The African Origins of an American Art Form · 43

13. Freddie Williams Evans, Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans (New Orleans: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2011), 1. 14. Ibid., 89. 15. Harriett Lihs, Appreciating Dance: A Guide to the World’s Liveliest Art (Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book, 2009), 81. 16. Robert Farris Thompson, “Dance and Culture, an Aesthetic of Cool,” African Forum 2 (1966): 88. 17. Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance (New York: Macmillan, 1968), 14–15. 18. Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, “Dancing under the Lash: Sociocultural Disruption, Continuity, and Synthesis,” in African Dance, ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002), 101-30; Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, Jookin’: The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990); Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996); Kariamu Welsh Asante, “Commonalities in African Dance: An Aesthetic Foundation,” in African Culture: The Rhythms of Unity, 3rd ed., ed. Kariamu Welsh Asante and Molefi K. Asante (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1996); Kariamu Welsh Asante, African Dance: An Artistic, Historical, and Philosophical Inquiry (Trenton: African World Press, 1994); Kariamu Welsh Asante, The African Aesthetic: Keeper of the Traditions (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993). 19. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 29.

44 · Takiyah Nur Amin

7 Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

The history of jazz dance is intimately tied to the history of jazz music. Collectively, as jazz expression with common histories and shared aesthetic characteristics, their entwined history from emancipation to the 1970s is complex. Their parallel histories reveal a multiplicity of aesthetic approaches, interactions, and a fluidity of cultural, musical, and dance identities.1 Imagine the jazz tree as it appears in the introduction surrounded by a community dancing socially and performatively. The groove that the participants, dancers, and musicians share is one that celebrates individual expression yet moves as a collective. There is a give and take, shift and change in aesthetic intention that honors the roots of the tree, celebrating the heritage and legacy of jazz while new branches form as a result of new innovations. These innovations reveal a history of jazz expression where the essence of jazz is one of experimentation and discovery,2 embracing and absorbing various influences while holding individualistic expression and freedom in high regard. Thus jazz history is a landscape of evolving meanings, values, ideas, sounds, movements, contestations, contradictions, pluralities, and multiple constructions of “what is jazz.”3 In this chapter, the historical discussion of jazz and its West African roots is framed by an examination of relevant jazz dance and music history literature as well as oral history interviews. This discussion and analysis offers a broad historical overview intended to introduce the sweep of jazz dance and music history. 45

Setting the Stage

“Jazz is a physical and aural expression of the complexity and exuberance of American culture and history.”4 Jazz dance and music emerged primarily from what is known as African-American folk and vernacular5 music and dance, lending creative inspiration to each other’s development.6 These early dances incorporated improvisation and reflected “the power of the community supporting the individual creative voice in a non-literal expression of storytelling and connection to the human experience.”7 A competitive spirit often imbued these early forms, and movements were characterized by a weighted release into gravity, a dynamic spine, propulsive rhythms, and a rhythmic, conversational approach to musical accompaniment.8 From the 1850s into the twentieth century, presentational performance opportunities and venues for African-American musicians and dancers increased and dance troupes such as the Whitman Sisters (1900–1943) became incubators of dancing talent.9 In medicine shows, tent shows, minstrelsy, vaudeville, gillies,10 and eventually the musical theater stage, movement details of African-American folk and vernacular dances were reemerging in new dances, or in dances once seen only on plantations, retaining their original form while expanding through movement invention.11 The Cakewalk, performed to the syncopated rhythms of the emerging ragtime music in the 1890s, was one of the earlier dances that served as an incubator for inventive new steps.12 In July 1898, Clorindy, or The Origin of the Cakewalk opened on Broadway featuring the Cakewalk performed to ragtime music.13 Varied dance and music practices were also meeting each other in the cultural diversity of America where new ideas were explored. For example, William Henry Lane, known as Master Juba, lived in the Five Points district of New York City where Irish immigrants and African-Americans lived in the mid-1800s. He enlivened the rhythmic structure of the Irish jig with shuffle and African rhythms, adding the element of swing to his dancing.14 Sand dances and early tap dances followed, where the dancer used sand on the floor and metal implements on shoes to create musical sounds and rhythms. Dances retained African-like movements and propulsive rhythms while assimilating the solo style of white dancers.15 African-American vernacular dance became more syncopated, heading toward the swinging dance forms such as the Charleston and Lindy, which would be called early jazz dance. Musically, in the mid- to late 1800s, two evolutions were occurring that are considered the direct precursors of jazz: the blues and ragtime. The blues

46 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

used devices such as blue notes (notes said to fall “somewhere between the cracks of the piano”), slurring, growls, call-and-response, and a loosening of the rhythmic structure of the melody line from direct correspondence with the basic downbeat, the strongest beat felt inside a musical bar. Ragtime began to deliberately throw syncopations against downbeats as a kind of counterpoint in equal standing with the downbeat.16 Jazz Arrives Swinging

Historians generally agree that jazz as a musical form was born in the early twentieth century, most likely in New Orleans. Around 1902, AfricanAmerican folk and vernacular music began to swing through what is often called triple-based rhythm described as “hot” and “bluesy” with jagged rhythms and vocal humanlike sounds emitting from instruments.17 Shortly thereafter, dance done to this new music would also be called jazz.18 African-American vernacular dance was also beginning to swing through rhythms such as the Buck and Wing and the Shuffle. Thanks to a social dance boom to the new jazz music around 1910, dance once seen primarily in afterhours joints or “jook houses” and brothels moved into ballrooms.19 According to jazz dance historians Marshall and Jean Stearns, the lyrics of Perry Bradford’s 1909 dance-song “The Bullfrog Hop” guided a listener on how to perform a dance with the phrase, “and do the Jazzbo Glide.”20 Group dance forms gave way to partner dances,21 and animal dances such as the Turkey Trot and Bunny Hug became the rage along with the hip isolations of Snake Hips. The Texas Tommy emphasized the breakaway where couples broke close body contact but kept contact with both hands, improvising steps of their choice.22 “The heart and soul of jazz dance crystallized between the 1920s and 1940s.”23 The 1920s became known as the jazz age as this era embraced jazz music and its accompanying dance form with a passion. New dances were emerging from earlier African-American dances through experimentation, extension, and creative development. The Charleston, both a social and a theatrical stage dance, was highly syncopated and retained the patting of the knees with the hands crossing over each other from an earlier dance called Patting Juba.24 Previous New York City–based theatrical shows such as Darktown Follies (1911) featured the Cakewalk, Ballin’ the Jack, and the Texas Tommy and would serve as inspiration for future musicals.25 However, it was the 1921 show Shuffle Along featuring the Charleston that brought Broadway revues embracing jazz music and dance in vogue, pushing jazz expression to the forefront in musical theater.26 Jazz social dances of this era were serving

Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 · 47

Figure 7.1. The Charleston, 1923. By permission of Tom Morgan.

as choreographic source material for stage performance while jazz tap, an evolution of early sand and tap dances, showed increased sophistication in its use of swing and complex rhythms. Important musical innovations during this era include an increased emphasis on solo improvisation and a further coarsening of musical timbres and tones, strengthening the already voicelike quality of jazz music.27 Jazz bands in the 1920s were developing greater ensemble rhythmic sophistication, and Duke Ellington was drawing on vernacular idioms for novel invention, “creating arrangements that left room for his players to contribute to the rhythmic conception of the piece.”28 Additionally, jazz drummers were building on rhythmic phrases created by jazz tappers.29 In the 1930s, jazz swing style music and jazz social dance were at their peak. Dances emphasized the swinging body in space, moving not only through the body’s weighted and under-curve release in and through space but also through a propulsive, rhythmic conversation with the equally swinging and propulsive jazz music. Harlem in New York City was at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, and it was at the Savoy Ballroom on Lennox Avenue 48 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

between 140th and 141st Streets “where black musicians and dancers converged and defined a period: music and dance at the Savoy drew attention to the fact that the tradition of black music and dance forms were interrelated, and together were responsible for the swing phenomenon.”30 At the Savoy Ballroom, the greatest jazz social dance of all time, the Lindy Hop, was born.31 Norma Miller and Frankie Manning, legendary Lindy Hop dancers and members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, credit Twistmouth George as the creator of the Lindy at the Savoy when he threw his partner out into what is now called the “swing-out.”32 This is similar to the breakaway, but in the swing-out, couples not only break close body contact but also release one hand, allowing for more improvisation. Legendary jazz orchestras and artists such as the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Fess Williams, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Chick Webb, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cab Calloway were playing at the Savoy,33 and their music fueled the creative energy that fed the development of new jazz social dances. In turn, the musicians were creatively influenced by the dancers’ movements and rhythms.34 Other jazz social dances and dance steps developed alongside

Figure 7.2. Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers at the Savoy Ballroom. New York World’s Fair 1939–1940 records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 · 49

the Lindy, such as the Big Apple, Shorty George, and Suzie Q, the majority of them Savoy-originated.35 This new movement vocabulary continued the trend of serving as source material for experimentation and innovation for social, theatrical, and future concert jazz dance forms. On Broadway, African-American choreographer Buddy Bradley was going directly to jazz music for inspiration and jazz dance movement invention,36 while jazz tap was gaining popularity in movies through the work of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, John Bubbles, Fred Astaire, the Nicholas Brothers, Jeni LeGon, and the Condos Brothers. Jazz tap artists Coles and Atkins and Buster Brown were traveling with big bands like Duke Ellington’s on the vaudeville and club circuit and appearing at New York clubs such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. These artists contributed significantly to jazz through their own dance creations, movement style, and manner of rhythmic, conversational exchanges with musicians. For most of these jazz artists, creative movement ideas originated in the vernacular and social jazz dances, arose from the rhythmic impulse of swinging jazz music, and were embellished for the performance stage.37 A similar phenomenon was evolving with the Lindy Hop dancers. Professionals such as Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers were performing in clubs, films, on Broadway, and in concert halls including Radio City Music Hall. The routines of these Lindy Hop groups embellished the Lindy with moves not generally seen on the social dance floor except at contests,38 such as the aerial moves (throwing a partner in the air) that can be seen in the classic Lindy film sequence from Hellzapoppin’ (1941). Frankie Manning is credited with the first Lindy aerial move around 1935 or 1936 and for creating ensemble dancing for the professional Lindy Hop dance teams, although individual couple dancing continued to coexist with ensemble dancing in performance.39 Norma Miller credits Herbert “Whitey” White with creating the first choreographed Lindy routines, including the first for the performance stage.40 Mura Dehn, a Russian émigré, arrived in America in 1930 to study and research jazz dance and she focused on jazz in Harlem, particularly at the Savoy Ballroom. Subsequently, she founded the Academy of Jazz dedicated to the research, teaching, and performance of jazz dance. For Dehn, jazz dance could be seen in the current social dances, especially the Lindy Hop, and in the practices of the African-American tap dancers,41 and classes at her Academy of Jazz included African primitive, improvisational, and early American jazz expression.42 In Dehn’s words, early American jazz expression was inclusive of “all interpretations of modern jazz that we are familiar with . . . ragtime, Charleston, truckin, swing, boogie-woogie.”43 Dehn would later create a landmark documentary, The Spirit Moves (1950), that captured 50 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

not only these early jazz traditions but jazz dance performed to the upcoming stylistic innovation in jazz music, bebop, by dancers such as Clarence “Scoby” Strohman, Jeff Asquiew, Leroy Appins, and Milton “Okay” Hayes. Dehn was also a principal dancer in the 1930s with choreographer Roger Pryor Dodge. Dodge began writing about jazz music in the 1920s with one of his best-known articles appearing in the Dancing Times, an English review

Figure 7.3. Mura Dehn and Roger Pryor Dodge. Dance Recital of Concert Jazz, January 22, 1938. 92nd Street Y.M.H.A., New York. Roger Pryor Dodge Collection, courtesy of Pryor Dodge. Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 · 51

primarily focused on ballet. Entitled “Negro Jazz,” Dodge’s article argued that the term jazz was being used indiscriminately, ignoring the true nature of jazz expression. His fascination with jazz music led Dodge to create and perform dances to well-known jazz tunes such as “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,” “Black and Tan Fantasy,” and “St. Louis Blues.”44 Shifting Styles, Shifting Tastes

Swing began to decline, and the early 1940s saw the development of a new jazz music style called bebop. Propelling jazz music into the status of an art form, bebop retained a swing rhythm but was a more rhythmically complex sound, with rapid tempos and dissonant chords that provided a sharp contrast to swing.45 Musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker began to jam together, experimenting with new ideas through improvisation. Max Roach and Kenny Clarke moved away from the traditional role of drummers as time keepers to a dialogic manner of accompaniment, “all of which made dancing to this music a somewhat precarious endeavor.”46 The big bands of the swing era were replaced with the soloistcentered combo, and many musicians wanted jazz music to stand on its own terms free of the obligation to the dancer.47 Concurrently, there was a lag in social dance from 1945 to 1954, during which time a 20 percent tax on dance floors to support World War II closed down many ballrooms. Musicians then moved to smaller clubs. Bebop had a significant impact on jazz dance. Although Lindy Hoppers at the Savoy were able to dance to “bebop-inflected swing,”48 jazz, as heard in bebop, was no longer the popular culture music of the day as swing had been. Jazz as social dance music was being replaced by other musical forms such as Latin, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll, and funk, the latter two with rhythmic qualities that often stood in contrast to jazz music, in particular, a lack of swing. When the public returned to social dancing, they were dancing to these new rhythms. One exception to the lack of large ballroom spaces was New York City’s Palladium Ballroom at 53rd and Broadway (1948–1966). Here, Latin dances such as the Mambo and Cha Cha were danced in conversation with Latin bands led by legends such as Tito Puente. Influenced by Latin rhythms and music from Cuba, Dizzy Gillespie was also playing at the Palladium, experimenting with a sound that would be called Latin jazz. Latin dances themselves share aesthetic characteristics that are core to jazz dance, such as “a more dynamic and flexible spine, weight shifts propelled by core body movement often resulting in weight suspended between the feet, flexed knees, centrality of polyrhythms over body lines, and improvisation closely linked 52 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

Figure 7.4. Jimmy Slyde. Photo from Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

to musical structures.”49 This Latin trend remained critical to jazz music and would eventually influence concert jazz dance in the decades to come. Social dance began to change rhythmic identity, and new dance forms emerged, especially rock ’n’ roll dances, albeit from the legacy of the jazz social dances. However, several dancers continued to perform onstage to past and emerging jazz music. Frankie Manning experimented with his group, the Congaroo Dancers, alongside musicians such as Cab Calloway. Manning incorporated tap, Latin dance, and “jazz dances” while performing and choreographing dances inspired by the Lindy Hop.50 Jazz tappers Jimmy Slyde, Baby Laurence, and Buster Brown actively explored performance to bebop music, with Laurence moving rhythms from his feet up, “playing his body like a percussion instrument.”51 Talley Beatty, who trained with Katherine Dunham, collaborated with Duke Ellington in the 1950s and 1960s, creating choreography for several of Ellington’s longer works.52 Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 · 53

At this same time, Broadway’s taste began to shift from revue-style musicals embracing jazz dance to narrative musicals embracing modern dance and ballet.53 This new emphasis, however, did not entirely leave jazz dance behind. Katherine Dunham was creating jazz dances for movie musicals such as Cabin in the Sky (1943) and the finale of Stormy Weather (1943), which also featured the Nicholas Brothers in one of their classic duets. The vibrancy of jazz dance influenced an innovation that would eventually be called theatrical jazz dance. This form, however, would begin to diverge from the development of jazz dance to date. Ballet choreographers such as George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Robbins in particular as seen in West Side Story, experimented by merging the jazz idiom with a ballet base, shifting the focus from rhythm to line and space.54 Broadway choreographers often turned to forms of music other than the rhythmically dense bebop, such as cool and symphonic jazz; music styles with differing rhythmic priorities also often stood in contrast to earlier swing-based jazz styles.55 During this transitional era, choreographers Jack Cole and Bob Fosse were integrating the dynamics of jazz inside their theater dance style for film and Broadway. Cole created his own style for nightclub performance, film, and stage with a goal to create a stylized form called theater dance that used syncopated rhythms.56 Cole’s 1947 Sing, Sing, Sing, to a Benny Goodman recording, is described as a mixture of African-American social dance forms (particularly the Lindy/Jitterbug)57 with modern dance and East Indian dance technique “danced to the rhythms of swing and the tempos of bop.”58 Sing, Sing, Sing’s innovative style, identified at that time as “modern jazz dance,” was a sensation and would soon be emulated by choreographers for stage, film, and television,59 especially on the popular TV variety shows hosted by Perry Como, Jackie Gleason, and Ed Sullivan. Inspired by Cole, choreographers and teachers were grappling with how to teach this new style in the classroom under the name jazz,60 while they were extending jazz dance into alternate directions merging jazz sensibility with their ballet and modern dance training. As fusion, rock ’n’ roll, disco, and funk music became the popular culture music of the day, dance called jazz adopted these music styles with a passion, whether in the classroom, on Broadway, or in film. A catalyst for this occurred when Bob Fosse wedded jazzlike dance to rock ’n’ roll style music first in Sweet Charity (1966) and then in Pippin (1972).61 Conclusion

As more and more classes called jazz dance began to appear in studios around the country and Europe, choreographers, teachers, and dancers continued 54 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

experimenting, asking, “What is jazz dance?”62 An examination of the literature written from the 1950s and forward into the 1980s reveals distinct conceptualizations concerning jazz dance and its aesthetic core as new innovations called jazz were emerging. On one hand, writers and practitioners argued that jazz is rooted in West African and African-American practices. They identified innovators who hailed back to the turn of the century and included dancers Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, John Bubbles, Buster Brown, Nicholas Brothers, Condos Brothers, Fred Astaire, jazz social dancers of the Savoy Ballroom, and the concert stage Lindy Hoppers. Jazz dance, they argued, is shaped by the dancer’s conversational relationship to music, wherein the dancer is often considered a musician. Creative ideas and movements arise from jazz music structure and its rhythmic impulse, particularly music that swings. In this approach to jazz dance (identified as rhythm-generated in this book), movement and motional qualities are strongly rooted in the West African forms and the African-American jazz social dance practices that emphasize a weighted and swinging body. Improvisation is creation in the moment of performance, and jazz dance is performed to jazz music and jazz rhythms.63 On the other hand, different writers and practitioners discussed the emergence of the new form of jazz that was then called modern jazz dance.64 While a nod was often given to jazz’s West African roots, the discussion shifted in focus to the fact that this new form of jazz came from the influence of Jack Cole and choreographers such as Jerome Robbins and Matt Mattox. Merging jazz styles with other genres such as ballet and modern, jazz then became a concert stage form (called theatrical jazz dance in this book). Identified innovators include jazz teachers Gus Giordano, Bob Fosse, and Luigi. Many choreographers who practiced this jazz style and were interviewed about this new form located the essence of jazz in its energy and emotion. They emphasized visual shapes that belonged to jazz including positions and stylistic walks. Improvisation was evidenced by personal nuance and in the fact that jazz draws from many sources; therefore, jazz is constantly changing, further evidence of its improvisational personality. Finally, they argued, jazz music is not necessary for the performance of jazz dance. In fact, by using music other than jazz and by embracing ballet and modern dance techniques, restrictions were lifted, allowing new innovations in jazz dance technique.65 In 1959, Marshall Stearns commented that jazz dancers and choreographers were losing the excitement and a particular way of shaping jazz dance. Could it be, he asked, that jazz dancers were ignoring jazz rhythms?66 Further, when asked in an interview about the new form of “modern jazz dance,” Jazz Dance from Emancipation to 1970 · 55

Cole said he did not wish to take credit for the movement.67 To call his dance modern jazz was a distortion of his style. His choreographic concern was not with jazz dance at all but with his stylized form of theater dance using syncopated rhythms. Real jazz dancing, he said, could be found in the dance halls in the 1920s and 1930s, and in the social dances like the Camel Walk, the Charleston, and the Lindy. Moreover, he felt that what was called jazz dance at the time of the interview was “closer in style to ‘pop’ music than to jazz.”68 The jazz tree was now besieged by the give and take, shift and change in aesthetic intention between its roots and innovations. So where was jazz to go, and what was it going to do? Jazz has been seen as a music and dance style, as a technique, and as an attitude.69 The very nature of jazz as a way of making music and dance has allowed for various ideas about the identity of jazz to be and continue to be constructed.70 Today there are multiple styles of dance called jazz that embrace, to various degrees, fundamental qualities associated with jazz expression. The word jazz remains complicated, highly contested, and often undefined. But more than anything, the defining characteristics of jazz dance remain experimentation and diversity. Notes 1. David Ake, Jazz Cultures (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 41. 2. George Lewis, “Experimental Music in Black and White: The AACM in New York, 1970–1985,” in New Jazz Studies, ed. Robert G. O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, and Jasmine Farah Griffin (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 79–80. 3. Ake, Jazz Cultures, 2; David Ake, Charles Hiroshi Garrett, and Daniel Goldmark, Jazz/ Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 1–10. 4. “Jazz Dance,” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed., ed. Charles Hiroshi Garrett (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). 5. The authors take the point of view that vernacular is not meant to be seen as “less” than other forms such as ballet and thus devoid of technique. Rather, vernacular stands as equally valuable as all other forms, styles, and techniques of dance. 6. Barbara Englebrecht, “Swinging at the Savoy,” Dance Research Journal 15, no. 2 (Spring 1983): 4; Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance (New York: Macmillan, 1968). 7. “Jazz Dance,” Grove Dictionary. 8. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 32. 9. Ibid, 85. 10. Gillies were traveling song and dance shows associated with carnivals in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 11. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 25–84; Jill Flanders Crosby, “Will the Real Jazz Dance Please Stand Up? A Critical Examination of the Roots and Essence of Jazz with Implications for Education” (EdD diss., Teachers College, Columbia University, 1995), 102.

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12. “Jazz Dance,” Grove Dictionary. 13. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 118–20. 14. Ibid, 44; Billy Siegenfeld interview, New York City, 1992. 15. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 37. 16. Siegenfeld interview; Bob Boross, “Image of Perfection: The Free Style Dance of Matt Mattox” (MA thesis, Gallatin Division, New York University, 1994), 27. 17. James Lincoln Collier, The Making of Jazz: A Comprehensive History (New York: Doubleday, 1979), 57–71. 18. According to Porter, the name jazz was contested. Some musicians, he states, regarded jazz as a derogatory term (insinuating pop culture) rather than as an elevation of the development of African-American folk music forms. Eric Porter, What Is This Thing Called Jazz? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 11–18. 19. Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, Jookin’: The Rise of Social Dance Formations in AfricanAmerican Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 121–34. 20. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 104. 21. Hazzard-Gordon, Jookin,’ 81. 22. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 129. 23. “Jazz Dance,” Grove Dictionary. 24. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 29. 25. Boross, “Image of Perfection,” 28–29. 26. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 122. 27. Porter, What is This Thing Called Jazz? 32. 28. Ibid, 37. 29. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 140. 30. Englebrecht, “Swinging at the Savoy,” 4. 31. Smithsonian Institution, Jazz Oral History Project: Frankie Manning, audiotape; Smithsonian Institution, Jazz Oral History Project: Norma Miller, audiotape. 32. Smithsonian Institution, Manning and Miller audiotapes. 33. Smithsonian Institution, Manning, audiotape. 34. Katherine Kramer interview, Saugerties, NY, 1995. 35. Smithsonian Institution, Manning, Miller. 36. Stearns and Stearns, Jazz Dance, 160–69. 37. Crosby, Will the Real Jazz, 120–22. 38. Smithsonian Institution, Manning. 39. Ibid. 40. Smithsonian Institution, Miller. 41. Mura Dehn, Papers on African-American Social Dancing ca. 1869–1987. New York Public Library Dance Collection, 1991. 42. “Jazz: A Folk Dance,” Dance Magazine 19 (8) (1945): 8. 43. Ibid. 44. Pryor Dodge, “Hot Jazz and Jazz Dance,” http://www.pryordodge.com, accessed February 23, 2013. 45. Crosby, Will the Real Jazz, 124; Porter, What Is This Thing Called Jazz, 54; Constance Valis Hill, “From Bharata Natyam to Bop,” Dance Research Journal 33, no. 2 (Winter 2001): 29–39. 46. Ake, Jazz Cultures, 53.

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47. Porter, What Is This Thing Called Jazz, 54–100. 48. Hill, “From Bharata Natyam to Bop.” Valis Hill comments that to dance to the faster bebop rhythms, “dancers slowed their tempos to halftime, absorbing into their undulating bodies the percussions formerly reserved for the feet,” 30. 49. Juliet McMains, “Dancing Latin/Latin Dancing: Salsa and DanceSport,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader, ed. Julie Malnig, 302–22 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 304. 50. Smithsonian Institution, Manning. 51. Hill, “From Bharata Natyam to Bop,” 30; Smithsonian Institution, Jazz Oral History Project: Jimmy Slyde, audiotape; Buster Brown interview, New York City, 1993. 52. PBS, “Free to Dance, Biographies, Talley Beatty,” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/freetodance /biographies/beatty.html. 53. Crosby, Will the Real Jazz, 130–31. 54. Ibid, 129–32. 55. Ibid. 56. Clayton Cole, “It’s Gone Silly,” in Anthology of American Jazz Dance, ed. Gus Giordano (Evanston, IL: Orion, 1975), 73. 57. Terry Monaghan, “Introducing Jazz, Jump & Jive.” Authentic Jazz Dance Journal, 1(1988): 11-13. The terms Lindy Hop and Jitterbug are often used synonymously. Research by Terry Monaghan reveals that Lindy was sometimes the name of a step within the dance, and sometimes the name of the dance itself. He argues that African-American dancers Lindy Hopped while white imitators Jitterbugged. After World War II the words become almost interchangeable. 58. Hill, “From Bharata Natyam to Bop,” 31. 59. Ibid. 60. Boross, “The Image of Perfection,” 38–39. 61. Billy Siegenfeld interview, New York City, 1995. 62. Boross, “The Image of Perfection,” 38–39. 63. Crosby, Will the Real Jazz, 51–90. 64. Ibid., 59–65. 65. Ibid. 66. Stearns, “Is Modern Jazz Dance Hopelessly Square,” Dance Magazine, 1959. 67. Cole, “It’s Gone Silly,” 73. 68. Ibid. 69. Porter, What Is This Thing Called Jazz, xv; Crosby, Will the Real Jazz, 68–69, 319. 70. Ake, Garret, and Goldmark, Jazz/Not Jazz, 1–10.

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8 Jazz Dance from 1970 into the Twenty-First Century Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

As dancers from the 1970s to the present, our bodies tried on many styles called jazz in the classroom and in performance that told us multiple and sometimes divergent stories. As audience members at many musicals employing “jazz” dance and at jazz concert dance performances, we experienced the same: multiple and divergent jazz stories. Jazz continues experimenting and innovating, blending and fusing, and in its wake, leaving contestations and contradictions. Jazz music has a parallel story. Musicians such as Miles Davis continued the jazz practice of blending and fusing, keeping one foot rooted in tradition while keeping an eye on the new and the inventive, although receiving criticism for straying beyond the edges of jazz.1 Other musicians such as Wynton Marsalis have caused fervent debates about what is jazz.2 These outer edges of the genre seem curiously unpredictable and irregular, but they were and are jazz nonetheless. Over time it became obvious that the genesis for jazz dance and music, the fusing of West African rhythms and movement roots and European influences, would be retained by some and released by others. What remained central was its changing nature, an evolving form that was a reflection of the day. Ultimately each decade from the 1970s on would be distinct, yet some core aspects remained if only by hints and shadows: rhythmic movement, pelvic movement, elements of its social dance beginnings, entertainment, and vast artistic explorations. 59

In this chapter we will discuss these multiple jazz stories. The thematic lenses we use will include experimentation in jazz dance and music, jazz as a social, theatrical, and concert dance form, revival movements, and jazz dance in the studios. This approach is based on the idea that each lens looks back into the others; social dance forms influenced what was on the concert and theatrical stage, and the stage influenced social dance forms and what was taught in the studios. Concurrently, of course, what was taught and innovated in the studios influenced social dance and dance on the theatrical and concert stage. Jazz Dance Continues Experimenting and Developing

The decades following the 1960s were a time of change. Experimentation flourished as jazz dance and music continued to evolve. The radiation of jazz outward from its origins embraced many new styles, absorbing or being absorbed and thus changing the nature of jazz. Broadway, film, and television were bringing more attention to jazz music and dance. Many jazz artists were not sure where jazz would go, and a new era was introduced with many voices and dancing bodies on many continents. The jazz tree now had strong roots, and branches were flourishing: a Swedish swing dance revival, Japanese hip-hop culture, British club jazz/funk competitions, and a Chicago house dance scene. Different music trends had people social dancing to new styles of music, producing new dance trends. Jazz revival movements inspired new examinations of past jazz trends, concert jazz dance companies were flourishing, and jazz classes were named after various styles and fusions: Broadway jazz, jazz funk, authentic jazz, modern jazz, street jazz, theatrical jazz, and concert jazz, to name a few. Some jazz teachers were fusing ballet and modern dance into the jazz blend using all forms of music, while others preferred jazz dance’s vernacular roots and an attachment to swing rhythms. Urban and Social Dance Styles Lend Their Persuasion

Elvis Presley inspired a generation of social dancers with his gyrating hips; his style was a borrowed continuum of the African-American aesthetic. Jazz social dance was reinvented as rock ’n’ roll dance. Motown, funk, and disco music styles followed, and so did America’s social dancing. Cholly Atkins, of the tap dance duo Coles and Atkins, was now actively choreographing for Motown performers. Disco was part of the jazz dance spectrum, for dancers were dancing in a “jazz way,”3 and all these new styles were infiltrating Hollywood in movies such as Flash Dance (1983) and Beat Street (1984).

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The 1980s was a particularly interesting time for jazz dance when seen through the social dance lens. The improvisatory practice important to early jazz dance and much of jazz music could be found in hip-hop culture, principally the urban social dances or “party dances.” Dance scholar Halifu Osumare argues that the hip-hop aesthetic of Rennie Harris, director and founder of Puremovement, a hip-hop dance theater company, is an aspect of the evolutionary spectrum of jazz and the Africanist continuum.4 Jazz could indeed be seen in many of the urban dance styles of the 1980s and 1990s. Jazz could be identified in the “performance of attitude,” in the “aesthetic of the cool,” the “looking smart,” and indeed all aspects of the competitive spirit that had dancers “laying it down” or “turning it out.”5 The Bronx “hooky sets,” when young people skipped school to hang out, were impromptu opportunities not only to date but also to show your stuff, to battle, and to compete in much the same way as the Savoy Ballroom challenges. Discothèques, park jams, block parties, and gang-hosted dance sessions on vacant lots or basketball courts always celebrated personal style,6 an aspect that is part of the jazz legacy. A resurgence in Latin jazz and the development of Latin rhythms came in the 1970s and continues to this day.7 The popularity of the sounds and movements of Salsa, essentially an evolution of the Cuban Son, was felt and seen on social dance floors internationally.8 Later on, tap dancers such as Katherine Kramer and Max Pollack started translating complex Latin musical rhythms into their feet as a new branch of their performance aesthetic. Revival Movements

The popularity of jazz tap (also known as rhythm tap) declined somewhat in the 1950s. However, in the 1960s, Marshall Stearns was instrumental in bringing jazz tappers back onto the stage at the Newport Jazz Festival.9 By the 1970s, tap dancers such as Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino, Jane Goldberg, and Katherine Kramer “were all on synchronic missions to breathe life back into” the legendary hoofers and virtuosos of tap.10 These artists performed with tap masters so that the art of jazz tap would not be lost, while standing on the shoulders of the previous generation. They were popular performers and teachers holding down the rhythm-generated approach by dancing to jazz music. In the 1980s, Frankie Manning, who had been out of the spotlight and working at the post office for forty years, found himself courted by dancers from the West Coast interested in the Savoy-style Lindy Hop. Manning returned to the spotlight, and the Lindy Hop revival was a West Coast

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inspiration and an East Coast phenomenon. Meanwhile, in London, the Jiving Lindy Hoppers under the direction of Terry Monaghan were enjoying critical acclaim performing jazz social dances and rock ’n’ roll dances. Theatrical and Concert Jazz Dance

Dance in Broadway musicals continued to defy easy categorization under the banner of theatrical jazz dance. Bob Fosse influenced theatrical jazz dance with his distinctive style. Dance in Broadway musicals such as Cats (1982) and A Chorus Line (1975) had a strong ballet and modern base and worked with show tune musical styles. Other Broadway musicals such as Sophisticated Ladies (1981) and Black and Blue (1989) had a closer connection to the roots of jazz dance. Choreographers for these latter musicals included jazz legends such as Donald MacKayle, Henry LeTang, and Frankie Manning, who all brought their knowledge of jazz dance from earlier generations back to the contemporary Broadway stage. Concert jazz companies were flourishing in various locations around North America, such as Danny Buraczeski’s JAZZDANCE company, located first in New York City (1979) and later in Minneapolis.11 The Canadian company Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (BJM) was serving up a fusion of ballet technique and jazz shapes and toured extensively to concert stages around the world. Canadian tap dancer Heather Cornell founded Manhattan Tap and frequently collaborated with jazz musician Ray Brown. Both artists created new music and dance inspired by and in conversation with each other.12 Dancer and choreographer Dianne McIntyre brought her own movement vocabulary into collaborations with jazz musicians such as Cecile Taylor and Max Roach beginning in the 1970s.13 Mickey Davidson, who worked with McIntyre’s company Sounds in Motion, also worked with Norma Miller’s Lindy Hoppers as well as with Cecile Taylor and jazz musician Sun Ra. Dedicated to exploring and performing the interlocking relationship between music and dance, Davidson continues to maintain Norma Miller’s choreography with a company known as the Savoy Swingers.14 Jazz Dance in the Studios

The 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s were a vital but complex time in jazz dance education. Teachers and practitioners were using popular music such as rock and funk, yet they taught under the banner of “jazz.” The order of the day seemed to have most labeling the work generically or with descriptors. What was jazz dance, and could it be separated from jazz music and still be called jazz dance? Some teachers argued yes; others argued no. Several teachers codified

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Figure 8.1. JAZZDANCE. Dancers: Jane Blount and Robert Smith, 1987. Photo by Jack Mitchell. By permission of Danny Buraczeski.

their individual technique so that the form could be studied, mastered, and taught by multiple teachers. New York City classes were led by names such as Luigi, Chuck Kelley, Phil Black, Frank Hatchett, Fred Benjamin, Nat Horne, and Lynn Simonson, all experimenting with what is jazz and how to teach it. Many classes adopted the popular culture music of the era and focused on line, shape, set choreography, and the addition of ballet and modern dance aesthetics. Lynn Simonson, creator of the Simonson jazz technique, worked more often with jazz music and incorporated elements of improvisation during class. Pepsi Bethel taught in New York City for many years; he identified his work as “authentic jazz” and held to no certified training system other than the one he had lived.15 Bethel began his campaign for the preservation of authentic jazz dance forms in the early 1960s, ultimately establishing Pepsi Bethel’s Authentic Jazz Dance Theater in 1971. He taught well into the 1980s, and he remained dedicated to the jazz idiom as a reflection and expression of his life force.16

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Other New York City–based jazz artists in the 1980s included Jo Jo Smith and Betsy Haug.17 Smith’s class used multiple genres of popular culture music. He emphasized “training with a musicality.” To match the “feel” of combinations to the “feel” of the music, he harnessed traditional jazz lines and pulled from his early Afro-American and Latino music and dance influences.18 Haug’s style was influenced by Latin rhythms and the social dances born of African-American culture.19 Although very familiar with the Broadway jazz style, Haug was dedicated to musicality that required discovering a personal soulfulness and connecting the dancer to the feeling of the music.20 In the 1980s and ’90s, jazz dance classes could be found around the world. European classes were similar to those in North America, as many American nationals had emigrated and were teaching jazz dance abroad. Some had a social dance approach, mostly referencing the swing era, teaching Lindy Hop, Balboa, or boogie-woogie. New York septuagenarian John Clancy is credited with being the first swing camp instructor at the now famous Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden. Matt Mattox taught in Europe and America while he was based in France. Calling his jazz free style, he worked in a concert/theatrical style that started in the 1970s and continued into the 2000s. Gus Giordano, founder of Giordano Dance Chicago (1963), began the Jazz Dance World Congress (1990), dedicated to exploring jazz dance history and its future through classes and seminars. Danny Buraczeski offered a symposium on teaching jazz dance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in June 2012. All in all, the many exponents of jazz dance held to many definitions and descriptions of the idiom. Jazz and the Spirit of Change

From Manhattan to strip malls around North America, studio jazz dance classes continue to be represented by varied styles often distinct from the aesthetic essences of early jazz dance and music. Since jazz has always been known as a form that was born of and allowed for fusion, this makes perfect sense. Jazz music and dance are often an aural and visual reflection or snapshot of the times, ever changing and evolving. There are many jazz techniques thriving locally and internationally as they are codified and then widely disseminated through organizations and associations that hold conferences and workshops or have exam-oriented syllabi. Examples of these varied styles can be seen in diverse companies. Two examples of concert companies holding down a deep commitment to jazz music and dance are Jump Rhythm Jazz Project and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Jump Rhythm Jazz Project was formed in 1990 in New York City by Billy Siegenfeld, and it relocated to Chicago in 1993. The company focuses on 64 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

Figure 8.2. Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Dancers: Ivan Nunez Segui, Dinou Marlett Stuart, and Sarisa F de Toledo, 2012. Photo by Trudie Lee. By permission of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.

transforming jazz or jazz-based rhythms into a body music that makes both the musical accents and dynamic feel of those rhythms visible.21 Decidedly Jazz Danceworks was founded by Vicki Willis, Hannah Stilwell, and Michèle Moss in 1984 in Calgary, Canada.22 “The core aesthetic of DJD’s work is African-rooted and swing-based with jazz music at its heart.” They often use live music for their performances.23 The company runs a large dance school in addition to its performing company. Such companies view jazz dance and jazz music as equal, conversational partners in the creative process and in performance. Movement begins from within a vernacular body that releases into gravity and emphasizes movement initiated from the inside out. Examples of concert companies with a theatrical jazz dance aesthetic include River North Dance Chicago and Odyssey Dance Theatre. River North has been performing nationally and internationally since 1989 under the artistic direction of Frank Chaves. The company is committed to the presentation and preservation of jazz-based contemporary dance, and it boasts a diverse repertoire.24 Odyssey Dance Theatre of Salt Lake City and now in its Jazz Dance from 1970 into the Twenty-First Century · 65

Figure 8.3. River North Dance Chicago. Hanna Bricston and Michael Gross in Simply Miles, Simply Us by artistic director Frank Chaves, 2011. Photo by Jennifer Girard. By permission of River North Dance Chicago.

eighteenth year is founded and directed by Derryl Yeager. Its dancing combines ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, tap, ballroom, Broadway, and vaudeville in a hybrid form.25 The aesthetic essence of theatrical jazz dance companies, including but not limited to River North and Odyssey, lies in the fact that jazz is a highly stylized reflection of the individual. Movement is characterized by a strong, powerful, and placed body; the dancer uses placement not unlike ballet but different in its grounded relationship to space, its driving quality through the pelvis, its outstretched and energetic port de bras, and its asymmetry. Here artists often form alliances with varied music styles rather than with jazz music alone. Regardless, they retain the “aesthetic of the cool” present among jazz dance styles.26 Conclusion

To understand the diversity of jazz dance expression today is daunting. From a roots-grounded approach to bold innovations and everything in between is a rich assortment of possibilities, options, and hybrids. When considering 66 · Jill Flanders Crosby and Michèle Moss

the range from social dance to concert work, from jazz dancing tied to jazz music to jazz dancing that allows contemporary music, jazz dance represents a multiplicity of options engendered by the hundred-plus years of jazz dancing that have gone by. Jazz music is no different. Some support the “classical” jazz music style that adheres to techniques laid down by generations of jazz musicians while simultaneously critiquing other jazz styles that have “strayed” too far from the center of standard jazz forms.27 Others argue that jazz as a coherent trend and even as a definition was out of date by the 1980s, commenting that jazz is not a technique but an attitude, thus elevating hiphop as the “new jazz.”28 Every decade of jazz seems a restless age. Originally an expression of African-American culture, it has proven to be a compelling art form and an expressive mode for many people and cultures around the world. It is by nature innovative, always moving and changing. Its many dance variations range from one with an intimate interrelationship between sound and movement to a “feeling the music” approach resulting in an expressive, emotive, and playful display. Some characteristics of jazz expression do seem contradictory, as many of the essences are incongruous, paradoxical, and diverse. But this makes the history of jazz interesting. In the history of jazz expression, many of the characteristics seem to build on the past while some movements seem like sharp, left-hand turns unrelated to the historical continuum. Born of a fusion, jazz is sophisticated and earthy, high flying and low to the ground. Jazz is of the blues and swing, funk and pop, and a whole lot of rhythm. It is alive and in motion around the world. Notes 1. David Ake, Jazz Cultures (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 146–76; Eric Porter, What Is This Thing Called Jazz? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 287–334. 2. Porter, What Is This Thing, 113, 125. 3. Tim Lawrence, “Beyond the Hustle: 1970s Social Dancing, Discotheque Culture, and the Emergence of the Contemporary Club Dancer,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake, ed. Julie Malnig (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 203. 4. Halifu Osumare, “The Dance Archaeology of Rennie Harris: Hip-Hop or Postmodern?” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake, 263. 5. Yvonne Daniel, “Cuban Dance: An Orchard of Caribbean Creativity,” in Caribbean Dance from Abakuá to Zouk: How Movement Shapes Identity, ed. Susanna Sloat (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002), 41; Brenda Dixon Gottschild, “Crossroads, Continuities and Contradictions: Afro-Euro-Caribbean Triangle,” in Caribbean Dance from Abakuá to Zouk: How Movement Shapes Identity, ed. Susanna Sloat (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002), 4; Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 18. Robert Farris Thompson, Flash Jazz Dance from 1970 into the Twenty-First Century · 67

of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy (New York: Random House, 1983), 11–13. We build on the work of these authors who discuss African retentions and the mystic coolness (itutu) of Yoruba and Kongo/Angola traditions and their influence in the Americas. This “cool face” (tu l’oju) and performance attitude combines vitality with composure. This aesthetic references a continuum of West African dance practices throughout the Americas including jazz dance. The attitude on the early funk, soul, and hip-hop social dance floor, all a continuum of jazz dance, is often referred to in the vernacular or colloquial language as “getting down,” “turning it out,” or “layin’ it down.” This describes a movement stance that references West African stylizations with a costume that is purposely dapper and “smart.” 6. Mr. Wiggles (Steffan Clemente), second-generation B-Boy member of Rock Steady Crew (RSC) and The Electric Boogaloos, informal lecture, September 2011 at Pulse Studios in Calgary, Alberta; Ken Swift, recognized pioneer and original member of RSC, telephone interview, October 2007. 7. David García, “Embodying Music/Disciplining Dance: The Mambo Body in Havana and New York City,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake, 170; Tim Wall, “Rocking Around the Clock,” In Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake, 187; Juliet McMains, “Dancing Latin/Latin Dancing: Salsa and DanceSport,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake, 317–18. 8. Daniel, “Cuban Dance: An Orchard,” 45. 9. Jill Flanders Crosby, “Will the Real Jazz Dance Please Stand Up? A Critical Examination of the Roots and Essence of Jazz with Implications for Education” (EdD diss., Teachers College, Columbia University, 1995), 135. 10. Katherine Kramer, “The Resurgence of Tap” (master’s thesis, Wesleyan University, 1994), 21. 11. http://depts.washington.edu/uwdance/cdc/archive/repertoire.php?t=chor&id=41. 12. Heather Cornell conversation with Jill Flanders Crosby, 1997, New York City. 13. See www.diannemcintyre.com. 14. See www.swingsistah.com/index.php?id=21; www.traditionintap.org/Faculty/Mickey _Davidson/index.html. 15. Alan Davage interviews, November 2011 and February 2012. 16. Ibid. 17. Jo Jo’s Dance Factory, created and co-directed by Jo Jo Smith and Sue Samuels in the 1960s, became the popular New York City dance school Broadway Dance Center in 1984. 18. Michèle Moss field notes, 1981; Sue Samuels e-mail, May 14, 2012. 19. Vicki Willis interview, October/November 2011. 20. Ibid. 21. Billy Siegenfeld e-mail, April, 2012. 22. Kathi Sundstrom e-mail, March, 2012. 23. http://www.decidedlyjazz.com/discover/the-company/vision. 24. http://www.rivernorthchicago.com/about.asp 25. http://www.jazzdanceworldcongress.org/index.php?tray=content&catalogID=134. 26. Lindsay Guarino e-mail, May 4, 2012. 27. Rickey Vincent, Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin Press, 1996), 149. 28. Ibid.

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9 Historical Movement Chart Tom Ralabate

Following are lists of jazz walks, steps, and jazz movements in a historical context. These lists and terms are divided into specific eras and are specific to American culture. Each heading also contains musical styles that were dominant during that era. Familiarity with these terms allows for practical and technical application; understanding the time, place, and character of these jazz vernacular terms will enhance creative interpretation. This list is by no means complete and will continually acquire new additions. Many movements overlap into other eras, giving truth to such statements as: “jazz is ever changing,” “jazz dance redefines and reinvents itself,” and “everything old is new again.” 1800s–1920s Folk, Spirituals, Brass Band, Blues, Ragtime, Dixie Black Bottom Boogie Buck and Wing Bullfrog Hop Buzz Buzzard Lope Cagney Cakewalk Castle Walk Charleston Clog

Cross Over Grind Eagle Rock Hornpipe Eating Cherries Itch Essence Jazz & Flash Steps Falling Off the Log Jazzbo Glide Fox Trot Jig Freeze Jump Back Jack French Twist Jumping Jim Crow Gaze the Fog Killing Time Get It On Knee Jazz Grapevine Legomania


Let It Roll Rubberlegs Lindy—Syncopated Box Sand Mess Around Scare Crow Mooche Scissors Off to Buffalo Shim Sham Over the Top Shimmy Patting Juba Shuffle Pecking Snake Hips Picking Cherries Soft-Shoe Pivot Spank the Baby Polka Strut Ring Shout Sugars

Tack Annie Tango Texas Tommy Trenches Turkey Trot Varsity Drag Virginia Walk the Dog Waltz Clog Wings

1930s Boogie-Woogie, Big Bands, Swing, Blues, Jazz Andrews Sisters, Shimmy Frankenstein Around the World Hinge Walk Boogie-Woogie Jitterbug Camel Walk Jive Walk Crazy Legs Kimbo Flea Hop Lindy Flick Kicks with ball change Shorty George

Sugars Suzie Q Swing Texas Tommy Trucking

1940s Big Band, Bebop, Afro-Cuban, Latin Invasion Boogie-Woogie movements continued Calypso, Cuban Conga Merengue (Latin Social Dance Forms) Samba

1950s Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop Bunny Hop Locomotion Cha Cha Mambo Fly Stroll Jitterbug West Side Story Influence

1960s British Invasion, Brazilian Invasion, Soul, Motown Alligator Boogaloo Bossa Nova

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Dolphin (late 1960s) Four Corners Freddy

Frug Hand Jive Hully Gully

Jerk Shimmy Variations Twist Mashed Potato   (Swim, Shotgun, Hitchhike) Underdog Monkey Temptation Walk Watusi Pony Tighten Up

1970s Popularized Music, Computerized, Salsa, Reggae, Fusion Break-Dancing Disco Walk Funk Movement

Hustle (Latin Hustle) Line Dances (Bus Stop) Saturday Night Fever Influence

1980s Music Videos, Rap, Punk, Rhythm & Blues, Country and Western Note: From the 1980s through today there is an overlap Aerobic Dancing Break-Dancing   (Beat Box Influence) Hip-hop Lambada Lyrical Jazz

Michael Jackson Influence Moon Walk MTV Dancing New Wave Movement Punk Dancing Rap

1990s–2000s Techno, Alternative, Hip-hop, Rap, Jazz Mix, Acid Jazz, Rave Trance, Rhythm & Blues, Country and Western Alfa A-Town Stomp Boogaloo Buddy Butterfly Chicken Noodle Soup Corkscrew Country Western Dances Cupid Shuffle Dime Stopping (Uncle Sam) Electric Slide Fila Hammer Time Harlem Shake

Hip-hop Bounce Walk Roger Rabbit Humpty Hump Running Man Lambada (Dirty Dancing) Scooby Doo Leo Walk Scootbot/Scoobop Line Dances Soulja Boy Macarena Steve Martin Monastery Ticking Music Video Influences Trance Dancing Pacing/Tagging Vogue Patty Duke Waddle Paula Abdul Influence Walk It Out Rave Dancing Which-a-ways Robo Walk Wild Thing

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PART III Master Teachers and Choreographers, 1930–1990

During the twentieth century, jazz dance took a journey of transformation, codification, and appropriation. Artists interpreted jazz dance in a variety of different ways, as influenced by society, culture, and their previous scope of training and experience. Many artists emerged as jazz dancers, choreographers, and teachers and were the driving force behind the professionalism of jazz dance. Countless figures are responsible for moving jazz dance out of the social dance halls of the early twentieth century and into dance studios and onto stages. They influenced future generations of dancers through their work and continuing legacies. The following profiles of Pepsi Bethel, Jack Cole, Katherine Dunham, Bob Fosse, Gus Giordano, Frank Hatchett, Luigi, Matt Mattox, Donald McKayle, and Lynn Simonson represent a sample of artists who, from the 1930s into the 1990s, took jazz dance in new directions and imbued the form with vigor and perspective. Some of these artists, like Simonson and Hatchett, dedicated themselves to their students. They developed and codified jazz dance techniques that are still being taught today. Others, like Bob Fosse, developed a specific style to serve as a choreographic instrument—one that has been imitated with varying degrees of integrity due to a lack of codification. Gus Giordano and Pepsi Bethel were fully committed to jazz dance and made distinct efforts to preserve it as an art form. Others, Donald McKayle. Photo courtesy of the Donald McKayle Archives at UC Irvine.


such as Katherine Dunham and Jack Cole, never saw themselves as jazz dancers but used their vast experiences to develop styles distinct to themselves—styles that were labeled jazz dance in subsequent years. Regardless, all of the profiled artists have contributed to the diverse landscape of jazz dance as we know it today. Their styles and techniques are what make up and continue to influence the structure of jazz dance technique classes around the world. It is with respect and reverence that these artists are profiled, so that their lineage carries on to impact and inspire future generations of jazz dancers.

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10 The Authentic Jazz Dance Legacy of Pepsi Bethel Karen Hubbard

Alfred “Pepsi” Bethel’s life was cogently summed up in his obituary by leading jazz dance historian Terry Monaghan: he “had an extraordinary career starting with a self-improvised dance company in North Carolina and finishing up on Broadway, having rescued a major slice of American dance from oblivion along the way.”1 In another version of this obit, dance historian Sally Sommer said that Bethel was “a pioneer in forging links and bridges between the golden past and now” and was “one of the best of the authentic jazz dancers that America produced.”2 In a preview of the August 6, 1978, Authentic Jazz Dance Theatre performance, New York Times writer Mark Deitch visualized Pepsi as a “small, slight black man with a cap of gray hair and a body that could be described as near-Cubist-all edges, angles, and indentations.” He quoted Louise Roberts, then director of Clark Center for Performing Arts in New York City, who described Pepsi as a “black leprechaun.”3 Bethel chronicled his dedication to the “preservation and survival of the Authentic Jazz Dance form” in Authentic Jazz Dance: A Retrospective, a selfpublished 7 × 10 inch, sixty-four-page booklet with a stapled spine.4 Supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts/New York State Arts Council and dedicated to Thelma Hill and Louise Roberts, the bright red cover features Bethel dressed all in white: evening vest, tuxedo trousers, spats, and felt bowler hat. He carries a cane, and for a moment he seems alive, executing a traditional Cakewalk turn with quick strutting steps.


Figure 10.1. Pepsi Bethel. Photo by Nathaniel Tileston, 197?. Photo from Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

Centered to the left of the image, set in black and white, the letters in the title also appear to move. Pepsi Bethel remained a practitioner of authentic jazz dance in the post– big band/swing era. However, he considered swing dance derivative of authentic jazz dance, and he said he was “amused” by those who referred to him as an “advocate of the Jazz Swing form.”5 According to Bethel, the authentic jazz dancer performs with bent knees and places emphasis on rhythmic footwork. In this style the arms and hands may be placed behind the back without compromising virtuosity. He also indicated the importance of expressing what he called the “proper spirit and attention to precise dynamic and tempo.”6 Pepsi stayed true to this indigenous American form, bridging social dance from the first part of the twentieth century with concert dance, when his contemporaries sought jazz connections with ballet and modern dance. Alfred Bethel was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1918. This was at a time when black families who had moved north during the Great Migration were sending their children south to spend summers away from big city mischief. Alfred, however, spent his summer vacations in New York City. One summer in the early 1940s, upon returning to North Carolina, Alfred formed a dance group of six local youngsters who became known as The Southland 400 Club. The youngsters “always arrived on the scene smartly attired in white pants and white sweaters with the legend ‘Southland 400’ emblazoned across the front,” and they performed with jazz greats like Count Basie, Andy Kirk, and Earl “Fatha” Hines. According to Bethel, the kids were “known for their particular style of rug-cutting as it was called back then.” They performed two or three times in any given week and were on their way to becoming local celebrities.7 Returning to NYC in the summer of 1942, Bethel met Eunice Callen, one of the original members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. Callen coached Alfred and Audrey Armstrong for the Harvest Moon Ball, the yearly dance competition sponsored by the New York Daily News. After placing third in the competition, Bethel returned to North Carolina and rejoined The Southland 400.8 The following summer in New York while Bethel was social dancing on the “Track,” the dance floor at the Savoy nightclub, he attracted the attention of Whitey Lindy Hoppers founder Herbert White, who invited Pepsi to Oswego, New York, to train him to perform the Lindy Hop in the Basin Street Revue at the Roxy Theatre.9 He also performed the Cakewalk in that production. In That’s It, a 1986 lecture/demonstration he presented in London, Pepsi

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explained that learning the Lindy Hop from White was necessary because the other dancers were protective of their moves.10 Next, he danced professionally with Whitey’s Jitterbugs, aka Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, in the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson variety revue Born Happy. The production opened on April 12, 1943, in Los Angeles and closed without making it to New York.11 Pepsi was also cast as a dancer in the 1943 Olsen and Johnson film Crazy House featuring the Count Basie Orchestra. Before leaving the West Coast, Bethel and three other dancers presented themselves around Los Angeles as the Jivadeers, which Pepsi himself called a “unique dance improvisation act,” performing “free-style dancing brought from the East.” Bethel then visited North Carolina, where he was regarded as a celebrity because many folks had seen him in the Olsen and Johnson film.12 Buoyed by a series of professional successes, Bethel returned to New York where he and his partner were again coached by Eunice Callen for the 1946 Harvest Moon Ball competition. As described by Monaghan, “It was a hard fought battle in which a ‘white’ couple eventually won for the second time, but various accounts suggest that Pepsi could have made it but he had dropped his partner at one point during the dance routine.”13 Toward the end of the 1940s, Bethel, now a recognized professional, danced at the Savoy competing in Tuesday and Saturday nights’ “400.” The competing teams consisted of regular dance partners who were paid to masquerade as social dancers in order to attract clientele.14 Some appearing on a regular basis had dance steps named in their honor and/or nicknames were coined, hence “Pepsi.”15 Former Authentic Jazz Dance Company member Tee Ross recalls that Pepsi’s nickname referenced his adept and quick footwork.16 Early in the 1950s, Bethel became acquainted with Alfred Brooks and Maxine Munt, teachers at the New Dance Group. Munt and Brooks also taught at Adelphi University where they sponsored Pepsi in an audition that won him a one-year (1954) scholarship in modern dance with Hanya Holm.17 Bethel appeared in Kwamina, a musical about a white female physician who befriends the son of a West African village chief. The production opened on October 21, 1961, in Toronto and closed in New York City after thirty-two performances. On the cast list Pepsi Bethel was identified as a dancer, and he performed an African-styled ritual dance, choreographed by Agnes de Mille.18 Pepsi, however, described his role as that of a mischievous village boy.19 He believed the show closed because the story was before its time, a reference to the interracial romantic thread woven into the script.20 Bethel’s ongoing interest in authentic jazz-styled movements brought him into contact with Russian emigrant Mura Dehn, who studied, performed, choreographed, and documented African-American social dance and jazz 78 · Karen Hubbard

dance in New York City from 1930 until her death in 1989, and also Avon Long, known for his portrayal of Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess. This led to Bethel’s involvement with a U.S. State Department tour of fourteen West African countries in the 1960s.21 The performance “presented an historical progression of vernacular dance” from the first half of the twentieth century. In the production, Pepsi performed the Cakewalk, Strut, Blues, and Lindy Hop Swing-out.22 He also appeared in Mura Dehn’s The Spirit Moves, a 1985 three-hour film documentary featuring blacks executing popular dances, and he acknowledged Dehn’s role as an artistic mentor and performance coach.23 Bethel’s jazz represented a treasure trove of influences, including the minstrel shows he saw as a youngster.24 He navigated the world of jazz as a social dancer, performer, and competitor in venues beginning in North Carolina and New York and expanding to include the West Coast, Europe, and West Africa. In America, he danced at the Savoy and other night clubs where jazz entertainers performed and helped him to better understand how to acknowledge structure in music through improvised rhythmic foot-riffs based on patterns absorbed from “premier tap dancers.” He also learned how each jazz dancer was expected to bring something unique to the movement and offered the example of how a “kick” was valued for what the dancer could contribute in terms of a special quality expressed through individual style rather than for height and/or multiplicity.25 By the early 1960s, when Bethel added the role of instructor to his jazz life, he had accumulated a wealth of influences; his spirit and movement style were inextricably tied to authentic jazz. In 1970 Pepsi taught at the Le Clerc School of Dance in Amsterdam. The school director actually wanted someone to teach “go-go” dancing, but she hired Pepsi. Unfortunately, teaching on a cold and unsprung studio floor caused Pepsi to sustain metatarsal damage, leading to his brief hospitalization. He soon made a quick departure via a one-way ticket to New York.26 Bethel settled into permanent teaching at the Alvin Ailey School in New York and Clark Center for the Performing Arts, where he became known for his rhythmic delivery with emphasis on individual expressiveness. I studied with him, and I recall that while there were identifiable Hanya Holm modern dance influences in the stretches and progressions, Bethel’s combinations consisted of authentic jazz dance movement vocabulary like Gaze the Fog, Suzie Q, Shim Sham, Scarecrow, and Treads. In those days, his accompanist, Andre Strobert, played congas and piano simultaneously while Pepsi vocalized rhythmic scats and riffed on a tambourine. Bethel officially launched the American Authentic Jazz Dance Company The Authentic Jazz Dance Legacy of Pepsi Bethel · 79

(AAJDC) in 1972: “the only group around at that time with the ability to successfully perform authentic jazz dance on the concert stage.”27 Critical response was most positive when it came to Pepsi’s dancing: “He’s a special event.”28 The historical context in which he set his concert were works reflective of black social life interactions with titles like “The Block,” “The Scene,” “The Street,” and “The Chicks.” Successes as artistic director of AAJDC led Bethel to a choreographic commission from director Vernel Bagneris for One Mo’ Time and subsequent Broadway collaborations with Bagneris for Staggerlee and Further Mo’. He also directed and presented That’s It, a London show in 1986, which “gave the home grown Jiving Lindy Hoppers aesthetic staying power.”29 In crafting U.S. vernacular dance from the first part of the twentieth century (authentic jazz) into narrative concert dance about black culture, Bethel was unlike choreographers described by the Stearns, whose works fuse “Euro-American styles that owe little to jazz and less to jazz rhythms.”30 If Pepsi were alive today, his approach would likely be aligned with contemporary choreographers like Rennie Harris who utilize authentic hip-hop dance vocabulary to express narrative themes from black culture for the concert stage.31 Bethel died on August 31, 2002, one day before his eighty-fourth birthday. He was an authentic jazz artist and a man of many interests. He played the saxophone in high school, owned a pet monkey, studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and was “bowled over” by a performance of the Martha Graham Dance Company.32 Pepsi Bethel is not well known in the contemporary jazz dance world. However, his legacy as a performer, choreographer, and teacher speaks volumes regarding the authentic roots and characteristics of U.S. indigenous dance. In his teaching and one-on-one conversations about jazz dance, Bethel was not one to pass judgment. His short answer to questions about authentic jazz dance was, “It is what it is.” In the final analysis, Pepsi’s approach to embodying the style and spirit of jazz dance was authentically authentic. Notes 1. Terry Monaghan, “Alfred ‘Pepsi’ Bethel,” obituary, Guardian, September 28, 2002. 2. Terry Monaghan, “Alfred ‘Pepsi’ Bethel,” http://www.docstoc.com/docs/106860120/ Pepsi-Bethel-Savoy-Ballroom. 3. Mark Deitch, “Pepsi Bethel—Master of Jazz Dance,” New York Times, August 6, 1978. 4. Pepsi Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance: A Retrospective (New York: American Authentic Jazz Dance Theatre, 1990), 5. 80 · Karen Hubbard

5. Ibid., 62. 6. Ibid., 43. 7. Ibid., 7. 8. Monaghan, “Alfred Pepsi Bethel.” 9. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 9. 10. Bethel, That’s It, video of lecture/demonstration devised and staged by Pepsi Bethel, London, 1986. 11. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Variety Revue Magazine, souvenir program, 1943, 1. 12. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 10–12. 13. Monaghan, “Alfred ‘Pepsi’ Bethel.” 14. Karen Hubbard and Terry Monaghan, “Negotiating Compromise on a Burnished Wood Floor: Social Dancing at the Savoy,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader, ed. Julie Malnig (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 129. 15. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 63. 16. Tee Ross, telephone interview by Karen Hubbard, New York, April 13, 2012. 17. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 19. 18. Doris DeMendez, telephone interview by Karen Hubbard, New York, January 30, 2012. 19. Bethel, That’s It. 20. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 21. 21. Bethel, That’s It. 22. The American Jazz Dance Theater in From Rag to Rock: A Program of Afro/American Dance Creations. Organizer/director: Mura Dehn. YMCA-YWCA Benefit Performances Haile Selassie I Theater June 23, 1969, Patriotic Association Hall, June 24, 1969: A Cultural Presentation of the United States of America. 23. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 46. 24. Ibid., 40. 25. Ibid., 41, 47. 26. Ibid., 17–18. 27. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, back cover. 28. Eileen Grand, “Pepsi Bethel and All That Jazz,” Our Town, August 5, 1977. 29. Monaghan, “Alfred ‘Pepsi’ Bethel.” 30. Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance (New York: Macmillan, 1968), xiv. 31. Pam Sofras, conversation with Karen Hubbard, Charlotte, NC, February 13, 2012. 32. Bethel, Authentic Jazz Dance, 47.

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11 Jack Cole and Theatrical Jazz Dance Teal Darkenwald

Jack Cole is called the father of theatrical jazz dance; however, he remains relatively unknown outside of dance circles. His best known contributions include choreography for nightclubs, Broadway musicals, film, and television, but scholars identify the development of the Cole style and his specific method of training theatrical jazz dancers as his greatest contributions to dance. Cole considered his style “urban folk dance” or “jazz-ethnic-ballet,” which fused his background in modern and ballet with world and vernacular styles of dance set to jazz music.1 In retrospect, his style is often referred to as theatrical jazz dance. Personal History

Jack Cole, born John Ewing Richter in 1911, grew up in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He had a rigid educational experience in Catholic and military schools, and these early childhood experiences likely taught him to detach emotionally and keep a distance between himself and those around him.2 Thus his signature style of a cool, calm presence onstage driven by a fiery center seemed a natural reaction to his past, not just a matter of personal style or choice. Cole’s personal life is largely a mystery or is described with contradictory information, sometimes even based on his own exaggeration.3 Although his homosexuality was not public, it was common knowledge to those close to


Figure 11.1. Portrait of Jack Cole, 1937. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-DIG-ds-04064.

him. Scholars such as Frank W. D. Ries question why Cole’s only biographer, Glenn Loney, did not include this fact in his book. Ries assumed that the repression of Cole’s sexuality was likely a source of tension in his life that carried over into his art.4 Cole was clearly a troubled, even tortured, individual whose drive for perfection tormented him and his dancers. One might view this intense and dominating behavior as a way to make up for his inability to express himself in his personal life. Thus one cannot describe Cole without further examining the influences that his personal life had on the development of his style. Cole’s early training was a combination of influences by modern dance artists Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and ballet dance artist Luigi Albertieri. In addition to this formal training, Cole spent time dancing in nightclubs.5 As one of the first male dancers with Denishawn, a modern dance company from the early twentieth century, Cole was introduced to the East Indian style that St. Denis was known for imitating. This prompted him to seek out additional training with Indian dancers Uday Shankar and Le Meri in the authentic Indian form, Bharata Natyam.6

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These early influences likely prompted the fusion of world forms with vernacular dance that Cole was known for using in his own movement vocabulary. Cole was also influenced by choreographer Ted Shawn and danced with his all-male company, which was known for performing choreography with masculine themes. It is likely that this is where Cole explored the physicality of his movement as well as the warrior-like attack for which he was known. Shawn’s influence as well as social prohibitions may have been the reasons that Cole decided to keep his homosexuality a secret until later in life; Shawn kept his own homosexual relationships a secret while deliberately projecting a heterosexual masculine identity.7 Between 1930 and 1932, Cole performed with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman’s modern dance company and later used the technique that they developed with his own dancers in his training classes at Columbia Pictures in the 1940s. Humphrey-Weidman modern was not the only technique that Cole used. Based on the ballet training Cole received from Cecchetti protégé Luigi Albertieri, he trained his dancers in the Cecchetti technique. In addition to the modern, ballet, and ethnic influences, Cole was an avid member of the nightclub scene, which often included participating in the Lindy Hop at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem.8 Later he would present his own choreography at such venues as the Rainbow Room, a well-known New York nightclub. This performance venue housed his first major concert jazz dance premier in 1937 in which he presented a work that was referred to as “Hindu Swing.” This work included the complex intricacy of East Indian movement countered by swinging jazz music.9 Thus Cole began exploring what he would label as “jazz-ethnic-ballet” in his own choreography. Cole the Choreographer: Broadway to Hollywood

Most of Cole’s career took place on Broadway stages and in movie musicals. Although the movement style he created influenced future generations of dancers, Cole remained virtually unknown in popular culture and was seldom revered by his peers in the concert dance world either. This is likely a result of his lack of work for the concert stage.10 Cole influenced many dance artists, including his muse, Gwen Verdon, and such jazz dance legends as Bob Fosse and Matt Mattox. Betty Grable, Marge and Gower Champion, Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe were trained by Cole and were reluctant to let any other choreographer work on their films.11 In the early 1930s, Cole made his Broadway debut as a dancer in The School for Husbands with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. This marked the beginning of his lifelong career in theatrical jazz dance. Cole’s choreography

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credits on Broadway include Kismet (Eastern influence), Magdalena and Man of La Mancha (Latin influence), and Jamaica (Afro-Cuban influence). Cole’s jazz work “Wedding of a Solid Sender” was featured in the Broadway revue Ziegfeld Follies (1943). He felt that jazz dancing was a derivative of the Lindy, which was evident in the movement style and choreographic content of this particular work. Some consider “Wedding” to be the first successful theatrical jazz dance.12 Cole also choreographed for film and television studios. After MGM fired Cole for his rude behavior to studio executives (which was not uncommon for Cole), he began a long partnership with Columbia Studios, where he choreographed several films and ran the Dance Workshop. The Dance Workshop offered Cole a place to develop his teaching style as well as train dancers in other styles that would be utilized in upcoming film choreography.13 Cole’s dance direction for Columbia included Cover Girl (1944) and Tonight and Every Night (1945) with Rita Hayworth, Three for the Show (1955) with Marge and Gower Champion, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe.14 During this time, Cole also established his longtime choreographic relationship with Marilyn Monroe, serving as one of the only artists that the notoriously hardheaded Monroe trusted. Although Monroe gained popularity in roles featuring her as the quintessential seductive, blonde bombshell, it was Cole’s direction and choreography that made some of her most memorable scenes, such as “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Although Howard Hawks is credited with directing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, it is confirmed by several sources, including Hawks’s own biographer, that Hawks was not even on the set during the filming of the dance numbers. Cole was responsible for all of the choreography and camera direction that made the film’s dance scenes famous. This includes Monroe’s subtle, yet suggestive movements and the long, sweeping camera angles that followed the dancers as they were whisked around the set.15 Cole also showcased his choreography on television shows such as the Bob Hope specials, The Perry Como Show, and Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. Thus Cole had successfully expanded into multiple commercial venues, despite his difficult temperament. Cole the Dance Educator: Characteristics of the Cole Style

Although Cole was a noted choreographer and dance director, his contributions as an instructor provided dancers with a system of training and a series of classes that facilitated the theatrical jazz dance style that Cole invented.

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Cole felt that dancers should be more than attractive chorus girls.16 At Columbia, he had an unofficial company of highly technical dancers including George and Ethel Martin, Carol Haney, and Gwen Verdon. During this time, Cole choreographed only a few films, which left him a sizable amount of time to devote to training his dancers.17 He provided daily classes that developed into what Cole considered “urban folk dance,” so his dancers were prepared for his rigorous choreography.18 In addition to classes in his own signature style, Cole’s dancers took classes in Humphrey-Weidman modern, Cecchetti ballet, gymnastics, and world forms of dance. Cole’s style is vividly described in John Martin’s 1948 New York Times article: His art is strictly high-tension; it is nervous, gaunt, flagellant, yet with an opulent sensuous beauty that sets up a violent cross-current of conflict at its very source. The dancer, whether it is Cole himself or a particular member of his company, is a depersonalized being, an intense kinetic entity rather than an individual. In this state of technical preparedness, which amounts almost to possession, he performs incredible movement, with a dynamism that transfers itself to the spectator as sheer motor enkindlement.19

Although Cole’s creative genius is undisputed, his rehearsal methods were questionable. He was tyrannical in his quest for perfection and unyielding in his search for cool yet powerful movement. He left the audience in awe of the controlled athleticism of his long knee slides and specific isolations executed with machinelike precision. His choreography was a respectable blend of world forms that fused seamlessly with his own movement vocabulary to create an image that did not imitate the culture from which it stemmed but honored the cultural inspiration while creating a new visual spectacle. Although published documentation of Cole’s legacy exists, often the sources offer contradictory information or, in the case of Glenn Loney’s biography, skip over critical information about his life. For example, Loney falls short in describing the training methods that Cole implemented in his dance classes as well as failing to mention the fact that Cole was a homosexual and the possible impact the repression of sexuality had on his career.20 Cole’s intensity and extreme perfectionism likely dominated his personal life as well. One might postulate that his repressed sexuality drove the sexual undertones that often characterized his movement style.21 Regardless, Jack Cole’s legendary contribution to film, television, and Broadway during the twentieth century was not reflected in mainstream popularity. However, he was undoubtedly the primary innovator within theatrical jazz dance during his time. 86 · Teal Darkenwald

Characteristics of Cole’s Style • Complicated rhythmic patterns set to jazz or world music • Detailed, precise isolations often inspired by East Indian classical dance (Bharata Natyam) • Cool, cold stare • Intensity in the eyes with “fire in the center” • Dropped center of gravity and horizontal orientation to the floor (use of a wide, low plié in second and fourth positions) • Warrior-like strength • Use of extreme spatial levels (knee slides and other floorwork contrasted by leaps) • Dynamic range (attack) • Catlike, slinky, sensual movement • Erect torso, regal spine • Supple arm movements initiating from the back and shoulder

Notes 1. Bob Boross, “Jazz Dance History in America: Jack Cole.” Bob Boross Freestyle Jazz Dance, www.bobboross.com/page22/page61/page71/page71. 2. Boross, “The Jack Cole Notebooks,” Dance Chronicle 27, no. 3 (2004): 409. 3. Frank W. E. Ries, “Scholarship and Musical Theatre,” Dance Chronicle 9, no. 2 (1986): 271. 4. Bob Boross, “All That’s Jazz,” Dance Magazine, August 1999, 22. 5. Constance Valis Hill, “From Bharata Natyam to Bop: Jack Cole’s ‘Modern’ Jazz Dance,” Dance Research Journal 33, no. 2 (Winter 2001): 31. 6. Http://www.glreview.com/issues/13.6/13.6-owen.php. 7. Boross, “All That’s Jazz,” 22; Julia Foulkes, Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 88–103. 8. Boross, “Jazz Dance History.” 9. Ries, “Scholarship and Musical Theatre,” 265. 10. Boross, “Jazz Dance History.” 11. Hill, “From Bharata Natyam,” 31. 12. Boross, “Jazz Dance History.” 13. Tony Thomas, That’s Dancing (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1984), 40. 14. Http://artsmeme.com/2010/06/24/jane-russell-remembers-gentlemen-choreogra pher-jack-cole/. 15. Boross, “Jazz Dance History.” 16. Ries, “Scholarship and Musical Theatre,” 271. Jack Cole and Theatrical Jazz Dance · 87

17. Boross, “Jazz Dance History.” 18. John Martin, “The Dance: Jack Cole,” in Anthology of American Jazz Dance, ed. Gus Giordano (Evanston, IL: Orion, 1975), 27–28. 19. Ries, “Scholarship and Musical Theatre,” 271. 20. Boross, “The Jack Cole Notebooks,” 409. 21. Boross, “Jazz Dance History.”

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12 Katherine Dunham’s Mark on Jazz Dance Saroya Corbett

Katherine Dunham (1909–2006) is revered as one of the great pillars of American dance history. Her world-renowned modern dance company exposed audiences to the diversity of dance, and her schools brought dance training and education to a variety of populations sharing her passion and commitment to dance as a medium of cultural communication. Often recognized for her research in the Caribbean and on African dance traditions, Dunham’s research also extended to black dance traditions of America. Her research in American black dance traditions unearthed and contributed to the foundations of jazz dance and black vernacular movement vocabularies. Anthropological Approach to Dance

The foundation for Katherine Dunham’s work and inquiry is her anthropological studies. Dunham received her degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1936 during a time when the anthropology department was new, fresh, and on the cutting edge of research. Her professors and mentors were critical to the development of anthropology: Robert Redfield, Melville Herskovits, Edward Spair, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Bronislaw Malinowski, and W. Lloyd Warner.1 It was during her time at the University of Chicago that Dunham developed an interest in the dances of the Caribbean, which had been mostly ignored by anthropologists up until this time.2 Within this environment, Dunham went on to receive a Julius Rosenwald


The image placed here in the print version has been intentionally omitted

Figure 12.1. Katherine Dunham and Vanoye Aikens in Katherine Dunham’s L’Ag’ya. Photo by Roger Wood, 1952. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. © 1952 ROH/ Roger Wood.

Fund Fellowship in 1935 to conduct dance research in the Caribbean, focusing her studies on Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, and Trinidad.3 During Dunham’s fellowship, she focused her field research on the participant-observer model, in which the researcher both observes and participates in the group of individuals being studied. Dunham used the participant-observer model to immerse herself in the cultures she researched. In Haiti, Dunham pushed boundaries by focusing more on participation than observation. Melville Herskovits, Dunham’s field advisor, wrote to Dunham and warned against her activities after learning she was going to be initiated into the Haitian spiritual practice, Voudun. Dunham continued with her initiation plans and believed her in-depth understanding of the cultures would only come through her full participation. 90 · Saroya Corbett

The Rosenwald fellowship solidified Dunham’s lifelong focus on the role and functionality of dance in culture. Her research and choreographic interests intersected, establishing the research-to-performance method of her work. Dunham’s research material was the basis for her choreography, as she inserted her artistic sensibilities to expand beyond just producing folk art. The African diaspora was a major theme in her work throughout her choreographic career, and as scholar VèVè Clark adds, Dunham was the “repository of black dance of both North America and the Caribbean.”4 As ethnography is a researcher’s written account of his or her field experiences, Dunham’s performances were firsthand accounts of her research. Her “performed ethnographies” were designed to educate her audiences about diverse cultures with the intentions of interrogating pejorative assumptions labeling these cultures as uncivilized and inferior.5 In her performances, a cultural memory was enacted onstage, exposing centuries of history for audiences to witness. In Clark’s article “Performing the Memory of Difference in Afro-Caribbean Dance,” she employs lieux de mémoire (sites of memory) from French revolutionary scholarship to explain Dunham’s use of cultural memory. Clark explains, “Dunham’s research became the basis for character dances and ballets, all of which demonstrated her extensive knowledge of dance forms re-created from African diaspora memory. When the dance steps, music, and other cultural forms were transformed for stage representations, they became lieux de mémoire, reworkings and restatements of historical danced events whose memory Dunham had also preserved in writing or on film.”6 Forging Racial Understandings and Navigating Discrimination

The Dunham Company performed and toured for twenty years before the social movements of the 1960s. Racism and racial discrimination were an accepted social policy, and Dunham confronted racism on and off stage. By Dunham’s own account, her audiences were nine-tenths white and one-tenth black. The visibility of her performed ethnographies exposed her majority white audiences to these cultural dance memories. A cross-viewing was enacted as audiences were exposed to cultural memories and social identities different from their own cultural and social understanding.7 Additionally, racism followed Dunham and her company through their travels. They were frequently denied hotel accommodations, restaurant service, and rehearsal space and were forced to live in unsuitable conditions. The Dunham company often endured performances to segregated audiences.8 After a performance at a Louisville, Kentucky, theater in 1944, Dunham came out and informed the audience that her company would not return until the Katherine Dunham’s Mark on Jazz Dance · 91

audience was racially integrated.9 This same conviction continued as Dunham produced the work Southland in 1951, which protested the lynching of black men in the South. Dunham proceeded with performing Southland in Chile after being instructed by U.S. officials not to perform the dance.10 Dunham’s defiance and resistance to prejudice and discrimination along with her will to educate defined her character and the impetus of her work. Providing Context and Exposing Early Jazz Dance Vocabularies

After returning from the Caribbean, Dunham’s research continued in the United States with the vernacular movement of African-Americans. The connections between African-Americans and the black cultures of the Caribbean were obvious to Dunham, and she felt obliged to continue her research in her own backyard. Dunham explains her interest in black American vernacular dance as she states, “My feeling was how on earth could I go, as I had always done, to the West Indies and spend practically a year going off to the islands, looking for their root material in the performing arts, and not realize that there was this richness right here in our country.”11 Dunham added, “So I developed those things in jazz.”12 During the late 1930s, Dunham began to perform and create choreography documenting black American dance forms. Dunham researched the then current social scene of black America and interviewed previously enslaved African-Americans to uncover vernacular dance history. The Shimmy, Falling off the Log, Black Bottom, Shorty George, Palmer House, and other dance steps were taken to audiences all over the world in her choreographic works such as Le Jazz Hot and the Americana Suite.13 Although Vanoye Aikens, company member and Dunham’s dance partner, candidly acknowledges that the Dunham Company performed jazz movement but was not a jazz dance company, the exposure she gave to early jazz vocabulary contributed to a mainstream understanding and acceptance of jazz dance.14 Dance historian Susan Manning’s case study, “Watching Dunham’s Dances, 1937–1945,” historicizes how Dunham’s choreography was viewed in the 1930s and 1940s. Manning recognizes that in the 1930s, critics “relied on assumptions about the generalizing power of white bodies that created a critical conundrum for black dancing bodies.”15 In the critical conundrum, black dancers were defined as “natural performers” instead of “creative artists” when performing Africanist-themed material, and they were considered “derivative” when they were performing Eurocentric themes rather than “original artists.”16 She further analyzes the gradual change in the 1940s as “new meanings” began to surface regarding the black dancing body. Throughout the case study, Manning works to unearth how the diaspora 92 · Saroya Corbett

influences were read in Dunham’s work. Consequently, she is also examining the readability of Dunham’s performed ethnography. Additionally, the case study provides evidence that the Dunham Company’s jazz-based choreography presented a cultural context for jazz. When commenting on Dunham’s 1940 program of Latin American, Caribbean, and jazz material, Manning reveals, “Although she did not script an extended program note, most white dance critics perceived her performances of diaspora. Not that they changed their preconceptions overnight, but it is clear that watching Dunham’s dances in 1940 altered white critics’ perceptions of black dancing bodies.”17 The reading of Dunham’s diaspora influences or her performed ethnography began to alter the critical conundrum used to define black dancing bodies by critics. In this process, critics were developing a framework to understand and eventually interpret jazz dance. Educating a Jazz Generation

Throughout her career, Dunham opened several schools. One of her best known educational establishments was the Dunham School of Dance and Theater in New York City.18 (The name eventually changed to Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research.) The school opened in 1945 and was more than a school of dance. The Dunham School offered courses in social sciences and the humanities ranging from eukinetics (a theory focused on expression developed by Rudolf von Laban) and dance notation to psychology, language, and philosophy.19 Faculty and guest instructors included Syvilla Fort, Archie Savage, Talley Beatty, José Limon, Lee and Susan Strasberg, Herbert Berghof, Margaret Mead, and Antony Tudor. Additionally, Dunham recruited graduates from the universities of Fordham, Columbia, and Cambridge to instruct social science courses. The quality of education at the Dunham School was highly regarded. Both Columbia University and the GI Bill accepted credits from the school. The Dunham School was sustained by income generated by the Dunham Company. Dunham worked hard to maintain the school but was forced financially to close it in 1955.20 The training and experience offered at the Dunham School was significant in the training of a generation of theater artists, including Marlon Brando, Geoffrey Holder, Ava Gardner, James Dean, Doris Duke, Eartha Kitt, Chita Rivera, and Arthur Mitchell. The education Dunham provided in dance training was also significant in the lives of several major jazz dance artists. Choreographer Peter Gennaro used his GI Bill to attend the Dunham School. He was known for exposing television audiences to jazz movement through his involvement in weekly television shows. Also, Gennaro went on to choreograph parts of West Side Story and several other prominent jazz Katherine Dunham’s Mark on Jazz Dance · 93

dance productions.21 Jazz dance choreographer and educator Gus Giordano attended the Dunham School in New York. In addition to creating his Chicago-based jazz dance company, Giordano was considered one of the first individuals to codify jazz dance technique, and he wrote one of the first texts dedicated to teaching jazz dance.22 In the process of conducting research, creating performed ethnography, and training students, Katherine Dunham synthesized her experience and work into the codified Dunham Technique. Although Dunham Technique progressed and developed over Dunham’s lifetime, the schools she created during the first half of her career were early centers for spreading the technique. As Dunham influenced a generation of artists, Dunham Technique was also influenced by the dance trends and styles of the time. Dunham Technique emerged as a codified method to physically interpret the movement of diverse cultural experiences, especially the African diaspora. With jazz dance rooted in black vernacular movement, Dunham Technique provided a systematic approach easily applied to jazz dance. One recognizable connection between Dunham Technique and jazz dance is the use of body isolations. Isolations, defined as moving one part of the body at a time, are a canonical feature in jazz dance training. While isolations are used in other dance forms, the vigorous and syncopated character of jazz dance isolations calls upon jazz dance’s roots in African-derived movement. Yet isolations function as a method to warm up the body and build complex movement patterns. Dunham’s observation of isolations as a part of communal movement during her field research in the Caribbean resulted in her early development of isolations in Dunham Technique. Through her additional study of East Indian dance with Uday Shankar and Vera Mirova, she further developed isolations into a pattern of movements and choreography used as a staple of Dunham Technique.23 In an interview with certified Dunham Technique instructor Keith Tyrone Williams, Williams mentioned the use of isolations, polyrhythms, the fluid spine, the fluid torso, and the pelvic area as fundamental components of jazz dance. He further identified Dunham’s pioneering efforts in utilizing these elements. Williams commented directly on Dunham’s development of isolations acknowledging, “It’s not that isolations had not been done before, but I don’t think that it had been studied, broken down, and then brought to the concert stage and mainstream America like Dunham did, you know, and integrated into a codified technique.” 24 This statement recognizes that Dunham was not the only individual to use isolations. Yet her research, anthropological approach, and codified technique brought a particular type of clarity to movement not previously realized. Dunham’s acclaimed success 94 · Saroya Corbett

further inculcated the environment of the time with her innovation, leaving her mark on jazz dance and the performance world. Dunham Touches Jazz Music

Katherine Dunham’s influence on jazz does not end with her contributions to jazz dance. Dunham was also connected to the development of Latin jazz music in the United States. She understood the importance of Latin rhythms in African-derived religions and provided a cultural context for them through her performed ethnographies. A part of Dunham’s process to create performed ethnographies was to incorporate actual references from the cultures represented. Including performers from the cultures displayed onstage often created this connection to the cultures. Chano Pozo along with Tito Puente familiarized Americans with Cuban rhythms. Pozo, who played for the Dunham Company, went on to introduce Latin beats to jazz music as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s band. Pozo and Gillespie, along with Mario Bauzá, founder of the Afro-Cuban Orchestra, popularized Afro-Cuban music.25 Notably, since Dunham’s primary focus was on the role and functionality of dance in culture, her research brought works of performed ethnography to the concert and commercial stage. Dunham’s anthropological and creative investment in and her emphasis on African diasporic culture and traditions positioned her as an antecedent for the emergence of many dance and music traditions in jazz dance. The development of Katherine Dunham’s codified technique and her role as an educator further extended her influence in the development of jazz dance. Dunham never considered herself a jazz artist, yet the mere existence of her artistic work positioned her as a pioneering force in the evolution of jazz. Notes 1. Joyce Aschenbrenner, Katherine Dunham: Dancing a Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 29. 2. Vèvè A. Clark, “Performing the Memory of Difference in Afro-Caribbean Dance: Katherine Dunham’s Choreography, 1938-1987,” in Kaiso! Writings by and about Katherine Dunham, ed. Vèvè A. Clark and Sara E. Johnson (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), 323. 3. Aschenbrenner, Dancing a Life, 45. 4. Clark, “Performing the Memory,” 323. 5. Halifu Osumare, “Dancing the Black Atlantic: Katherine Dunham’s Research-to-Performance Method,” AmeriQuests (2010): 7. 6. Clark, “Performing the Memory,” 323. 7. Susan Manning, “Watching Dunham’s Dancing, 1937–1945,” in Kaiso! 257. Katherine Dunham’s Mark on Jazz Dance · 95

8. Aschenbrenner, Dancing a Life, 132–35. 9. Katherine Dunham, “Comment to a Louisville Audience,” in Kaiso! 255. 10. Constance Valis Hill, “Katherine Dunham’s Southland: Protest in the Face of Repression.” In Kaiso! 348, 352–53. 11. Constance Valis Hill, “Collaborating with Balanchine on Cabin in the Sky,” in Kaiso! 243. 12. Wendy Perron, “Katherine Dunham: One-Woman Revolution,” in Kaiso! 625. 13. Ibid. 14. Keith Tyrone Williams interview, October 19, 2011. 15. Manning, “Watching Dunham’s Dancing, 1937–1945,” 256. 16. Ibid., 259. 17. Ibid., 260. 18. “Chronology,” in Kaiso! xviii. 19. Vera Maletic, “Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research: Brochure 1946-1947,” in Kaiso! 472-78; VèVè Clark, “Performing the Memory,” 261. 20. Aschenbrenner, Dancing a Life, 136–39. 21. Rachel Straus, “Peter Gennaro,” Dance Teacher Magazine (2010): 58–60. 22. Courtney Rae Allen and Bob Boross, “Gus Giordano,” Dance Teacher Now 31, no. 4 (2009): 63–65. 23. Aschenbrenner, Dancing a Life, 201. 24. Williams interview. 25. Marta Moreno Vega, “The Yoruba Orisha Tradition Comes to New York City,” in Kaiso! 605.

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13 Bob Fosse’s Jazz Revolution Cheryl Mrozowski

Robert Louis Fosse—better known to audiences, critics, and scholars of theater and cinema as Bob Fosse—reigned as Broadway’s foremost choreographer/director during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. His musicals spanned three decades: The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees (1955), New Girl in Town (1957), Redhead (1959), The Conquering Hero (1961), How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (1961), Little Me (1962), Sweet Charity (1966), Pippin (1972), Chicago (1975), and Dancin’ (1978). His style was so distinctive that it could be indisputably identified at a glance. The forward thrust of the hips, the hunched shoulders, the gloved hands, and the turnedin feet were all hallmarks of the Fosse musical. Fosse’s approach to movement was unconventional and highly original, as he would include the same movement in a number only twice and would add unorthodox steps throughout to maintain surprise and spontaneity. These elements often gave his choreography a humorous orientation, which was reflected in his rehearsal process. His work with Gwen Verdon (his lifelong partner and third wife) in “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees illustrates this characteristic. During a rehearsal, Verdon had difficulty maintaining her balance in a stalking step and explained to Fosse that it was due to the high heels she was wearing. Fosse arrived at rehearsal the following day and donned a pair of oversized high heels himself, showing her exactly how the step should be done.1 Fosse imparted images to his dancers that gave clarity to their movements and mesmerized audiences. In “Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity (1966), Fosse instructed the female dancers to be seductive by keeping their chins 97

down and teasing with their eyes.2 This made the dancers’ intentions unmistakable for audiences. It often took performers the entire rehearsal process to acclimate to Fosse’s expectations, as his style gave an exciting edge to movement that appeared easy to execute despite its highly technical requirements. His choreography “called on jumps and lifts from classical ballet, ballroom and character dance, and knee slides, tumbling, and acrobatics from popular entertainment—big full-bodied actions—as well as tap and soft shoe.”3 Fosse’s style, which was dynamic yet reminiscent of everyday movement, depended on the isolation of joints and appendages moving compactly through a restricted space. During the 1930s and 1940s, dance sequences in a Broadway musical were mostly supplemental to the story’s dramatic action and narrative, and they provided a break from the central plot. In 1943 Agnes de Mille revolutionized the Broadway musical with Oklahoma, where choreographic numbers were seamlessly integrated into the plot. Fosse, Jack Cole, and Jerome Robbins utilized this type of hybrid performance, which combined dance and traditionally theatrical story lines.4 Not only did this allow dance to become an integral component of the plot, but it also helped advance the story line. Fosse’s brilliance was apparent in his ability to move smoothly from a scene’s end to a dance number; he heightened the emotions at the end so the dancing and singing would not clash. He accomplished this by first allowing the underscore of the music to introduce the dance as the players finished their dialogue, and then by raising the key in the music and changing tempo to dynamically build the number.5 Fosse was formally trained as a tap dancer. He had some background in ballet, but possessed a limited facility. He adjusted each dancer’s movements so they reflected his own dance strengths and limitations rather than those of the individual dancer. His refusal to choreograph beyond his own physicality allowed him to develop a style based on personal preferences: a bent knee, splayed fingers, percussive isolations, and sharp, jazzy movement were hallmarks of his style. His clever use of props—particularly hats and canes—camouflaged his technical limitations. These habits were widely imitated by other dancers and choreographers, and they made his choreography instantly recognizable. Fosse wrote the first draft of Sweet Charity in 1965 and launched the musical number “Big Spender.” This ensemble piece is set to a burlesque beat and consists of a series of seductive moves, poses, and stances. Sensual and erotic in nature with a pulsating beat, “Big Spender” is one of Fosse’s most visually exciting pieces; it is embedded with stop action, visual accents, and musical

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Figure 13.1. Bob Fosse holds his Oscar at the 45th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, on March 27, 1973. Fosse won best director for the movie Cabaret. AP Images Photo.

percussion that direct the audience’s eye. While most audiences would call “Big Spender” a dance, it includes no traditional dance steps. Another well-known musical number from Sweet Charity is “Rich Man’s Frug,” which explores the popularity of social dance in the 1960s. In this number, bodies lean and tilt in contrast to arching arms and angular legs that symbolize a bleak world. A representative step in this piece appears easy but is extremely difficult to perform. The “cranking at the hip” begins with each hand flush against the matching hip bone, parallel arms, and bent wrists. The hands move in a circle and the wrists move upward, bringing the knuckles in line with the wrists. At this point, the still-bent elbows are far away from the back. The heels of the hands push back behind the dancer, but the insides of the fists remain next to the hip bones. The entire motion is done repeatedly, with a slight hesitation as the heels of the hands push back. As veteran

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dancer and actor Ben Vereen relates, “this minute detail took one entire day of rehearsal for ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ to perfect prior to the Broadway opening.”6 Fosse’s artistic relevancy emerged from his realistic treatment of his material, as he chose projects that appealed to his unsentimental attitude toward life. The release of the film Cabaret (1972) marked both a radical departure from his earlier works and the first time in cinematic history that choreography and musical staging furthered the dramatic action of a mainstream film (to the point that Martin Gottfried considers it “hardly a movie version of the show”).7 In Cabaret, a routine kick line suddenly transforms into the marching goose steps of the Third Reich, and the film cuts from an Austrian slap dance to a group of “brownshirts” beating the proprietor of the Kit Kat Club. Fosse wanted the dances to authentically reflect the period. He explored his choreography’s dramatic potential by having a scene follow a related musical number or by shooting a dance segment and editing a relevant stretch of the following story line. Fosse employed far more musical staging than choreography, and he used a nightclub-standard stage on set that measured 10' × 14'. That same year, Fosse directed the television special Liza with a Z for Liza Minnelli. He embedded the show with the same inventiveness that characterized Cabaret; his work in physicalizing Minnelli’s singing and gestures helped sharpen her dancing. Fosse shot with film instead of videotape because he could control film more easily and the images were of a superior quality. The show was performed in a Broadway theater with an invited audience and eight cameras running simultaneously. Martin Gottfried characterizes this work as a reaffirmation in Fosse’s confidence: “There was the same boldness to his work on the television show that had been evident in Cabaret, the same strong stroke. His artistic muscle was now flexed in spareness and certainty.”8 The capture of eight Academy Awards for Cabaret in 1973 cemented Fosse’s place in the National Museum of Dance’s C. V. Whitney Hall of Fame. Although artistically successful, Fosse and Verdon had followed the Broadway tradition of living from show to show, and by the mid-1970s they had exhausted their savings and needed to provide for their daughter, Nicole. After the success of Cabaret and Liza with a Z, Fosse wanted to pursue film or television projects instead of stage work. His intensity on stage and set was partially fueled by drug use, and he entered the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Institute for depression in 1973. Though mentally and artistically fatigued, Fosse reluctantly agreed to direct and choreograph Chicago (1974) for Verdon. Guilty of marital infidelity, he owed her this starring vehicle to secure her financial future and ease his conscience. Soon after beginning rehearsal, 100 · Cheryl Mrozowski

the hard-living Fosse was rushed to the hospital after he suffered his first heart attack. After successful open-heart surgery, Fosse returned to work on Chicago and challenged the performers to “feel like the living dead and to dare the audience to watch them.”9 He instructed them to focus their eyes over the tops of audience members’ heads as if they were boring holes through the back wall. As Debra McWaters describes, “The ‘bullet eyes’ look [is one that] generated a sense of mystery, yet the individual dancers remained subtle and intriguing.”10 This physical mood created unambiguous intentions and organic characters that enabled Fosse to deeply engage the audience at the beginning of a show. This work—coupled with the overlapping of different themes, amplified music volume, and changing tempo—allowed Fosse to bring the opening number, “All That Jazz,” to a memorable finish. Three years after Cabaret, Fosse’s dance revue show Dancin’ (1978) arrived as a plotless musical theater extravaganza. He contrived stunning jazz dance numbers that featured fifteen of Broadway’s most outstanding dancers who were selected from an audition pool of 2,000. Ann Reinking, a ballet dancer from San Francisco who replaced Verdon as Fosse’s dance muse, was included in this elite group. Choreographer Agnes de Mille describes Dancin’ as “a dazzling display of show stoppers, pitched at breakneck speed and heartbreak intensity” and as “something new, a dance evening for the general public.”11 Dancin’ was emblematic of Fosse’s transformation of American musical theater dance; as he told the New York Times in 1978, “This show is about the sheer joy of dancing” (although, paradoxically, the roster of injured dancers seemed to make it about anything except “joy”).12 Another pivotal moment in Fosse’s career is marked by All That Jazz (1979), an autobiographical film that evolves episodically from past theater experiences and from personal encounters. Having been nominated for nine Academy Awards, it is considered his most groundbreaking work by critics and audiences alike, and it provided the stardom that Fosse had always craved. Ultimately, Fosse’s imprint on Broadway, film, and television stood as a beacon for what was hip and most current in its time. Although his work was controversial for some critics due to its risqué choreography and unwholesome subject matter, Fosse created a highly individualized jazz dance technique that reflected a culture in support of its incubation. Fosse permanently altered the course of American musical theater by introducing an entirely new avenue in dance. The birth of the director-choreographer paradigm on Broadway enabled Fosse’s development, and his trademarks are seen today in music videos, nightclub shows, and dance films. His legacy is present in the fast cuts in Flashdance (1983) and the isolated body parts in Bob Fosse’s Jazz Revolution · 101

Fame (1980). Although his artistic impact seemed to dwindle rapidly during the last decade of his life, Fosse’s unique artistic vision and style has stood the test of time; his material continues to thrive today, appearing as fresh and new as the day it was conceived. Notes 1. Margery Beddow, Bob Fosse’s Broadway (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1996), 6. 2. Kevin Grubb, Razzle Dazzle (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), 127. 3. Debra McWaters, The Fosse Style (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008), xi. 4. Julian Mates, America’s Musical Stage: Two Hundred Years of Musical Theatre (New York: Praeger, 1985), 190. 5. Margery Beddow, Bob Fosse’s Broadway (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1996), 30. 6. McWaters, The Fosse Style, 17. 7. Martin Gottfried, All His Jazz: The Life and Death of Bob Fosse (Boston: Da Capo Press, 2003), 215. 8. Ibid., 229. 9. Beddow, Bob Fosse’s Broadway, 54. 10. McWaters, The Fosse Style, 161. 11. Nancy Reynolds and Malcolm McCormick, No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 702. 12. Grubb, Razzle Dazzle, 211.

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14 The Legacy of Gus Giordano Michael McStraw

Pioneers, inventors, visionaries: more often than not, these agents of change make their contributions from afar, secure inside laboratories, warehouses, or offices and removed from the world they intend to alter. In stark contrast, Gus Giordano—the twentieth-century jazz dance innovator, master educator, and choreographer—positioned himself firmly in the heart of the discipline, grappling with rhythm, sinew, gravity, and form. His was a process of creating alongside dancers whose lives he transformed. Earthy, masculine, and a charismatic everyman who possessed an exceptional work ethic, Giordano built his dance legacy one turned-in leg at a time. His contributions to jazz dance are vast, and his role in transforming it into a credible American art form cannot be overemphasized. Gus created the powerful and joyous Giordano Technique, established the Giordano Dance School (1953), formed Giordano Dance Chicago (1963), the first dance company devoted to jazz dance, wrote the highly acclaimed Anthology of American Jazz Dance (1976), and launched Jazz Dance World Congress (1990), an internationally recognized forum for teaching, performance, and choreography. But what was at the core of Gus Giordano? What was that essential something that made these innovations possible? Marked as special from the moment of birth, August Thomas Giordano III was born to an immigrant Italian family in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1923. Gus was the fourth son born, but only the second to survive beyond infancy; the non-surviving brothers before him were also August Thomas, thus his entry into the family as “the Third.” His was a life shaped by a proud and supportive family; early and 103

Figure 14.1. Gus Giordano teaching Giordano Technique, 1983. Photographer unknown. From the archives of Giordano Dance Chicago.

continual exposure to dance (his cousin was a stage performer), movie musicals (he sold popcorn outside a local cinema), and film making (he won a movie camera in a neighborhood drugstore contest) prepared him for a life immersed in movement and performance. Perhaps most important, the perception that Gus was lucky, a survivor, was the impetus for creative risktaking throughout his career. His daughter, Nan, artistic director of Giordano Dance Chicago, said, “My father was king because he survived.”1 Despite this domestic dynamic, merely surviving was not enough. Gus’s growth and development from his first dance experiences, through high school, service in the Marines, college on the GI Bill, performing on Broadway, and on into marriage and fatherhood, were echoed in the creation of the Giordano Technique and in the core of his teaching philosophy: focus, become a master at what you do, seek out and incorporate disparate influences, dance from your soul, and give back what you have learned. In his time, it was as if he perpetually stood at the center of an hourglass, filtering everything—aesthetics, techniques, and styles. From this nexus, he distilled, reshaped, grabbed onto, and discarded until that which was released was fresh and exciting, freely spread, and freely shared. Ever the innovator, Gus 104 · Michael McStraw

pushed his dancers to be aware of the shifts and transitions within the art form, or as Nan Giordano likes to say, to “stay on the pulse.” This point of view of knowing one’s place in life clearly colored Gus’s perspective as an artist. “I know one thing for certain about jazz dance,” he said. “It is a living art form which is always about to do something new.”2 His efforts were acknowledged early on. Master teacher Joe Tremaine recalls Gus’s impact. “In the 1950s, jazz dance was beginning to find its look. I had a teacher who studied with Gus Giordano in Chicago, and she integrated some of his moves into her classes—head and shoulder isolations. It was very innovative at the time.”3 From Giordano’s perspective, the burgeoning art form of jazz dance was not static, rigid, or rarified; rather, it was an exploration of all that the human body could achieve. Moving through space with grace, strength, and freedom, “jazz dance celebrates sensuality. Its character is not romantic, like ballet, nor is it highly reflective like modern dance.”4 His vision for jazz dance was far from pedantic or sedentary; to the contrary, it was immediate and urgent. Choreographer and former Giordano Dance Chicago company member Sherry Zunker has written, “Gus was passionate about proving that jazz dance is just as valuable as other art forms.”5 Gus did not have a classically proportioned body. His instrument was muscular and solid, with powerful legs more comfortable turned in than turned out. From his days of selling popcorn at the cinema, Gus came to admire the athleticism of Gene Kelly, perhaps because of the similarity in their body types. Gus studied with modern dance pioneers Katherine Dunham, Hanya Holm, and Alwin Nikolais, and from each of these master artists one senses the truths he carried forth into his own technique: Dunham’s rhythm, grounding, and exuberance; Holm’s sense of muscularity, low pliés, and strength of center; and Nikolais’s balance of theatricality, performance, and technique. Although not a great technician himself, Gus possessed an unwavering commitment to self-betterment. In the introduction to the 1992 book Jazz Dance Class: Beginning thru Advanced, Gus wrote, “Discipline is as inescapable in jazz [dance] as it is in any other art form. Flexibility, center placement, clean lines, multiple turns, leaps, and the ability to quickly transmit combinations from the brain to the body are the nuts-and-bolts of technique.” Nan Giordano reflected, “My father absolutely understood the need for and the value of technique. That is why he combined ballet with more soul-of-the-earth elements to create the Giordano Technique.” Intrinsic to the Giordano Technique is the necessity that all movement emanates from the strength and control of the musculature in and around the pelvis (the “center”). The technique employs a deep plié, rhythmic The Legacy of Gus Giordano · 105

complexity and precision, and a strong and consistent use of core (long before the concept became fashionable). Limbs are as frequently turned in as rotated out, and each part of the body is trained to move in isolation. The line of the body is clean, the neck is elongated, and an openness to the collarbone frees the head to move with abandon or with subtle precision. Stylistically, dancers are regal, grounded, and elegant, but they perform with kinetic urgency, vibrancy, and attack. The overall effect is one of focus and a deep understanding of one’s orientation and angularity in space. Personality of the individual is to be cultivated and enhanced, and performers are to have a sense of theatricality, absent of any flashiness or trendiness. In paying tribute to Gus, Sherry Zunker added, “You need to have so much core strength to do his style. In Gus’s style, everything is hit hard, everything is done in plié; your arms are moving through space like you’re moving through cement or peanut butter. Nothing is easy.” In the development of the Giordano Technique, Gus had discovered that physicality produced from within transforms the external, that the soul of the dancer must transcend technique to ensure that feeling and intention are more important than artificiality or mechanical execution, no matter the technical virtuosity. “Keep it real” was Gus’s mantra. Creation of the technique came through a journey of exploration, of borrowing from other disciplines, of learning to uncover that which makes a dancer special as a performer. This points to a paradox inherent in Gus Giordano. His upbringing was marked by the healthy friction that comes from the comfort of lower-middle-class stability countered by the insatiable drive to demand more from life. His experiences as performer and master educator gave him access to power, prestige, and celebrity, but Gus was also a regular guy. Forever pairing reality with vision and technique with soul, Gus celebrated the extraordinary in the everyday, employed a workmanlike approach to perpetuating an art form, and balanced a bravura sense of personal style with a true respect and love for others no matter their station in life. Despite a rock star aura, he was eminently approachable. It was this duality that made him an extraordinary educator. Nan Giordano said, “My father could go into a ballroom to teach five hundred students, and somehow he would emerge having touched or spoken to each and every participant.” A master teacher, Gus has been credited with creating generations of professional dancers and for touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of non-dancers who could experience the joy of dance and connect with his aesthetic, his discipline, and his ability to elicit the best from each student. Zunker agrees. “He was like a cheerleader: ‘Come on!’ and

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‘Go!’ and ‘Pow!’ He knew how to inspire people to want to dance. He was so approachable, and he always spoke the truth.” “The student must view the body as a personal instrument, as a keyboard with infinite possibilities,” Giordano said.6 His personal openness to outside influences certainly extended to his dancers. Pattie Obey’s tenure as a member of Gus’s company was filled with classes and study at other institutions. “Gus would encourage us to go study with anyone else who could make us better, and he wanted us then to bring back what we had learned.”7 Astonishingly, this encouragement to explore did not lessen the commitment of his company members; in fact, his universal approach to training magnified devotion to his vision. Nearly forty years later, Obey states, “I know where I come from. I know my roots.” Obey shares, too, that Gus viewed himself to be a better innovator, promoter, and motivator than teacher. Through a worldview marked by inclusion, Gus sought and recognized diverse talent and then provided opportunities for study and growth. “In the early days, I would teach classes of eight kids because Gus gave scholarships to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who had ability.” Classes were three hours in duration, and Gus had an unerring gift to motivate every person to do his or her best. This support came with a quid pro quo, however: Gus would support each student 100 percent but with the expectation that the students themselves would invest in the work necessary to improve. In encouraging students to take risks, Gus secured their desire to please him. “In each class, Gus would single out a dancer who seemed to capture the nature of what he was teaching, and ask them to demonstrate,” said Obey. This method not only motivated the demonstrator but also elicited others to try for that special role. “Why not me?” they would ask. Why not me, indeed. Years after his death, Gus’s deepest contributions are to the people whose lives he touched through his teaching, his technique, and his talent and who were permanently and indelibly changed by the experience. The Giordano Technique is as vibrant and essential as it was decades ago and continues to be taught worldwide. The company that bears his name, Giordano Dance Chicago, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary season in 2012/13 and has amassed an international reputation for innovation and, true to its founder, promises to make an abiding and visceral connection to its audience. Some of Gus’s choreography, like the ever-popular Sing, Sing, Sing (1983), lives on in the company’s repertoire as a vivid example of classic theatrical jazz dance. Gus Giordano was a presence who followed timeworn paths of hard work, service, and family, but who launched an enduring legacy of provocation, transformation, and innovation.

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Notes 1. Nan Giordano, interview with Michael McStraw, Evanston, IL, December 1, 2011. All remarks made by Ms. Giordano came from this interview. 2. Celebrate Life, DVD, compiled by HMS Media, Des Plaines, IL, 2008. 3. Rose Eichenbaum, The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2008), 107. 4. Gus Giordano, Jazz Dance Class: Beginning through Advanced (Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book, 1992), vii. 5. Sherry Zunker, “In Memory, Gus Giordano,” Dance Magazine, November 2010, www .dancemagazine.com/issues/November-2012/In-Memorium-In-Gratitude. All of Zunker’s remarks come from this article. 6. Giordano, Jazz Dance Class, vii. 7. Pattie Obey, interview with Michael McStraw, Lindenhurst, IL, December 7, 2011.

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15 Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance Bob Boross

Frank Hatchett’s name instantly refers to what is hot and fresh in the world of jazz dance. As a teacher and choreographer for more than thirty years, Hatchett has been a driving force in taking the latest steps and trends from street and social dance and translating them into a jazz dance style he calls VOP. From the 1960s’ Twist to the 1990s’ hip-hop, Frank Hatchett has been the conduit from the street to the commercial stage. The unenlightened dancer or observer may jump to the conclusion that Hatchett spends his time picking up on what street dancers are doing and merely transporting their steps to the dance studio. In reality, his style is based on strong concert and ethnic dance techniques. To become proficient in VOP, a dancer must possess technique as well as attitude and flair. As Hatchett said in a November 1999 interview with me at New York’s Broadway Dance Center, where he leads three classes daily, “You can be a dancer today by just knowing the latest steps. But to me you can see the difference in a dancer that has a knowledge of the older styles. I think that it just makes a stronger, more secure dancer.”1 In an effort to shed more light on his thoughts on VOP, jazz dance, and the proper training of a jazz dancer, Frank has written a textbook with Nancy Myers Gitlin that reveals the building blocks of his life’s work. In Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance, some surprising revelations are offered that may cause novices to rethink their methods of dance training and provide a blueprint for teachers who are trying to give their students the best training possible.2 Hatchett began his dance career as a boy in a local Connecticut dance studio. Realizing the need to learn from the best, he sought out teachers known for their success in creating working dancers, like Philadelphia’s 109

Figure 15.1. Frank Hatchett coaching a young dancer at a Broadway Dance Center workshop event. Photo courtesy of Broadway Dance Center.

Eleanor Harris. Harris assisted Hatchett in finding work in the Atlantic City and Las Vegas revues. Soon after, though, Hatchett boldly opened his own dance studio in a converted Massachusetts storefront in order to teach, find security, and give back to his community. The rapid success of his studio encouraged him to venture to New York where he studied the meticulous, strength-building technique of modern dance pioneer Katherine Dunham. He advanced his knowledge with classes in African, East Indian, and Caribbean dance. It was only after he had established a strong foundation of dance technique that he branched out to develop a signature style that emanated from his soul. His possession of strong technique channeled the feelings in his heart. Hatchett’s VOP attitude then found its NYC home when he began teaching at Jo Jo’s Dance Factory in 1980.3 It flourished in 1984 when he became a coowner in a new studio at that very same location—the legendary Broadway Dance Center. So although today’s observer sees present-day street dance movements when observing his class, Hatchett’s life work springs from a career solidly based on dedication, drive, love for teaching, and a detailed knowledge of classic dance methods. As a teacher, Hatchett expects his students to have technique from studies in ballet, modern, jazz, and ethnic dance classes. From there, he works to develop the student’s ability to VOP. What is VOP? In Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance, VOP is described as “a unique energy put into dance as well as life, a spirit, an attitude,” and as a way to “communicate with an audience, to make the audience feel part of the dance experience.”4 VOP is an individual 110 · Bob Boross

interpretation of jazz or other rhythmic music that comes from the dancer’s soul. This description places VOP in agreement with a defining characteristic of jazz dance, where the dancer is encouraged to react individually to musical influences and elicit movements that either reflect the rhythmic structure of the music or display the dancer’s personal reaction to the music. VOP demands a marriage of the movement and the music. Therefore, the ability to feel music on a personal and emotional level, as well as to display that feeling with clarity, confidence, and energy, is essential to a dancer’s skill in VOP. Hatchett feels that many dancers today have a hard time finding the feeling within music, as musical choices on radio and television are limited. “Nowadays,” he told me, “dancers’ knowledge of music is so shallow.” So Frank has incorporated some teaching methods that help the dancer to break free from the chains of rigid technique and tap the wellspring of feeling music from the soul. One method is seen easily in the very name—VOP. VOP is not a word or definition, and the letters do not stand for anything specific. VOP is a verbal incarnation of a feeling. It sounds like what you’re feeling. When you’ve finally found it—you’re VOPPING! Hatchett finds that this method of creating sounds, rather than solely relying on musical counting, helps to give the dancer a lead to what the movement feels like. Like a jazz singer scatting a melody, Hatchett fills in the spaces between counts with evocative phrases like “zaa baa aah aah” and “chicka chicka boom boom.” As Hatchett says, “It is the art of being the best of both worlds. It’s our obligation to feel the music—to ride the music.” Another method in Hatchett’s arsenal is to use present-day movements as an unseen portal to a stronger basis in technique. As Hatchett told me: There are a couple of teachers who are phenomenal teachers, who are from the old school, and I see that the kids won’t go for those teachers. And I see kids standing outside their classes and say, ‘That’s dated.’ And I say, ‘Yeah, but you never know when that might come up at an audition. That’s just going to make you stronger as a dancer.’ I use current music and I use current moves, different moves from the street, which I’ve always done from day one. So they like that. And I use that to get into their heads. Then I can get them into a technique class.

And without this secure basis for movement skills, acquired by the dancer in technique classes, the ability to relax and find the groove is hindered. As stated in his textbook, the more a dancer can relax, let go, get down, and feel, the more the dancer can project, give attitude, energize, and VOP. The freedom to feel and interpret is based first on a technical understanding of the movement capabilities of the dancer’s body and second on an ability to Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance · 111

feel music from deep in the soul, allowing that feeling to color and enhance the movements a dancer chooses. Another bit of advice from Hatchett is that dancers today should seek out a variety of classes and dance styles in order to broaden their outlook and prevent the “shallow” dancer that he sees all too often: I think that dancers need to balance their schedules—to get into a jazz class that is strong technically but is still jazz. And add a class that is freer, so they can still stay on top of what is going on. Then get into a theater class where a teacher might touch on some of the old choreography from musicals. A class like Phil Black used to do, where Monday might be swing, Tuesday might be Latin, and Wednesday might be something from West Side Story. That makes a dancer well versed.5

A final caveat was offered by Hatchett as a reminder that an overemphasis on technique can actually hinder a dancer’s ability to feel the music. He warns, “But more important is to stay away from a class where they are going to put on jazz music and then they just do ballet. They are really not teaching jazz, because there is no marriage of the movement and music.” It is obvious that Frank Hatchett is more than a street dancer. His movement exceeds street dance and his methods borrow from the roots of jazz dance and concert dance techniques. As a teacher, he has encouraged thousands of dancers to find the feeling of music that resides in them and create a channel for the expression of that feeling. And as a dancer knowledgeable in the concert dance styles of the past, he has brought the integrity and discipline of those forms to young dancers of today—dancers who otherwise might never have been exposed to the movement of Katherine Dunham, Africa, and the Caribbean. Frank Hatchett is a leader in dance education, jazz dance, and a true original—the creator of his own signature style of jazz dance known as VOP. Notes This article was originally published on bobboross.com in 1999. 1. Frank Hatchett interview with Bob Boross, 1999, New York City. All remarks made by Hatchett came from this interview unless otherwise noted. 2. Frank Hatchett and Nancy Meyers Gitlin, Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2000). 3. Hatchett to Boross, December 21, 2011. 4. Hatchett and Gitlin, Frank Hatchett’s Jazz Dance, 3. 5. Phil Black was a noted teacher of jazz and tap dance. His New York City studio was a mecca for Broadway dancers from the early 1970s until 1990. He then taught at Broadway Dance Center from 1990 until his retirement in 2003. 112 · Bob Boross

16 Luigi, Jazz Dance Icon Patricia Cohen

“Luigi” is an iconic name in the jazz dance community. A highly regarded and much loved New York City teacher since 1957, Luigi continues to exclaim his mantra, “Never stop moving,” in classes and conventions, in his technique book, and in articles written about him. Indisputably, Luigi’s technique and style have influenced generations of dancers. Historians have defined Luigi’s style as classic jazz, elegant, sophisticated, and even liquid fire. Writers have labeled him an ambassador of jazz, a pioneer, the teacher’s teacher, a body doctor, and the innovator.1 Having overcome massive physical injuries and paralysis, Luigi was urged by peers on Hollywood movie sets to share the secrets that produced physical stability, secure body placement, and elegant style and that became the Luigi Technique and Style. Generations of jazz dancers have flocked to Luigi’s studio in New York City to study with him. This chapter deconstructs Luigi’s teaching philosophy and methods, with the intention of placing his technique and style in a jazz continuum, which conceptualizes jazz dance as diverging vernacular and theatrical threads that have shared roots in an Africanist aesthetic.2 Biography

According to Luigi, his given name, Eugene Louis Facciuto, was condensed to Luigi by Gene Kelly, with whom he worked in films including On the Town (1949), An American in Paris (1951), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), and Invitation to the Dance (1956). Usually cast in the chorus, Luigi’s very distinctive face appeared in the peephole of “Hernando’s Hideaway” in The Pajama Game (1957). While he danced for Hollywood’s upper echelon choreographers, 113

Figure 16.1. Luigi, early 1990s. Photo by Josef Astor. Courtesy of Luigi’s Jazz Centre.

including Hermes Pan, Eugene Loring, and Michael Kidd, Luigi counted choreographers Robert Alton and Gene Kelly as his mentors during the golden age of film musicals. In 1956, Luigi performed in the Broadway show Happy Hunting. He went on to dance and assist choreographers Alex Romero, Onna White, and Lee Scott on three more Broadway shows before dedicating himself to teaching.3 Born in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1925, he entertained locally as a singer, dancer, and acrobat. Following his navy service in World War II, he moved to Hollywood to establish his career. A car accident resulted in a basal skull fracture, coma, and unilateral paralysis, from which doctors believed he would not recover. However, as often reiterated by Luigi himself, an inner voice told him, “Never stop moving, kid. If you stop, you’re dead.” Once released from the hospital, Luigi created a series of exercises that allowed him to regain control of his body. He learned to “always put the body in the right position” and to “feel from the inside out.”4 At the renowned Falcon Studios in Hollywood, Luigi studied principally with Edith Jane, who guided him as he regained his strength, posture, and balance at the barre. Metaphorically and energetically, he transported the barre to center floor, pressing down on that imaginary object to achieve stability, an image he has employed throughout his teaching career.

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Technique and Style

Technique refers to the method by which the dancer learns to accomplish specific movements. Any given technique, regardless of dance form, implies proper placement and alignment of the body, which can then be manipulated to achieve the desired movement quality. Techniques may also be associated with those who developed them. As a method for training the dancer, technique must be practiced continuously and over a long period of time, usually under the tutelage of a well-informed teacher in order to be fully mastered. Good technique implies bodily internalization of alignment and placement, along with strength and flexibility. Luigi’s specificity of placement and muscle usage and his sequencing of exercises qualifies the work as a distinctive technique. Dance writer Lorraine Kriegel credits Luigi with creating “the first comprehensive jazz technique,” further claiming that his technique “has become the universal standard—the lingua franca—of jazz dance.”5 Style may be described as the artistic overlay upon technique, although it may also be integral to its expression, as in Luigi’s technique. Various styles may also be built around a single technique, as in ballet, in which the classical vocabulary is used as a springboard for the choreographer’s ideas, such as Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied, or in theatrical jazz, in which the vocabulary is layered with the choreographer’s style. Bob Fosse is an exemplar of this view, in that his landmark internally rotated legs, shrugged shoulders, sharp body part isolations, and arm and hand placement are imposed on a range of vernacular or theatrical jazz techniques. The Luigi style emphasizes a vertically held and lengthened torso, expanded chest, and arm placement that adheres to the classical ballet positions. The torso appears to float over the often rapid and tightly controlled lower extremity movements in plié. The combinations, like the warm-up exercises, are primarily presentational, featuring shifts of weight onto gently turned out, reaching legs. In Luigi’s Jazz Warm Up, he refers to the “elegance and sophistication” of his work, as exemplified in the three port de bras exercises described below. In the 1960s when Luigi was teaching in New York City, his ballet-based style became associated with lyrical jazz, as defined in the “Jazz Dance Styles” section of this book. However, whereas Luigi’s style is characterized by fluidity and expressiveness, his combinations are not inspired by the lyrics of the song, nor do they specifically depict the lyrics through movement. Regarding lyrical jazz, Luigi says, “There is no such thing. Jazz is jazz.”6 He privileges orchestral arrangements, especially jazz standards, which encourage

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the dancer to respond to the music with nuanced musicality and artistry. Although he has experimented with popular contemporary work, he eschews rap and hip-hop. Luigi has created CDs that feature gently rhythmic music to accompany his warm-up. Warm-up Sequence

Luigi developed a sequence of exercises during the filming of On the Town that has remained essentially unchanged except for a few transitional movements within some of the exercises. The warm-up is fixed, lasting about forty minutes. It includes stretching and strengthening various body parts, slowly at first, ending in a series of quick grand battements. For the advanced or professional dancer who is familiar with the work, it feels like a beautifully choreographed dance. The dancer may focus on the Luigi “line,” on balance, on the effect of small weight shifts, and on artistic presentation. Combinations are intricate in their footwork, balanced by steady calm in the upper torso. Critical to execution of Luigi technique is the “closed-lock fourth position,” a jazz version of ballet’s fourth position, in which one knee is pressed behind the other, legs comfortably turned out, heel of the back leg lifted. Given his double vision and consequential balancing difficulty, the closed-lock offers Luigi a stopping mechanism for completing turns.7 Pliés, frappés, and tendus reflect the classic ballet positions. Three port de bras sequences, which feature weight shifts and axial movement in all directions, are analogous to ballet’s adagio exercises in that they build both strength and fluidity of movement. The second port de bras was actually created first and contains the defining Luigi logo position, the body tilted on a high diagonal, the chest expansive and chin lifted, one arm à la seconde, the other in high fifth position. Even the floor exercises require a lifted torso. Luigi regards the final standing stretch sequence as the “synopsis of all the exercises.” 8 It contains head isolations, full-body swings primarily in the coronal plane, pliés, a series of deep forward bends followed by spinal extension, and grand battements. Principles of Luigi’s Technique

In his definitive book, Luigi’s Jazz Warm Up, Luigi and his coauthors present three essential principles that permeate the technique: 1. To attain balance in center floor, Luigi teaches that “your space is your barre” (p. 2). Imagine pressing down lightly on an imaginary barre placed approximately between the waist and iliac crests. The result is a lifted torso and broadening of the chest and back. 2. “Feeling from the inside” refers to the source of all axial and locomotor 116 · Patricia Cohen

movement. The “inside” implies somatic body awareness and physical control. Luigi precisely places certain body parts to effect this control, for example, “lifting the top of the body in order to free the bottom,” “lengthening the spine,” and energizing the arms from the back instead of the shoulders. He goes on to instruct, “I feel my stomach lifted up underneath my ribcage and pulled in to protect my back. I feel the buttocks tightening to strengthen my legs and pelvis” (p. 6). 3. “Never stop moving” refers to the joy of movement and internal motivation that inspires one to dance. Unseen adjustments on a muscular level underlie apparent stillness as the body sustains a position. Luigi believes that this full bodily engagement prevents injury (p. 9). Luigi stipulated his overall goals for students: 1. To train the dancer to stand, balance, and move out into space. 2. To heal and protect the dancer’s body from injury. 3. To help the dancer dance to and with jazz music (p. 11).

The Place of Luigi Technique in the Jazz Continuum

As theatrical jazz dance became popular across the country, beginning in the 1950s, students flocked to studios that offered ongoing classes, analogous to their ballet and modern dance classes, which would train them to become professional theater dancers. Hollywood movie musicals and Broadway shows were a powerful influence, and many of these classes were taught by the performers and choreographers of these shows. In New York City, both Matt Mattox and Luigi had established strongly codified, accessible techniques and styles. Whereas Mattox insisted that dancers master his beginning classes before attempting more advanced levels, Luigi encouraged, but did not require, students to attend his style classes (given, to this day, at 11 am) prior to taking intermediate or advanced technique classes. During the style class, Luigi or his assistant, Francis Roach, deconstructs the exercises, which are then executed by the students.9 A short combination follows. If one accepts the construct that the jazz continuum contains two parallel threads, the vernacular and the theatrical, Luigi’s technique and style fall solidly in the theatrical strand. • Whereas isolations are a hallmark of traditional jazz, Luigi declares in Luigi’s Jazz Warm Up that “dance isn’t about isolating. . . . I keep the body connected” (p. 7). Luigi precisely places certain body parts to effect this control, for Luigi, Jazz Dance Icon · 117

example, “lifting the top of the body in order to free the bottom,” which is the opposite of vernacular jazz, “lengthening the spine,” and energizing the arms from the back instead of the shoulders. The “lifted torso, strong épaulements, and hips always in alignment—all are purely classical ballet” (xiv). Likewise, his use of rounded arms, always forward of the shoulders, reflects ballet’s placement. • Luigi’s movements are shape based rather than rhythmically driven. • There is no improvisation, an essential quality of traditional jazz, included in Luigi’s technique or subsequent combinations. • Combinations are presentational, created and taught by the instructor.


It is important to recognize Luigi’s technique and style as instrumental in providing a codified and continuous sequence of movements for theatrical jazz dancers. Dancers in Hollywood musicals, like Broadway gypsies, were required to perform rigorous sequences in many styles and genres of movement, yet until the early 1950s, sequentially preparing the body for theatrical jazz dance had not been addressed. Luigi offered dancers a sustained and thorough warm-up that could be reproduced in class or backstage. Luigi stated that he did “what Jack Cole should have done,” that is, develop and disseminate a technique.10 Luigi firmly believes that his legacy is the creation of a classical jazz technique and style that has deeply influenced generations of dancers. Notes 1. Luigi was unable to attribute the monikers to specific people. However, he believes that Ambassador of Jazz was coined in New York City, the Body Doctor by people in Los Angeles, and the Innovator by “everybody.” Interview, February 6, 2012. 2. Africanist aesthetic refers to Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996). 3. Luigi. http://www.luigijazz.com/man.html. 4. Ibid. 5. Luigi, Lorraine Person Kriegel, and Francis James Roach, Luigi’s Jazz Warm Up and Introduction to Jazz Style and Technique (Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book, 1997), xviii, 4. 6. Luigi interview with Patricia Cohen, February 6, 2012. 7. Luigi et al., Luigi’s Jazz Warm Up, 36. 8. Ibid., 156. 9. I am indebted to Francis Roach for his extensive knowledge and for facilitating meetings with Luigi. 10. Luigi interview, February 6, 2012. 118 · Patricia Cohen

17 The “Free Style” Jazz Dance of Matt Mattox Bob Boross

Jazz dance is a collective art form, led by pioneers who have advanced its evolution with their individual formulations. One such leader is the dancerteacher-choreographer Matt Mattox. A product of the finest concert and commercial dance training of the 1940s and ’50s, Mattox has advanced his own version of a jazz-imbued dance expression over the course of a stellar career lasting sixty-five years. He has significantly impacted Hollywood dance films, Broadway musicals, European concert dance companies, and the training of generations of concert and commercial dancers.1 Mattox’s work often utilizes movement qualities from jazz dance, and it has been performed mostly in the commercial theater. For these reasons, dance historians have placed him within the field of jazz dance. However his influences are eclectic, and his work includes more than the traditional jazz dance vernacular. In his early career Mattox was a gifted ballet dancer and was mentored by the illustrious film choreographer Eugene Loring.2 Mattox then served a seven-year apprenticeship with the legendary theatrical jazz dance choreographer Jack Cole as one of Cole’s preferred dancers in films and Broadway shows. Mattox is also skilled in tap and other dance forms that appear in musicals of the 1940s and ’50s—flamenco, East Indian, and ballroom. When permitted to define his own work, Mattox differentiates his dance vocabulary and artistic approach from vernacular and commercial jazz dance by calling his form of expression “free style.” In his article “In Jazz Dance,” published in the Anthology of American Jazz Dance in 1975, Mattox 119

Figure 17.1. Matt Mattox teaching in France, 1993. By permission of Bob Boross.

states, “I have always disliked the word “jazz” in connection with the style of movement with which people seem to associate me. I prefer to think of this particular style of movement as being ‘free style’ movement.”3 Harold “Matt” Mattox was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in August 1921, and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1931. There he won tap dance contests and partnered for ballroom dance lessons. At age sixteen, Mattox took up ballet, eventually studying with Nico Charisse, who at that time was married to Hollywood starlet Cyd Charisse. It was she who encouraged Mattox to audition for Eugene Loring. Mattox passed his audition and the very next day began work as a dancer in the Fred Astaire film Yolanda and the Thief (1945).4 The initial phase of Mattox’s lengthy career was as a featured dancer in Hollywood film musicals, where he partnered Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, June Allyson, Mitzi Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Cyd Charisse. He appeared in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Bandwagon (1953), and Pepé (1960). Mattox’s most visible dance role was as Caleb, 120 · Bob Boross

the bearded brother in the monumentally successful Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Mattox was equally visible as a dancer on Broadway and in touring shows. It was in 1948 that he was hired by Jack Cole as lead dancer in the Broadwaybound musical opera Magdelena.5 He also danced for Cole in 1953’s ill-fated Carnival in Flanders,6 where Mattox led a trio of devilish, goateed Cole looka-likes in the show-stopping “Spanish Trio.” From 1950 to 1952, Mattox displayed his classical talents as a featured dancer in tours of Song of Norway and Louisiana Purchase, partnering ballerinas Alexandra Denisova and Vera Zorina in George Balanchine’s choreography. While amassing this remarkable résumé, Mattox was internalizing the building blocks of his later free style dance technique in his associations with Eugene Loring and Jack Cole. Although Mattox routinely credits Cole as his major influence, it is important to note that Loring’s teaching and experiments in forming a dance class as early as 1948 (also named freestyle, but spelled slightly differently) had a strong effect on Mattox’s future jazz dance formulation.7 The knowledge gained from both Loring and Cole benefited Mattox in 1955 when he left Hollywood for opportunities in New York. Mattox was featured in the musical Once upon a Mattress (1959), choreographed by Joe Layton, and for Cole he danced in Ziegfeld Follies (1956). Mattox’s career as a choreographer also took flight; he staged dances for the Broadway musicals Say Darling (1958) and What Makes Sammy Run (1964), Aida at the Metropolitan Opera (1959), and as resident choreographer of the television show The Bell Telephone Hour (1959–68). However, it was Mattox’s formation of a movement technique influenced by principles from jazz dance that elevated his impact on theatrical dance to a new level. Mattox began teaching Cole’s movement vocabulary in NYC at Showcase Studios in January 1956 and then at the prestigious June Taylor School of Dance in May 1956.8 In a phone interview, Taylor said: The classes were jammed. I mean, we’d have to hold people off. . . . Students loved his classes because he was probably one of the few teachers who was so disciplined. He didn’t allow you to get away with even an eye movement. If the step called for you to use your eyes looking to the right, your eyes moved, nothing else. And the dancers loved, absolutely loved it. And he was a damned good teacher! 9

Mattox soon opened his own school on 56th Street in NYC, behind the City Center Theater. There he invented a series of exercises designed to train a dancer in the qualities and precision of ballet along with the isolation The “Free Style” Jazz Dance of Matt Mattox · 121

movement characterized by jazz dance. The Mattox technique became quite popular in New York and across the country in dance conventions. But by 1966, wishing to concentrate more on concert choreography and less on commercial work, Mattox closed his school and became a freelance teacher. During that time he also became the first artistic director of the New Jersey Ballet.10 In 1970, Mattox again gambled on his future when he abandoned his NYC career for the promise of higher artistic pursuits in Europe. Mattox moved to London and reinvented himself as a concert jazz dance artist. Teaching at The Place, Mattox formed JazzArt, a company warmly received by critics in London and Scotland.11 In 1975, Mattox moved his base and company once again, this time to Paris, where he opened a studio and catalyzed a new French jazz dance community.12 In 1981 at age sixty, Mattox relinquished control of his company and moved to Perpignan in the South of France. He maintained an active teaching and choreography career, with invitations to bring his free style technique to the Paris Opera Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow, the American Dance Festival, the Chicago Jazz Dance World Congresses in 1990 and 1992, and London’s Millennium Dance 2000. He retired in 2008 at the age of eighty-seven. Dancer Jazz Dance Column, June 1998: Free Style—Philosophy, Style, Technique

The guiding principle of Mattox’s free style tradition is that once a dancer desires to express a thought in dance form, the dancer will then draw from his mastery of an eclectic range of dance techniques to formulate the proper method of conveying that expression. The dancer is “free” to express what is in his soul and also “free” of allegiance to any one particular style of dance. Mattox advanced his free style philosophy as follows: The word “free” is used because one is left to choose any kind of move he wishes, whether it is a tilt of the head, a flick of the wrist, a rotation of the pelvis, a Shuffle Off to Buffalo, a contraction of the body, the stance of a bullfighter, or a quick double turn and drop to the floor, or a modern fall to a completely prone position. The word “style” is used because one is left to choose whatever style of movement he wants: East Indian, flamenco, early nineteen hundred contemporary, modern, old time vaudeville, folk dancing, ethnic, or a mixture of all of these.13

From this philosophy springs Mattox’s movement style and technique— with his class exercises supporting the movement he creates. His movement

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style reflects the qualities of his varied training, with emphasis on execution that is clean, precise, and animated. His locomotor movements normally are in the plié level of jazz dance, while the look of the feet and arms embody the pointed feet and lengthened feeling of ballet. Meanwhile, his body level explores all planes—floor work, relevé, high jumps, and of course movement across the floor in a jazz plié level. The look of the body in many ways is classical, with rounded-arm port de bras, while the lower body moves stealthily in a jazz plié, shifting weight without recognizable effort. The Mattox class technique is crafted in the progression of a ballet class but is performed standing at center floor. The class design includes exercises for demi-plié, plié, tendu, dégagé, ronde jambe, piqué, and so on. However, these exercises are often performed with a parallel hip alignment, in a plié level, and peppered with body isolations of the head, shoulders, rib cage, and hips. Arm port de bras of a jazz-ballet mixture are integrated with leg exercises, challenging the dancer’s mastery of polycentric and polyrhythmic complexity. The class continues with more strength building in floor work and stretching exercises, followed by standing jumps in a parallel leg position. The culmination of his class is an extended dance combination set to any musical style—swing, pop, densely textured instrumentals, and even New Age classical. Each combination demands attention to design, rhythm, attack, nuance, feeling, and drive to achieve perfection in execution. It is here where the fullest example of his free style dance expression becomes visible—a personal reaction to the feelings brought on by his choice of music and his thoughts, in a movement vocabulary consisting of a combination of jazz, ballet, and other mastered dance forms.14 Conclusion

Matt Mattox utilized movement qualities of jazz dance in many of his creations for both the concert stage and the commercial theater. When asked to define his work, he preferred the label “free style” rather than “jazz dance.” Yet it is obvious that the field of jazz dance has been significantly influenced by his contributions. Mattox is a revered founding father of European jazz dance and a jazz dance pioneer in America. As evidenced by his stellar performance career in the commercial theater, his eclectic choreographic achievements in film, television, theater, and operas, and his creation of an internationally prominent jazz dance–inspired style and technique, Mattox clearly stands as a grandmaster in the greater field of jazz dance.

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Notes 1. This article was written before Mattox’s death in February 2013. 2. Lucia Chase, Mattox ABT Letter File, Dance Collection, Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York. Based solely on ballet choreographer Eugene Loring’s glowing recommendation, company director Lucia Chase invited Mattox to join Ballet Theatre in 1948 as a soloist. 3. Matt Mattox, “In Jazz Dance,” in Anthology of American Jazz Dance, ed. Gus Giordano (Evanston, IL: Orion, 1975), 100–101. 4. Bob Boross, “Image of Perfection: The Free Style Dance of Matt Mattox” (MA thesis, Gallatin Division, New York University, 1994), 56. 5. Mattox to Boross, October 18, 1993. Some authors have erroneously reported that Mattox was a member of Cole’s 1944–48 Columbia Pictures dance group. 6. Carnival in Flanders was panned by New York critics, and it closed after six performances. 7. Eugene Loring (1911–82) was a prominent dancer in ballets by Balanchine, Fokine, and de Mille. In 1947 he founded the American School of Dance in Los Angeles, and within a year he was teaching a hybrid dance technique that he called freestyle. 8. Mattox to Boross, October 18, 1993. 9. June Taylor, interview with Boross, July 27, 1994. 10. Mattox to Boross, September 20, 1994. 11. John Percival, “London Reviews,” Dance and Dancers, November 1972, 43–44; John Percival, “JazzArt at the Round House,” Dance and Dancers, January 1975, 36. 12. Maggie Lewis, “American Jazz Dance—Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” Christian Science Monitor, December 2, 1980, B18–19. 13. Mattox, “In Jazz Dance,” 101. 14. Article reprinted with permission.

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18 Donald McKayle, Jazz Dance Then and Now Bob Boross

Many of the pioneers of theatrical jazz dance are still with us, making it imperative for their firsthand experiences and recollections of the evolution of theatrical jazz dance to be recorded. One such person is dancer/choreographer Donald McKayle. Known for his classic modern dance works like Rainbow Round My Shoulder and Games, he also worked with many of the pioneers of theatrical jazz dance as it was being formulated. His piece District Storyville made use of vernacular jazz movements in retelling the beginnings of jazz music in New Orleans. I was able to interview McKayle when he was in residence with the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville, Kentucky, and this is his story of the beginnings of theatrical jazz. I started in the middle 1940s to take classes, and there was no jazz dancing as such being taught. There were people teaching tap—in Harlem especially— Norma Miller, Mary Bruce—and she had kids who could tap and do wonderful things. There were these lines of girls, basically, and there were groups of tap dancers. So those were the first kinds of lessons that would presage what we have today.1

McKayle noted that in the 1940s, there were classes in ballet, tap, acrobatics, modern, and ethnic dance, but no jazz classes to speak of. His early training came at the New Dance Group studio, at that time located on 59th between Madison and 5th Avenue in New York City. There were classes in modern dance with Jean Erdman and Sophie Maslow, and within a one-block radius 125

Figure 18.1. Donald McKayle. Photo courtesy of the Donald McKayle Archives at UC Irvine.

were classes in Indian dance and flamenco and the School of American Ballet. Balanchine was starting all of his work, which led to the founding of Ballet Society and finally the New York City Ballet. McKayle’s first exposure to theatrical jazz dance was in nightclubs and in a concert organized by New York Times dance critic John Martin. Jack Cole was performing in nightclubs with Evelyn and Beatrice Kraft, presenting authentic East Indian dances that eventually he merged with the swing beat of the Lindy. He remembers the Martin concert as a benefit for the Spanish Refugee Appeal in the late 1940s at the Ziegfeld Theatre. “And it had Ethel and George Martin, Bob Alexander, Carol Haney—and they did ‘Sing, Sing, Sing.’ It was fabulous. Whoa, what is this?” he exclaimed at this new form of jazz-inspired movement. The Lindy was very important to the Cole style and feel. “Jack had lots of sequences based on the Lindy, because every time you auditioned for him,

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you had to do a lot of footwork. Which was based on the music and the shifting and partnering, but taken solely without a partner. I think he used that and just took it somewhere else.” Along with most who rubbed shoulders with Cole, McKayle remembers him with fear as well as reverence. “Jack would put you through it, and you had to look like you could survive. And if you didn’t survive, he would just run right over you. He was a scary guy!” Another modern dancer who ventured into early theatrical jazz was choreographer Daniel Nagrin. He was assistant and then husband to choreographer Helen Tamiris, and he added a theatricality to modern dance. When I first worked with Nagrin, it was the end of the 1940s into the 1950s. He was assisting Helen and doing his own personal choreography. And so he developed things like Strange Hero, with the Stan Kenton music, and it was all about the gangster as a hero in Hollywood. And it was a wonderfully theatrical dance, absolutely. And because he had this wonderful theatrical quality, he did not have a technique that was purely modern dance.

It was another early use of jazz dance in a concert setting. In the 1950s, choreographer Katherine Dunham had a school in New York City, but as she was often on the road, classes were taken over by teacher Syvilla Fort. “She dealt with the blues, swing, things like that, and there were, of course, dances of the Caribbean.” But McKayle feels that the Dunham school training was not ideally suited for the dance demands of Broadway. “A lot of people who were on Broadway went to her classes, but there was no ‘step’ if you trained with Dunham that you would do on Broadway.” McKayle credits a non-jazz dancer with early creation of a need for theatrical jazz dance. “Maybe the person most responsible for that who had nothing to do with jazz dance was Agnes de Mille, because she was the first choreographer that made dance an absolutely unique element in a show.” He feels that by making dance a creative element rather than just a diversion, there became an instant demand for concert choreographers on Broadway. Modern dancers like Tamiris and Hanya Holm, ballet choreographers like Michael Kidd and Jerome Robbins, and the jazz dancers Cole and Bob Fosse all created works for Broadway musicals. Now dancers had to be trained in technique and expression. Acting skills were also important in the need to create characters who danced. West Side Story (1957) is often cited as a pivotal point in theatrical jazz dance history, due to the ingenious use of jazz, ballet, and social dance by Jerome Robbins and Peter Gennaro. But McKayle, who worked as dance

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captain and swing dancer with the original cast, sees the contribution of jazz movements differently than most historians. I was in West Side Story, the original, and that wasn’t jazz dance. It was very theatrical, quite marvelous, but the part that was closest to jazz is what Peter Gennaro did. Of course, Jerome Robbins took all of the bows for Peter’s work. It was Peter’s work that was closest to jazz dance. ‘America’ was Peter’s, all of the Shark movement in the gymnasium was Peter’s . . . he was an unsung hero. I think he was terrific. What a fine choreographer.

Another of McKayle’s favorites is choreographer Talley Beatty. In 1959, Beatty choreographed The Road of the Phoebe Snow. Set to music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, the thirty-minute piece was about life on the wrong side of the tracks. Also by Beatty is Come and Get the Beauty of It Hot, set to Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and Gil Evans, and in the 1970s he staged many Broadway shows. McKayle said, “All of Talley Beatty’s pieces were set to jazz music and were fierce, you know. I think he was a very good choreographer in terms of theatrical jazz. One of the best. And way ahead of a lot of other people. He’s gone now, but his work lasts.” As for today’s theatrical jazz dance, McKayle is both optimistic and worried. I think that at this point to see jazz so strong in the universities means that it has established itself. There’s still certain places you can hit a problem because of people who are just backward and think that jazz is not worthy. So I always speak up. . . . There is prejudice, in terms of the newspapers and everything. We have to get past all of that. And it takes time. I think time is compressed now, so I don’t think it will take us long.

But it is refreshing to McKayle to see new individual movements in jazz dance, similar to those of the 1940s and 1950s. Of Savion Glover in Bring In ’Da Noise, Bring In ’Da Funk, he says, “He makes a point of saying that tap dancing that has lines and class was kind of diluting what he calls ‘da beat.’ It will take a while for all of that to find its own center. And it’s all healthy. I like to see this kind of discussion.” This is fine for more vernacular styles, but for theatrical jazz dance, McKayle is quick to emphasize the need for formal technique. It’s different from vernacular dance, where you have to have a wonderful strong rhythm structure, like people like Savion Glover. They’re not interested in whether you straighten your knee or point your foot. That’s not what it’s

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about. It’s about beat and interaction. But when you go into theatrical jazz, you have to have all those other things. You have to have a sense of line and formation. The kind of things you expect in the theater.

As someone who has made a life in dance and theater, and experienced a range of styles and philosophies, Donald McKayle treats it all with devotion and respect. Dancing is not a passing fad but an essential force that lives within. “To me, passion is so essential. It hurts any kind of dance when there’s no artistry. There are just feats.” After living through the then and now of jazz dance, he sees its future as depending on absorbing the new and preserving the old. “I am always glad when I see new movement. It’s just I hate this sort of throwing out the old as if it was garbage, you know? You have to preserve and build, rather than remove and replace. As in any technique.”

Notes Reprinted with permission. Dancer Jazz Dance Column, June 1998. 1. Donald McKayle, interview by Bob Boross in April 1998, Louisville, Ky. All remarks made by McKayle came from this interview.

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19 Lynn Simonson and Simonson Technique Kimberly Karpanty

Lynn Simonson is an influential dance artist whose work has profoundly affected both the artistry and pedagogy of jazz dance around the world. Her legacy is sustained by a network of dancers and educators who disseminate her passion for the movement, music, and history of American jazz dance. The Simonson style broadens the definition of jazz dance and demonstrates artistic integrity as a contemporary dance form. The efficacy and influence of her work is evident in the way it transforms dancers’ bodies, educates teachers, and consistently inspires movers of all ages and abilities. Background

Lynn Simonson was born in Los Angeles on April 24, 1943, and grew up in an extended family of classical musicians living in the Pacific Northwest. At an early age she discovered that moving to music was a way to release her emotion and energy. She fell in love with dance while watching her mother in a ballet class, and at age nine she began Vaganova training in pursuit of her dream to be a professional ballerina with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. At age thirteen she taught children at her mother’s dance studio, and at sixteen she received her Actors’ Equity card. That same year, music again altered the course of her life when she heard Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, an album that included several notable performances by saxophonist John Coltrane. She considers Coltrane one of her mentors “because of the layers of the music


and how it touched me deep in my soul; I wanted to express in movement everything I heard in that music.”1 Simonson realized her goal of moving to New York City at eighteen and began dancing in the ballet corps at Radio City Music Hall and in Broadway musical tours. Though she studied with each no more than a year, she considers Jaime Rogers, Claude Thompson, and Luigi her greatest jazz dance influences. Simonson was attracted to Rogers’s strength, power, and energy and to Thompson’s lush movements and expansive use of space. Rogers and Thompson taught at the June Taylor School of Dance, where Simonson began a lifelong alliance with dancer/choreographer Fred Benjamin. Her subsequent studies with Luigi were the most musically satisfying for her; live jazz musicians accompanied his classes. Simonson also credits Luigi with teaching her to dance “like a lady,” with lyricism and expression. A knee injury redirected her inquiry to anatomy and kinesiology, which became the foundation of her technique. Simonson developed a somatically sound class long before it was popular to do so, while teaching adult beginners in Amsterdam in the late 1960s. Upon her return to New York City, Simonson performed with Theatre Dance Collection (jazz dance artist Danny Buraczeski was also a member) and built a following of students and teachers at Morelli Ballet, Inc. To provide young dancers with performing experience in concert jazz styles, Simonson developed performance workshops and eventually The Uncompany. In the 1970s and ’80s, her original jazz ballets premiered nationally and internationally at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Delacorte Theatre

Figure 19.1. Lynn Simonson, July 1998. Photo by Anna Pons, Estada Internacional de Dansa— Banyoles (Spain).

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in New York City, Seattle Opera House, Zenon Company/Minneapolis, Ted Shawn Theatre/Jacob’s Pillow, Scapino Ballet and Rotterdams Danscentrum in Holland, and Peter George Company/Montreal, among others. Her choreography was to the music of Count Basie, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Max Roach, and Charles Tolliver. Even with this impressive record, Simonson admits, “It is most gratifying to be able to choreograph daily when teaching, to explore the range of jazz music, and to have shared this joy with thousands of students over the years.”2 Simonson was the founding director of The Jazz Project at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival from 1983 to 1991, bringing visibility and respect for jazz dance to the historical venue. In 1984, she cofounded and for twenty-five years collectively directed Dance Space, Inc. (now Dance New Amsterdam) with Laurie DeVito, Michael Geiger, Charles Wright, and the late Danny Pepitone. Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) is one of the most successful and comprehensive dance centers in New York City. The Simonson Technique

Two forces came together to create the Simonson Technique: Simonson’s love of jazz music and her desire to train dancers in a way that would not predispose them to injury. Simonson Technique was called Simonson Jazz Dance Technique for over three decades until it became evident that it served a broader purpose; professional dancers began using it as a foundation technique to train for other dance forms and to prepare the body for performance. Simonson-trained dancers exhibit a powerful physicality balanced with sensitivity and joy. They perform on Broadway and in major ballet and modern dance companies nationally and internationally. A Simonson Technique class is a minimum of two hours and follows a structure similar to that of classical ballet. The renowned “10-Minute WarmUp” allows dancers to isolate and stretch the long muscles of the spine and legs, engage the abdominals, improve alignment, and release the heat that mobilizes the joints.3 Next, the “Circulation Stretch” increases the heart rate and is followed by pliés, tendus, développés, conditioning, and jazz adagio. The Simonson Technique progresses through four levels and incorporates the principles of isolation and improvisation from African vernacular dance, the deep contraction from modern dance, and the control and movement efficiency from yoga, body-mind centering, and The Alexander Technique®. A Simonson Technique class differs from those of her influential mentors and many popular jazz teachers in specific ways. The entire class is driven by historically significant and contemporary jazz music, whether live or recorded. Musicality and rhythm are valued elements and are practiced as 132 · Kimberly Karpanty

much as technique and performance skills.4 The warm-up is not stylized; the intent is to train dancers’ minds and bodies sensibly to assimilate different styles of movement. Jazz style comes to a Simonson Technique class through the choreography of each teacher and the individual expression encouraged from each dancer. Significant class time is given to learning choreographic phrases and performance styles derived from jazz music, including African-influenced gospel and blues, classical jazz, and improvisational styles. Simonson’s students are exposed to the parallel histories of American jazz dance and jazz music. Isolations are not taught as a separate exercise; they are used throughout the class as impulses to initiate movement and to give the dancer a deeper awareness of the torso’s possibilities.5 As an alternative to claiming one place in the studio, dancers are moved throughout the class by “changing lines,” giving each a chance to work in the front. A final distinguishing feature: a Simonson Technique class is danced in bare feet rather than the traditional jazz shoe. The delivery of Simonson Technique is as individual as the teacher, but the structure and philosophy of the class remain consistent. The atmosphere in a Simonson Technique class enables students to move without fear; each student is approached without judgment, regardless of body type, previous training, or age. Students receive instruction based on the possibilities and limitations of their individual bodies, for example, learning to move without over-rotation at the hips or hyperextension of the knees or ribcage. Ninnie Andersson, the coordinator of dance teacher education at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, arrived in New York City in 2006 with a spinal disc injury from years of improper technique. Her body began to heal when she started training in the Simonson Technique at DNA with Simonson and master teacher Katiti King. “To meet a teacher who, after so many years of teaching, maintains a passion for developing others by each person’s particular circumstances has been very inspiring,” she says. “The Simonson Technique is a way of looking at the human being as a correlation between mind, body, and soul.”6 The Simonson Method of Teacher Training

Conversant in six languages, Simonson has trained hundreds of certified teachers in twenty countries.7 Simonson-trained teachers are intuitive and intelligent, and they possess practical pedagogical teaching skills that transcend the genre of jazz and the rote theoretical learning given in traditional education courses. A cornerstone of the Simonson Method of Teaching is that each body is different; teachers are trained to recognize the parameters of a student’s possibilities, her/his natural range of motion, and how she/he Lynn Simonson and Simonson Technique · 133

learns. It is more important to Simonson that her teachers go out into the world as “clearer and more knowledgeable educators”8 than that they teach the Simonson Technique specifically. Simonson offers her forty-six-hour teacher training intensive at DNA twice each year. The program includes twelve hours of anatomy awareness courses. Simonson opens a new discourse with each succeeding generation of teachers, and during the first week she asks questions such as: • How can we format the delivery of the information so that it reaches each particular student in a clearer way? • Does the student learn a little more right-brained or a little more left-brained? • Do students need visual, kinesthetic, auditory stimuli, or do they need the logical list? • Analyze the movement. Can you break it down?9

Sasha Soreff teaches modern dance in New York City. She states: “The Simonson Method of Teaching has given me an appreciation of how students learn in a range of ways, by visual, verbal, and/or musical cues. As a teacher, I am attentive as to how I can present exercises and movement phrases to reach every student.”10 Participants are certified to teach the Simonson Technique only if they have studied it for a significant period of time, have assimilated the style proficiently, and can demonstrate the ability to work their own bodies intelligently. Simonson encourages each teacher to bring her/his own choreography and musicality to the class. Diane McCarthy, longtime Simonson student and “senior” Simonson teacher at DNA, reveals: A great gift Lynn has given to us as teachers is the freedom to explore our own creativity in exercises and movement. I work very hard to maintain a varied and integrated full-body warm-up year to year, and I develop choreography in class constantly. My classroom is a place where dancers can come to train, explore, and play. When they leave, I hope they take with them that incredible feeling we get when moving deeply in our bodies.11

Certified teachers receive an open invitation to return to the course at any time to audit and refine their teaching skills. “The Simonson community is an important part of my life,” says Soreff. “There is a strong sense of loyalty, love of the technique and camaraderie. Over the years, I have developed some wonderful personal and professional connections through being part of this global community.”12

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Lifelong Learning

Simonson is a lifelong learner devoted to inquiry and investigation. She continues to evolve her technique and teaching method, mentor teachers, and travel throughout the United States and abroad as a guest teacher, often visiting those in her network along the way. She also teaches yoga and is certified in senior fitness. In her new hometown of Anacortes, Washington, she developed “Seated Wellness,” a program for people in their seventies, eighties, and nineties in senior centers, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. In addition to teaching movement, Simonson is interested in strengthening the neural pathways in the brain with visualization, intention, and re-patterning exercises.13 She has expanded this work into a new certification opportunity for dance and yoga teachers and certified fitness instructors who want to share the healing power of movement with the senior population. Lynn Simonson never aspired to fame; however, her impact as a leader, educator, and champion of American jazz dance deserves recognition. She is a conduit through which countless dancers and teachers have been inspired to pursue, preserve, and advocate jazz as a legitimate concert dance form. Simonson finds it beautiful that so many of those she has trained throughout the years are still performing, teaching, and pursuing a lifetime of wellness. “Just look at the teachers who are out there,” she exclaims, “Now THAT is my legacy.”14 Notes 1. Lynn Simonson, interview with Kimberly Karpanty, June 25, 2011. 2. Lynn Simonson, email interview with Kimberly Karpanty, April 10, 2012. 3. Simonson interview, April 10, 2012. 4. Diane McCarthy, interview with Kimberly Karpanty, July 12, 2011. 5. Simonson interview, April 10, 2012. 6. Ninnie Andersson, email interview with Kimberly Karpanty, July 28, 2011. 7. Anna Pons, “Lynn Simonson—Welcome to Lynn Simonson Technique,” http://www .lynnsimonson.com. 8. Simonson interview, June 25, 2011. 9. Ibid. 10. Sasha Soreff, email interview with Kimberly Karpanty, July 18, 2011. 11. McCarthy interview, July 12, 2011. 12. Soreff interview, July 18, 2011. 13. Simonson interview, April 10, 2012. 14. Simonson interview, July 12, 2011.

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PART IV Related Forms and Styles

Jazz dance has taken on many forms and styles since the authentic jazz dance of the early twentieth century. Some forms are easily identified as jazz dance, and others have taken on entities of their own. For example, hip-hop dance and tap dance share the same African-American and vernacular roots as jazz dance, yet have evolved into dance forms with unique identifying characteristics, histories, leading figures, and stylistic variations. Other forms, like musical theater dance and pop jazz, are more readily identified as jazz dance but still have histories best understood by following their divergent paths. Each of the chapters in Part IV traces one of these branches of jazz dance. First, Ray Miller writes on the history of tap dance and its commonalities with jazz dance. Kirsten Harvey writes on musical theater dance, focusing on Broadway choreographers and shows. Next, Gill Wright Miller examines African-American concert dance and its relationship to jazz dance. Melanie George traces the relationship between jazz dance and popular culture from the 1970s into the twenty-first century, with a particular emphasis on MTV. Hip-hop dance and culture is the topic of the final article, written by Moncell Durden. While this dance genre is rapidly expanding and adopting global and commercial influences, Durden writes from his own perspective rooted in authentic hip-hop culture.

Detail: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Linda Celeste Sims in Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece, Revelations. Photo by Andrew Eccles. Courtesy of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc.


Recognizing the shared roots and the prominence of West African and African-American movement as the foundation for all these branches of jazz dance is imperative. While each branch takes a detour from vernacular jazz at different points in time, they are strongly rooted in a shared history, and remnants of those initial jazz characteristics still remain. Whether it be the propulsive polyrhythms of tap dance or the use of improvisation and freedom of expression that is integral to hip-hop dance, jazz dance lives on at the heart of each divergent path. Part IV offers a broad perspective on what jazz dance has been, how it has evolved, and how it lives on in many shapes and configurations. Acknowledging and understanding the commonalities among these styles will help establish a more complete understanding of jazz dance.

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20 Tappin’ Jazz Lines Ray Miller

Tap dance is a twentieth-century American art that has strong roots in popular theater dance forms of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; at the same time, this uniquely American vernacular dance form continues to reinvent itself in new and interesting ways. While the tap dance community regularly pays homage to those dancers who embody their rich traditions, they also sustain a strong sense of experimentation, improvisation, creation of new material, and movement of the art form into the future. Tap dance is nothing if it is not vital, immediate, and “hip.” Originating as a complex fusion of African-based dances, like the Ring Shout and the Juba, with popular European jig and clog dance styles, there emerged a form of hoofing or step dancing that was uniquely American. As with many theater dance forms, the beginnings of tap dance can be found in social and religious dance traditions. From the colonial period to the early nineteenth century, there was a “parallel play” of sorts between the European dancing masters and the AfricanAmerican slaves around the idea of step dancing and percussion. For the Europeans, this took the form of the jig, reel, and clog dancing. The Irish form of the jig was characterized by two broadly defined dance styles—the soft-shoe dances, called the light or single jigs, and the hard shoe dances, with the American favorite, the hornpipe, being the most prominent. In many of these dances, the arms were held close to the torso with minimum movement thereby putting the focus on the execution of the steps. Some peculiarities in the British law of the time combined with the admonishing eye of the Catholic Church on the sensuality of the moving human body 139

encouraged a restricted approach to movement of the upper body but did not limit movement below the waist. As a result, ever more intricate foot combinations developed.1 Like the jig, the clog dance in the United States has influenced different styles of tap dance. Initially, it was a solo dance form with a strong emphasis on percussive sounds made with hard-soled shoes. Clog was closely related to buck dancing, a kind of spontaneous and improvisational dance that was performed by black and white dancers from the eighteenth century onward. The term buck dancing was derived from West Indian blacks who described the infectious and rowdy dancing of visiting sailors on leave. This term made its way to the United States and has been used to describe loud, extroverted solo dances, usually performed by men, often in competition with each other.2 Some dance historians have suggested that steps for the buck dance may very well have been an early form of what we now recognize as the time step.3 The African-American experience regarding “step dancing” and percussion was no less complex and varied than that of their European counterparts. One of their oldest forms was that of the Ring Shout. It is dance steeped in religious expression that can be performed either with a large group of people or as a solo. One historian describes movement in which the dancers perform in a circle, shuffle close to the floor, end each stanza with a stomp, and employ the use of clapping to maintain a sense of rhythmic continuity.4 This dance would later be picked up as a popular convention in minstrel shows. According to Mark Knowles, “The dance was a secular parody of the religious dance, the Ring Shout, and was performed in a circle with the ensemble providing percussive background accompaniment for the soloists by clapping and patting.”5 In addition to the circular, shuffling, and improvisatory nature of the Ring Shout, there was another dance from the African-American experience that was instrumental in the development of tap dance, and that was the Juba. This was originally an African religious dance, the Djouba. It became a popular secular dance in the Americas—a lively dance in which competitors would enter into a circle and challenge one another. A common characteristic of the dance was referred to as “patting Juba,” which consisted of percussive stomping of the feet with slapping of the hands, chest, thighs, and other parts of the body. This dance might also be accompanied by Juba songs in which the word Juba is inserted in simple repetitive rhymes that create a cacophony of sound allowing for complex give-and-take between the singer, the dancers, and the instrumentalist, often a banjo player. These early forms of step dancing came to fruition as the minstrel show 140 · Ray Miller

was at its most celebrated. Originating in the 1820s and extending its popularity into the twentieth century, this peculiar musical theater genre was created by mostly white male entertainers, costumed as African-Americans and wearing blackface makeup, who based their performance on AfricanAmerican songs, dances, and storytelling in the form of burlesques, one-act plays, and entr’actes. As it evolved, the structure of the minstrel show became standardized. The three-act performance began with the entertainers coming onstage singing and dancing; they took their places in chairs arranged in a semicircle. There was a master of ceremonies, the interlocutor, and two end men known as Tambo and Bones. Comic repartee would ensue in which jokes and short satirical comments on contemporary issues were performed, often to the accompaniment of spoons, washboards, and pots and pans. Act 2, known as the olio, was constructed much like a variety show, or vaudeville, in which performers would take turns performing songs, dances, magic tricks, acrobatics, or stump speeches. Act 3, also known as the afterpiece, was a oneact that could take many forms but was essentially a Eurocentric “take” on African-American life. It might be romantic in the tradition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or it might be satirical by poking fun at commonly recognized black stereotypes from the urban huckster to the country bumpkin. Like other art forms in America extending well into the twentieth century from film to vaudeville, dance on the minstrel stage could not divorce itself from the complicated history of racism. Racism was clearly evident in these presentations. Although there was tension, there was also dialogue, a give-and-take that was crucial to the development of tap dance into the present time. This early American musical theater entertainment provided an opportunity for African-American dance forms to be seen and developed in a theatrical setting. One of the most popular was the concluding dance of Act 1, the Walk Around. There are many variations on this, but essentially one dancer gets up from his chair and does a simple walking combination in a circle, often ending with a signature step. Then another performer does the same but with a variation. This continues until each has a turn. The dance ends with the performers dancing in a circle, varying the rhythms, patting their bodies, and either singing or scatting some lyrics. This was an exciting conclusion that often left the audience wanting more. This kind of dance was a precursor to the twentieth-century musical comedy production number and the precision line chorus routines that were an important part of the revue format of that period. Thomas Dartmouth Rice’s creation of the dance Jumping Jim Crow became a staple in the minstrel show. Apparently he had observed a crippled Tappin’ Jazz Lines · 141

slave doing a jiglike dance. Rice mimicked what he saw and added elements of the jig, stomping, shuffling, leaps, and other movements with an exaggerated distortion of the torso and arm movements that thrilled his audience. There was even a song to go with the dance. The popularity of Rice’s dance extended beyond the United States, and it became an international sensation. In many ways, Rice’s Jim Crow echoed the previous century’s popularity of John Durang and his hornpipe dance. Durang was America’s first nationally known song-and-dance man, whose comic movement style and hornpipe dance were commonly associated with the commedia dell’arte character of Harlequin with his quirky angularity and acrobatic ease in jumping, leaping, cartwheels, and turns.6 All of this—the European jig and American clog dancing along with the African-American step and Juba dance—contributed to the nineteenth century’s greatest solo dancer, William Henry Lane, also known as Master Juba. Improvised street dancing competitions were common at this time, particularly in the urban centers, in which the poor and disenfranchised would meet to challenge one another to see who could dance the best.7 One of the most popular was white dancer John Diamond, who called himself King of Diamonds. Most of his dances came from a combination of English country, American clog, Irish jig, and African-American step dances. He was fast, he was competitive, and he was a braggart. Following accusations of extortion, womanizing, and alcoholism, P. T. Barnum replaced Diamond with Lane, a younger, more inventive dancer that he had “discovered” in the seedy Five Points area in New York. Diamond had met his match. Lane had a natural ability that permitted him to study the best dancers and then mimic their steps. His technique was flawless, and his execution was effortless. It was inevitable that these two would meet in a competition to be adjudicated by three judges who would look at their timing, their execution of steps, and their overall style. The undisputed winner was Master Juba. With that as his mantle, he was one of the few African-Americans to perform with an all-white minstrel show. Eventually he traveled to England and was hailed as the greatest of dancers. His dancing was an amalgamation of European and African-American theatrical dance with a style that included intricate combinations interspersed with his own vocalizations and infectious laughter. His was a joyous dance that historians would later recognize as the beginnings of tap dance. Performing in improvised street dance competitions, minstrel shows, variety shows, burlesques, and the quickly developing new form of vaudeville provided opportunities for dancers to experiment in highly competitive venues. With the dawn of the twentieth century, the syncopated sounds of 142 · Ray Miller

Figure 20.1. William Henry Lane “Master Juba,” 1850. Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

ragtime combined with the sensual and improvisatory appeal of early “rag” dances created a jazz sensibility that evolved into a form of percussion that we now recognize as tap dancing. This fin de siècle period exhibited a decided penchant for innovation in everything from technology to creative new art forms. From trains to planes, from electricity to the telephone, America’s voracious appetite for overhauling transportation, communication, and food production propelled the majority of Americans from an agrarian society to a frantic, on the move, urban society. Her art forms mirrored these changes with vaudeville circuits, road shows, and early forms of “moving pictures.” In fact, it was World War I that revealed the overdependence Americans had had on Europe as a model for its overarching aesthetics. It was time for America to look to its own artists and those art forms reflective of the American experience—her jazz music, Broadway theater, Hollywood film, and modern dance. The twin developments of the multiethnic crossover forms of entertainment, such as the variety shows and vaudeville, and the emerging opportunities available for Tappin’ Jazz Lines · 143

entertainers in the new medium of film encouraged, popularized, and sped up the continuing development of one of her most popular dance forms— tap dance. In revues of the 1910s, such as The Passing Shows and the Ziegfeld Follies, choreographers like Ned Wayburn popularized the precision line style chorus dancers.8 This was brought onto the screen beginning in 1929 through the efforts of choreographers like Sammy Lee and Busby Berkeley. At the same time, the overwhelming success of the black musical on the Broadway stage in the 1920s introduced tap dance hybrids like eccentric dancing, comedic dance routines, and flash tap. Performers from the comic team of Bert Williams and George Walker to Buddy Bradley, as well as the trendy black musicals from Shuffle Along to Runnin’ Wild, created a cauldron of possibilities for tap dance that would come to fruition in the 1930s and 1940s. It is curious that in the decade when America experienced its most devastating economic crisis, and in the following decade when the American public bore a tremendous human cost in order to support and sustain the war effort, it also saw the amalgamation of its performing arts in ways that were original, entertaining, and life-affirming. Some would call this the beginning of the golden age of the American musical; some would point to the growing significance of the Hollywood film, particularly the musical, as an international art form. And many would point to the simultaneous rise of American modern dance and tap dance as evidence of her leadership in the art of the dance—a form mostly associated in the American public’s minds with Europe and particularly its ballet tradition. During the 1930s and ’40s, tap dance splintered into a variety of specialty styles. This was encouraged by the fact that vaudeville became an incubator for solo artists as well as for two- to five-person acts. Everyone from Bill Robinson to Fred and Adele Astaire to Williams and Walker learned their craft on the vaudeville circuit. Even family acts honed their tap dancing skills in vaudeville, and among the most popular were the Four Cohans and the Seven Little Foys. Among the styles that were popular then was the soft-shoe. It was a kind of tap dance that developed from older styles like the Virginia Essence, performed in 4/4 time, and the Waltz Clog, performed in 3/4 time. This was a dance form made to order for the song-and-dance man. While the steps could be complicated, the tempo was often slow-to-medium, which created a casual, off-the-cuff quality. The upper body was relaxed and fluid, unlike that of the jig dancers. It allowed for the personality of the performer to come through much more easily. He could “sell it.” The undisputed leader in this style was George Primrose, a transitional figure who spent the first 144 · Ray Miller

half of his career as a minstrel performer and the second half in vaudeville. Although he was white, Primrose often performed with his black peers, and they traded steps and combinations with ease. There was a grace and elegance to his performance that presaged that of Fred Astaire. His overriding idea about tap dancing is best expressed by his saying: “Make every motion as pretty as a picture.”9 Many kinds of dance fed into the tap dance vocabulary. There was the buck-and-wing dancing from the early minstrel stage, syncopated stop time combinations influenced by the rhythms of ragtime, Pigeon Wings, the Turkey Trot, sand dancing, and many, many others. It was a time of performers “stealing” steps from one another and making it their own by doing their own variations. Eventually this explosion of dance steps led to the development of styles of tap. In addition to the soft-shoe, there were comedy tap dancers like Williams and Walker and equally comic women performers like Josephine Baker and Florence Mills; eccentric dancers, whose style of dance was also called Legomania, like Ray Bolger and Ulysses S. Thompson; flash tap that incorporated tricks and acrobatics, with the Nicholas Brothers (Harold and Fayard) probably the most famous. Another style was the Class Act, with Honi Coles and his partner, Cholly Atkins, setting the highest of standards, and the team of “Buck” Washington on piano and his partner, John W. Bubbles. Bubbles became known in some circles as “the father of rhythm tap,” a style in which he could slow the tempo down and complicate the rhythm with syncopation, unusual rhythms, and dynamics. Throughout the Depression and World War II, the undisputed “greatest tap dancer” was Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Gifted and self-taught, Robinson started at age seven performing in minstrel shows and later in vaudeville. He performed in four films with Shirley Temple and in predominately black films like Stormy Weather. He also starred in the stage musicals Blackbirds of 1928 and The Hot Mikado. He is best remembered for his stair dance. While not originated by Robinson, it became his signature. According to his biographers, Jim Haskins and N. R. Mitgang, “What distinguished Bill Robinson’s stair dance was showmanship. His stair dance, when perfected, involved a different rhythm for each step—each one reverberating with a different pitch.”10 His dancing on and off the stairs was characterized with a kind of swing, a lightness achieved by dancing on his toes, and a genuine connection with his audience. He danced up to the time of his death at the age of seventy-one. Thousands lined the streets to pay their respects to their favorite son of New York. His legacy was solidified in 1989, when a joint U.S. Senate/House resolution proclaimed May 25, the anniversary of Bill Robinson’s birthday, to be forever commemorated as National Tap Dance Day. Tappin’ Jazz Lines · 145

Figure 20.2. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, 1933. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-USZ62-79292.

There were other factors contributing to the rise of tap dance in the years between the two wars. The chorus lines of the large tap dance musicals from the Ziegfeld Follies to award-winning musicals like Anything Goes (1934), the rise of stars like Fred and Adele Astaire, the growing importance of the big band sound and swing and their interplay with Lindy Hoppers and tap dancers created a dance vocabulary that caught the spirit of the times. Solo and duet dance artists were complemented with a huge chorus of dancers, all tap dancing to the sound of that time—jazz. Syncopated rhythms, percussion instruments, the use of a plethora of props from stairs to hats and canes, an unapologetic sense of optimism in the face of adversity—all of that set tap dance up as a popular art form that assuaged people’s fears and permitted them to cross race, gender, and class in a way that was usually reserved only for instrumental music. Now here was a dance form that demonstrated a genuine sense of universal appeal. The tap dance director was a common fixture on the 1920s Broadway stage and then in the Hollywood films of the 1930s. Sammy Lee, David Bennett, Seymour Felix, John Murray Anderson, and many others incorporated the

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tap dancing chorus into their shows. While all were important in their day, two stand out. Busby Berkeley was very important to the development of the Hollywood musical film because of his extravagant choreography. While he did not necessarily extend the tap dance vocabulary, he did create some of the most interesting geometric and Escher-like design choreographies on film that continue to entertain audiences today. These include the final scene with Ruby Keeler in the movie 42nd Street, which is an excellent collage of varied kinds of tap dancing popular on the Broadway stage of the 1920s, and several production numbers with Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers in Gold Diggers of 1933. Russell Markert made precision dancing and tap dance with his Radio City Music Hall Rockettes a staple not only in New York but across America. Starting with a clear dramatic idea or image, he would apply an intuitive mathematical vision to his choreography. His dance routines combined a Ziegfeldian look with a strong scenographic imagination for his chorus girls. Berkeley and Markert relied on the dance routine that could be efficiently taught to chorus dancers and then manipulated in interesting geometric shapes that could be complemented by specially designed costumes, props, or other scenographic elements, like the use of stairways and scenery that disassembled before the audience’s eyes. Each knew how to create a theatrically visual kaleidoscope of moving bodies, colors, and unusual patterns. Add a strong dose of optimistic energy, and it becomes clear why tap dance in this venue was so popular for so long. Tap dance was at its zenith in the movies from the mid-1930s to the mid1950s. The RKO Astaire-Rogers films combined ballroom and tap dance in ways that made visible what romance could look like for audiences during the Depression. While that may be the dominant image we have of their work together, it is not the whole story. Throughout their partnership, they also developed dances that were comic, technically challenging, and innovative in their conception and/or use of props. Unlike Busby Berkeley, Astaire insisted on the dance being shot in such a way that the audience could see the dancer performing from head to toe. For Astaire, the dance should be featured, not the choreography of the camera. During this period, there were many tap dancers who found success in the Hollywood musical. Everyone from Eleanor Powell and Ruby Keeler to Donald O’Connor and the Nicholas Brothers, and many others shuffleball-changed their way onto the big screen. In addition, with the incredible success of Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson, tap dance crossed not only

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generational lines but racial divides as well. For many, the pinnacle was the dances in the films of Gene Kelly. Kelly was a song-and-dance hoofer who brought an everyman quality to his movies that made it appear that anyone could tap dance. From films like On the Town, in which he and his costars continued to capitalize on the sailor outfit originated by America’s first star song-and-dance man, John Durang, to the incomparable “Singin’ in the Rain” number from the movie of the same title, in which the childlike simplicity of the soft-shoe is invoked as rain pours down on the vivacious Kelly, he made tap dance accessible, entertaining, and innovative. His approach to filming dance was a cross between that of Berkeley and Astaire in that he choreographed the camera without giving up the dance. With Kelly, tap dance on film reached its apogee before the following decade would extinguish the popularity of tap dance film musicals. The 1950s created a chasm between tap dance and other forms of entertainment. Rock ’n’ roll replaced swing, television competed with films and live theater, and the rise of the recording industry had Americans buying ready-made music rather than bringing the sheet music home and playing on the piano with family and friends singing along. On the musical theater stage, with the success of Agnes de Mille, Albertina Rasch, and George Balanchine, ballet was seen as the movement vocabulary of choice. Tap dance appeared dated. Just a few years earlier, beginning in 1939, with the appearance of Buck and Bubbles in Night Club Revue, we have the first tap dancers to appear in the new medium of television. Soon there were others such as Honi Coles, Cholly Atkins, Donald O’Connor, and Baby Laurence. For many, it was an easy transition from the vaudeville stage to the variety show format popular on television. Two of the most successful were The Jackie Gleason Show, which featured the June Taylor Dancers, and The Ed Sullivan Show. One of the most sought-after was the incomparable Peg Leg Bates. Even Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly made television specials that featured tap dancing. The Newport Jazz Festivals of the early 1960s were a harbinger of the coming revival of interest in tap dancing, particularly that of rhythm tap, with its emphasis on syncopation and improvisation.11 In the concert halls of the day, audiences could see Honi Coles, Bunny Briggs, the Copacetics, Paul Draper, Baby Laurence, the Hoofers, Jimmy Slyde, Lon Chaney, Leon Collins, and many others. These were performers who continued their affinity for tap dancing by performing in smaller venues, teaching master classes, inventing new styles, and adapting to the changing times. There were crossover stars like Sammy Davis Jr. and inventive choreographers like Bob Fosse who brought a kind of “hipness” to tap dancing. They demonstrated that tap 148 · Ray Miller

Figure 20.3. Brenda Bufalino and Honi Coles, Riverside Theater, London, 1980. Photographer unknown. By permission of Brenda Bufalino.

could pay homage to the past and, at the same time, be “cool.” And there were others who married the sacred with rhythm tap as Bunny Briggs did when he performed at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to Duke Ellington’s Concert of Sacred Music. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a sense of nostalgia in the country that wanted to reach back to a time before the turmoil of the 1960s. A part of that nostalgia was reflected with the Broadway revival of tap dancing musicals. While there were many, the two choreographers most responsible for the success of tap dance on the Broadway stage were Gower Champion with his productions of No, No, Nanette, Sugar, and 42nd Street and Henry LeTang’s Sophisticated Ladies, Black and Blue, and Eubie! But it wasn’t all about looking to the past. Tap dance artists like Brenda Bufalino and Jane Goldberg acknowledged the achievement of their mentors and began to experiment with tap dance on the concert stage. Each found ways in which to give a voice to women as tap dance artists and to point the way for the next generation to “take stage.” Each has written eloquently of her life in tap dance, and each was instrumental in documenting tap dance history, creating a fresh approach to tap dance Tappin’ Jazz Lines · 149

choreography, facilitating the dialogue between one generation and the next, and creating a legacy for tap in the form of conferences, summer institutes, jam sessions, and publications. Their contributions to tap dance cannot be overstated.12 The broad appeal of tap was encouraged by the preservation of the work of its older generation in documentary form. In addition to Brenda Bufalino’s Great Feats of the Feet, there was George T. Nierenberg’s 1979 documentary, No Maps on My Taps, which featured rhythm tap dancers Sandman Sims and John William Sublett. On the commercial screen, audiences responded enthusiastically to Gregory Hines tap dancing against Mikhail Baryshnikov’s ballet in the 1985 film White Nights. Four years later, Hines starred in Tap, a movie devoted to tap dancing. He closed the decade hosting, narrating, and performing in the Great Performances PBS series Tap Dance in America. This period laid a foundation in the musical, on the concert stage, in film, and on television for tap dance as its own American vernacular dance form with its own technique, history, and potential for growth and development. Two of the most talented and innovative tap dancers of the past twenty years are Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Hines’s versatility extended the work of his mentor, Sammy Davis Jr., and broadened the appeal of tap dance to a wider audience. Hines danced not only to the “standards” but also to pop music and to no music. He made improvisatory tap an additional instrument to contemporary rock ’n’ roll. While staying innovative, current, and “hip,” Hines returned over and over again to The Challenge, which he was introduced to by Sandman Sims, as the source of his creativity. In riffing in a competitive way with fellow tap dancers, they would force you to reach beyond what you thought you were good at; it was this competitive element that was at the heart of Hines’s creativity. For him, tap dance, like sports, which he loved, relied on competition to demand the best from those who participated. Hines explained to fellow tapper Jane Goldberg, in one of his last interviews before he died, that “the whole thing was impressive because people were able to show their ability to listen, their ability to keep time, their ability to do what another dancer did.”13 In this way, he continually acknowledged the masters of the past by demanding only the best from himself and his peers as they challenged themselves to be honest with their taps and clear in their execution. Hines often described his protégé, Savion Glover, as the Michael Jackson, Michael Jordon, or Magic Johnson of tap. He recognized that Glover was a tap dancer set apart from his peers. While Hines married tap to rock ’n’ roll, Glover extended that leap into the hip-hop world. What Miles Davis was to

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jazz, Savion was to tap dance—a bridge. He cut his teeth early as a performer in such musicals as The Tap Dance Kid, Black and Blue, and Jelly’s Last Jam, and then as a choreographer and dancer in Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk (1996) Since then, Glover has created several tap dance companies that have performed all over the world. He took the notion of “improvography,” a term coined by Hines, and brought it onto the Broadway stage and into the concert hall. Glover is known at times to turn his back on his audience during a performance, but it is certainly not out of disrespect. As he explained to Karen Hildebrand, “There’s a time when there’s nothing to do but sell it and give it to the audience. But after that, it’s about the music. That’s the realm of entertaining. You let the audience come to where you are, versus you going there.”14 And when he is not performing onstage, he makes appearances on television and in films from Spike Lee’s Bamboozled to the animated feature film about a tap dancing penguin, Happy Feet. When Hines died, Glover picked up his mantle and continues to serve as an ambassador for tap dance all over the world.15 In their wake, there is a tsunami of tap dance artists who are redefining the art. Derick Grant is looking for ways in which to extend tap dance to include an ensemble of dancers who can create characters and storylines not normally associated with tap—an approach that was prefigured in the tap/jazz/ballet “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” in the 1936 musical On Our Toes choreographed by George Balanchine. Lynn Dally continues to blend sophisticated jazz rhythms with a modern dance sensibility for choreography with Los Angeles–based Jazz Tap Ensemble. Margaret Morrison challenges some of the conventions of tap dance, particularly as they relate to sexism and homophobia, and Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards teaches a course at her Harlem Tap Studio on “Mastering Femininity in Tap” in which she demonstrates that women tappers can dress and look feminine and match their male counterparts in terms of technique, strength, and originality. It is an exciting time to be a tap dancer. The death knell for tap that was rung by some in the 1950s was premature. New music, new technologies, and new artists have combined to create a plethora of tap that would have surprised our early proponents at the beginning of the twentieth century. Tap dance will always have its pulse on “the beat,” but it also has grown to include a depth of expression and a breadth of vocabulary that continues to make it vital and important to us today.16

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Notes 1. For a more detailed analysis of the European roots of tap dance in the United States, see Mark Knowles, Tap Roots: The Early History of Tap Dancing (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002). 2. Jerry Duke. Clog Dance in the Appalachians (San Francisco: Duke, 1984), 27. 3. Knowles, Tap Roots, 44. 4. Lynne Fauley Emery, Black Dance: From 1619 to Today, 2nd ed. (Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book, 1988), 120–26. 5. Knowles, Tap Roots, 96–97. 6. See Lynn Matluck Brooks, John Durang: Man of the American Stage (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2011). 7. All of this is reminiscent of the 1980s street dancing that resulted in the hip-hop dance of today and its many variations. 8. From the 1930s until the early 1970s, the founder and director of the Rockettes, Russell Markert, made this style of dance a perennial favorite for American audiences, particularly during the Christmas holiday season. 9. Ray Ollie Mae, “Biographies of Selected Leaders in Tap Dance” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 1976), 61. 10. Jim Haskins and N. R. Mitgang. Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson (New York: William Morrow, 1988), 100. 11. Beverly Fletcher, Tapworks: A Tap Dictionary and Reference Manual (Hightstown, NJ: Princeton Book, 1997), 117; Constance Valis Hill, Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 88. 12. For more information on their work, see Brenda Bufalino’s Tapping the Source: Tap Dance Stories, Theory, and Practice (New Paltz, NY: Codhill Press, 2004) and Jane Goldberg’s Shoot Me While I’m Happy: Memories from the Tap Dance Goddess of the Lower East Side (New York: Woodshed Productions, 2008.) 13. Goldberg, Shoot Me, 280. 14. Karen Hildebrand, “A Conversation,” Dance Magazine, May 2004, 35. 15. To learn more about how Glover sees himself in relation to tap dance, see Savion! My Life in Tap, by Glover and Bruce Weber (New York: William Morrow, 2000). 16. For an excellent history of tap dancing in America, see Hill’s Tap Dancing America, which won the prestigious Society of Dance History Scholars de la Torre Bueno Prize.

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21 Jazz Dance in the Broadway Musical Kirsten Harvey

The stock market crash of 1929 marked the end of the popular vaudeville era that had dominated the performance scene around the country for more than thirty years. As the Great Depression deepened, vaudeville houses were closing down all over America. Cinematic presentations had slowly started to infiltrate the vaudeville circuit prior to 1932, but the death of vaudeville occurred when the Palace Theatre in New York City, vaudeville’s epicenter, decided to present only cinema shows that year.1 Few shows exceeded more than one run on Broadway in the 1930s, but those that survived did so by finding new ways to construct the previously extravagant styles of feathers, glitz, and the glamour of the 1920s. The lack of funds, for both personal and commercial use, during this period forced a change in how American dance directors thought and worked. One such dance director was Ned Wayburn. In 1905, he created the Ned Wayburn Institute of Dancing, which trained chorus dancers for his style of shows both in Chicago and New York City. He took credit for training the mega dance stars of the time including Fred and Adele Astaire, Al Jolson, Will Rogers, and more than 122 others. Wayburn most notably created the highly stylized jazz walk that utilizes the shoulders and hips moving together in unison, often in a figure eight. This stylized walk, although modified over several generations, can be seen in jazz dance classes all over the United States. He created several other steps that are still used today, such as the hitch kick and the fan kick, as well as utilizing formations of dancers such 153

as straight lines, the popular V formation, rectangles, and circles. Wayburn’s school and training methods did prove to be advanced for his time, but his work was created out of necessity to produce dance as spectacle rather than as a more meaningful vehicle of expression.2 Some of the most forward-thinking dance directors of the late 1920s and 1930s were Seymour Felix and Albertina Rasch. Felix was one of the first to promote the idea that dance must support the plot and character development as well as the overall spirit of the musical or revue. He acknowledged that “jazz tricks” such as kicks, splits, cartwheels, and chorus lines dominated vaudeville dance of the time and that they were not necessary to create a meaningful Broadway show. Felix produced shows such as Peggy-Ann (1926), Hit the Deck! (1927), and Whoopee (1928). Albertina Rasch, a dance director with a classical ballet background, also trained her own dancers. Her choreography and staging of George White’s Scandals (1922) used The Black Crook (1866) tradition of inserting dance sequences and songs that were unrelated to the plot between sections of a play. The Black Crook became the prototype of the modern American musical and gave America claim to having originated the genre of musical theater.3 Soon after choreographing George White’s Scandals, Rasch became known as the creative dance force behind the 1931 production of The Band Wagon. The show was called “the most sophisticated, imaginative, and musically distinguished revue ever mounted on Broadway,” and it showcased Fred and Adele Astaire in their tenth and final appearance together.4 Rasch was one of the first Broadway choreographers to combine ballet technique and structure with the popular syncopated jazz dance styles of the 1920s. Despite Rasch’s innate ability to create invigorating fusion styles of ballet-blended jazz dance, she did not make a conscious effort to relate the dance to the plot as Felix did. Robert Alton emerged as one of the most notable Broadway dance directors and choreographers of the time. He collaborated with Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, and Rodgers and Hammerstein to produce musicals such as Anything Goes (1934) and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 with George Balanchine. He favored the jazz and tap dance aesthetics of rhythm and improvisation and openly stated his affinity for choreographing without researching or planning for the show.5 Instead, he would focus on memorization of the lyrics and then create the dance while working in the studio with the dancers. Alton also enjoyed integrating the principles of ballet in conjunction with the rhythms of tap and jazz. He combined these three styles in order to bring stronger dynamic range and levels of interest to his various shows. An example of this was in Alton’s choreography for Pal Joey (1940), where he

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worked with Gene Kelly to create a light, airy quality that is inherent in ballet, but maintained the rooted and grounded percussive delights of tap and jazz dance. By the 1940s, musical theater dance had achieved greater popular status as it focused further on the development of character, theme, thought, and emotions. The choreographers, previously known as dance directors, who propelled musical theater out of the vernacular/vaudeville styles and into the musical theater style we know of today, were Agnes de Mille, George Balanchine, and Jack Cole. Each choreographer made significant contributions to the Broadway stage that influenced not only style but also how the public viewed musical theater dance as a “valid” art form. Agnes de Mille had always had a passion for acting; her father and uncle were both Hollywood directors. But her father never wanted her to be a dancer. After seeing Anna Pavlova dance, she became fixated on studying ballet.6 Her first significant ballet musical, Rodeo (1942), was staged for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a successful ballet company created by Léonide Massine and René Blum that toured the United States after World War II. As a result of her work in Rodeo, she was then invited to choreograph on Broadway for the production of Oklahoma! De Mille encouraged her dancers to find individual characters that had intention, emotions, and depth. This was the first step toward what is now defined as a “triple threat,” or someone who can act, sing, and dance. Prior to this, dancers were cast only in dancing roles, better known as the chorus, and the actors and singers were given leading roles. Despite the fact that de Mille used ballet and character dance in her Broadway choreography, she made a major contribution to the future of jazz dance by creating a demand for dancers who could perform with a high level of technical expertise. George Balanchine, a classically trained Russian ballet dancer, wanted to bring more to the musical theater stage than simple dance routines. His mission was for the commercial components of the dance to serve a greater purpose and not be merely decorative. Balanchine opened a door for an artistic approach to ballet in musical theater that had never been seen before. It is important to note that his experience creating for musical theater also infiltrated the ballet world when he created works such as Who Cares (1970) with parallel pirouettes on pointe, flexed hands, and beveled leg positions. One of Balanchine’s most notable works is the musical theater ballet “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” which takes place at the end of Rodgers and Hart’s musical On Your Toes (1936). Balanchine’s successful ballet influence created more balletic interludes rather than the previously popular jazz and tap style dance

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numbers. As a result of this shift in aesthetics on the Broadway stage, the tricks of show dancing were of less importance, and ballet training became a critical component of the Broadway performer’s repertoire. Last of the leading choreographers of this period was Jack Cole. He started working in the 1920s with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn as well as the Humphrey-Weidman dancers in a modern dance aesthetic rather than ballet. Cole was fascinated with cultural dances from around the world (inspired by Ruth St. Denis’s work in these same forms) such as East Indian dance and Cambodian ballet. His focus on isolations was what inspired many of the current jazz dance styles of today. One of Cole’s dancers, Buzz Miller, expressed it best: “Cole demanded a lot of isolations; for instance, in an East Indian dance, getting each finger to move quite separately, like a Buddha. All Cole’s work was very isolated—very strong, very controlled, very cool. Even his and his dancers’ eyes and eyebrows.”7 The isolations that Cole introduced to the musical theater dance scene have given him the title “father of theatrical jazz dance.” His jazz-ethnic-ballet fusion can still be seen in Broadway shows, films, nightclubs, television, and revues. Resemblances to Cole’s style and body of work continued to live on in his students such as Gwen Verdon and Matt Mattox, and they can be seen in the choreography of Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Gower Champion, Michael Bennett, and Tommy Tune. Verdon, one of the most famous of Bob Fosse’s dancers, was Cole’s assistant for seven years.8 Some of Cole’s most prominent shows are A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Jamaica (1957), and Man of La Mancha (1965). Cole’s career took off in the 1940s, and his influence can still be seen in jazz dance today. Katherine Dunham, an African-American dancer and choreographer of the 1940s, studied Afro-Caribbean and Latin dance forms alongside Pearl Primus and fused these earthy styles with the concepts of jazz dance.9 Pearl Primus was a dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and friend of Dunham who promoted African dance and culture as an art form worthy of study and performance. Dunham’s focus on Caribbean dance forms from Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, and Martinique also inspired white composers to use similar rhythms and patterns in future Broadway shows of the 1950s.10 The Katherine Dunham Company performed in Cabin in the Sky (1940), staged by George Balanchine, as well as in Bal Nègre (1946), choreographed by Dunham. During the 1940s when Broadway dance was moving farther and farther away from its vernacular roots, Dunham was rekindling the interest in the origins of jazz dance. Despite the racial segregation issues that Dunham had to endure during the tours of her company in the 1940s, she had one of the most

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successful dance careers of the twentieth-century American theater and has been called the matriarch and queen mother of black dance.11 Musical theater dance soon hit its stride with the three kings of Broadway: Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, and Gower Champion. Robbins is best known for his “cool” rendition of West Side Story (1957), Fosse for his detailed and cynical sexy choreography for Sweet Charity (1966) and Chicago (1975), and Champion for his accessible characters and dedication to traditional glitz and glamour styles of Broadway in shows such as Bye Bye Birdie (1960) and 42nd Street (1980). Each choreographer not only magnified how movement can take a main role in a Broadway production but also redefined the hierarchy of who governed the actors and dancers by taking on a greater role in the direction of the entire production.12 Jerome Robbins started his career in the chorus of Broadway shows such as Great Lady (1938), The Straw Hat Revue (1939), and Keep Off the Grass (1940), all choreographed by Balanchine. In 1940, Robbins joined Ballet Theatre and danced many roles as a soloist. He was described as a “natural dancer”; however, as a person he was also “moody, detached, preferring to be by himself.”13 With Agnes de Mille’s influence of drama and dance, Robbins felt challenged and created works such as Fancy Free for Ballet Theatre in 1944. Later that year he created On the Town, which proved that Robbins was able not only to create ballets for musicals as de Mille did but also create musical comedy ballets.14 Robbins’s next work, West Side Story, had no chorus. Each dancer was a specific character and was required to sing, dance, and act. Robbins reconfigured his ballet vocabulary for the first time in West Side Story. The vocabulary for the show was drawn from natural movements of the characters in each scene, which then developed into cohesive, jazzy musical numbers. This was also one of the first times where transitions from the musical numbers to the scenes were fluid and natural, which was a large departure from the poses of the Ziegfeld girls of the 1920s. Robbins was assisted by Peter Gennaro, who choreographed the “America” and “Mambo” numbers.15 Robbins’s future notable works included Gypsy (1959) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964), which were also characterized by his ability to create choreography inspired and crafted by hours of research and elements of superior design. Bob Fosse came to the Broadway scene with a background in burlesque, vaudeville, and nightclub styles of dancing, unlike the classical ballet training of Robbins. A Chicago native, Fosse was committed to seeing every vaudeville show that came through town, often more than once.16 His seedy background of dancing between acts in a strip joint influenced the creation

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of his sensual and seductive choreography in Chicago (1975), Sweet Charity (1966), and All That Jazz (1979), the film that has a partially nude dance titled “Take Off with Us.” Some of his earlier works such as Pajama Game (1954) and Damn Yankees (1955) showcased his distinctive style of choreography, which included splayed, dramatic jazz hands as well as earthbound, angular gestures that are unmistakably different than anything else previously seen on Broadway. Fosse was a noted “taskmaster,” but his dancers truly treasured him and his work.17 In fact, both Fosse and Robbins searched for dancers who were able to create the technical components of their styles and also those who were psychologically able to handle their enormous scrutiny and process. Some of Fosse’s credited innovations in Broadway and film were blending many styles of dance, such as the can-can, jazz, folk, and vaudeville, into one number; use of lighting design to maximize the presentation of a show; and his first-ever television commercial for a Broadway show during his production of Pippin (1972).18 Fosse was the only person to win a Tony Award (for Pippin and Sweet Charity), an Academy Award (for Cabaret), and an Emmy Award (for Liza with a “Z”) all in one year, 1973. Like many before him, Gower Champion also believed that musical staging and dancing should not be used simply for entertainment; however, he did employ many traditions of the old-fashioned musical comedies. His

Figure 21.1. Cabaret, ECU/Loessin Playhouse, East Carolina University, November 2012. John Shearin, director; Tommi Overcash Galaska, choreographer; Jeffery Phipps, costume designer; Jenni Farrow, photographer. 158 · Kirsten Harvey

background in performing had already been established before he started to choreograph and direct Broadway shows. He and his wife Marge had appeared in films such as MGM’s version of Showboat (1951) and Lovely to Look At (1952) as well as in many nightclubs across the country.19 He loved the long, leggy girls dancing in geometric patterns as well as props and sets moving on and off the stage throughout the course of a show. Champion was never able to create a style of his own such as that of Fosse or Robbins, despite his reputation for amazing, show-stopping productions. He clung to a formula that worked rather than trying to break new ground in style. However, he can be credited with developing the concept of “musical staging” where he focused on the differences between the acting and the dancing as well as the collaborative moments that existed between the two.20 This allowed his shows to flow from one scene to the next without a sense of interrupted song or dance. Some of Champion’s best known shows are Hello, Dolly! (1964), which ran for seven years straight, and 42nd Street, which won the Tony Award for Best Choreography (1981) and ran for 3,486 performances. After the reign of the three kings of Broadway dance ended, two new director-choreographers emerged: Michael Bennett and Tommy Tune. Bennett led the 1980s with his brilliant production of A Chorus Line, which gave dancers and particularly triple threats a venue to showcase their talents.

Figure 21.2. A Chorus Line, Wheaton College, Norton, MA, November 2007. Photo by Jessica Farrell Kuszaj. Stephanie Burlington, director; Tim Harbold, musical director; Christien Polos, choreographer; Clinton O’Dell, costume design; Nicole Beal ’08, set design. Jazz Dance in the Broadway Musical · 159

Tommy Tune not only played the role of the choreographer in A Chorus Line but also danced in shows such as Seesaw (1973) and My One and Only (1983). Michael Bennett fell in love with dance when he saw Gwen Verdon in Bob Fosse’s production of Damn Yankees. Bennett’s first experience on the Broadway stage was in Jerome Robbins’s European cast of West Side Story; he played the role of Baby John. However, he always knew that his calling was not as a performer but rather “putting on big shows—not just dancing, but singing, acting, dancing shows.”21 Out of all of the Broadway dance-directors, Bennett admitted that, in his opinion, the dancing was the most important component of the Broadway musical. Bennett’s most highly acclaimed show, A Chorus Line, began with several hours of interviews with professional Broadway dancers, which were all filmed by Bennett.22 He discovered that their experiences were surprisingly similar. He then employed a book writer, producer, rehearsal pianist, and dance arranger to create a musical based on these interviews. This organic and experimental process of creating an entire production about a Broadway musical led to A Chorus Line becoming one of the most successful shows in the history of American musical theater.23 No other director-choreographer was as outspoken about the skill and dedication of the unsung chorus dancers, probably because Bennett himself had experienced how it felt to be a chorus dancer. He created jazz dance choreography with splayed jazz hands, toe touches, fan-kicks, hitch-kicks, and all the glamour and spectacular tricks to show off the brilliance of the dancers. A Chorus Line changed the Broadway scene forever because dancers were finally receiving top billing for playing lead roles, and it indeed became the “world’s biggest mass employer” of quality show dancers.24 Bennett’s second most popular Broadway show, Dreamgirls (1981), was also created out of this experimental type of atmosphere. Unfortunately, after the huge success of A Chorus Line, Bennett admitted that any future project would be anticlimactic, and he resolved to develop projects as they were presented to him.25 Tommy Tune, often labeled as an innovator and unconventional Broadway director-choreographer, wanted to take the older forms of vernacular tap and jazz styles and give them new inspiration. Tune began his career taking dance classes in Texas and realized that his fate was going to be in theater dance, since he would not be able to partner in ballet, being 6'6". He formally trained in acting at the university level and then successfully auditioned for several Broadway musicals. Since he was not able to maintain consistent employment at several points in his career, he then transitioned to directing and producing. Several of his successful Broadway projects were The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1978), Nine (1982), and Grand Hotel (1989). Tune did not give up on a performance career and often danced in the productions he 160 · Kirsten Harvey

choreographed. This approach to choreography is reminiscent of the 1930s choreographer, who also created his or her own performance material. The turn of the twenty-first century was a difficult time for the Broadway musical. The concern to continually make a profit plagues what drives the artistic visions of current Broadway choreographers. Corporate sponsorships often drive what is and must be produced at any one time as well as the tourist influence in New York City. Several choreographers have been able to overcome the commercial drive of the market and create innovative work despite the trends, such as Twyla Tharp, Garth Fagan, and Susan Stroman. Twyla Tharp started her modern dance career in college, and then performed with the Judson Dance Theatre. She soon abandoned the “counterculture aesthetic” of modern dance in search of commercial and popular ideals. Her choreography was sometimes set to jazz and pop music and at other times to classical music. Tharp started her company, Twyla Tharp Dance, in 1965 and toured around the world until 1988, when her company merged with American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Even while she was working with ABT, the ballet technique was “delivered with a street-smart attitude, peppered with jolts and jazzy inflections.”26 In the summer of 2000, she hired new dancers for her company. The members of her company performed in Movin’ Out (2002), set to the music of Billy Joel, which was the first dance musical. Tharp’s dance musical was a series of dances held together by a thin plot where none of the dancers sing. The only vocals were performed by a pianist and band suspended above the stage. Her next Broadway venture was Come Fly Away (2010), which followed the same dance musical model using Frank Sinatra’s music but was not reviewed as a success on Broadway. Despite the financial loss of Come Fly Away, her dances are known for their “creativity, wit, and technical precision.”27 By combining many styles of movement—jazz, ballet, modern, ballroom, and her own innovative vocabulary—Tharp has reinvented what a musical is and can be. Also from a modern dance background, Garth Fagan was drawn to dance through his childhood gymnastic classes. He grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and was influenced by the Afro-Caribbean and West African dance forms that surrounded him. Fagan’s jazzy modern style was cultivated for the concert stage when he choreographed for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Limón Dance Company during the 1970s. Despite the New York Times’ first review claiming that his choreography was “clumsy”28 in the 1998 Broadway smash The Lion King, he won the Tony Award for Outstanding Choreography that same year. The diversity of movement in The Lion King, from its hip-hop hyenas to the balletic Jazz Dance in the Broadway Musical · 161

adagio between the lead dancers Simba and Nala, showcased Fagan’s interest in creating dance that stretched the boundaries of dance styles in a Broadway show. He continues to renew his dance vocabulary for the concert stage that is created out of grounded modern dance principles, explosive AfroCaribbean movement, precise and graceful ballet, and experimentation with today’s current modern trends. Director and choreographer of the Mel Brooks production of The Producers (2001) and choreographer of the Columbia Pictures feature film Center Stage (2000), Susan Stroman began her dance career training in Wilmington, Delaware. Since she wanted to direct and choreograph rather than perform, Stroman focused on gaining opportunities in theater.29 Some of Stroman’s most innovative choreography can be seen in dance sequences in the Broadway revival of Showboat (1994), where she uses a revolving door to help the audience understand the different generations depicted in the show. She researched the show’s history in order to create accurate Charleston jazz dance sequences of the 1920s and 1930s. Another one of Stroman’s major contributions to Broadway was her three-part dance play titled Contact (2000), which she not only choreographed but also directed. The unique qualities and success of the production made the Broadway community question what constitutes a musical, since the show had prerecorded music and no dialogue or singing. As a result of this controversy, the category of Best Special Theatrical Event was added to the Tony Awards.30 Since the early 1920s, many theories and methodologies have been established as well as experimented with in order to create thrilling Broadway dance. Jazz dance, in particular, has evolved every decade to suit the commercial needs and desires of the Broadway choreographer. Balanchine, Robbins, and Fosse changed the face of Broadway dance forever by incorporating challenging technical skills and multigenre movements and vocabulary, as well as integration of plot, character, and style. These choreographic innovations and developments have not only created higher expectations of the Broadway performer but have also influenced the demands of what can and must be produced in order to create a box office success. The future of Broadway dance will inevitably include twenty-first-century technological advancements, performers with incredible technical skills, and choreographers who spark the imagination of the audience through their historical knowledge, creativity, and ability to utilize dance as a powerful driving force in the Broadway musical.

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Notes 1. Laurence Senelick, Don B. Wilmeth, and Tice Miller, Cambridge Guide to American Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 480. 2. Robert Kislan, Hoofing on Broadway (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1987), 48, 53. 3. Morley Sheridan, Spread a Little Happiness (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 15. 4. Stanley Green, Broadway Musicals: Show by Show, 6th ed. (New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2008), 74. 5. Kislan, Hoofing, 62. 6. Emmet Robert Long, Broadway, the Golden Years: Jerome Robbins and the Great Choreographer-Directors (New York: Continuum International, 2001), 25–26. 7. Kislan, Hoofing, 90. 8. Anna Kisselgoff, “Jack Cole Is Dead; a Choreographer,” New York Times, February 20, 1974, 40. 9. Minda Goodman Kraines and Esther Pryor, Jump into Jazz: A Primer for the Beginner Jazz Student, 3rd ed. (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1997), 10. 10. Allen Woll, Black Musical Theatre: From Coontown to Dreamgirls (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989), 206. 11. http://kdcah.org/katherine-dunham-biography/. 12. Kislan, Hoofing, 93. 13. Long, Broadway, 65–66. 14. Denny Martin Flinn, Musical! A Grand Tour (New York: Schirmer Books, 1997), 247. 15. Dance Heritage Coalition, “Guide to Peter Gennaro Papers,” http://danceheritage. org/xtf/view?docId=ead/dangennaID.xml;query=;brand=default. 16. Kislan, Hoofing, 103. 17. Mindy Aloff, prologue to The Fosse Style, by Debra McWaters (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008), xi. 18. Tom Pendergast and Sarah Pendergast, St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Gale Group, 2000, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway/stars/fosse_b.html. 19. Flinn, Musical! 298. 20. Kislan, Hoofing, 111. 21. Ibid., 115. 22. Ken Mandelbaum, A Chorus Line and the Musicals of Michael Bennett (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), 108. 23. Flinn, Musical! 266. 24. Kislan, Hoofing, 121. 25. Mandelbaum, A Chorus Line, 203. 26. Sanjoy Roy, “Step-by-Step Guide to Dance: Twyla Tharp,” February 1, 2011, http:// www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/feb/01/step-by-step-twyla-tharp-dance. 27. Twyla Tharp biography, http://www.twylatharp.org/bio.shtml. 28. Ben Brantley, “Theater Review: Cub Comes of Age: A Twice-Told Cosmic Tale,” New York Times, November 14, 1997. 29. Susan Stroman biography, 2011, http://www.tributemovies.com/people/Susan+ Stroman. 30. Robert Hofler, “Legit Lightning Strikes Twice,” Variety.com, May 1, 2006.

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22 The Transmission of AfricanAmerican Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance Gill Wright Miller In the dark, the faint voices of the spiritual “I’ve Been ’Buked” approach as a circle of light opens on a group of nine dancers center stage, tightly packed, in earth-tone long skirts and bare muscular arms. Their eyes are lifted skyward, arms stretched over head, fingers spread wide. Upper torsos sway like tall grass in the wind, drawing large horizontal circles, taking in all the heavens have to offer. Flat open hands leading, gaze following, torsos yielding. The dancers fold straight down toward the earth, then open their arms wide to take in everything offered back, hovering over the earth with vulture-like lifted elbows, one man in the back snaps to attention, looking out from V-shaped arms, as if to ask, “Are you here, God?” The others follow his lead, scooping up their very hearts and souls, following filled palms rising past their faces and then, with a flick of the fingers, the wrists hyperextend and offer out all the pain, while heads yield back, leaving necks vulnerable, as if to say, “I am offering you my pain. Unburden me.” So starts Alvin Ailey’s Revelations.

We recognize in the Ailey work movement set to song lyrics, a tight corps de ballet configuration, wide spread jazz fingers, syncopated rhythms, and emotional expressionism. What genre is this dance? Could this opening from an African-American concert dance be considered an American jazz dance? On the one hand, both forms derive from the same root: African vernacular dance. Perhaps they are distant cousins, clearly born of the same kin. On the other hand, the concert branch of the family may have prided itself on a primary commitment to Eurocentric artistry while the jazz branch might 164

have celebrated an Afrocentric artistry, which led over the years to a difference in kind. These cousins, then, share ancestral kin, but now have little in common. In the absence of a concise yet comprehensive definition,1 “American concert dance” indicates dance works on American “mainstream” stages that are recognized by leading critics. “African-American concert dance” refers to work usually identified as embodying and highlighting an African diaspora heritage. “American jazz dance” refers to work that is rooted in the African vernacular that highlights rhythm and syncopation. African-American Concert Dance

In African-American Concert Dance: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, John Perpener reports that several artists contributed to a coherent pattern in “black concert dance.” Perpener discusses important aesthetic elements including “thematic material, movement vocabularies, and music gleaned from the cultures of the African diaspora,” which we will consider in more detail later in this essay. For now, he introduces us to artists who developed “syncretic processes of representing vernacular, ritual, and folk material within a framework of European-American theatrical practices.” Perpener’s framing of these artists helps us understand the category “African-American concert dancer,” but does not simply refer to a person of color who is dancing, but rather to a consciousness about the criteria in the work itself. Perpener contends these dance works were created to “effect socio-political change for African-American people, bring together aesthetic and cultural elements that had, previously, been posed as polar opposites, . . . and create work that was multi-vocal, articulating simultaneously different worldviews.”2 Introducing his anthology Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in AfricanAmerican Dance, Thomas F. DeFrantz also traces criteria for a contemporary African aesthetic, which for him is rooted in the Black Arts movement. He describes for us “qualities of motion” categorized by historian Robert Farris Thompson, whose analysis described “the dominance of a percussive concept of performance; multiple meter; apart playing and dancing; call-andresponse, and, finally, the songs and dances of derision.” DeFrantz says about these qualities, “Movement provokes meta-commentary and suggests narratives outside the physical frame of performance.” More than dance craftpersons, these dance artists are carriers of a culture—the African-American culture.3 Who are the artists of African-American concert dance? With whom did they train? With whom did they collaborate? What works have they done? By selecting a few, we can witness a range of perspectives. The Transmission of African-American Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance · 165

Katherine Dunham (1909–2006)

Dunham was a primary founding mother of modern dance who critic Anna Kisselgoff says “exploded the possibilities of modern dance” in the United States. She was schooled in Dalcroze and Laban ideology, ballet technique, and modern dance, before she formed the first black company, the Negro Dance Group. Intrigued both by the place of dance in culture and by physical dancing, Dunham traveled to the Caribbean in the 1930s, and participated in Edna Guy’s “A Negro Dance Evening” at the 92nd St YM-YWHA in 1937.4 These experiences led her to develop a fusion technique, borrowing from Africa and the Caribbean in a way that was inherently jazz. Dunham’s early commitment was to concert forms, but soon she was staging revues and billing concerts like Le Jazz Hot (1939) to much acclaim. Her company was booked in the Broadway production Cabin in the Sky (1941) and several Hollywood productions, including Tropical Revue (1943) and Stormy Weather (1943). She is remembered for a lifetime of combining dancing, writing, and social activism. Pearl Primus (1919–1994)

Primus was in graduate studies in anthropology at New York University when she first participated in a National Youth Administration show, America Dances. Soon after, she won a scholarship to study with the decade-old politically activist New Dance Group.5 She offered her first professional performance in 1943 at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA. New York Times critic John Martin established her as a premiere dancer of the time. Primus’s aesthetic selections—both in content and in creative paradigms—crossed between Euro- and Afrocentric platforms. A highly physical and athletic dancer, Primus regarded no boundary between African, concert, and jazz techniques. She selected topics like responding to lynchings and protesting the plight of sharecroppers, and her choreography took the forms of “music visualizations” (abstract pieces that stuck closely with the music) and “narrative works” (pieces with stories to tell). Talley Beatty (1923–1995)

Beatty was particularly influential in both the concert dance and commercial jazz dance worlds. From his first professional piece, Southern Landscape (1947), which included a now well-known solo called “Mourner’s Bench,” Beatty was known for his ability to “transform experiences of social injustice into brilliant physical expressions of the human spirit.”6 He appreciated design and abstraction. Judith Jamison, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, once said of his dance works, “If you haven’t 166 · Gill Wright Miller

studied at least four techniques, you’ll never get through one of his ballets.” Beatty began his training with Katherine Dunham and then added ballet as well as the techniques of Jack Cole, Lester Horton, Jerome Robbins, Martha Graham, and Alvin Ailey. When he died, Jennifer Dunning, critic of the New York Times, said he was known for “high-energy, technically demanding jazz innovations.”7 Donald McKayle (1930–)

McKayle is known as a modern dancer who created socially conscious work that exposed the black experience in America. Inspired by Pearl Primus and trained in modern, ballet, tap, Afro-Caribbean, Hindu, and Haitian forms, his list of teachers in modern dance is a veritable “who’s who” among first- and second-generation concert dancers. McKayle also had a career on Broadway, in television, and in film, and was a nominee for several Tony and Emmy awards. He is well known for his solo piece Saturday’s Child (1948), which is about the plight of the homeless; Games (1951), which incorporates rhythms, chants, and street games; and Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder (1959), which exposes chain-gang physical labor and the dreams of the prisoners. His physical style draws on ballet, modern, and jazz techniques. Alvin Ailey (1931–1989)

Ailey was trained early on by California-based Lester Horton, who taught classical ballet, modern, jazz, “ethnic,” and Native American dance forms. Ailey’s leadership skills developed when Horton died suddenly and Horton’s company needed someone to direct it. Ailey, at age 22, learned to choreograph and direct on the job. By the mid-1950s, Ailey was dancing on Broadway. He is reported not to have had any interest or involvement in the New York modern dance circles, finding that work emotionally unsatisfying. Instead, he began inventing his own style—a combination of techniques that can be said to preference ballet legs, modern torsos, and African ephebism.8 In 1958 the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was born. Only a few years after the company’s inception as an African-American company, Ailey hired dancers based on their training rather than on their race, and that training spanned ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop. Chuck Davis (1937–)

Davis is artistic director of African-American Dance Ensemble. He danced with several artists, including Babatunde Olatunji, Eleo Pomare, and Bernice Johnson, before forming his own company in 1967. His work is inspired by dances from the diaspora and includes the techniques of modern, jazz, The Transmission of African-American Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance · 167

The image placed here in the print version has been intentionally omitted

Figure 22.1. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece, Revelations, 2007. Photo by Andrew Eccles. Courtesy of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc.

tap, African, and African-American dance. While clearly a concert dancer (having studied with Dunham and Syvilla Fort), Davis’s work focuses on an infectious joyousness, active involvement of the audience, and community participation. In 1978, after a successful first invitation to perform at the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music, Davis suggested instead that many companies share the bill and create a residency atmosphere of workshops and master classes. That event became known as DanceAfrica, and it has been repeated in many locations (New York, Washington, and Chicago, among them) year after year. Dianne McIntyre (1946–)

McIntyre began studying ballet at the age of four and modern dance by the time she was a teen. She attended Ohio State University and moved to New York at the age of twenty-four to dance with Gus Solomons Jr., a Cunningham dancer whose work was “light on narrative, and heavy on process, but not preoccupied with social and political issues.”9 While she was trained as a concert dance performer, McIntyre is known for “an idiosyncratic use of music, a dynamic movement style, and . . . explorations of the lives of African-Americans.”10 As a concert artist, she has performed on many of the most prestigious venues and set work on the most prestigious companies (including Ailey, Philadanco, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company). 168 · Gill Wright Miller

But she has also worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway, London’s West End, and many regional theaters. Her work has appeared on screen as well, in The Beloved (1998) and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (2010). Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (1950–)

Zollar is the artistic director of Urban Bush Women (UBW). She trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of Katherine Dunham. Zollar herself claims modern dance, African dance, and social dance as her training, and her work explores the religious traditions and folklore of the African diaspora.11 Notably, she choreographed a work, Walking with Pearl . . . Southern Diaries (2004), that honors and acknowledges her immediate ancestral heritage. Of those on this list, Zollar is the one who addresses gender most prominently, her works specifically speaking from the black female perspective. Her work is lauded for exposing the African experience as if not in the presence of whites, displaying a confidence and “cool.” Thus African-American concert dance demonstrates a range of eras, training, approaches, and choreographies. Yet these concert artists are rarely considered in the literature of American jazz dance—whether vernacular, theatrical, lyrical, or hip-hop jazz. Looking at the Movement

What does it mean to say dances are “rooted in African vernacular movement”? It means that when choreographers subscribe to certain strategies, their choices emphasize African aesthetics. Gottschild addresses how these physical values are put together to make dances: “Where European implies control, linearity, directness, Africanist implies asymmetrically, looseness, and indirectness.”12 Comparing two concert dances helps to make this idea clear. In Doris Humphrey’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor (1938), the ordered arrangement of movement in unison in the background is contrasted with solos, duets, and occasional small groupings of six dancers moving forward to be highlighted. They move in a controlled flow with unitary use of the torso whether vertical or tilted. By contrast, in Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder (1959), the same sense of solos and duets with a background corps exists, but the movement reads as each dancer’s heartfelt response to an emotional situation, shown in released instead of held breath, and through slight differences in movement timing, accents, and interpretation. According to Kariamu Welsh and Brenda Dixon Gottschild, the African aesthetic relies on vocabulary that is curvilinear, dimensional, high-affect, The Transmission of African-American Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance · 169

holistic, and polycentric/polyrhythmic. Further, Gottschild states, these components are corroborated in mood, attitude, and movement breaks that tend to omit transitions and connective links. In sum, the African aesthetic, referring back to the African vernacular, displays what Robert Farris Thompson called an “aesthetic of the cool.”13 These composition and dialectic choices are also used in American jazz dance. For example, in Jack Cole’s “Beale Street Blues” (c. 1950), there is a “lead,” Chita Rivera, and a “corps.” Yet the spatial relation between the lead and her corps is not “front and back” so much as “centered and circular,” the second arrangement more in keeping with vernacular dance. Cole has created a work that includes “recoil and release” (with a ready to spring, freeand-quick punctuation), group movement across the floor (while retaining a low level tuck, his signature use of deep plié), and Rivera’s well-known high kicks in contrast. A short duet between Cole and Rivera demonstrates subtle, close-to-the-body rhythmic quirks with quick syncopated snaps reaching out and grabbing space while serving as the ground from which turns and kicks spring. Transmission across Genres

In the American culture, both politics and economics encourage a kind of cultural slipperiness where a set of practices can move from one group to another. On one end of the spectrum is “migration,” describing an activity that moves from place to place and gradually takes on the look and feel of its new home over time. On the other end is “appropriation,” where a second group absorbs the activity of a first group, translates it to fit within its new social milieu, and re-presents it as if it were original without giving credit to the first group. Somewhere between them is a transactional, relational passing back and forth, a kind of exchange that can be called “transmission.”14 This term aptly applies to the circulation of African-American concert dance and jazz dance. Like the African-American concert artists above, many of the jazz dance artists discussed in this book experienced multiple genres in their training. For example, Cole is considered the father of theatrical jazz dance, having first been a devoté of Denishawn, Humphrey, and Weidman (all “modern” dancers). Cole’s movement, described as “using an ultra-smooth transition of weight from foot to foot, [and] a slinky, sensual feel,” is also a movement signature we see in Dunham’s concert work. And, like Dunham, Cole was noted for his perfection of isolations, syncopation, and placement, and his choreography was distinguished by abrupt changes in direction.15 These shared movement signatures are also seen in the more recent work of Davis, 170 · Gill Wright Miller

McIntyre, and Zollar. Did Cole get this from Dunham? Or did Dunham get this from Cole? Or were they both masters at blending training from African, ballet, modern, and dances from other cultures? Movement transmission was not unique to Dunham and Cole. Bob Fosse’s movement vocabulary included turned-in knees, sideways shuffling, and rolled shoulders. His form is often identified with what we now call “jazz hands.” His work was inspired by Fred Astaire, but Astaire’s work was inspired by Honi Coles and the Nicholas Brothers.16 Modern jazz dance is equally celebrated in the work of Gus Giordano. Websites consistently described Giordano’s form as “undulating movement that emanated from the pelvis and rolled through the chest and arms,” a movement we saw in Asadata Dafora’s “Ostrich” (1932), Beatty’s “Mourner’s Bench” (1947), and Ailey’s “Wade in the Water” (1960). Talley Beatty studied first with Dunham, but also with Martha Graham. Alvin Ailey trained with Lester Horton and observed the classes of Graham, Humphrey, and Limón. Dianne McIntyre trained with Helen Alkire. The fact is that serious dancers in the early American dance forms tended to train wherever they could find class. Yes, there was rampant racism and bias in many locations, which made study difficult for African-Americans. But, as the biographies in the previous section reveal, African-American dancers persisted, witnessing, studying, and creating in multiple genres. Venues like the 92nd Street Y hosted all kinds of dancers, and they witnessed each other’s work. Broadway and Hollywood were common employers for “art” dancers looking for “commercial” work. Dancers knew each other, took class from each other, and witnessed each other’s dances, because they were driven by a common kinesthetic need to express themselves through movement. By the 1950s and ’60s, segregation and integration dominated the lived experience of many Americans. In the ’50s, Brown v. Board of Education made segregation in the public schools unconstitutional. In the ’60s, Dr. Martin Luther King led the Selma-to-Montgomery March, and President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And yet, following the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, African-American dancers were deepening their commitment to Black Power and separatism supported by the Black Arts movement. Similar shifts were occurring in the art and entertainment dance worlds. In 1955, white choreographer Martha Graham hired African-American Mary Hinkson to dance for her company. In that same year, George Balanchine hired Arthur Mitchell as the first African-American in the New York City Ballet. Ailey changed his all-black company to multi-racial in 1962. Katherine The Transmission of African-American Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance · 171

Dunham was invited to choreograph for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s revival of Aida in 1963, the first African-American to be invited to do so. And African-American Gus Solomons Jr. joined the white modern dance group Merce Cunningham Company in 1964. The same permeable membranes delineated African-American concert work and jazz dance, permitting a transmission of form. Katherine Dunham created Le Jazz Hot (1939), a concert work of jazz dance vocabulary; jazz master Jack Cole claimed himself a modern dancer due to his training with Humphrey; modern dancer Talley Beatty was lauded as a leader in “lyrical jazz.”17 Even the commercial forms of Broadway dance and Hollywood dance were created by artists otherwise known as ballet dancers (e.g., Balanchine, On Your Toes), African dancers (e.g., Dunham, Stormy Weather), jazz dancers (e.g., Cole, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), and modern dancers (e.g., McIntyre, Sophisticated Ladies). Conclusion

Alvin Ailey’s movement from Revelations opened this essay. The spiritual sound track is clearly African-American. Dancing to popular song lyrics is, perhaps, jazz. The corps of nine dancers snug and in unison is typical of ballet. Bare muscular arms seem to come from African or ballet. The eyes lifting heavenward is typically modern movement; the fingers spread wide is typically jazz dance. The large upper-body horizontal circles are African. The head-led roll down the spine is standard modern. Lifting the arms wide, elbows up, likely comes from African dance. The syncopation of one man jutting upward looks like jazz, but his precise form is more like ballet; his arms rotated inward come from modern. Scooping the hands is a contracted pattern from Graham—modern. The hyperextended wrists look like jazz, and the abrupt opening of the head and neck is a Humphrey movement from modern dance. African-American concert dance and jazz dance share so much aesthetic history, so many movement traits, and so many bodies in common, that by the twenty-first century, the transmission has rendered the labels themselves fairly unstable, signaling instead a blending of art and entertainment, stage and screen, black and white. At the inception of these forms, the words Negro, Black, or African-American in front of the concert dance label separated it from mainstream concert dance—that of Graham, Humphrey, and Weidman. The label reflected the culture’s allegiance to segregation. The second label, jazz dance, encompassed work from various artists from Dunham to the Nicholas Brothers to Cole and included both black and white artists. But now in this global world, dance draws easily on movement vocabulary from 172 · Gill Wright Miller

a vast number of sources. Thus dance genres are named in the way a single person is at once a mother and a daughter, a sister and a niece. The label describes a relational function. It tells the viewer how the choreographer identifies in the wide-reaching family. The forms themselves have become melting pots of countless styles and influences.18

Notes 1. Graham McFee, Understanding Dance (New York: Routledge, 1992). 2. John O. Perpener, African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 179. 3. Thomas DeFrantz, Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African-American Dance (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002), 14. 4. Naomi M. Jackson, Converging Movements: Modern Dance and Jewish Culture at the 92nd Street Y (Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000), specifically “Choreographing Difference: The Aesthetics of Diversity” (149–70). 5. Ellen Graff, Stepping Left: Dance and Politics in New York City, 1928–1942 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 160. 6. Rachel Straus, “Talley Beatty,” Dance Teacher Magazine 33, no. 2 (February 1, 2011): 50+. 7. Jennifer Dunning, “Talley Beatty, 76, a Leader in Lyrical Jazz Choreography,” New York Times, May 1, 1995, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/01/obituaries/talley-beatty-76-a -leader-in-lyrical-jazz-choreography.html. 8. “Ephebism” refers to strong, youthful power. R. F. Thompson says regardless of the age of the dancer, he or she returns to strong, youthful patterning, obeying the vitality within the music. African Art in Motion (Los Angeles: University of California Press), 7. 9. Free to Dance, “Behind the Dance: Historical Essays,” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/freeto dance/behind/behind_danced_c.html. 10. Dianne McIntyre, biography from PBS show and website, Free to Dance, http://www .pbs.org/wnet/freetodance/biographies/mcintyre.html. 11. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, biography from PBS show and website Free to Dance, www.pbs .org/wnet/freetodance/biographies/zollar.html. 12. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, “Stripping the Emperor: The Africanist Presence in American Concert Dance,” in Moving History/Dancing Culture: A Dance History Reader, ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright, 332–41 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 335–36. 13. This term, used in 1973 by Thompson, is determinative by Gottschild in her 1996 text. 14. Jane C. Desmond, “Embodying Difference: Issues in Dance and Cultural Studies,” in Meaning in Motion: The New Cultural Studies in Dance, ed. Jane C. Desmond (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 34. 15. Cole, http://movingthroughspace.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/jack-cole-the-father-of -jazz-dance/. 16. Spider Kedelsky, conversation with the author, January 2013. 17. Jennifer Dunning, “Talley Beatty.” 18. Bob Boross, “All That’s Jazz,” Dance Magazine, August 1999, 54–58. The Transmission of African-American Concert Dance and American Jazz Dance · 173

23 Jazz Dance, Pop Culture, and the Music Video Era Melanie George

Each season we ask ourselves: Who are we this year? What are the new steps? The new fashions? —Lee Theodore and Glenn Loney, “Broadway Dancin’ ”

The key to the evolution of jazz dance is its bond with popular culture and a willingness to adapt style and vocabulary to the times. More than any other dance form, jazz dance is closely aligned with trends and contemporary popular music. In part, this is what makes jazz dance so difficult to define. Because it is always evolving with the times, there is no universal vocabulary that encompasses all that it entails. From ragtime to swing, Hullaballoo to MTV, as well as the fusion of jazz with ballet, theatrical dance, hip-hop, and nonwestern styles, we see how jazz dance reflects the tastes of any given generation and the mores and whims of society. Neither high nor low art, this popular dance form is most representational of the moments in which it exists. By the mid-1970s, jazz dance as a theatrical and concert dance form was mainstream. Jazz dance works were present in the repertory of established companies such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the characteristics of the style were easily recognizable in Broadway productions choreographed by Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, among others. Though jazz dance was still in its infancy in comparison with some other forms,


jazz dance performers had already begun to look to the past for inspiration. Veteran Broadway dancer/choreographer Lee Theodore founded American Dance Machine in the mid-1970s.1 As a performer, Theodore worked with several of the most noted theatrical choreographers of her era, most notably Jerome Robbins in West Side Story. Theodore and American Dance Machine took up the charge of preserving standout theatrical dances, many of which featured jazz dance.2 This reverence for early jazz styles is also evinced in the success of the stage and film version of Grease in the 1970s. The pairing of jazz and social dance with teenage fads would also be the basis of the 1980s films Dirty Dancing (1987), Hairspray (1988), and Shag (1989). The 1970s brought two new genres of popular music, opposite in tone and intent—disco and punk rock. Though the height of disco’s mainstream popularity can be attributed to the success of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, the musical form and its accompanying dances were popular in black, Latin, and gay nightclubs years earlier.3 The rhythmic, bass-heavy structure, with its steady 4/4 beat, produced social dances that emphasized syncopation, isolation, and improvisation (with an added dose of sensuality)—all jazz movement characteristics. Unlike much of social dance directly before and after it, disco utilized choreographed and synchronized partner dances. While the aesthetics of 1960s vernacular jazz thrived on simple gesture-based movement (e.g., the Frug, the Jerk, the Swim), ’70s disco valued the complexities of ballroom dance, melded with the communal repetitive nature of dances like the Hustle.4 Free form social dancing of the era also provided a venue for early hip-hop movement. Disco blended the traditional and contemporary; classically trained and naturally skilled movers could be side by side in the same workshops at the local discotheque or classes at an Arthur Murray dance studio.5 Of most import was keeping up with the trends. Though seemingly disparate, punk and disco are aligned in their embrace of outsider culture. Where disco embraced racial and sexual minorities, punk spoke to disenfranchised and dissatisfied youth. In punk music and dance, this took the form of effortful, aggressive movement and a nihilistic attitude.6 Often sharp and angular, punk movement was quick while disco was sustained, bound whereas disco was free. The confluence of punk, disco, and jazz dance can be seen in the work of the 1970s British dance company Hot Gossip, directed by Arlene Philips.7 Like the performers on the American variety shows Hullabaloo in the 1960s and Solid Gold in the 1980s, Hot Gossip performed jazz dances to the popular music hits of the day.8 Hot Gossip was known for risqué choreography and a punk rock point of view. This aesthetic blends the theatricality and decadence of Studio 54, the legendary

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New York City nightclub, and the attitude of the Sex Pistols, England’s famously anarchic punk rock band. The primal, suggestive nature of the movement carried over into the jazz dance styles of the next decade. The art and entertainment of the 1970s is frequently characterized by the glamour and excess of disco. In contrast, the 1980s are known for speed and spark. Terms such as the “microwave generation” and “life in the fast lane” are emblematic of change in the tempo and tone of the era. The ’80s also brought an emphasis on aerobic fitness, leading to the Jazzercise fad of the decade.9 However, nothing had more effect on the style and presentation of jazz dance in the 1980s than the advent of MTV, music television. Jazz dance was widely visible in the 1970s and early ’80s in the television programs Solid Gold and the disco competition program Dance Fever.10 However, the visibility of the dance form exploded with the advent of the cable channel devoted to music promotional films. Debuting in 1981, MTV was initially conceived as one of the first ventures for a newly formed conglomerate of Warner Communications and American Express to identify “new markets and technologies.”11 Though no one expected it, MTV became the arbiter of popular culture, introducing music, fashion, and dance trends to the masses. Dance was featured prominently in many of the most iconic videos of the time.12 The emphasis was on contemporary movement styles to accompany new music. This meant much of the choreography reflected a jazz dance sensibility. No longer did one need to be in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago to see cutting edge choreography. It could be found on television sets in rural and urban American. While the millennial version of MTV is home to reality television shows, in its early years it was devoted exclusively to music videos and contained very little original programming. Moreover, the channel had a limited number of videos. Thus the same videos, and by extension jazz choreography, could be viewed multiple times a day, imprinting the images onto the mind of the viewer. The choreography was characterized by kinetic, primal, often sensual movements, punctuated by punches, thrusts, and undulations. Movement sequences were filmed with multiple camera angles and special effects, then edited in a rapid style to communicate a sense of high energy and increased virtuosity. Unlike the extended, single camera movement sequences of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, the choreography is rarely shown in its entirety as the choreographer created it. Often out of sequence, movement excerpts focus on peak moments to evoke a sense of excitement and urgency. This use of quick-cut montages was thought to reflect the short attention spans of the

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“microwave generation.” It would come to be known as the “MTV style,” and it can be seen in dance and non-dance film works throughout the decade.13 More than any other, Michael Jackson is the dance artist most associated with MTV. From early childhood, Jackson was as skilled a mover as he was a singer. He was poised to become an iconic pop star in the early 1980s, and music video was a fitting medium for his talents. Music videos for his songs “Beat It” and “Thriller,” both released in 1983, were staged around extensive movement sequences composed by Michael Peters. Peters, a TonyAward winning choreographer, blended theatrical jazz vocabulary with early “street-jazz” movements to create a contemporary, camera-ready style. Jackson was heralded for his dancing as much as his singing. In contrast with the editing style of the time, Jackson’s early videos often feature full body dance sequences with minimal editing.14 Jackson’s videos, as well as others by Pat Benatar, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Donna Summer, Elton John, and Lionel Richie prominently featured jazz dance. Pop stars were often featured in the dancing (e.g., Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” and Janet Jackson’s “Nasty”) or

Figure 23.1. A male dancer strikes a Michael Jackson pose. 123rf.com, stock photo.

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played the role of observer to the surrounding dance action,15 which was often the main event of the video (e.g., Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” and Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”).16 Many dancers in these videos would go on to acclaim as music video choreographers. These artists include Vince Patterson, Barry Lather, and Tina Landon. Additionally, for Toni Basil, Paula Abdul, Otis Sallid, and Kenny Ortega, their work as choreographers would launch their careers as pop stars and film and television directors.17 The medium created a new class of jazz choreographers who were not making work for the concert or Broadway stage, nor were they creating extensive abstract stage works. Instead, they made contemporary jazz dances exclusively for promotional film in service of the music. The style of dance and filming techniques were adopted by mainstream cinema and are reflected in the films Flashdance (1983), Staying Alive (1983), Footloose (1984), Fast Forward (1985), and A Chorus Line (1985). Flashdance is often referred to as an “MTV musical” by critics and fans alike. In Staying Alive, we see the trajectory of 1970s social fads into 1980s theatrical dance trends, as the lead character, Tony Manero, portrayed by John Travolta, is taken out of the discotheque of Saturday Night Fever and transported to studio and stage, complete with headband, leg warmers, and a forward thrusting pelvis.18 The popularity of dance in video also produced increased visibility of jazz dance on television with the series Fame, Dancing to the Hits, and the ongoing success of Solid Gold. Dance Fever became a programming casualty as disco dance was out of favor by the mid-1980s. Reflecting the diversity of 1980s trends, MTV-era jazz dance is not beholden to any one style. Early music videos took stylistic cues from theatrical jazz dance, lyrical jazz, and West Coast jazz. It was not uncommon to see a jazz-styled grand allegro variation in the dance break of a music video (e.g., Debarge’s “Rhythm of the Night,” choreographed by Otis Sallid) or an extended adagio as the accompanying visual in a video for a ballad (e.g., Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” by Arlene Phillips). Over time, music video jazz dance stylization evolved to include funk jazz and a strong, now dominant, hip-hop influence. A foreshadowing of this marriage of styles can be seen in the films Flashdance and Breakin’ (1984), which feature ballet and jazz sequences alongside break-dance and pop and lock choreography.19 The emergence of hip-hop as a dominant popular cultural form created a hybrid style, often referred to as street jazz. In street jazz the quality of movement is more percussive with emphasis on isolations and fine motor movements over the undulating quality and locomotor dance phrases of the earlier period. Appearances of this style can be found in the work of Paula Abdul

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and videos such as Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” choreographed by Vince Patterson.20 The volume of music video dance waned in the early 1990s as danceoriented pop music took a backseat to the emergence of the alternative rock format. In the mid-1990s there was a dance resurgence in music videos with the success of artists such as Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, and the “boy bands” N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys.21 Boy band movement calls on the vocal choreography template created by famed Motown choreographer Cholly Atkins in the 1950s and ’60s. Atkins, a former tap dancer, combined social dance and refined gesture with polyrhythmic footwork to create a signature style of vocal choreography emblematic of the rock ’n’ roll era.22 Choreographers of the 1990s blended Atkins’s elements with street jazz and hip-hop to present a style that was at once familiar and fresh. Choreographers in this era were often trained in contemporary urban styles as much or more than theatrical jazz dance, further blurring the lines between hip-hop and jazz dance. Choreographers updated the movement style with greater emphasis on isolations and tableaux and a decrease in locomotor movement and ballet-influenced movement vocabulary to better facilitate singing while moving. Prominent choreographers to emerge in this era include Travis Payne, Fatima Robinson, Wade Robson, and Jamie King.23 An argument can be made that the jazz choreography of the music video era is largely a disposable product. While a large volume of choreography was composed, much of it is largely unknown to later generations, save the productions of Michael and Janet Jackson and, arguably, Madonna and Paula Abdul. During the height of music videos, an artist could release as many as eight videos for a single album, only to replace those videos in the minds of viewers upon the release of a new album. Over time, as MTV began to show fewer music videos in favor of original programming, and other channels canceled their video-centric programming altogether, opportunities to view the large volume of videos by a single artist were limited. Moreover, choreography for iconic videos like “Thriller” or “Beat It” is most often associated with its performer, Michael Jackson, not its creator, Michael Peters.24 Is the music video era “flash dancing” or simply a flash in the pan? For a dance form so rooted in change, the legacy of music video dance— and by extension, commercial jazz dance of the ’80s, ’90s, and beyond— is ultimately the role it plays in bridging the gap between the golden age of movie musicals and the evolution of contemporary film and theatrical dance in the new millennium.25 Early musical video dance often relied on the tropes of movie musicals—movement as an expression of the ineffable,

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choreography to propel the narrative, suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer—essentially functioning as mini movie musicals for the microwave age.26 The 1980s, the formative years of Generation X, featured a youthful population with a seeming disinterest in the movie musicals of the first part of the century but a rapt fascination with the music video and its accompanying choreography. Elements of the plot of West Side Story can be found in “Beat It,”27 and the narrative of Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” plays like a rock ’n’ roll version of Sweet Charity. As the production of dance-centric feature film and television increased in the 1990s, dance staging continued to employ the look and feel of music videos. Films such as the Step Up franchise reflect music videos in speed, mood, and tone.28 Movie studios returned to source material of two of the most iconic 1980s era dance films, producing new versions of Fame (2009) and Footloose (2011) for the millennial generation. One need only consider the success of music videos by Beyoncé Knowles and Lady Gaga to see the relevance of jazz dance vocabulary and stylization to contemporary pop trends and the legacy of early music video. Beyoncé Knowles’s 2008 music video for “Single Ladies” is perhaps the best example of the amalgam of the past and present of jazz dance in music video. Inspired in both staging and style by Bob Fosse’s choreography for “Mexican Breakfast,”29 “Single Ladies” sparked a viral video phenomenon, as fans were compelled to learn and reproduce the movement in dance classes, personal videos, and social dance settings. Beyoncé’s video uses original movement created by Frank Gatson and JaQuel Knight, blended with choreography from Fosse’s “Mexican Breakfast” and “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” from Sweet Charity,30 and movements associated with J-setting, a social dance style popular in southern queer culture, harkening back to 1980s voguing.31 Though reflective of earlier styles, “Single Ladies” is contemporary in both tone and stylization. Fosse’s choreography is modified and blended seamlessly with street jazz and social dance movements. The overall effect is a music video grounded in the past and present, forming a new paradigm in the process. Like “Thriller,” and much of Fosse’s work for film and television, “Single Ladies” relies on full body camera angles rather than rapid editing and close-ups. This filming technique allows fans to learn the choreography in its entirety, which inspired hundreds of YouTube users to upload homage performance videos.32 Gatson’s repetitive hand gesture, indicating Beyoncé’s male paramour “should have put a ring on it” has become as ubiquitous as the repetitive side-to-side monster walk Michael Peters created for Jackson’s 180 · Melanie George

“Thriller.” Indeed, repetition is paramount, as it is the option to view the video repeatedly, at will, which facilitated the mastery of the choreography and the creation of so many fan videos. Because the choreography is designed with an eye for recorded visual media, via the web and television programs such as So You Think You Can Dance, millennial jazz dance styles lend themselves to increased emphasis on eye-catching athleticism or “tricks,” pushing the boundaries of flexibility, agility, and gravity. Moreover, the competitive nature of the medium, be it the number of “hits” on a website or the competition reality show format, further blurs the lines between athlete and artist. So You Think You Can Dance honors the evolution of jazz dance, and its relationship to music video era, with a category known as pop jazz. Pop, short for popular, symbolizes what is most current in jazz dance and, by extension, music video dancing. A hybrid style, combining elements of lyrical, contemporary, and acrobatics, pop jazz may be most widely known in the choreography of Laurieann Gibson for Lady Gaga’s music videos and stage production.33 A direct correlation can be drawn between MTV’s music video heyday and the consumption of dance online via websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. Like MTV and cable television in the early 1980s, these websites increase visibility and widen the demographics of viewers of jazz dance. YouTube reports a viewership of over 800 million users each month.34 Additionally, online viewing, unlike television, provides the dual benefits of immediate access, while serving as an archive of countless hours of choreography and performance. Videos will not be swept away by the changing tastes of television programming or an artist’s more current oeuvre. What was once disposable now lives on the web in perpetuity. The digital age allows the viewer to engage with the choreography, blurring the line between observer and participant, as in the case of the “Single Ladies” phenomenon. Increased visibility has created a venue for the choreographer and dancers to move from background supportive players to foreground and notoriety. While Michael Peters’s name may not be widely known, jazz choreographers such as Brian Friedman, Mandy Moore, and Laurieann Gibson are recognized artists and, in Gibson’s case, the star of two reality television series.35 The marriage of pop culture and jazz dance is one that is both timely and timeless. It reflects and directs the interests of youth culture and the general population, sometimes borrowing from the past to create a vision for the present and future. As much of the work is created for the camera, be it music video or film, the product is a historical document of influences and trends. In many ways, jazz dance is the most appropriate dance form to mirror popular culture, as it is both container and conduit for the evolution Jazz Dance, Pop Culture, and the Music Video Era · 181

of style. Like pop culture, it is a facile form, defined by a commitment to change, that continues to evolve with the times. Notes 1. John Gruen, “American Dance Machine: The Era of Reconstruction,” Dance Magazine, February 1978, 48. 2. Lee Theodore and Glenn Loney, “Broadway Dancin,’ ” Performing Arts Journal 4 (May 1979), 130. 3. Nora Ambrosio, Learning about Dance: Dance as an Art Form and Entertainment (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 2010), 137; Ken McLeod, “ ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’: Disco, Classical Music, and the Politics of Inclusion,” American Music 24, no. 3 (Autumn 2006): 347. 4. McLeod, “ ‘A Fifth of Beethoven,’ ” 348, 359; Lee Ellen Friedland, “Disco: Afro-American Vernacular Performance,” Dance Research Journal 15, no. 2 (1983): 28. 5. Jaqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 123–25. 6. Bradford Scott Simon, “Entering the Pit: Slam Dancing and Modernity,” Journal of Popular Culture 31, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 153–56. 7. Larry Billman, Film Choreographers and Dance Directors: An Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia, with a History and Filmographies, 1893 through 1995 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997), 448. 8. Gus Giordano, ed., Anthology of American Jazz Dance (1978), 95; Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution (New York: Dutton, 2011), 33. 9. Bob Boross, “Jazz Dance History in America: 1980s, 1990s,” (2010) Bob Boross Freestyle Jazz Dance, http://www.bobboross.com/page22/page61/page75/page75.html. 10. Billman, Film Choreographers and Dance Directors, 155. 11. Marks and Tannenbaum, I Want My MTV, 18. 12. Richard L. Baxter, Cynthia De Riemer, Ann Landini, Larry Leslie, and Michael W. Singletary, “A Content Analysis of Music Videos,” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 29, no. 3 (Summer 1985): 337. 13. Billman, Film Choreographers, 155, 158, 159; Debra Kaufman, “Video Spawned the Editing Star,” Editors Guild Magazine, July/August 2006, http://www.editorsguild.com/ Magazine.cfm?ArticleID=425. 14. Gerald Jonas, Dancing: The Power of Dance around the World (London: BBC Books, 1992), 241. 15. Michael Peters choreographed “Love Is a Battlefield.” Paula Abdul choreographed “Nasty.” 16. Both videos were choreographed by Arlene Philips. 17. Billman, Film Choreographers, 155. 18. Ibid., 159, 168. 19. Ibid., 168. 20. See videos for the Abdul’s “Knocked Out” and “Straight Up” for examples of street jazz. 21. Don Mirault, “Return of the Music Video,” Dance Magazine, October 1999, 56. 22. Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues, 123–25. 23. Mirault, “Return of the Music Video,” 57. 182 · Melanie George

24. Blaine Allan, “Musical Cinema, Music Video, Music Television,” Film Quarterly 43, no. 3 (1990): 5. 25. The 1930s–1960s is considered the height of the popularity of musical film. 26. Allan, “Music Cinema,” 3. 27. Jonas, Dancing, 240. 28. Step Up (2006), Step Up 2: The Streets (2008), Step Up 3D (2010), Step Up Revolution (2012). 29. Kirsten Pullen, “If Ya Liked It, Then You Shoulda Made a Video: Beyoncé Knowles, YouTube, and the Public Sphere of Images,” Performance Research 16, no. 2 (2011): 146. 30. Jessica Herndon, “Inside Story: The Making of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies,” People, January 1, 2010, http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20333961,00.html, accessed January 17, 2013. 31. Terrance Dean, “Sasha Fierce Takes J-Setting Mainstream,” The Big Idea, mcdonald selznick.com/media/press/73531160013 112.pdf; Pullen, “If Ya Liked It,” 149. 32. Pullen, “If Ya Liked It,” 145. 33. Fox Broadcasting Company, “Dance Dictionary—Pop Jazz,” http://www.fox.com/ dance/dictionary/pop-jazz#, accessed January 21, 2013. 34. “Statistics,” http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics, accessed January 14, 2013. 35. Rachel Zar, “Laurieann Gibson: How I Teach Hip Hop,” Dance Teacher Magazine, May 23, 2011, www.dance-teacher.com/2011/05/technique-laurieann-gibson/.

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24 Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon Moncell Durden

Hip-hop represents a form of communication that emerged out of a marginalized society in the concrete jungle of the New York City Bronx neighborhoods. Shaped by sociocultural and sociopolitical circumstances in the 1970s and developed during economical struggles and environmental turmoil, hip-hop gave voice to restless and tumultuous inner-city youth. Its roots are found in the social fabric of African and Afro-Caribbean concepts of communication that have re-inventions in ragtime, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll, funk, and soul which culminated in hip-hop. The word hip-hop encompasses both a type of social dance and a broader subculture. This subculture is based in four expressive elements: graffiti art, also known as “writing,” which is the visual language of the hip-hop community; deejaying, those recorders of time and space who gather the sounds and memories of the community; emceeing, the modern-day griots and voices of the community; and dancing.1 Sally Banes, dance historian, called it “physical graffiti.” These dancers are the movers and shakers, the orators of corporeal language. Daniele Kimble suggests that the aesthetic elements of hip-hop are an outlet for “hip” expression, which offers diverse youth an artistic voice to share their views and values in society.2 Today there are a myriad of dance forms and styles residing under the umbrella term hip-hop dance. Forms include locking, popping, b-boying, and hip-hop party dances.3 Locking, created from the social dance Robot Shuffle, uses rocking, points, kicks, splits, jumps, and drops, with stops or pauses and the locking position. Popping and boogaloo were influenced by 184

the 1960s Twist, Jerk, cartoon characters, and spiritual worship, and they use fluid body rolls of the neck, torso, hips, and knees with leg snaps and continuous muscle contractions of the sternomastoid (a paired muscle in the neck), pectorals, biceps, and triceps. B-boying is a dance form divided into three parts: up-rocking, top-rocking, which includes “drops” (a stylized way of getting to the floor), and floorrocking. Up-rocking was influenced by everyday living and environmental experiences in New York youth culture, with pantomimed characteristics and gestures found in gang life. Top-rocking is culturally based in Afro-Caribbean heritage fusing Charleston steps, Mambo, Rhumba, and other Latin dances. Floor rocking has deep roots in Brazilian Capoeira,4 a descendant of Angolan dance; b-boying also includes influences from gymnastics and martial art films. Hip-hop party dances are part of organic African-American phrasing,5 with dances like Smurf or Roger Rabbit, popular in the 1980s, or Bad-man and Cat Daddy, popular in 2012. The foundations and movement principles for these dances are rocking of the head and torso, isolations, grooving, pausing, and four particular bounces.6 The complexities of hip-hop dance are its use of embodied pluralisms, its multiple rhythms, total body talking, and flowing isolations all operating simultaneously. The umbrella term hip-hop dance has helped communication and unification for the global hip-hop community; however, it has also caused some confusion. The creators of locking and popping do not consider their dance forms a part of hip-hop dance, though they appreciate the hip-hop community including them under the umbrella term. For many practitioners, only b-boying and party dances are truly hip-hop dance. Locking and popping are two separate dances, each with its own creators, pioneers, vocabulary, and techniques and are considered West Coast funk styles.7 B-boying was the first hip-hop dance style; it originated during the rise of the East Coast subculture in the 1970s, and it also has its own pioneers, creators, and innovators along with vocabulary and techniques that are separate from the social dances that came later in the 1980s. From B-boying to Party Rockin’

B-boying, or “breaking” as it was known in media circles and some dance communities, had been around for about ten years by the early 1980s. Breaking had been featured in such Hollywood and independent films as Style Wars (which aired on PBS in 1982), Wild Style and Flashdance (1983), Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and Beat Street (1984), which was inspired by Style Wars. Sally Banes noted: “Breaking had been spotlighted on national news shows, talk shows, and ads for Burger King, Levi’s, Pepsi-Cola, Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon · 185

Coca-Cola, and Panasonic. One hundred break-dancers heated up the closing ceremonies of the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles.”8 Style Wars and Wild Style, filmed in the harsh Bronx environment starring the pioneers of hip-hop culture, depicted the reality of the New York hip-hop lifestyle, whereas Beat Street and Breakin’ showed a more commercialized Hollywood version. The art form was further diluted with other Hollywood movies like Body Rock, starring Lorenzo Lamas, and the 1985 movie Cocoon, which featured seasoned actor Don Ameche break-dancing. Another problem was the rise of how-to videos and books like Breakdance, a 1984 New York Times best-seller.9 The commercial appeal and overexposure of breakdancing in the mid-1980s along with the growing productions of danceable rap records was a part of the shift away from breaking and toward a new style of hip-hop dancing. Dancer Steffan “Mr. Wiggles” Clemente calls it party rockin’. Party rockin’ has been present since the beginning of the hip-hop scene in the 1970s, with dances like the Gigolo and the Patty Duke. However, in the ’80s these new social dances took on a flamboyant b-boy-esque battle style, replacing circles of b-boys/b-girls with party rockers. These new hip-hop party dances came into existence because of hip-hop music, with rappers making call-and-response records such as “Woppit” by B-Fats or “PeeWee’s Dance” by Joeski Love. As rap music continued to take center stage, the advent of music videos helped to expose and showcase different regional and communal expressions in slang, fashion, musical backgrounds, and dances. In New York City, the Steve Martin and Biz Markie were the popular dances; as were the Bart Simpson and Bankhead-Bounce in Atlanta, while Californians did the Guess and the Dee-Daa. Hip-hop social dance also continued a direct lineage from vernacular jazz movements with dances like the 1980s Kid ’n Play Kick-Step, by rappers Kid ’n Play; this dance was originally called the Funky-Charleston. Another example is the 2000s Sponge Bob, which is the reverse of the scissors kick Charleston of the 1930s.10 There was also a continuation of animal dances stemming from the African tradition. Ragtime and early jazz dance had the Grizzly Bear and the Buzzard Lope, and hip-hop had the Snake and Chickenhead. Hip-hop even used inspiration from television, movies, and toys to create new dances, like the Alf, Running-man, and the Cabbage Patch. In 1985, one particular song and dance was the jump-off point for these new dance practices. The song was “The Show” by rap duo Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, and the dance was the Happy Feet, arguably the first recognized hip-hop social dance of the ’80s hip-hop scene. Hip-hop freestyle pioneer Buddha 186 · Moncell Durden

Stretch commented, “Though the song was not about the dance, whenever this song came on, everyone in the club would do the Happy Feet.”11 Popular Hip-Hop Clubs of the ’80s and ’90s

In the 1980s and early ’90s, California had several hip-hop clubs including the Water Bush (89–91), United Nation (90–91), and Club Mental (90–91). In New York there was the Roxy (82–85), Kilimanjaro, and Rooftop, but the two most popular spots between ’84 and ’87 were Latin Quarters, at 1580 Broadway, and Union Square, at 860 Broadway. Many New York dancers and rappers considered this era and these two clubs as the golden age of hiphop. At that time the combination of music, dance, people, and the violent atmosphere provided an adrenaline rush and energy unsurpassed by any other clubs. These clubs were eventually shut down due to their violent atmospheres. Buddha Stretch remembered: It was an adventure, it was like riding a rollercoaster, . . . it was like jumping out of an airplane. One week you could go to Union Square and see somebody get cut from the forehead down their neck across the back, and the next week you could see someone get thrown from upstairs to downstairs, and if you made it out of there unscathed, you would come back the next week because the music and people were so hype.12

Pioneers of the 1980s Hip-Hop Dance Scene

During the late ’80s, rappers had their friends or popular dancers in their community as part of their group or performances. In NYC there was Scoob and Scrap with rapper Big Daddy Kane, TCF (The Chosen Few) with Kool G Rap and Deejay Polo, and the Boyz with Heavy D. California witnessed dance teams like the Soul Brothers with Emcee Def Jef and the Scheme Team with Divine Styler. There were also crews and dancers that freelanced for different artists, like IOU dancers, who can be seen in the 1988 Kid ’n Play video Getting Funky, Mop-Top crew in the 1989 Doug E. Fresh video Summertime, or the Gucci Girls in the 1988 Groove Me video by R&B group Guy. These dancers and community crews gave birth to the ’80s and ’90s social dance style, creating dances and influencing fashions as well as hairstyles. These influences led to an international community of hip-hop dances and dance practitioners. Connections among Hip-Hop Dance, African Dance, and Vernacular Dance

For many hip-hop dance pioneers like Mr. Wiggles and Buddha Stretch, hiphop dance is seen as the grandchild of early American vernacular jazz dance Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon · 187

(some might say authentic jazz dance), which in turn is a descendant of African dance. In the 1950s, Marshall and Jean Stearns conducted a study that brought together four dancers from three countries: Sierra Leone, West Africa; Trinidad, West Indies; and the United States. The observation revealed many similarities in corporeal expression, which can all be traced back to their African roots. As each man demonstrated dances of his native culture, it stimulated a response from the others. Hip-hop, as with vernacular jazz, can be used as a way to express concerns, frustrations, aggressions, ideals, and exuberance. Jacqui Malone says African-American vernacular dance gave birth to dances like the Charleston and Lindy Hop; hip-hop is also part of that lineage. Malone lists hallmarks of vernacular dance such as “improvisation, spontaneity, propulsive rhythm, call-and-response patterns, self-expression, elegance, and control.”13 These descriptors are not bound by geography or time, for their values are consistent throughout the West Indies, South America, and Africa and are also visible in American soul and funk music and dance. For many Afro-Caribbean people, music and dance are an outlet for expressing feelings as a way to help maintain a balance while dealing with day-to-day life experiences; this is how the African, Afro-Caribbean, and African-American people have expressed themselves for centuries. Dance is a hand-me-down cultural expression: you learn it from someone else. To give an idea of how dance can continue from generation to generation, here are three dancers/performers who reinvented dances from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s: Charles Atkins, James Brown, and Michael Jackson. These examples will provide an idea of how dances are transmitted in and throughout black communities and how they can influence other communities. Charles “Cholly” Atkins (1913–2003), from the tap team Coles and Atkins, used to teach Motown and other Do-wop groups soft shoe steps and vernacular jazz dances like the Charleston. “Richard Street, a former member of the Temptations, put it this way: ‘He can dance as well as those kids on Soul Train. . . . I mean, he was showing us how to moonwalk before Michael Jackson.’ ”14 Atkins, as the choreographer for Motown in the ’60s and ’70s, repopularized dance steps from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, which had an indirect influence on the future hip-hop generation. James Brown (1933–2006) grew up witnessing and copying the vernacular jazz dances in the 1940s and later became a world famous singer/dancer. He continued to perform the steps he saw as a child throughout his career, influencing generations to copy these original jazz dances. In the song “Land of a Thousand Dances/There Was a Time,” Brown sang about the dances he did 188 · Moncell Durden

as a young man, from the Camel-Walk of the early twentieth century to the Jerk of the 1960s. Brown also created his own version of an old Charleston step, which he called the James Brown. Brown’s version inspired hip-hop artists Super Lover Cee and Casanova Rud to write the song “Do the James.” Released in 1988, the song paid homage to Brown and his dance and became a staple in the hip-hop dance community. It was pop sensation Michael Jackson (1958–2009) who connected these three generations. He inspired audiences around the world with movements he picked up watching performers like Brown and Jackie Wilson. In the 1970s, the King of Pop also performed the latest dances he picked up from the dancers on Soul Train like locking, the Robot, popping, and the Backslide, which many have mistakenly called the “moonwalk.” The “backslide” was a step jazz tap dancers like Bill Bailey did when exiting stage in the 1930s and 1940s; they called it the “buzz” or the “get off.” Michael learned the backslide from Soul Train dancer Jeffery Daniels. Tyrone Proctor, another Soul Train dancer, noted that “Michael would always ask us to show him the latest dances.”15 Influenced by everyone from Bob Fosse and Fred Astaire to Soul Train and the Lockers to popping and 1980s hip-hop, Jackson embodied these movements and techniques in his performances to create his own style. Inspiring multiple generations to mimic his movement, Jackson informally passed down dances up to sixty years old to the global dance community. The Commercialization of Hip-Hop Dance

Just because people use hip-hop music does not mean they are creating hiphop dance. Most of what is called hip-hop dance today is not true hip-hop dance.16 The idea that mainstream society has about hip-hop dance is usually represented by the showcased choreography from such movies as Step Up (2006) or television shows like So You Think You Can Dance. While these mediums have been commercially successful and entertaining, they are not completely accurate representations of the underground hip-hop dance community. In the 1990s, hip-hop dancing in music videos and stage performances saw a shift from community dancers to studio-trained dancers and the rise of the hip-hop video vixens. This shift was due to many factors including less danceable rap records, dancers who aged out or changed careers, and economic and social changes. In the ’90s, one dance crew from the golden age of hip-hop was still working as professional dancers: Mop-Top/ Elite Force. Head choreographer for Elite Force, Emilio “Buddha Stretch” Austin, kept true hip-hop alive in the “commercial” arena while dancing and choreographing for rap and pop icons Will Smith, Michael Jackson, and Mariah Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon · 189

Figure 24.1. Buddha Stretch, 2009. Photo by Gabriel Bienczycki, Zebra Visual. By permission of Buddha Stretch.

Carey. The choreography by Elite Force was a blend of hip-hop, popping, B-boy, locking, and house—what they called hip-hop freestyle. The appropriation and assimilation of hip-hop dance in the late 1990s became known as commercial hip-hop.17 As the word hip-hop became more of a marketing tool, pop artists claimed they were “hip-hop,” and many studios began offering commercial hip-hop classes. Studio trained jazz dancers were using techniques from ballet, modern, and Broadway/Hollywood jazz to create choreography and labeling it hip-hop without any consideration for the aesthetic values, history, techniques, or foundation embedded by the community that created the movement. Hip-hop has become a tangible commodity of our intangible cultural heritage. Scholar Tricia Rose notes, “For many cultural critics, once a black cultural practice takes a prominent place inside the commodity system, it is no longer considered a black practice—it is instead a ‘popular’ practice whose black cultural priorities and distinctively black approaches are either taken for granted as a ‘point of origin,’ an isolated ‘technique,’ or rendered invisible.”18 It is this exact approach in teaching that presents hip-hop dance as arbitrary movement and negates the social values, principles, and techniques that are culturally significant to its meanings and purpose. Hip-hop social dancing manipulates the movement principles to create the aesthetic. These social dances feature multiple rhythms with movement that generates and expands from multiple center points; it does not use movement practices from modern, ballet, or Broadway/Hollywood jazz. One of the best examples of hip-hop social dancing can be seen in 190 · Moncell Durden

dancer/choreographer Henry “Link” McMillan from Elite Force, considered by many dancers throughout the global hip-hop community as one of the best hip-hop party rockers. Link generates concepts of communication in his dancing that are a part of African-American values such as exhibition of cool, ideals in style, use of multiple rhythms, musical awareness, gestures, attitude, fashion, spirituality, and individuality. The marriage between Link’s movement and the music is visually harmonious. His ability to take a dance step and create such somatic fluidity within the musical phrase is almost as if his body is creating the music; he is the very essence of the hip-hop dance aesthetic. Conclusion

In Apollo’s Angels, a book about the history of ballet, author Jennifer Homans notes, “I realized our [dance] teachers were not just teaching steps or imparting technical knowledge, they were giving us their culture and their tradition. ‘Why’ was not the point and the steps were not just steps; they were living, breathing evidence of a lost (to us) past—of what their dances were like but also of what they, as artists and people, believed in.”19 Homans’s reflection of her experience in ballet class speaks equally for hip-hop culture. Hip-hop dance is an American intangible cultural heritage, which reflects its Afro-Caribbean roots. Further investigation into its deep structure highlights an assortment of cultural phenomena that have helped to construct the movement practices demonstrated in America’s contemporary Afro-Latin communities. These practices are not simply retentions; they are philosophical theories involving people placing ancestral roots in new soil. This completely changes how we should view, value, and think about the substance in so-called fad dances. We need to be culturally sensitive to the values of other societies, communities, cultures, and subcultures and recognize that concert dance is not the only type of dance worthy of reflection and study. Social dance holds great importance, history, lineage, identity, and strength for the people who participate in it. And while the term hip-hop has become something of a marketing tool and is open to interpretation, its globalization and complex blend of racial participation has not changed its foundational and fundamental roots. Hip-hop culture still represents those four elements—emceeing, deejaying, graffiti, and dancing—and each holds great value in its “show ‘n’ prove” concept. This concept does not care about a dancer’s financial status, geography, whether s/he dances for a pop star, or what kind of car s/he drives. Its philosophy is simple: can you rock, can you rock the Mic, the wall, the turntables, and the dance space? There are people who feel that if you do not represent any of those four elements and adhere Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon · 191

to the concepts in which they were created and are practiced, then you are not a representative of hip-hop. People come to understand hip-hop in the way that it was introduced to them, so the perspective of this author may be foreign to some. Maybe we will never agree on how to address questions of who or what is true or real hip-hop. The problem occurs when the creators, pioneers, and early practitioners of the culture do not intellectualize, codify, and correctly educate the outer circles, and/or when one culture tries to redefine another culture based on its own perspective. For instance, consider how often African-American expressive art forms have been appropriated and codified by outside communities throughout time. When most people think about rock ’n’ roll, they may think of the white group Aerosmith rather than its black predecessor, Little Richard; students studying jazz dance most often learn about Broadway/Hollywood jazz rather than vernacular jazz. There was a time when people said that hip-hop was a passing fad and that they did not want their kids acting, dressing, and talking like those hip-hop kids; now there are suburban moms wearing “I am hip-hop” T-shirts. The fact that hip-hop culture has gone mainstream is fantastic, since it has brought more culturally diverse people together than any other thing in the world. As new styles are born and continue to illuminate personal and cultural dynamics of race and diversity, let us not forget about the lineage, about the stories and people that created these art forms. Remember that these expressions were and are still being created by American Afro-Latin youth and have empowered generations who felt and feel powerless. These marginalized adolescents created an art form and developed techniques that are continuously shared and learned around the world. Let us honor this art form and the people who shed blood, sweat, years, and tears, because they are a part of American history. They spoke through the dance and showed the world that they and we matter and that people have a voice regardless of social class or cultural ideology. Hip-hop is not something you do; it is something you live. Notes 1. A griot (gree-óh) is a West African storyteller, poet, and musician who keeps the history of his village or tribe. 2. Danielle Kimble, “Hip-Hop Culture” (MA thesis, Temple University), 2. 3. The term party dance is used to separate choreography from the social aspect of the dance. 4. Capoeira is a Brazilian form of martial art presented as a dance, since slaves were forbidden to practice fighting. 5. I use the word organic to point out the characteristic way in which African-Americans

192 · Moncell Durden

express themselves through the stylization of music, movement, and language. I use the word phrasing to suggest the idiomatic, natural stylings of African-American communities or environments. 6. Through my research of the most popular hip-hop dances since 1985 in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, Baltimore, and California, I have broken down the consistent bounce movement principle in hip-hop dance into four bounces: (1) basic bounce: a consistent bending of the knees to the tempo of the music, (2) the march bounce: a contraction of the torso simultaneously alternating and lifting the knees toward the waist, pulling the body to the beat, (3) the step bounce: the reverse of the march bounce, elongating the body with a slight bend back and stepping on the beat, and (4) boxer’s bounce: alternating weight from the left foot to the right, bouncing on the ball of the feet, two bounces per foot with energy dropping down on the beat. 7. Funkstyles is a word coined by Electric Boogaloo member Popping Pete. The term was used to acknowledge the West Coast dance styles and to separate them from hip-hop. Pete also asked Don Campbell, creator of locking, if he could include locking under the title funkstyles, and Don agreed. 8. Sally Banes, Fresh: Hip Hop Don’t Stop (New York: Random House/Sarah Lazin, 1985), provides insight into the early years of break-dancing and its rise from “street” dance to a commercially viable product. 9. Breakdance! by William H. Watkins and Eric N. Franklin (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1984) showed step-by-step instructions on how to break-dance. 10. To perform the Sponge Bob, stand on the center on the left leg, while right leg is extended in the air to the side of the body. Swing the weight and hop onto the right leg pulling the left behind the right. Continue alternating sides with the boxer’s bounce. 11. Stretch, interview, 2006. Freestyle hip-hop is the combination of hip-hop social dances, b-boying, popping, boogaloo, locking, and other substyles associated with funk and hip-hop culture. 12. Stretch, Wreckin’ Shop from Brooklyn: When Hip Hop Was Still Hip Hop, DVD, dir. Dian Martel, PBS, 1992. 13. Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 2. 14. Ibid., 126. 15. Tyrone Proctor, original California Soul Train dancer, interview, June 15, 2007. 16. I use the word true in accordance with the creators and pioneers of the dance form in New York City. 17. Although the term commercial has become a popular phrase in the mainstream, you cannot prefix the word hip-hop with commercial; this would suggest that commercial is a style. Commercial relates to commerce and is not a style of dance. Whether presented onscreen, onstage, in a studio, or on a playground, hip-hop dance does not change. The venue may change, but the form stays the same. We do not refer to ballet in a movie as commercial ballet. 18. Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), 83. 19. Jennifer Homans, Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (New York: Random House, 2010), xvii.

Hip-Hop Dance as Community Expression and Global Phenomenon · 193

PART V Perspectives on Teaching and Training

Whether taught at a university, public school, private studio, or community center, jazz dance must be passed on from teacher to student in order to survive and thrive. While people can and do learn dance from images on the internet, film, and television, the physical, embodied sharing of knowledge between teacher and student has been a long-cherished tradition. Teachers share with students the technique and artistry of the form, hoping to instill a love of dance and appreciation for jazz dance as artistic expression. The large variety of jazz dance forms that exist today means that the type of jazz dance taught may vary widely from place to place. The purpose of jazz dance education may vary from teaching historical social dances to developing an expressive outlet or preparing professional dancers for Broadway. In this section, authors discuss three environments for jazz dance education: the private studio, the college or university, and the community setting. Lindsay Guarino takes us inside the world of dance competitions within commercial dance, weighing the pros and cons of participation for young dancers. Since there are no specific credentials required by law in order to run a studio or teach dance, the quality of private dance studios varies considerably depending on the preparation and ability of its owner. Kim Vaccaro presents her research Detail: The University of Arizona Dance Ensemble performs ITZaJAZZthing by Michael Williams, 2009. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ. 195

on jazz dance in higher education, observing that jazz dance has a lower status than modern dance or ballet on most college campuses. Although jazz dance in academe is a growing part of the curriculum, it will take time and faculty support for it to reach equal footing with ballet and modern. Community education through jazz dance is the focus of Lynnette Overby’s article, where she offers both a rationale and practical tips for implementing such a program. These programs offer opportunities for college-age students to learn teaching skills including creating a curriculum, teaching the curriculum, and working with community administrators to organize the activity. Jazz dance education has branched out into various environments, and each focuses on different student populations. Private studios, higher education, and community education are all an important part of keeping the legacy of jazz dance alive.

196 · Perspectives on Teaching and Training

25 Jazz Dance Training via Private Studios, Competitions, and Conventions Lindsay Guarino

Today’s dance studios offer a wide range of opportunities to those who wish to train as jazz dancers. Studios vary with respect to the size of the student body, the size of the facilities, the experience of the faculty, the range of class offerings, the number of performance opportunities, whether they are profit or nonprofit organizations, competition studios or conservatories, and recreational or professional. Most privately owned dance studios that train young children through young adults offer jazz dance classes. From a business perspective it is necessary to do so; jazz dance is a popular style of dance desired by prospective clients. When observing jazz dance training today in privately owned dance studios, it is apparent that there is no greater variable than the decision to, or not to, attend dance competitions and conventions. Taking a closer look at dance studios, including their relationship with dance competitions and conventions, may help to reveal how studio owners choose to train their dancers and what kinds of factors inform their decisions. Privately Owned Dance Studios

Dance studios are businesses, and regardless of their artistic vision, they operate with the underlying intention of making money. Some studios combine advertising and marketing to lure clients, possibly masking their insufficient qualifications. There are successful dance studios that are staffed by less than qualified instructors, with no formal education or experience beyond the studio at which they trained. On the other hand, there exist highly qualified 197

studios run by faculty who are well versed in the field of dance and have pursued a professional career as a performer, a college degree in dance, or continued their personal growth and training through certification programs such as Dance Masters of America or the National Dance Educators Organization. Qualifications aside, enticements such as glossy ads, studio windows full of trophies, frilly costumes, fancy recital locations, family-oriented atmospheres, and free classes can draw clients in with ease. Artistry frequently takes a backseat in order to illuminate what “sells.” Dance studios typically fall into two major categories: those who compete and those who do not. Dance competitions have had an increasing influence on the way jazz dancers are trained. In recent years, dance has reintegrated into popular culture, and America’s perception of dance is largely influenced by television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. While these programs acknowledge artistry, they are competitive in nature, and their presence alone blurs the line between dance as art and dance as a sport. Young dancers today often want to train at competitive studios, and because of this, studio owners are increasingly inclined to bring their students to competitions in order to maintain and increase their clientele. Dance Competitions and Conventions

Jazz dance has always been competitive in nature. From the Savoy Ballroom to the streets of New York City, dancers have competed in social and professional settings to earn the respect and admiration of peers. It has not been until more recent years, however, that touring competition venues have been established and, as such, defined the way that dancers today train and understand dance. Today’s dance competitions function as traveling circuits in which the faculty hold weekend competitions in cities across the nation. Dance studios pay a fee to have their works adjudicated, and they enter their studio’s routines in a category specific to the choreographic style and age and/or level of the dancers performing. The highest scoring dances within each category are then awarded medals, ribbons, trophies, or cash prizes. Additionally, most competitions now offer recorded feedback to the dancers, where the judges comment on all aspects of the routines, from the choreography to the technique and precision of the dancers. Many competitions select dancers from each city to go on and compete at a national level, which typically takes place in a select city over the summer months (some competitions have more than one national final so they offer more than one location). Prizes for winning at the national level are larger in scale and more prestigious than at the local 198 · Lindsay Guarino

level, and dancers who win national titles are treated like celebrities within that competition circuit.1 Some competitions have a convention that runs parallel to the competition, and there are also conventions that function independently. Like competitions, dance conventions are also touring circuits that visit cities across the nation. Each convention has a faculty of highly sought-after master teachers. Again, classes are typically divided by age and/or experience. Over the course of a weekend, dancers can experience a range of dance classes in a variety of styles. Many conventions now offer scholarship auditions where dancers can audition for free classes at major training centers like Broadway Dance Center in New York City or The Edge in Los Angeles, tuition scholarships that can be used at future dance conventions within the same circuit, apprenticeships with concert dance companies, and even paid tuition for a college education. Various jazz dance styles are taught at dance conventions and are seen in dance competitions. At conventions, popular styles of jazz dance are often offered, including street jazz, jazz funk, pop jazz, contemporary jazz, lyrical jazz, and musical theater jazz. Hip-hop dance classes have become a mainstay on competition circuits; classical jazz is a rarity, and authentic jazz is unheard of. Within dance competitions, it is up to a studio to decide what style of jazz they would enter into a jazz category. When observing a competition and seeing the wide range of entries in a jazz dance category, it is evident just how diverse and hard to define jazz dance is. According to Dance Studio Life magazine, teachers frequently express frustration when trying to understand jazz dance, since jazz dance competition routines vary so much and all fall into the same category.2 Due to increasingly blurred lines between jazz dance styles, two very different styles of jazz dance can end up in direct competition—confusing the choreographers, dancers, and audience alike. Competition History and Innovators

The origins of Dance Masters of America can be traced back to 1884. As a convention for dance teachers, the organization was well established long before they instituted a formal competitive event in 1963 with the Miss Dance of America Scholarship Pagent.3 This event expanded in 1964, with the first Performing Arts Competitions being held at the National Convention in Washington, DC, along with the Teenage Ballroom Competitions. DMA along with competitive ballroom dance inspired other formal dance competition ventures, such as Michael Valentic, who formed the Summer Dance Festival in 1970. Summer Dance Festival was the first private dance competition, and the concept of private dance competitions spread rapidly Jazz Dance Training via Private Studios, Competitions, and Conventions · 199

with pioneers such as Beverly Fletcher, Brian Foley (in Canada), and Sherry and Rhee Gold. While business-minded dancers found financial success following the competition paradigm, mainstream competitive TV shows such as Dance Fever, Saturday Night Fever, and Star Search fueled their growth.4 Jazz dance educator and choreographer Joe Tremaine formed his competition and convention circuit in 1981. His empire has since grown to the point where his faculty travels to approximately twenty-five cities each year, which is the equivalent of teaching about 50,000 dancers nationwide.5 Tremaine began his career as a performer in New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas before opening up his studio, Joe Tremaine Dance Center, in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He catered primarily to adults and claims that all the stars were in attendance: “Even Cyd Charisse took my class.”6 Tremaine Dance Conventions & Competitions maintains a faculty of about twelve master teachers, including Tremaine himself, and they teach a variety of jazz dance styles: lyrical jazz, fusion jazz, tap, hip-hop, street funk, and musical theater. Tremaine’s signature style draws from a street influence, his love for freestyling, and music. He feels that music is the foundation for jazz dance, and in his classes he teaches to upbeat pop music that keeps students engaged.7 Another mainstay on the dance convention and competition scene is Joe Lanteri, who is the executive director of New York City Dance Alliance. Lanteri founded NYCDA in 1993 with the goal of bringing the vibrant NYC dance scene to cities around the country. He strove to elevate the standards of the dance competition and convention experience by bringing a unique perspective, renowned faculty, professional production venues, and an emphasis on educating dancers within a nurturing environment.8 NYCDA is thriving today, and currently tours twenty-three cities each year. Lanteri continues to reform the way people view dance competitions and conventions. In July 2009, he and Scott Jovovich, NYCDA faculty member and adjunct professor at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, began a college scholarship program. In 2009, they were able to award two NYCDA students full scholarship tuition to University of the Arts. By July 2011, Point Park University in Pittsburgh and Marymount Manhattan, in addition to University of the Arts, had agreed to use NYCDA as a valuable recruitment opportunity and also offer scholarships through what is now called the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation. This initiative changes the perception that dance competitions and dance in higher education have no relationship to one another. Lanteri feels that his organization has a long history of attracting some of the best talent in the country and now is his chance to, literally, invest in these dancers. He is proving that the heart of NYCDA is 200 · Lindsay Guarino

about training and inspiring dancers, not awarding trophies and medals. As Marymount Manhattan’s dance department chair Katie Langan told Dance Studio Life magazine writer Joshua Bartlett, “When I saw how well the dancers were trained, I was very impressed. The talent level was very different. Joe seems to be attracting schools that are really doing some training.”9 In addition to Tremaine Dance Conventions & Competitions and New York City Dance Alliance, there are countless other competition and convention circuits available to dancers today. In the December 2011 issue of Dance Studio Life there are twenty-five full-page advertisements for competitions and/or conventions. This is not unusual. This type and amount of advertising is common in just about any dance magazine.10 Many of these advertisements highlight various incentives and rebates, a focus on winning cash and other prizes, photos of dancers executing flawless leaps or leg extensions, and a list of the cities on the tour. In a competition and convention guide presented in the same issue of Dance Studio Life, there is a list of 102 competition and convention options. It is easy to see that dance studios are overloaded by the sheer number of options available to them and possibly feel pressured to compete when the message speaks loud and clear in these advertisements: dance competitions and conventions have an integral role in training dancers today. Competition Pros and Cons

Dance today straddles a fine line between being an art form and a competitive sport. The influences of television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars have permeated the studio scene; young dancers today idolize the dancers they see on television and often strive to perform in a similar fashion. The trends on these dance-based television programs are the same trends that dominate competitions and conventions. As such, these trends filter down into dance studios with varied levels of integrity. Brian Friedman, who choreographs for So You Think You Can Dance and is the creative director for America’s Got Talent and The X Factor, says of So You Think You Can Dance: “A lot of the dancers have trained like Olympic athletes, and you can’t look down on that. But there’s not a lot of artistry in, say, running track—it’s technical and falls under athleticism. I choose artistry with strong technique over tricks any day.”11 This emphasis on tricks, or flash movements, is apparent in So You Think You Can Dance and is enforced in the solos where a dancer on the chopping block has to “dance for his/her life.” To avoid being eliminated, each dancer with the least amount of votes has to dance a thirty-second solo full of as many complex multiple pirouettes, leaps, and gymnastic feats as possible. When a dancer performs a solo Jazz Dance Training via Private Studios, Competitions, and Conventions · 201

with an emphasis on artistry rather than tricks, judge Nigel Lythgoe is likely to tell that person that he/she was not dancing. Is this sending today’s dancers the message that “real dance” is in the tricks and the rest is just . . . extra? It is exactly this issue, in addition to others, that stimulates a negative perception of dance competitions for some. Nationally renowned master teacher and choreographer Mandy Moore notices the following about some of today’s dancers: “So much importance is put on technique and execution that some of them have forgotten about the entertainment side of dance. With 5,000 fouetté turns and switch leaps, it’s no wonder they don’t have time to smile or perform, because they have so much on their minds.”12 Competition dancers are often stereotyped as cookie-cutter dancers with slicked-back hair, covered in sequins, and either void of emotion or notorious for mugging (layering fake emotion, often melodrama, on top of the choreography). Many studios make a point of transcending this stigma and strive to offer a unique artistic point of view. Dena Kay Boticelli of DK Dance in Webster, New York, is adamant about keeping her choreography artistic and creative. She frequently observes dancers who look like robots at dance competitions, who perform with the sole purpose of “showing off.” Dena will challenge her dancers with complex choreography, but only if it suits the dance routine and only if the dancers can execute the steps properly.13 Nicole Bibby of Defying Gravity School of Dance in Cranston, Rhode Island, who grew up performing in competitions, offers a different perspective. She feels that it is important to add tricks to her dance routines; each dancer has specific strengths, and she uses her dance routines to highlight their best skills. She feels that this is especially important in dance competitions, since tricks are a tool for showing off technical ability.14 The system of giving awards is another controversial aspect of dance competitions. Many competitions offer medals or trophies for every participating dancer, which is clearly a business strategy. Studio owner Lindsay Deneault of Elite Dance Center in Foxboro, Massachusetts, finds this to be a drawback. Gold medals should be given to dancers who demonstrate the highest level of technique and artistry, not to every dancer who pays a registration fee. She has also noticed that some competitions base the scores on the number of students and routines a particular studio brings to the competition, rather than on the dancing itself. Deneault has learned to steer clear of these competitions and focuses on the ones that offer her students valuable feedback for improvement, even if it means not winning.15 This system for winning and awarding prizes can give dancers confidence, but possibly also an unrealistic perception of talent and place in the industry. Many college-level dance instructors have been faced with a similar 202 · Lindsay Guarino

Figure 25.1. Dance Works Studio competes at Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Utica, NY, 2012. Choreography by Tricia Zegarelli. Photo by Juliana Muirhead.

problem. The freshman dance student who has been dancing his or her whole life, and has possibly even received trophies or other awards at competitions, is shocked by placement in beginning level technique classes. Dance competitions are subjective, and each competition circuit functions differently. A prize at one of the smaller-scale or local dance competitions obviously holds far less distinction than some of the nationally respected and well-established competition circuits. Depending on the competition, dancers with less than adequate training could possibly walk away with medals, trophies, and inflated egos. Additionally, it is becoming more and more common to see dancers who can execute turns and jumps with finesse but cannot adapt to style or contribute a sense of dynamics to choreography. There are vast numbers of talented solo dancers coming out of the present-day competition scene, but there are even more dancers who seem to have lost their sense of ownership and individuality in the classroom and in performance. Treating dance as a sport may be creating a generation of dancers who go through the motions without intent or creative impulse. Possibly the most controversial aspect of competitive dance is age-appropriateness in music and costume choices. In May 2010, there was an Internet firestorm over a jazz dance that appeared at the World of Dance competition in Los Angeles. Dancers as young as eight did a sexually provocative and explosive routine to Beyoncé’s hit “Single Ladies.” Their technical ability and talent was undeniable, but an uproar resounded due to the costuming and Rrated movements. The little girls wore embellished bra-tops, hot pants, and Jazz Dance Training via Private Studios, Competitions, and Conventions · 203

knee-high boots while they lip-synched the popular song, a female-empowering celebration of being single and confident. Some would say the choreography resembled an erotic dance, which clearly sent the wrong message to audiences but was hardly a problem for the judges. The parents of the young dancers explained that their daughters’ moves and outfits were appropriate for competition.16 James Robey, director of the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance in Ridgefield, Connecticut, points out that widespread objectification of young girls is becoming more and more customary. It makes “parents involved in the competitions callous to how bizarre it is that they are paying an adult money to teach their child how to move in a sensual way.” Robey notices this trend reaching far beyond the dance scene; it is especially apparent in reality shows like Toddlers in Tiaras: “Ultimately, I see more negatives than positives in commercial [dance] competitions. The commonly accepted objectification of the female image, the “us versus them” mentality, and the product-oriented emphasis are just a few of the philosophical problems inherent in commercial competitions.”17 According to a survey I did in 2011 of dance studio owners,18 one of the most commonly expressed concerns regarding dance competitions was the price. Most of the time, studios require that their competition teams or studio competition companies take extra classes so that the time spent on perfecting competition routines does not interfere with regularly scheduled technique classes. Extra time is extra money. Additional performances equate to additional costumes, which can be very expensive. Then there are the actual fees for attending the competition. JUMP Dance Convention, which is run by dance celebrities Mia Michaels and Brian Friedman, is one of the most popular competitions today.19 On the JUMP website, as of December 2011, you can see their policies and pricing structure. Every dancer competing must be enrolled for the entire convention,20 which costs $220 for a teenager if the tuition is paid early and $260 after the early deadline passes. Each dancer has to pay an additional $95 fee to perform a solo, $50 for a duet or trio, and $35 for a group. (These are the early-registration fees. The late prices are an additional $10.) Many studios bring group dances, sometimes several, to compete in different categories, in addition to solo, duet, and trio performances. The cost of traveling to the competition and possibly staying overnight at that location is also a factor for many. It is easy to see how these fees add up and might not be realistic for every family to afford. Dance competitions and conventions offer valuable experience to the students involved, and participation can open dancers’ eyes to a greater perspective on dance, reaching far beyond the confines of their studio. Dancers 204 · Lindsay Guarino

can see the large scope of styles that exist, get valuable feedback for improvement from judges, and be inspired by youth from other studios and become more goal-oriented. If a studio owner can encourage dancers to value the experience over the desire to win, competitions can be a place for dancers to build confidence and learn teamwork and respect for one another. Competitions, and especially conventions, can also be a valuable opportunity for dancers to network within the field of dance and learn what it takes to stand out in a crowd. Lawrence Rhodes, artistic director of the Julliard School, notices that “something competition dancers take away from that world is the ability to be fearless and have a lot of energy. That makes them naturally strong. There are many attributes we look for when we audition, and many from the competition world have them because of the work they’ve done already.”21 Perspectives on Training

Students who go on to dance in college are likely to reflect on their dance studio training and, while surrounded by peers who have been trained either similarly or differently, make insightful observations. Dancers at Salve Regina University pointed out two fatal flaws in their previous studio training. First was a focus on winning at competitions. This pressure led to tension among their peers, rollercoaster emotions, and an overall disconnect from the artistry of dance. Junior dance minor Courtney Randall expressed, “My studio owner/choreographer could have emphasized the love of dancing more than the competition and winning. I feel that she worked with us to improve and maintain her reputation rather than supplement our own growth.”22 The second commonly expressed reflection was on the narrow scope of their training. Many of the dancers surveyed had attended five to six competitions a year with their dance studios, but had never attended a dance convention, taken class from a master teacher, or worked with a guest choreographer. They noticed that their studios taught one or two distinct styles of jazz dance, and they had not been taught anything about the history of jazz dance or lineage of jazz dance styles. Sophomore Chrissy Rooney felt that she was comfortable in the theatrical jazz style taught at her studio, but she felt completely sheltered from other jazz dance styles. At the root of the pros and cons of competitions, conventions, and studio training in general is the dance studio owner. Whether or not a dance studio competes bears little relevance on the success of the studio and its dancers. A studio owner who is adept at leading dancers toward future success in the industry will hire the most educated and experienced faculty possible, give dancers a strong technical base with exposure to plenty of variations Jazz Dance Training via Private Studios, Competitions, and Conventions · 205

in movement styles, create a nurturing environment where dancers are free to be creative individuals, and offer as many performance opportunities as possible whether through competitions or other venues. The very best studio owners will do all of these things while encouraging discipline, structure, and a love for dance. It is important that dancers are encouraged and supported, but also that they are granted a healthy dose of reality. A dancer with a good breadth and depth of training, who recognizes his or her strengths and weaknesses and in turn demonstrates a proficiency in technique and the ability to adapt to various stylistic demands, is the dancer who is prepared for a future career in dance. Notes 1. Jen Jones, “Into the Great Wide Open,” Dance Teacher, October 2011, 74–78. 2. Karen White, “Jivin’ with Joe,” Dance Studio Life, December 2011, 85–88. 3. http://www.dma-national.org. 4. Tom Ralabate, email message to author, January 11, 2013. 5. http://www.tremainedance.com. 6. http://www.tremainedance.com. Cyd Charisse was the lead actress and dancer in many Hollywood movie musicals from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. She frequently partnered dance legends Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. 7. White, “Jivin’ with Joe,” 85–88. 8. http://www.nycdance.com. 9. http://www.dancestudiolife.com/2011/05/investing-in-dancers/ 10. According to author’s observations from Dance Teacher, Dance Studio Life, Dance Spirit, and although to a lesser degree, Dance Magazine. 11. Victoria Looseleaf, “Brian Friedman,” Dance Teacher (October 2010): 54–58. 12. Ibid. 13. Boticelli interview, November 15, 2011. 14. Bibby interview, November 2, 2011. 15. Deneault interview, November 7, 2011. 16. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/girl-single-ladies-dance-sparks-controversy -internet/story?id=10644648. 17. Robey interview, October 17, 2011. 18. Guarino, unpublished survey, fall 2011. An electronic survey was sent out to approximately forty dance studio owners throughout the country. They were questioned regarding their feelings about dance competitions and conventions. Almost all privately owned dance studios surveyed attended competitions, but there were varying opinions on the value of competing. 19. Friedman and Michaels are internationally known dance educators and choreographers who reached celebrity status through their work on So You Think You Can Dance. 20. This is a policy specific to JUMP Dance Convention. 21. Jones, “Into the Great Wide Open,” 74–78. 22. Guarino survey. The paper survey questioned thirty-five dance minors at Salve Regina University about their studio training before college. 206 · Lindsay Guarino

26 Jazz Dance in Higher Education Kim Chandler Vaccaro

There exists a potent intersection between an argument for the inclusion of jazz dance in higher education and the work of dancer and anthropologist Mura Dehn. Multicultural valuation, Gardnerian Theory, the National Standards of Dance, the influence of African-American and Popular Culture Studies programs, and a growing attention to professional preparation have influenced the prevalence of jazz dance in U.S. college and university dance programs. Although the growth of jazz dance classes offered has occurred mainly in the past two decades, Mura Dehn advocated for its inclusion in dance education as early as 1934. Jazz dance is an amalgamation of every variable that existed in the creation of the United States, including the African diaspora. At the core of the diaspora—the ideology that allowed European governments to enslave “other” peoples—was the devaluing of the black and brown body. Curriculums in higher education in this country often mirrored that philosophy. The first dance programs in the United States were begun in the 1920s and were dominated by white, female modern dancers. Ballet, with its air of European aristocracy, soon followed and fit neatly into the system as dance began to move from physical education departments to theater and dance departments. Even as tap enjoyed some early success in college dance programs as part of the American folk/clog dance tradition, there was, until the 1990s, a curious absence of jazz dance. Though jazz dance emerged in roughly the same era as modern dance in the United States, the jazz dance vocabulary and body was created, in large part, within African-American social venues and later adapted to the studio, stage, and screen. It was not typical, prior to 207

the development of African-American Studies and Popular Culture Studies programs, to learn about subjects such as social dance that had relevance in everyday lives. Social and folk dance were thought of primarily for entertainment or recreation. They were “low art” or “popular culture,” hence unsuitable for academic rigor and critical investigation. The first jazz dance courses in higher education emerged in the 1960s at the New School of Social Research, University of California Irvine, but only a handful existed before the 1990s, and still today only a third of college dance programs surveyed required the study of jazz dance as part of their degreegranting programs.1 Yet as early as 1936 at the First National Congress for Dance, Mura Dehn was making the case that while “there is a clear tendency to regard jazz dancing as something unfit for the ‘artist’ of the dance,” it is both a high art form and a dance of the folk, worthy of consideration in art and academics.2 In 1919, Mura Dehn’s family fled Russia during the civil wars that followed the Bolshevik Revolution and eventually relocated to France. She studied classical dance, then became a celebrated dancer in the Isadora Duncan style, one of the earliest types of modern dance. With an international performing career, she often traveled from Europe to New York and became an American citizen in 1932. Captivated by the spirit of African-American social dance, the original style of jazz dance that was developed alongside jazz music, Mura Dehn began a lifelong quest to document, direct, and teach jazz dance. The American debut of her choreography The Wise and Foolish Virgins in 1932 featured the Zora Hurston Negro Chanters, and she founded the Academy of Swing with Asadata Dafora in 1943 in New York City. Dehn spoke five languages and published magazine articles in three, while her dance films were viewed across Europe and the United States. She is best known for her film The Spirit Moves, which was remastered and released by Dancetime Publications in 2008. But her entire collection—327 folders in 24 boxes entitled Papers on African-American Social Dance ca. 1869–1987— covers over a century of the annals of American dance. Preeminent jazz scholar Marshall Stearns had this to say: “Mura Dehn has the distinction of being the only artist in the jazz field who has analyzed, classified, and assembled the essential material of jazz dance and thus made it possible to present a panorama of the entire art.” Dehn immersed herself in black culture when racism was still at a zenith in this country. She wrote in 1946 that “jazz was ignored by the academic and purist world that looked down on the jitterbug with condescending smiles.”3 According to Mura Dehn, jazz dance was layered with symbolism and meaning, and she provided a forum for its participants to communicate 208 · Kim Chandler Vaccaro

emotions, social commentary, and political statements. In 1996, after reviewing her entire collection, I summarized: “Dehn understood the social dance and jazz dance of the ‘Golden Age of Jazz’ to be mediators of the conditions and hardships acquired through generations of enslavement and racism in this country. She also believed that African-Americans, through jazz dance, changed the way the world experienced rhythm and viewed the dancing body.”4 Harlem Renaissance scholars Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes mentored her on anthropological methods and helped arrange Dehn’s “journey through the south,” where she recorded the movements of the folk in churches, juke joints, and backyards. She was fascinated with the blend of African and European movements and focused on the value of the dance within African-American culture. Dehn’s efforts to preserve jazz dance included film making, lecture demonstrations, writing, and dance concerts. Her notes reveal that the lectures were organized into the Alphabet of Jazz, Choreography, Africa Reflected in Jazz, Social Functions of Jazz, Race Relations, and Jazz in the Theatre. What is interesting and most closely related to this story is that in 1946, Dehn attempted to legitimize the form to dance scholars by classifying and defining its style, rhythm, and steps. Later she taught it as “a serious art form and significant contribution to our culture” at the New School of Social Research in New York City.5 Yet still today, while jazz dance is the most recognized and viewed of any of the American dance forms, one-third of all colleges surveyed do not offer any jazz dance, and over two-thirds of all Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts dance programs in the United States still do not require its study as part of their degrees.6 The Heads Data Summaries in Dance are compilations of data generated from the 2008–2009 Data Surveys required of all member institutions of the National Association of Schools of Dance, an accrediting organization. The 2008–2009 edition lists no member institutions that offer any degree in jazz dance. However, an online search reveals there are indeed degree-granting jazz dance programs in the United States, such as the certificate program at Marymount Manhattan College, New York, one of three tracks at Dean College, Massachusetts, and the Concentration in Jazz Dance in the BFA program at Pointpark University, Pennsylvania, although the NASD report does not list them. The University of California at Irvine began offering jazz dance when its dance program started in 1965. But this was rare in the fifty or so college dance programs that existed at the time. Historically, the United States looked to Western Europe for its ideals of high art and culture, with classical Jazz Dance in Higher Education · 209

music and dance seen as pinnacles of high art. Ballet and modern dance were heavily weighted with aesthetics that developed from European ideals of beauty, knowledge, and the sacredness of art. The body attitudes, use of improvisation, and underlying rhythmic propensity in jazz dance are African aesthetics and were undervalued in the Eurocentric canon. According to Dehn, jazz dance placed its greatest emphasis on the response of the human body to solve a rhythmic puzzle7 and ignored the taboos and traditions of classicism. This lack of concern for “classical” technique contributed to the broadly held misconceptions that it was somehow “less” than its counterparts of ballet and modern dance. Many of the dance scholars and critics of the 1950s had the same view as Edwin Denby, who thought that jazz had “disregard for any classic style” or technique.8 The venues where jazz dance proliferated—the nightclubs, dance halls, honky-tonks, and revues—represented an unwholesomeness to post-Victorian Americans and aroused scorn and criticism. Jazz dance suffered from association with the most impoverished and unempowered segments of society. In addition, the Africanist tradition that valued oral over written history did not sit well within a writing-centric academia. The demeaning and narrow viewpoints toward African-Americans in the early part of the twentieth century were aligned with the Eurocentric bias in educational institutions. These viewpoints, suggests scholar Pamela Otto, helped to marginalize jazz dance within academe.9 It was in trying to dismantle this bias that Dehn wrote her papers. In the mid-1960s, the civil rights movement sparked students and professors across the country to reexamine curricula and establish African and African-American Studies programs. According to the 2011 San Francisco State University website, the first department of Black Studies was developed at SFSU and gained official status in 1969. By 2007, there were 311 institutions offering degrees in the field of Black Studies. Improvisation, individualism, and spontaneity, so prevalent in jazz forms, gained increased visibility in all parts of education and culture. These aesthetics promoted openness in campus policies evident across the nation. But in the 1960s and ’70s, they were not reflected through acceptance of jazz dance in the higher education curriculum. They gained full traction, however, in contact improvisation, postmodern dance, and choreography, all of which were taught within modern dance programs. Thus, even as we began to accept the jazz aesthetic, the form itself remained a distant third in the offerings within dance curriculums behind modern dance and ballet. Multiculturalism got another boost with the development of of a popular culture program beginning with Bowling Green State University. The BGSU 210 · Kim Chandler Vaccaro

July 2011 website states: “By expanding literature course offerings . . . and by developing coursework on popular film, popular television, popular music, and folklore and folk-life, the Department of Popular Culture in 1973 opened students to a consideration of cultural forms that they were familiar with in their everyday lives, but had not reflected upon critically.” Since then, the development of pop culture programs shifted perspectives inside academia. Professor Richard Anderson wrote that the art of the “man on the street” can be socially or spiritually uplifting, evoke strong emotional feelings, and concentrate on formal utilizations of mediums. This suggests that popular art can be as emancipatory as high art.10 Jazz dance, with its interconnectedness to social (popular) dance and ambiguous high/ low art status, received a nudge from both the growth of Popular Culture and African-American Studies programs in the United States. Still, jazz dance was not found in the 1978 National Dance Association (NDA) Directory list of 218 dance degree-granting programs.11 The descriptions of the courses offered at that time mention modern, ballet, production, choreography, teaching methods, and recreational/folk forms, but jazz dance is conspicuously missing. In Dance in Higher Education, Thomas Hagood writes that by the 1980s there was a “shift of multicultural diversity” and that higher education was interested in a discourse that rejected marginalization and intellectual colonialism. Curriculums expanded to include world dance forms and vocational preparation.12 One breakthrough was the development of the dance program at Oklahoma City University in 1981. Their academic catalog on their website in July 2011 stated, “The program was created to recognize the legitimacy of the American dance art forms of tap, jazz, and theater dance.” At that time, university and college dance programs uniformly focused on ballet and modern dance. Few, if any, required majors to study tap and jazz; none offered specialization in tap and jazz leading to a bachelor’s degree. Another strong push for multiculturalism came from brain researcher Howard Gardner in the 1980s in his books on culture and multiple intelligences. Gardner said that culture is so pervasive that it may never be absent in the life of an individual,13 and must be considered in the way we understand education. In Frames of Mind, his discussion of the bodily intelligence of Martha Graham as equal to that of a skilled surgeon prompted a confidence among dance scholars.14 Those in dance who were embarking on a quest to develop National Standards in the Arts applied his theories not only to justify dance in the curriculum but also to acknowledge that critical analysis and creation were as important as learning steps and only fully realizable within the context of history and society. This led to the consideration of Jazz Dance in Higher Education · 211

individual dance forms by their own particular characteristics and specific cultural contexts and not as underlings to ballet or modern dance. From these changes and shifts in college studies and educational theory, which also must include the development of feminist studies and technology for dance,15 colleges began to offer various dance forms under the umbrella of “world dance.” Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, began requiring world dance as early as 1998. And many of those who responded to my 2011 survey spoke of jazz dance being offered through this category. Hagood states that in the 1990s, higher education was just considering where jazz dance and musical theater fit into the curriculum, and they still trailed far behind modern and ballet. In a November 1996 online Dancer magazine article, Bob Boross lamented: “Well, they are few and hard to find, but there are some of the top universities that have made the commitment to the serious study of jazz dance. ‘Jazz dance’ and a ‘college degree’ can now be uttered in the same sentence, thanks to the courageous faculty members and administrators at these schools.” He went on to describe a few of those programs, noting that the inclusion of jazz dance was often within a musical theater program. Northwestern University, he said, held a “unique point of view” and the faculty “treat jazz with the same respect other institutions routinely accord to the disciplines of modern and ballet.” Billy Siegenfeld and Deb Giordano “use jazz not just as a springboard to professional dancing but also as a stimulus to creative, intellectual, and personal growth.”16 The National Dance Association Directory states that as of 2008, out of the 4,352 two-year and four-year colleges and universities in the United States, approximately 665 postsecondary institutions offer dance minor and major programs. On September 14, 2011, the National Dance Education Organization website concurred with that number. Dance Magazine lists over 600 colleges with dance programs, and while 60 of the 99 profiled in their 2010 College Guide say they offer jazz dance, it is impossible to know which degree programs require it. As previously noted, the 2009 NASD survey, which includes the latest available information, does not even include a category for jazz dance in its descriptors for dance degree programs. In the summer of 2011, I sent out a survey through the National Dance Education Organization’s website to college dance programs. While many of the respondents’ programs offered jazz dance, theatrical jazz dance, or hiphop dance as a part of their curriculum, only a third actually required it as part of a degree. In the comment section of the survey, however, were strong feelings that jazz dance was integral to a well-rounded dancer and allowed graduates to find employment in a variety of venues. Some wrote that future 212 · Kim Chandler Vaccaro

dance educators need a thorough understanding of jazz dance and American history, and its study is critical to becoming a versatile dancer. Yet the numbers still do not reflect those beliefs. Also in the survey were many comments concerning the dance industry, the dance market, and employment opportunities. The shift toward preparing students for jobs has been evident in the development of curriculum in the first decade of the twenty-first century. In a 2009 edition of the Journal of Dance Education, Dawn Bennett wrote that “there appears to be scope for the inclusion of courses which would prepare, build, and manage sustainable careers.”17 Dance scholar Doug Risner concurs that the “professionalization” or the focus on preparing the student for employment has fueled most of the recent growth in BFA departments.18 Discourse across many campuses finds that in this current age of astronomical costs in higher education, justifying a dance curriculum to students and parents has led to insisting that it is a pathway to employment. The largest percentage of performing opportunities in dance outside of the concert stage incorporate a form of jazz dance whether it be on TV, in films, or within the genre of musical theater. If higher education is swerving from general edification toward professional preparation, jazz dance stands to benefit. Demand for musical theater and jazz dance in college programs has also been spurred by the overwhelming response of a nation to highly successful television shows such as Glee, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars. These shows all feature some form of jazz-influenced dance. As indicated by the aforementioned survey, jazz dance is most often required in musical theater degree-granting programs, the number of which has increased dramatically in the last decade. The musical theater program at Rider University has seen the largest surge of enrollment of any program offered there in 2010–2011. College programs that feature jazz dance, such as the aforementioned Marymount Manhattan, state that the “goal of the concentration is to generate professionals through the dynamic synthesis of Western theatrical art forms, to provide relevant material for today’s artists.”19 Point Park University offers dance with a concentration in jazz dance that includes both contemporary and traditional jazz, based on musical theater styles, with goals to “encourage personal expression and stylistic exploration.”20 Some other colleges with strong jazz dance programs include Oklahoma City University, SUNY Buffalo, University of Arizona, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and Sam Houston University, to name a few. A link between jazz dance and musical theater is evident in most dance programs that incorporate jazz dance. Jazz Dance in Higher Education · 213

Figure 26.1. The University of Arizona Dance Ensemble performs ITZaJAZZthing by Michael Williams, 2009. Dancers: Weston Krukow and Corey Campbell. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.

Dance scholar Wendy Oliver wrote that modern dance has traditionally been the site of choreographic study, an important part of dance education, and could well retain a strong presence in college and university companies for a long time to come. However, as new hires with varied dance backgrounds begin to permeate the field, this may change.21 This is evidenced in the jazz dance classes that focus on somatics at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York. Donna Davenport, chair of the dance department, told me that “jazz is essential to the training of college students, just as essential as classical ballet, and nonwestern dance forms. Jazz dance teaches technical precision, pelvic release, productive bound flow, rhythmic dynamics, performance principles, sensual expressivity, articulate and flexible use of the torso, direct visual focus . . . and lots of other things.” According to Mura Dehn, Kariamu Welsh, and Katrina Hazzard Gordon, dance is a symbol system and constellation of encoded meaning that has been consistently used by African-Americans to articulate group experiences.22 Concerning jazz dance specifically, Professor Nora Ambrosio said that “people need to realize that this is an art form that has a rich cultural history, especially for our country.”23 Dehn wrote: “Jazz is not just an art or even just a folk art, it is a way of life. The jazz artist does not leave or separate himself from the stream of life 214 · Kim Chandler Vaccaro

to create or to perform. It is the very stream of life that forces itself at him, transformed into rhythm and into dance. . . . Jazz is not only important as art; it is important as a human and social document.”24 Educator Pam Musil writes that the curriculums of dance programs have been partial to dance forms that stemmed from the western tradition and closed to forms derived from social or traditional forms. Then she asks whether we should accept this western concept of dance or redefine it.25 If, as Thomas Hagood asserts, higher education expands our boundaries of knowledge, forwards our cultural legacy, and connects us to our shared humanity, how should we decide the curriculums of the degree-granting dance programs in the twenty-first century? After reviewing the life and work of Mura Dehn and investigating the state of jazz dance in higher education in 2011, I sent this email to my faculty colleagues at Rider University: In our new BA in dance I believe I made an oversight in not including a credit of jazz dance technique as one of the studio requirements. Jazz is an American dance form, nearing its 100th year as a living, breathing, moving history of how we moved and still move. Its study—both theoretical and practical—represents an embodiment of all the trends of the twentieth century, and most jobs outside of the concert stage are now in jazz or contemporary forms. The BA should require at least one full credit of jazz study.

The motion was unanimously passed, with our hats tipped to Mura Dehn. Notes 1. Kimberly C. Vaccaro, survey, July 2011, results available from author. 2. Mura Dehn, “A Few Words about Jazz Dancing,” Proceedings from the First National Dance Congress and Festival (New York, 1936), 43–46. 3. Stearns in Mura Dehn, Papers on African-American Social Dancing ca. 1869–1987, folder 256, New York Public Library Dance Collection, 1991. 4. Kimberly C. Vaccaro, “Moved by the Spirit: Illuminating the Voice of Mura Dehn and Her Efforts to Promote and Document Jazz Dance” (EdD diss., Temple University, 1997), iv. 5. Dehn, Papers, Scrapbook, vol. 1. 6. Vaccaro survey. 7. Vaccaro, “Moved by the Spirit,” 52. 8. Arthur Todd, “The Negro Dance in America,” Dance Magazine, January 1950, 14–15, 41. 9. Pamela W. Otto, “African-American Social Dance Forms of the Harlem Renaissance: Embracing a Deeper Understanding of Jazz Dance and Aesthetic Principles,” Impulse 3 (1995): 159–71. 10. Richard L. Anderson, “Popular Art and Aesthetic Theory: Why the Muses Are Unembarrassed,” Journal of Aesthetic Education 1 (1990): 33–46. 11. Richard Kraus and Sarah Chapman, History of Dance in Art and Education (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981), 291–95. Jazz Dance in Higher Education · 215

12. Thomas K. Hagood, A History of Dance in Higher Education (New York: Mellon Press, 2000), 10–11. 13. Howard Gardner, “The Development of Competence in Culturally Defined Domains,” in Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion, ed. Richard A. Shweder and Robert A. LeVine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 67–87. 14. Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind (New York: Basic Books, 1985), chap. 9. 15. Hagood, A History of Dance, chaps. 10–11. 16. Boross, “Jazz Dance in Higher Education,” Dancer, Jazz Dance Column, November 1996, www.bobboross.com/page22/page23/page26/page26.html. 17. Dawn Bennett, “Careers in Dance: Beyond Performance to the Real World of Work.” Journal of Dance Education 9 (2009): 32. 18. Doug Risner, “The Rise and Fall of Postsecondary Dance Education: Charting an Expansive Recovery,” Journal of Dance Education 10 (2010): 96. 19. “Jazz,” Marymount Manhattan College, http://www.mmm.edu/study/programs/dfpa /dance/jazz.html. 20. “Jazz Concentration,” Point Park University, http://www.pointpark.edu/Academics/ Schools/COPA/COPADeptsMajors/Dance/Jazz. 21. Wendy Oliver, “College and University Dance Companies in the United States: A Descriptive Study,” Journal of Dance Education 11 (2011): 13. 22. Dehn, folder 198, manuscript; 27. Kariamu W. Asante, “African-American Dance in the Curricula: Modes of Inclusion,” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance 64 (1993): 49–51; Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, “Dancing to Rebalance the Universe,” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance 62 (1991): 36–39, 48. 23. Hannah M. Hayes, “Carrying the Jazz Dance Torch,” Dance Teacher 32, no. 9 (September 2010). 24. Dehn, Papers, folder 3. 25. Pamela S. Musil, “Perspectives on Expansive Post-secondary Education,” Journal of Dance Education 10 (2010): 112.

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27 Jazz Dance as a Gateway to Community Engagement Lynnette Young Overby

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. —Goethe

Students enrolled in jazz dance will gain new knowledge, skills, and techniques designed to promote their continuing development as dancers and as human beings. Their knowledge of African and African-American contributions to United States history and to dance in general will be explored through the jazz dance curriculum. Additionally, students can enhance their traditional classroom experiences through community engagement. Community engagement is a teaching tool that provides an additional route to the development of life skills, including empathy and community knowledge. Moreover, extending student knowledge into a community setting will enable students to provide opportunities for individuals who may not otherwise have access to dance classes. For example, according to a 2012 report filed by the National Center for Education Statistics, only 3 percent of elementary schools offered dance instruction.1 In essence, everyone wins when community engagement becomes a part of the educational process. Dancers share their knowledge in after-school programs, in university-sponsored community dance programs both on and off campus, and through choreography. Jazz dance in the community also opens possibilities for a future career as a teaching artist. In this chapter, 217

Figure 27.1. College student Saza Dimmick teaches a jazz dance class, 2011. Photo by Mila Parrish. By permission of Lynnette Overby.

examples of community engagement projects that can be implemented in and beyond undergraduate jazz dance courses will be provided along with specific guidelines for successful campus community endeavors. The information in this chapter will provide undergraduate jazz dance students with strategies for achieving historical, technical, and creative educational outcomes by applying their knowledge in a real-world setting. Simultaneously, they will provide community partners with jazz dance knowledge and skills. Together, both students and the community partners will begin to appreciate the benefits of jazz dance for the larger community. What Is Community Engagement?

Community engagement has become an important mission of colleges and universities as they have attempted to make meaningful connections between academic goals and community needs. Through service learning, community-based research and volunteerism, students, faculty, and community partners obtain knowledge and solve problems together. Benefits to Students • Increase understanding of the class topic • Gain hands-on experience 218 · Lynnette Young Overby

• Explore or cement values and beliefs • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills • Increase understanding of diverse cultures and communities • Learn more about social issues and their root causes • Improve ability to handle ambiguity and be open to change; become more flexible • Develop or enhance skills in communication, collaboration, and leadership • Test out skills, interests, and values in a potential career path, or learn more about a field of interest • Connect with professionals and community members • Develop a professional network of people to help with future internships or jobs • Achieve the satisfaction of public service or civic participation • Increased civic responsibility Benefits to Faculty • Encourage interactive teaching methods and reciprocal learning between students and faculty • Adds new insights and dimensions to class discussions • Lead to new avenues for research and publication • Promote students’ active learning; engage students with different learning styles • Develop students’ civic and leadership skills • Boost course enrollment by attracting highly motivated and engaged students • Provide networking opportunities with engaged faculty in other disciplines • Foster relationships between faculty and community organizations, which can open other opportunities for collaborative work • Provide firsthand knowledge of community issues; provide opportunities to be more involved in community issues Benefits to the Community • Add additional human resources needed to achieve organizational goals • Injects new energy, enthusiasm, and perspectives into the organization’s work • Grow the organization’s volunteer pool: service-learning students will share their experiences with friends and classmates • Increase public awareness of key issues Jazz Dance as a Gateway to Community Engagement · 219

• Reach out to youth—an important part of any organization’s future support • Educate students/youth about community issues; corrects any misperceptions • Help prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s civic leaders • Network with colleagues in other organizations and agencies • Identify and access other university resources; build relationships with university faculty, students, and staff.2

Curricular community engagement may include service learning courses, internships, research experiences, study abroad opportunities, and capstone, or senior thesis projects. Service learning is a credit-bearing educational experience that meets identified community needs and requires students to reflect on the service activity.3 In addition to the focus on a community problem, a structured connection to an academic discipline, and a reflective component, there needs to be recognition of the strengths that exist in the community. The most effective forms of community engagement are co-created, co-implemented, co-assessed, and co-disseminated. Equality of knowledge albeit different, is recognized and appreciated. Please note the importance of reflection—not only do students conduct the activity, they answer questions that help them to think about the multiple roles they assume. Researchers have provided an experiential learning cycle that helps us understand the steps involved in critical thinking about experiential learning. Beginning at the top of the cycle and moving right, we ask the question “What?” in our initial explorations. We follow with “So what?” as we process and generalize our knowledge, and finally we ask “Now what?” as we apply our learning in new settings.4 What Types of Curricular Community Engagement Options Exist?

Service learning is a curricular option in many courses. In a typical service learning course, the student is introduced to the course content, then they spend several hours applying the content in a community setting. The integrating component is the reflective writing that provides formative and summative assessments of the impact of service on students’ knowledge. Many students describe a change in their understanding not only of the course content but also of the community and their ability to make positive changes with people. The 2009 website www.servicelearningindance.com provides information on only seven colleges or universities that have service-learning courses in 220 · Lynnette Young Overby

Experiential Learning

Figure 27.2. The Kolb Learning Cycle. CASSYGALON| Visual Communications | University of Delaware.

dance. Although these courses do not involve jazz dance, they are excellent examples of courses organized to provide service-learning options. In a jazz dance class where service learning is integrated, the following breakdown may occur: Weeks 1–6: Technique and history Weeks 7–13: Spend 10–15 hours in a community setting teaching jazz dance technique, while continuing coursework Weeks 7–13: Service learning reflections: 1. Describe your service experience 2. Create a map that shows how your service learning connects to larger issues at the state and national levels 3. Make a collage to express your understanding of the academic connections to your service learning placement Week 14–15: Final requirements: 1. Include the following sections in your final reflective paper:

a. Description of your placement

b. Positive events that occurred

c. Challenging events that occurred

d. Application of your course content and service learning experiences in your future life Jazz Dance as a Gateway to Community Engagement · 221

2. Create and present a digital story of your service learning placement.

Service learning will enable students to extend their knowledge in a practical manner. Community-Based Research

Research can be designed with a community partner. Community-based research takes place with the community as an equal partner. Faculty members apply their research to real-world situations, local organizations gain new information, and students acquire field experience and apply their knowledge in a practical way.5 Consider some of the research questions and problems that could arise from a jazz dance class with a community focus. History 1. How does the development of jazz dance in the United States compare with the development of African-influenced dance in South America? Communitybased application—create and share dances with secondary school students. 2. What are the origins of tap dance in the United States? Community-based application—collaborate with a music student to create choreography and share with senior citizens. 3. What types of dances were included in early African-American musicals? Create a website to share with K–12 students. Technique 1. What are the similarities and differences between jazz dance technique and modern contemporary dance technique? Create lecture/demonstration program to present to dance educators. Psychology 1. Does jazz dance experience enhance self-efficacy? Co-create this project in a school for troubled youth. Choreography 1. Observe the choreography of Alvin Ailey, Donald McKayle, and Rennie Harris. What specific African influences do you observe in their choreography? What are the similarities and differences? Create a website with excerpts from each choreographer, and links to specific African characteristics. Share with jazz dance classes nationwide.

As part of an undergraduate research project at the University of Washington, senior Vanessa Stone asked: What is the difference between male 222 · Lynnette Young Overby

and female break-dancers? She shared her findings at the 2011 annual undergraduate research symposium. A performance by four dancers was included in the presentation.6 This project could become a community-based research project by collaborating with a company of break-dancers and including interviews based on their experiences. A colleague and I created a lecture demonstration with dances that ranged from African to hip-hop. Title: Dance in America: An African-American Journey Research Question: What is the effect of a presentation on the history of African-American dance on the knowledge of fifth-grade students?

The program included dances from Africa, the Cakewalk, tap, the Charleston, a danced spiritual, the Lindy Hop, and hip-hop. Selected fifth-grade students were provided with a packet of information about the dances and their historical connection. They were also pre-tested on the knowledge included in the program. The university students then performed for the fifthgraders. Finally, the fifth-graders took a post-test to determine differences in their knowledge after viewing the concert. A control group (a fifth-grade class who did not experience the dance materials or concert) also took the pre- and post-tests. This is an example of a quantitative research study, because at the conclusion of this study, we had data demonstrating the positive impact of the program. The fifth-grade students who saw the performance outperformed the fifth-grade students who received their usual (textbook) introduction to U.S. history.7 The undergraduate students assisted in professional presentations that evolved from this project. Study Abroad

Study abroad is another curricular approach that engages students with an international community as they gain knowledge and skills. Several universities provide this international experience for students to gain knowledge and they may also contribute to a community through a service-learning component. The Ghana Program at Swarthmore College is an example of an international dance experience with a social justice engagement focus. It has an ongoing relationship with the International Centre for African Music and Dance and the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana in Legon, a suburb of Accra. Students choosing to study in Ghana can anticipate opportunities that include a composite of classroom learning, tutorials, some organized travel, and independent study and travel. The dance curriculum at the university emphasizes training in traditional dances from a Jazz Dance as a Gateway to Community Engagement · 223

variety of ethnic groups and regions of Ghana. Since dance and music go hand in hand in Ghanaian traditions, dance students also study drumming and singing.8 A visit to the university study abroad office will allow students to explore opportunities to extend their knowledge in the lineage of jazz dance by pursuing experiences in African and African-influenced countries. Curricular community engagement projects provide course-based and faculty-led opportunities. In the next section, co-curricular community engagement opportunities will be described where the student can take the lead in formulating these experiences. What Types of Co-curricular Community Engagement Options Exist?

Volunteer and co-curricular community engagement provides another opportunity to share the love of jazz dance. Unlike traditional academic experiences, these options occur both within and outside the university community. Registered Student Organizations

On many college campuses, student organizations receive financial support for a variety of activities. Student organizations have a university faculty or staff advisor and operate as an organization with specific business plans, goals, and officers. At the University of Delaware, a group was formed: Community Outreach in the Arts. This group of students partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to teach all types of dance, including jazz, tap, and hip-hop in an after-school setting. The Terpsichorean Dance Company, a student organization at Hampton University, has extended its reach into the community through the TOPS project (Terps Organizing Projects of Service). This historically black university shares its choreography with groups that are physically unable to attend performances.9 Off-Campus Service Trips

Another example of community outreach is a trip designed for community engagement. Indigenous Pitch, a Philadelphia-based organization, provides dance camps for children who were victims of Hurricane Katrina. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, students from University of Delaware traveled to New Orleans, where they taught all forms of dance, including jazz and tap. The New Orleans students, ages 4–12, expressed great appreciation. One teacher, Eisa Jackson, shows how much the teachers gain through service:

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Some of the kids from last year’s camp continued to practice what they learned throughout the year and were excited to show us how much they improved. At the end of camp, kids were excited for their performance and were eager to introduce us to their families. Parents told us that when they get home the kids are calm but excited to show their parents what they learned! Seeing the kids smile when they learn and master something new is wonderful—words can barely describe it.10

Community Dance Programs

Towson University has an extensive program of community classes for children through adults. The four programs include enhancement for ages 3–11, open classes for ages 12–17, pre-collegiate youth ensemble for ages 14–18, and junior pre-collegiate youth ensemble for ages 11–14. This program teaches all forms of dance and fosters technical acumen as well as the integration of past and present forms of dance.11 At Coppin State University, the Bravo! Dance Outreach Program provides dance education for community members in a developmental format in the First Step, Next Step, Final Step and Pre-professional program of dance.12 University students gain skills and knowledge by assisting the teaching staff in both of these programs. In sum, co-curricular opportunities allow communities to benefit from the cultural knowledge of the neighboring educational institution. What Career Options Exist with a Jazz Dance and Community Engagement Component?

After graduation, students may continue sharing their love of dance. Many professional companies include educational outreach as part of their mission. The Hubbard Street Dance Company education program incorporates teaching school-age students and professional development for teachers. The company has been able to assess the impact of their work through a multilayered approach. The teaching artists not only deliver the dance content, but also collect pre/post data, including student journals, and then incorporate their own observations in the final analysis. Hubbard Street annually collaborates with more than thirty schools and community organizations. “Supported by our research initiatives, these distinctive programs are a living laboratory for dance education, constantly changing and adapting as we learn together with our partner schools.”13 The role of the Teaching Artist professional is becoming an important career path for dancers and an educational option for communities.

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Developing a Community Engagement Project

If students decide to pursue community engagement as an extension of their jazz dance curricular experiences, the following guidelines will help them have a positive experience. 1. Research the needs of the community. Recognizing the strengths of the community will allow students and faculty to form mutually respectful and beneficial partnerships. 2. Design excellent projects:

a. For teaching projects, create developmentally appropriate, standardsbased lessons and assessments. Because dance is unavailable to the majority of the population, students should take this opportunity to prepare lessons that clearly align with state educational standards and benchmarks. National standards provide guidance to educators by indicating what students should know and be able to do in each subject area, throughout K–12 education.

b. For research projects, professors can discuss options to conduct community-based research projects.

c. For co-curricular service projects, students can contact the university student life office for guidance in creating new student organizations or becoming part of an existing one.

3. Reflection should be an integral part of each project, whether or not it is curricular or co-curricular. This will provide the students with the opportunity to gain skills in critical thinking, and promote a deeper integration of the knowledge.

Janet Eyler’s reflection map provides a template for the development of reflection questions.14 Jazz dance is a vibrant, educational, historical dance form. Through jazz dance we experience an important component of United States history, especially of the African and African-American contributions. Community engagement, an experiential learning tool, gives students the opportunity to share this knowledge with others. Through curricular and co-curricular engagement, students not only enhance their knowledge and abilities; they also give a valuable gift to populations who lack access to the arts in general and jazz dance specifically.

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Table 27.1. Eyler’s reflection map template Before service activity

During service activity

After service activity

Alone With fellow students With community partners

Notes 1. B. Parsad and M. Spiegelman, “A Snapshot of Arts Education.” In Arts Education: In Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1999–2000 and 2009–2010 (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2012). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012014. 2. Adapted from http://www.servicelearning.umn.edu/info/benefits.html. 3. Robert G. Bringle and Julie A. Hatcher, “Implementing Service Learning in Higher Education,” Journal of Higher Education 67 (1996): 221 4. The Experiential Learning Cycle, http://www.servicelearning.org/instant_info/fact _sheets/he_facts/he_reflection. 5. D. Cooke and T. Thorne, A Practical Handbook for Supporting Community-Based Research with Undergraduate Students (Washington, DC: Council on Undergraduate Research, 2011). 6. Katherine Long, “UW Undergrads Show their Research Shouldn’t Be Overlooked,” Seattle Times, May 20, 2011. 7. Lynnette Overby and Dixie Durr, “Dance in America: An African-American Journey,” Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Midwest Popular Culture and Midwest American Culture Association, East Lansing, MI, October 1993. 8. Off-Campus Study Opportunities, Swarthmore College, http://www.swarthmore.edu/ x18795.xml#Ghana. 9. “Terpsichorean Dance Company,” Hampton University, http://cecs.hamptonu.edu/ hper/terps.cfm. 10. “Reflections on Camp 2011,” Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective, http://indigenous pitch.org/WP3/2011/08/09/reflections-on-camp-2011/. 11. TU Community Dance, Towson University, http://www.towson.edu/dance/community /children/. 12. Bravo! Dance Outreach Partnership Program, Coppin State University, http://www .coppin.edu/dinfor/201236/bravo_dance. 13. “See/Move/Learn about Us,” Hubbard Street Partnerships, http://www.hubbardstreet dance.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=80. 14. Janet Eyler, reflection map template, http://www.servicelearning.org/instant_info/ fact_sheets/he_facts/he_reflection.

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PART VI Contemporary Topics in Jazz Dance

The discourse in the field of jazz dance today includes conversations among scholars, teachers, choreographers, dance company directors, dance writers, and performers. Part VI addresses the particular concerns of some of these jazz dance practitioners and scholars today. One of the most important issues in any discussion of jazz dance is that of race and ownership. The first two articles deconstruct the ways in which racism has prevented jazz dance from taking its rightful place in the artistic arena. Carlos Jones examines the mechanism of racism and considers moments in U.S. cultural history as examples of how race and class have dictated what attributes of jazz dance have and have not remained. Suzie Trenka looks at AfricanAmerican vernacular jazz dance in Hollywood film and how it has shaped our view of black dance and culture. Next are two articles about jazz dance abroad. Sheron Wray discusses jazz dance in the United Kingdom, France, and Japan over the past few decades. Michèle Scott reveals the phenomenon of club dance in London during the 1980s, which was inspired by the rhythm tap and vernacular dance as seen in American musical films of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. The fact that jazz dance has migrated abroad from the United States further testifies to its appeal and staying power as an art form.

Detail: Jarrod Mayo, Savage Jazz Dance Company. © 2012 Mark Kitaoka 229

The final two articles of the collection deal with the aesthetic basis of jazz dance; each author describes his or her own personal vision and practice of the form. Billy Siegenfeld writes about an aesthetic of explosive energy shared by dancers as disparate as Gregory Hines, Jack Cole, and Fred Astaire, and defines a style he calls American Rhythm Dancing. Jill Flanders Crosby distills decades of research and discovery about the links between African and jazz dance in her article, including insights from her travels to Africa and Cuba. Readers are invited to listen to the voices of today’s jazz dance practitioners and scholars as they share their approaches, techniques, viewpoints, and concerns. Jazz dance in the twenty-first century is a driving force of artistic expression that is certain to continue evolving in dynamic and varied directions.

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28 Jazz Dance and Racism Carlos Jones

Discussions about the history of the United States eventually wind their way to the subject of racial biases. Comparably, conversations on jazz dance, either its aesthetics or its history, slide head first into the world of racism. To discuss jazz dance and not acknowledge the issue of race greatly diminishes the truths that exist in the art form. Racism, with both its oppressive and facilitative qualities, is perpetually woven into the lineage of jazz dance. Marshall and Jean Stearns and Brenda Dixon Gottschild have demonstrated this in their extensive writings on American vernacular dance. Their scholarship eloquently reveals, directly and indirectly, the inherent racism in jazz dance. For example, the Stearns’ comprehensive book, Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance, guides the reader through the intricate shifts in American popular dance from the late 1800s to the mid-twentieth century. Personal anecdotes and accounts of history drive these chapters, and while the writing rests comfortably within the confines of storytelling, the inference of racism is apparent. Gottschild is more direct. She challenges the reader with her continued identification of the failed acknowledgment of the African-American presence in materials that document dance. In her review of the documentary film Free to Dance,1 Gottschild speaks to the manner in which it, or shall we say the film producers, perpetuate racial preference through acts of omission and the adopting of a mode of thinking that is hierarchical and Eurocentric. The PBS documentary, in three sections, focuses on the contributions of African-Americans to dance in America. To illustrate her point, Gottschild notes the omitted acknowledgment of dance figures who appear 231

Figure 28.1. From the jazz ballet Fantastic Voyage, 2011. Carlos Jones, director and choreographer; Ann Emo, costume design; Ken Shaw, set design; Shannon Schweitzer, lighting design. Dancer: Derick Sherrier. Photo by Nick Butler.

in the documentary, including the Ailey Company, who are shown sans identification. A natural course of exploration would be to continue to examine the inequities of racism, highlighting the atrocities committed against the misrepresented and forgotten players in the world of American vernacular dance. This discussion honors that critical thread and respects the credibility it lends to the jazz dance innovators who have been and continue to be unjustly ignored. The goal here, however, is to neither condemn nor pardon systems of racial prejudice. The intent of this article is to examine the mechanism of racism and consider moments in U.S. cultural history as examples of how racism and ultimately classism, through social power or control, have dictated what attributes of jazz dance have and have not remained. The hope is that by considering how racism operates, whether it be subtle or overt, the narrative when dealing with the lineage, continuation, restoration, or preservation of jazz dance can be respectful and inclusive of all who have contributed. Before that portion of the discussion begins, it is necessary to frame the conversation with a brief look at the label jazz dance and its meaning.

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The Term Jazz Dance

What does jazz dance look like? Present this question, even to those who have studied the dance form extensively, and the responses received are likely to be varied. A reply may come in the form of a demonstration that encapsulates the vast world of jazz dance into a few short iconic moves. There is the quintessential outstretched hand with rigid fingers that may or may not shake. This is likely to be followed by some sort of hip or rib cock resembling an isolation and an undeniable head pop. Another response is the detailing of some movement qualities and a recitation of vocabulary that is synonymous with jazz dance. Isolation, contraction, syncopation, rhythm, strong, powerful, percussive, explosive, low carriage, sultry, and seductive are but a few of the terms gathered to express the look of jazz dance. Yet another response, and perhaps the most telling, is a reply that could be coined the “hmmm factor.” It is that moment when there is a lull in conversation as individuals stop to collate the multitude of information they have stored in an effort to formulate a definition that encapsulates everything roaming their minds. The term jazz dance has relinquished its specificity to assume a meaning that is generic. One could even argue that in present society, with the immense popularity of hip-hop, jazz dance represents some sort of nostalgic way of moving. The previously mentioned responses, and perhaps many others, are befitting. Jazz dance is all of these responses singularly and all of them collectively. It is eclectic and very much the offspring of American culture. This enigmatic definition of jazz dance has every bit to do with its tumultuous peregrination over the past century, and as the exploration of society’s improprieties enters the discussion, the term jazz dance will be used in its broader sense. Racism as a Filter

Identifying the effects of racism on the evolution of jazz dance, the way it has developed as a social icon and as a technique, is not difficult. One need only dissect the mechanics of racism at any moment during the past century to uncover the intertwined relations of jazz dance and racism. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s ushered in a wave of new white interest in jazz dance. Socialites from high society (white society) could be found “slumming” in the jazz clubs and speakeasies uptown in Harlem. They wanted to experience the phenomenon of jazz. Considered low class by the elite, jazz dance was marginalized as a less sophisticated dance form created by people of lesser

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intelligence. Still, the music and dance were hot, and many white Americans were interested. White-only establishments featuring black entertainers performing jazz dance and music became a lucrative business, and with the introduction of talkies (films with sound),2 the movie musical began to soar and jazz dance was a necessary staple in filmmaking. The omission of the black presence in both of these venues is an example of the systematic and overt racism historically present in America. Black and white people were not permitted to convene together in whiteonly establishments, and it was considered equally inappropriate for the races to mingle in black-owned establishments. The silver screen was not encouraging of the black image, either. Black performers were not permitted to star opposite white performers, and when the two races did appear together on film, the black artist was subjugated to a subservient role, such as a domestic or shoe shine man. The alternative option for black performers was the appearance in all-black film productions, which were produced and distributed by white-owned major production studios. Jazz was a commodity, and the goal was to make money, not to preserve jazz dance in its original form. Even if preservation were the intended goal, the racial intolerance that plagued the United States during the jazz era made it virtually impossible for the greater masses to be exposed to jazz dance as seen on the black physique. Exercising power through a system of racism forged a praxis of preservation through appropriation and marred representation. The visual composition of jazz had been forever altered. What was disproportionately translated forward was the white notion of jazz dance. It was a skewed version of information passed through a filter of limited perspective. The first few decades of the twentieth century cemented jazz dance as an icon in cultural history. Simultaneously, the movement vocabulary, aesthetic sensibility, and cultural understanding of the black race were gradually and systematically being diluted, recast, or expunged. The practices continued as swing music and dance rolled through the big band era, at its height in the mid-1930s, and the popular boogie-woogie sound of the early 1940s. Rock ’n’ roll hit America in the 1950s, revolutionizing the way youths danced. The Lindy and Swing-out were set aside to make way for the Jitterbug and the Twist—done to the electrified guitar and rhythm and blues. The Motown sound soon followed,3 and by the end of the 1960s, the United States had witnessed a generation ignited by the amplified soulful music and the dance that accompanied it. While popular music was shifting, so was family entertainment. The television was becoming a household fixture and introducing an era of variety and music programs. Dance was a key ingredient with shows such as American Bandstand and Hullabaloo, featuring 234 · Carlos Jones

dance to popular songs.4 In a carryover of ideology about race mingling on screen, it was common practice to maintain segregated programming. When integration was exercised, it happened on such a diminutive level that the predominance of Eurocentric movement virtually rendered any existence of the African movement obsolete. A look at the 1960s British television series Ready Steady Go! underscores this point.5 On this show, British songbird Dusty Springfield, who is Caucasian, hosts a Motown revue with several of the great acts of the decade: the Supremes, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, and others. Throughout the show, a company of dancers lends its dancing talents as backdrop to each of the musical artists. The dancers are all white. Each dance number is choreographed to resemble Jack Cole’s technique and is augmented by dances of the 1960s: the Twist, the Monkey, the Jerk, etc. Each move is executed with style, grace, texture, and clarity. The dancers are engaged, and their attention to the musical interpretations of the artists deserves accolades. They grind and contort, twist and jerk with great panache. The last scene arrives and disillusion sets in. One by one, each of the Motown performers joins a communal freestyle dance that echoes African lineage. There is a visible shift in the dancing as the carriage of the bodies drops, the torsos become more articulated, and body parts move in syncopated rhythms. In that instant, it is clear that all the dancing in the earlier portion of the program was created and performed in the absence of the African aesthetic. The position to consider is whether or not the inclusion of dancing that is cloaked in the black dance vernacular in the program’s finale is an affirming nod to the importance and uniqueness of the black aesthetic in dancing. Without question, the decision to film and display this exchange is to be applauded. Many programs would have commenced and ended with no reference to images that are black and dancing. The redemptive value pales, however, when considering two points: the positioning at the end of the program and the roll of the credits before the dancing has finished. The positioning supports the notion of an inferior African aesthetic. At the same time, the credits rolling across the dance signal a subliminal message of the accepted eradication. While the producers of Ready Steady Go! may not have had exclusion as a blatant agenda, the resulting effect was discriminatory. The 1960s was the decade that ignited the civil rights movement, and without question, many citizens were affected, and the consciousness about equality did enter discussions. However, application does not always accompany awareness. If the producers were unaware of what was being suggested by the placement of this African-based movement that eloquently illustrated the Motown sound, then it was racism in its subtle form. Misrepresentation Jazz Dance and Racism · 235

was present in this instant, throughout the remainder of the century, and appears to have forged its way into the new millennium. Racism and Technique

The jazz music of early twentieth-century America that had been synchronous with popular culture stepped aside for rock ’n’ roll in the 1950s. Jazz dance followed suit and virtually disappeared until the resurgence of swing dance in the late 1990s,6 where it existed in social gatherings or clubs specializing in the music and dance of the early years of jazz. Today jazz dance, exempting the case of the swing revival, resides outside mainstream America. Choreographic stylings definitely reflect what is in vogue in popular dance at a given period. The dance form, however, is taught primarily as a technique for creating concert dance, dance in film, and dance on Broadway. The technique featured in these venues, and perhaps inadvertently propelled forward by them, holds only faint whispers of the African aesthetic. The development of jazz dance as a codified technique during the latter half of the twentieth century has blurred or completely erased movement that does not emanate from white ideas of artistic value. Except where individuals have decided to preserve and teach authentic roots, the pedagogy assesses proficiency through the mastery of a vocabulary and system of moving that is European. The flawless delivery of a grand jeté, battement, and pirouette is held as the standard, while the precise execution of rhythmic and intricate footwork, intensely articulated hips, and three-dimensional rib manipulation is seen as outside the scope of what qualifies as superb technique. Additionally, the marker for excellent artistry rejects the African aesthetic for the European idea of beauty. Dropping the pelvis, rolling through the hips, and rebounding up through an articulated torso are replaced by a rigidly controlled torso with elongated arms and a leg extension. The reason for raising one aesthetic over another emerges from racial privilege favoring a white choreographer over others. Glenn Loney’s Unsung Genius, through dialogues with Cole disciples, illustrates the mastery of Jack Cole as a teacher. Loney even refers to Cole as the putative father of jazz dance. Scholars and practitioners around the world concur. Cole left behind a legacy of dance that continues to inspire dancers today. The deconstruction of the technique he used to create that legacy, however, is the remnants of worlds colliding. It is well documented that as a dancer with Denishawn, he spent a great deal of time with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn studying in Asia. From Harlem to Asia and back, Cole’s dance style was a hybrid. It was his version of dance done to jazz music. Success on the Broadway stage and in the posh nightclubs (still for the 236 · Carlos Jones

elite white) gave the Jack Cole version of jazz dance notoriety. He parlayed this notoriety into a successful Hollywood career, and he was granted a rehearsal hall on the lot of Columbia Studios, where he began teaching dance in the Cole style. His success in creating movement for stars and his ability to design dances of substance for film ignited a new generation of people who were moving in the Cole technique.7 Cole’s black contemporaries, most notably choreographer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham, were not afforded the same opportunity. As with most black artists of the 1940s and 1950s, Dunham’s movement was labeled “ethnic” and considered a special form called “black dance.” Here lies the irony. Jazz dance in its infancy was called black dance, and Dunham, among others, created dances that were closer by comparison to the original aesthetic of jazz dance than the technique of Jack Cole. Dunham and Cole both produced extremely powerful systems of movement. Study either technique and a comparison can be drawn. For example, Ms. Dunham’s crossover step and contraction that leads to a 360-degree body rotation, followed by a couple of walks in a hinge position, utilizes the same core and thigh strength as Mr. Cole’s step, step, forward contraction leading into a backward hinge and touching the floor. Therefore, it is reasonable to ask this question: why did Cole’s movement inspire the next generation to develop jazz dance further while Dunham’s movement is minimally referenced? The answer is glaringly obvious. A studio for training dancers on the soundstage of Columbia Studios would not have been an option for Katherine Dunham. The privilege afforded to Cole as a white man in the racially divided America of the 1940s and 1950s placed his teaching in a prime position to be emulated. Dunham’s technique, in contrast, remained on the periphery. Counteracting Racism

The adoption of French ballet terminology and the acceptance of the linear aesthetic as a parameter has shaped the standard for teaching and assessing skill in jazz dance. The classrooms look something like an exercise in ballet gone rogue. Not a bad thing for ballet, as it sets the framework for conceptualizing ballet as an expansion technique. But this and all the other examples are situations of appropriation and lack of recognition. That is resoundingly clear. Scholars, practitioners, and educators have declared this vehemently, and the call in this chapter is far from original. Why then must this subject be investigated yet again? When considering the monumental achievements by people of color in recent history, it would appear that the United States has Jazz Dance and Racism · 237

made major strides when it comes to the issue of racism. Why open this discussion? Brenda Dixon Gottschild sums it up best. “My response is that these facts need to be known and have not been acknowledged in a comprehensive manner. As much as we may think we know about American race history and theory, we remain in the dark on many specifics. And therein lies the problem.”8 Jazz dance has been in a constant state of evolution since its inception. The various styles discussed in this book are a testament to this reality. It is doubtful that jazz dance will cease changing; it is too closely associated to American popular culture. New generations will add their reality to the mix, and they should. That is the spirit of jazz—life, freshness. As new ideas are added, jazz dance styles will accumulate and the opportunity for appropriation, omission and erasure will continue. So we must resolve the issue of racism now and if possible, do so conclusively. Our failure to handle this previously has ordained the recapitulation of transgressions on America’s newest pop culture dance phenomenon. Hip-hop, the new prey of usurpation, has taken anchor in cultures far from its roots in the South Bronx. Universal consumption of hip-hop has propelled the entity forward with little or no reference to historical lineage. The world may understand that hip-hop hails from black urban life, but very few understand the depth of its roots in gospel, blues, rock ’n’ roll, disco, and jazz. The use of the term hip-hop to categorize a dance form is, in itself, an example of appropriation. The dance community (not solely) has employed the term generically, using it to describe any choreography created in a hard-hitting, aggressive style that resembles an “urban” way of physical expression. Lost in translation is the concept of hip-hop as a culture—a way of thinking, living, believing and expressing. The dance is merely one component of the culture of hip-hop, and all of the facets that comprise dance in hip-hop (breaking, popping, freestyling, and so forth) are direct descendants of African movement. Teaching and creating jazz dance in such a manner that the African aesthetic is intrinsic in the process is crucial and necessary. Regardless of whether it is designed with shades of hip-hop, sixties throwback or disco flare, recognition of the voices that have contributed must be sounded. On that note, this discussion of racism and jazz dance needs to be investigated from the Latin and Asian (Indian) perspectives. The contributions that each of these cultures bestowed on jazz dance are worthy of recognition and ripe for dialogue. If we can continue to have objective and conscious discourse on racism in jazz dance, and can do so with the intent to repair infliction,

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then perhaps we can better substantiate the pedagogy, practice and thrust of jazz dance. Further, this conversation and shift in consciousness can serve as a model for revisiting and considering the prejudicial scrutiny, insensitive usurping and cultural hierarchy that plagues dance and ways of moving that are not European by inception. Notes 1. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, “Free to Dance: Dance in America/Great Performance Series,” Dance Research Journal 34, no. 1 (Summer 2002): 109–12. 2. The first film to feature sound was The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson (Warner Bros., 1927). 3. The “Motown sound” was a unique, pop-flavored soulful delivery of music produced by the Motown Record Company in the 1960s. 4. American Bandstand featured teens dancing to popular music. Artists would appear and perform (lip-synch) their recently released singles. It was a way to promote and sell records. Hullabaloo was similar to American Bandstand, with dancing to popular tunes. The difference is that Hullabaloo was choreographed in a jazz dance idiom on a company of dancers. 5. “The Sounds of Motown,” season 2, episode 35 of Ready Steady Go! dir. Rollo Gamble, April 1965. 6. The revival of swing is referred to as neo-swing, a revival of the Lindy Hop, swingout, and boogie-woogie. In addition to the dance and music, there is also an affinity for the clothing of the era. 7. Glenn Loney, Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole (New York: Franklin Watts, 1984), 119, 132. 8. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Waltzing in the Dark: African-American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 4.

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29 Vernacular Jazz Dance and Race in Hollywood Cinema Susie Trenka

The manifold varieties of jazz dance have always dominated dance in mainstream American cinema. Given jazz dance’s African roots and its many manifestations in the African-American vernacular, it is not surprising that its use in film almost always implicates issues of race and racism. This article looks at vernacular jazz dance in mainstream American cinema as a focal point of American race relations, focusing on two particularly influential areas of popular vernacular jazz dance: first, the authentic jazz dance developed alongside the jazz music of the 1920s to ’40s and featured prominently in films of the same period, and second, the hip-hop dance, which first appeared in film in the 1980s and which continues to be hugely popular in contemporary commercial cinema (as well as music television). Authentic Jazz Dance and Classical Hollywood

When synchronized sound was introduced to film in the late 1920s and “all talking, all singing, all dancing” was declared all the rage, the new technology also marked a new beginning in the relationship between cinema and jazz. There would be much singing and dancing in the movies of the following decades, and a large proportion of it was jazz or at least jazz-derived.1 Not only would the musical become one of the era’s most popular film genres, but countless films of all genres would feature music or dance numbers, often with little bearing on the plot, and the cinema of the 1930s and early ’40s was jam-packed with chorus girls and ballroom couples, tap 240

dancers and jitterbuggers. The period’s popular music and dance was dominated by African-American styles, made available to a mass audience to an unprecedented degree through records, radio, and film. Yet in commercial terms, it was often the white performers and their adaptations of jazz music and dance that were most successful. In other words, black culture was appropriated—or colonized—by white people, while black people remained marginalized. In the mainstream film industry, African-Americans were relegated to so-called specialty acts in feature films, to appearances in shorts and Soundies (the 1940s precursors to music videos), and a handful of all-black musicals. This ghettoizing practice simultaneously—and paradoxically—denies and highlights white America’s debt to African-American popular culture: while it marks the limits imposed on black performers, the segregation from Hollywood’s white narratives also opens a space for potential subversion through the freedom of physical expression. At the present time there is a high degree of consensus among film historians that “the Hollywood musical’s barely repressed ghosts [are] the bodies, sounds, and steps of African-American vernacular dance.”2 The predominant dance form in this respect is tap dance, which developed in the nineteenth century from various influences and reached its peak around the 1930s. As the perfect fusion of music and dance, of the aural and the visual, the rhythmic art came to dominate popular dance in film during Hollywood’s Golden Age, bringing forth such white superstars as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and later Gene Kelly.3 Yet, despite the frequently unacknowledged borrowing by whites, black vernacular dance (and tap in particular), also played a more positive role in African-American film history. At the most basic level, the demand for dancers significantly increased the overall screen presence of black performers. More specifically, by successfully crossing over into the (white) mainstream, a number of black tap stars contributed to shifting the representation, perception, and status of African-Americans in ways similar to some jazz musicians.4 Intended as mostly nonnarrative interludes, the status of black tap dance acts would sometimes shift from that of an added attraction to that of a film’s main attraction, as is revealed by a number of historical case studies. Arthur Knight argues for the significance of the black specialty number as “a key mode of black reception” and cites the example of a press report on a screening of Hooray for Love (1935); the Harlem scene featuring Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Jeni LeGon, and Fats Waller was recognized as better than the rest of the film by the black audience, and it provided them with a Vernacular Jazz Dance and Race in Hollywood Cinema · 241

sense of identification based on Robinson’s stardom.5 Probably of broader significance is the instance reported by Constance Valis Hill in her book on the Nicholas Brothers, whose high-energy acrobatic jazz tap had become so popular with all audiences that several movie theaters announced the team as the stars of Down Argentine Way (1940), even though they appeared for only a few minutes.6 While these instances might not be typical, they certainly illustrate the transformative and liberating potential of vernacular jazz dance performance, which lies in its power to transcend narrative context and speak for itself. Just as important is the role of vernacular dance in those remarkably frequent scenes that film scholar Corin Willis conceptualizes in terms of “co-presence,” musical sequences featuring black performers as well as white performers in blackface. Examples are the Nicholas Brothers’ dance to Eddie Cantor’s rendition of “Mandy” in Kid Millions (1934), the “Swing Is Here to Sway” number featuring tap dancer Jeni LeGon, also with Eddie Cantor, in Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937), or the long African-American sequence from A Day at the Races (1937) with the Marx Brothers. Such scenes “where archaic minstrel-derived blackface forms clash against a youthful AfricanAmerican vernacular”7 serve to contain the vital black jazz presence through the use of old minstrel stereotypes, yet they also push the boundaries of the time by bending the general rule of strict racial segregation. The underlying ideological message is that the infectious but primitive African-American rhythms need to be refined by the sophistication of white Euro-American culture.8 Nevertheless, such scenes acknowledge and celebrate black culture, if in highly ambivalent and sometimes indirect ways. Yet only with Stormy Weather (1943) does Hollywood explicitly (yet again ambivalently) honor “the magnificent contribution of the colored race to the entertainment of the world,” as is announced in the film itself. Significantly, black entertainment is personified by a dancer, Bill Robinson, and the entire film is somewhat of an encyclopedia of black dance and music, culminating in one of the Nicholas Brothers’ most impressive displays of acrobatic tap. As the young brothers outshine the older Robinson’s upright and more restrained dance style with their gravity-defying show, the generational shift also serves to replace the black servant-entertainer stereotype of Robinson’s screen roles. A sequence of musical numbers barely interrupted by the plot, Stormy Weather’s long finale, and the duo’s spectacular dance in particular, have generally been seen as symbolically transgressing the limits imposed by the industry.9 The sequence also contains modern dance pioneer Katherine Dunham’s jazz ballet to the title song, and it should be noted in this context that black 242 · Susie Trenka

Figure 29.1. Fayard and Harold Nicholas dancing in Stormy Weather, 1943. Directed by Andrew L. Stone. 20th Century Fox/Photofest © 20th Century Fox.

female dancers of the period fared less well in Hollywood than their male counterparts. Nevertheless, vernacular dance was crucial in black women’s film history as well. Two of the silver screen’s earliest black female stars, Nina Mae McKinney and Fredi Washington, owed their first film roles to their background in dance, although they rarely danced in their later films.10 Particularly symptomatic of the complex intersections of race and gender is the obstructed career path of Jeni LeGon: the first black woman to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio (MGM) in 1935, her contract was soon cancelled when she reportedly outperformed white queen of tap Eleanor Powell at a dinner. While several white women (among them Ruby Keeler, Eleanor Powell, and Ann Miller) had successful film careers in the male-dominated realm of solo tap, it seems as if screen images based on individuality and professional skill (instead of black subservience and the female subordination of more conventionally objectified showgirls) were not yet available to black women. In addition to tap, social dancing, too, was instrumental in the history of Hollywood’s appropriations and representations of authentic jazz dance. The Charleston craze of the 1920s Jazz Age had manifested itself in silent Vernacular Jazz Dance and Race in Hollywood Cinema · 243

film in the shape of the white flapper. The swing era, by contrast, brought a racially more inclusive picture to the screen, even though film performances by white dancers such as Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan eventually outnumbered those of African-Americans when swing evolved from a black subculture into a mass youth culture in the late 1930s. The most popular swing dance, the Lindy Hop, was perfected by a number of dancers, above all Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers from Harlem, whose leading member Frankie Manning introduced choreographed ensemble dancing and acrobatic air steps.11 The group’s film appearances are among the most notable instances of authentic jazz dance on screen, as they give equal prominence to the individual dancers’ specialties and the collaborative spirit of ensemble dancing and showcase their vigorous, high-speed, lowto-the-ground-and-up-in-the-air acrobatic style. In a remarkable inversion of Hollywood’s standard jazz narrative, the comical Soundie The Outline of Jitterbug History (1943) parodies the dance’s supposed primitive precursors demonstrated by white dancers, while the black version, danced by Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers in modern urban outfits, is presented as the climax and historical end of the dance’s evolution. Like in many other films which at least implicitly embrace swing culture’s progressive and integrationist tendencies, dance is shown to transgress racial boundaries and transform identities, as its positive connotations of youthfulness and modernity replace the old primitivist-racist stereotypes. These are just a few examples that illustrate how the film industry’s “ghetto” of the segregated black dance act in a sense also becomes a privileged site for the expressivity of a vernacular dance culture, which is in tension with and occasionally transcends Hollywood’s ideological agenda. After all—and this is important—black dancers were largely in control of their own choreographies and thus had the whole range of their expressive powers at their disposal. After World War II, with the end of the swing era and under the influence of the Broadway stage, tap was increasingly replaced by more balletic styles of musical theater dance, although it kept appearing well into the 1950s, if less frequently. After the decline of Hollywood’s studio system in the late 1950s,12 both the musical genre and the inserted specialty act all but disappeared. Instead, the 1970s and ’80s saw a comparatively modest wave of mostly youth-oriented dance films, featuring various styles of dance with more or less explicit links to the vernacular jazz dance tradition. In recent decades, hip-hop has taken over as the predominant mode of vernacular dance in popular film.

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Hip-Hop Dance and Contemporary Hollywood

Hip-hop is the first major trend in American popular culture to remain mainly under black control, even in its commercialized mainstream variety—at least as far as the music industry is concerned. Inspired by the crossover appeal of hip-hop music, the subculture soon found its way into cinema in the 1980s and, following the success of a few independent movies such as Wild Style (1982), the black urban ghetto epitomized by hip-hop culture has become a staple setting of mainstream film. Instead of continuing to marginalize African-American performers and thereby simply reproducing their ongoing discrimination in society, hip-hop movies center on the black ghetto and often treat issues of racism and social inequality explicitly. They are, then, prime examples of the increasing “ghettocentricity”13 of popular culture. However, the history of hip-hop in film is also the history of its assimilation into the mainstream of a still largely white-controlled film industry, thus in a sense continuing the old “love and theft” pattern. Early films such as Wild Style (1982) and Beat Street (1984) show hip-hop culture (which includes rapping, graffiti, and DJing in addition to dance) as an everyday and omnipresent tool employed by urban youth in the creative appropriation of the ghetto space. Location shooting and the casting of amateur actors portraying characters based on their real-life selves give the films a documentary quality. Many of the dance scenes enhance this effect of authenticity through simple staging and the unobtrusive use of cinematic techniques such as editing, as well as the improvisational quality of the dancing itself, which lacks any indication of being choreographed. Unlike in classical Hollywood’s production numbers, dance is not used to transform the ghetto into a utopian fantasy world, nor does it exclusively serve as a means of escaping the ghetto. Instead, these films manage to integrate the utopian ideal of escape by way of success in show business with the concerns and values of the underprivileged and their subculture, thereby endowing the old musical genre’s narrative patterns with a new subversive twist.14 While the “hood films” (or ghetto action films) of the 1990s such as Boyz n the Hood (1991) feature rap stars and rap soundtracks,15 but hardly any dancing, hip-hop dance resurfaces in commercial cinema in the twenty-first century in fairly conventional movies aimed at young audiences.16 Many contemporary productions tend to depict a utopian postracial society in narratives that are like updates of old musicals. Honey (2003), for instance, centers on a young woman who wants to make it big in the music video industry and at the same time tries to keep the

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neighborhood kids off the streets by teaching them dance. But the perfunctory message about dance as an alternative to juvenile crime is packaged in a formulaic story stressing conservative family values as well as showbiz success. The superficially addressed social issues are all too easily resolved through dance, and the film’s finale, a performance by the kids to raise funds for a dance studio, is strongly reminiscent of 1940s small-town musicals in terms of narrative. Similarly, the portrayal of the protagonist (Jessica Alba) as a morally superior role model is strangely at odds with and a mere pretext for the display of her sexualized dancing body. Although the integrated multiracial casts of films such as Honey or the Step Up trilogy (2006/2008/2010) show that Hollywood has indeed evolved since the studio era, there is little that appears progressive in these works. The street credibility of the early indie movies has given way to sugarcoated images of a colorful ghetto that is as clichéd as the idyllic rural South in which classical Hollywood often placed its black performers. While these films operate with a mere semblance of colorblindness, others exploit a black-white dichotomy in ways that sometimes amount to positive racism, as in You Got Served (2004), which has a street dance crew of “good” African-Americans battle against their unlikeable white opponents. Varying degrees of the appreciation of African-American culture are also apparent in the frequent opposition of ballet vs. hip-hop (Save the Last Dance, Step Up): hip-hop is given equal or greater value, as its mastery is shown to help the growth and success of the protagonists. On the one hand, the appropriation of hip-hop by white characters is occasionally reminiscent of the old “black magic” stereotype concerning black people’s “gift” of music and dance to whites. Yet it also entails a partial de-essentializing of dance: rather than the innate trait of essentialized black bodies who just have rhythm “in their blood,” dance is presented as a cultural practice that can be acquired by anyone, regardless of social background. A good example of this is Save the Last Dance (2001) about a white, middle-class girl learning to stand her ground in a poor black Chicago neighborhood. The film navigates successfully between conventional romance and success story, on the one hand, and socially conscious drama, on the other. It pays little attention to dance as a visual spectacle, as the staging and editing are mainly aimed at concealing the fact that actors Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas are not proficient dancers. Dance instead functions as mediator between two worlds, with the ballet vs. hip-hop dichotomy as metaphor for the interracial love affair between the protagonists Sara and Derek. The integration of the contrasting dance styles comes to stand for overcoming cultural and racial boundaries as well as for Sara’s personal evolution and 246 · Susie Trenka

success. Despite its conventional story line, the film addresses issues of race and class with as much awareness of sociocultural realities as can be expected from a mainstream movie. On the whole, then, the use of hip-hop dance in contemporary Hollywood cinema fluctuates between two tendencies. On the one hand, there is the increasing ghettocentricity of Hollywood, leading to the tentative questioning and redefinition of mainstream norms. On the other hand, there is what could be called the Hollywoodization of the ghetto through the assimilation and integration of the black subculture into the white mainstream. This results in films that downplay the culture’s radical subversive potential as much as the social problems of the ghetto in favor of the screen spectacle of (often sexualized) dancing bodies in conformist narratives. In contrast to vernacular dance during the studio era, the focus with hip-hop dance is less on showcasing the dancing talents around which entire star images are constructed. Nevertheless, the display of physical performance remains important and is often enhanced through cinematic techniques inspired by music video aesthetics. But unlike classical Hollywood’s dis-integrated specialty number, dance also fulfills an important narrative function, serving as a means of empowerment for the protagonists, with the physical motion often symbolizing the geographical and social mobility inevitably addressed in ghetto films. Notes 1. It is important to note that the meaning of the term jazz has changed over time and that during the period in question the general understanding of jazz would have included a variety of popular music that might not be considered jazz today. For a brief discussion of this problem and its relevance to cinema, see Krin Gabbard, Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 8–19. 2. Jodi Brooks, “Ghosting the Machine: The Sounds of Tap and the Sounds of Film,” Screen 44, no. 4 (2003): 359. 3. For the history of tap dance, see Joel Dinerstein, Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African-American Culture between the World Wars (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003); Jacqui Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African-American Dance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996); Constance Valis Hill, Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). 4. A prime example of this is Duke Ellington. See Gabbard, Jammin’ at the Margins, 160–203. 5. Arthur Knight, Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 20–21. 6. Cf. Constance Valis Hill, Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 155–56. 7. Corin Willis, “Blackface Minstrelsy and Jazz Signification in Hollywood’s Early Sound Vernacular Jazz Dance and Race in Hollywood Cinema · 247

Era,” in Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and Blues Influences in African-American Literature and Film, ed. Graham Lock and David Murray (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 43. 8. This theme appears as a much more explicit narrative formula with regard to music in numerous musicals and jazz biopics. Cf. Gabbard, Jammin’ at the Margins, 64–100. 9. Cf. Knight, Disintegrating the Musical, 156; Raymond Knapp, The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 86, 90–92. 10. Cf. Charlene Regester, African-American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900– 1960 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), 40–71, 107–30. 11. Cf. Frankie Manning and Cynthia R. Millman, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007). Regarding the Lindy Hop in film, see also Robert P. Crease, “Divine Frivolity: Hollywood Representations of the Lindy Hop, 1937–1942,” in Representing Jazz, ed. Krin Gabbard (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995), 207–28. 12. A 1948 Supreme Court ruling against the film industry’s monopolizing distribution and exhibition practices weakened the studios’ market control and, together with the rising popularity of television, eventually led to the end of the mode of production and distribution commonly known as the studio system that had dominated Hollywood’s Golden Age. Cf. Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era, with a new preface by Steven Bach (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1996), 411–81. 13. Paula J. Massood, Black City Cinema: African-American Urban Experiences in Film (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 93. 14. Cf. Kimberley Bercov Monteyne, “The Sound of the South Bronx: Youth Culture, Genre, and Performance in Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style,” in Youth Culture in Global Cinema, ed. Timothy Shary and Alexandra Seibel (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007), 87–105. 15. Cf. Massood, Black City Cinema, 145–74; S. Craig Watkins, Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 169–231. 16. Hip-hop movies are no exception regarding Hollywood’s current penchant for sequels and eponymous spin-offs of successful productions.

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30 Jazz Dance as American Export in France and the United Kingdom Sheron Wray

American culture is readily identifiable within the idiom of jazz music, and it has penetrated every continent in the world. Jazz is global, and the intimate relationship between the dance and the music has, over time, formed localized movement vocabularies. Both social and theatrical dances have been integral to these transcultural formations of jazz, which have been achieved through the impact of migrations of people, world wars, colonization, and technological modernization. The UK and France are two centers that demonstrate the progression of jazz dance outside of the United States since the early twentieth century. This chapter examines two genres of jazz dance in Europe: concert jazz dance and pedagogy in France, and club jazz dance in the UK with its extension into Japan’s dance community. Historical Antecedents

American forms of culture, including dance, impacted the European landscape in parallel with its popularization across the United States in the nineteenth century. Blackface minstrelsy had reached European stages by the mid-nineteenth century. For example, African-American entertainer Billy Kersand was afforded an audience with Queen Victoria in 1879, performing dance, song, and comedy seamlessly.1 Forms of theatrical performance grew into specific genres such as vaudeville, musical comedy, and burlesque that led to the creation of the modern musical. Concurrently, the social dance explosion was made possible through the advent of sheet music being readily 249

available in America. By the early 1900s, new popular forms of music were emerging, riding on the crest of technological invention that produced the phonograph. Much of this popular music was dance music, which described new dance steps and styles that in turn birthed new modes of expression in dance halls across the globe.2 America’s development of jazz dance and music began in New Orleans, a city founded by the French in 1718 “which had gained a reputation as a wild town and a colonial failure, a reputation that has endured.” Consequently, the acceptance of this New Orleans licentious music was no straightforward endeavor. This southern Louisiana city was a melting pot of influences. Ethnographer Shannon Dawdy states that by 1740, parts of New Orleans had become more African than European, as evidenced in patterns of habitation and the continual migration of people between Africa, the Caribbean, and New Orleans.3 As with all merchant trade between and within nation-states, exchanges of peoples meant exchanges of ideas. Similar exchanges went on between the UK and the United States; to this day there is a special relationship between these two countries because of their intertwined histories, which manifests in formal continuities and exchanges with language, economics, art and politics. Despite these shared identities, America’s jazz music and dance was persistently scrutinized by other European nations as to its societal value.4 In France, the contestation came to a temporary halt in 1937 when the government chose to include jazz music in the Exposition City as part of its international exhibition. This was a showcase created to demonstrate the “superiority” of all things French, concentrating on the applied arts and modern industry. By this time, the much-lauded black American dancer Josephine Baker was well established in Paris, having debuted there in 1925. She beguiled audiences with her pseudo-African-styled stage performances combined with her sophisticated chic. She performed black American social dances that were perceived by the French to embody representations of primal African culture. French intellectuals’ interest in African masks and other religious artifacts was ignited by the appropriation of African aesthetics into the visual art of Picasso, Gaugin, and Matisse, and so Josephine Baker’s body, a proxy for African sauvage, had become a site for French “voyeuristic jubilation . . . towards African Americans.”5 In Britain, the Lindy Hop or jitterbug flooded the country in the years between World Wars I and II, and today it still has a strong presence in its classical forms, practiced most fervently in social dance arenas. British practitioners established and maintained a standard of practice that has been recognized as having the essence of the original spirit of the dances created in the United States. American film producers 250 · Sheron Wray

have sought out British artists to consult, choreograph, and dance in Hollywood movies and Broadway shows.6 For example, choreography by Ryan Francois, one of the founders of Zoots and Spangles, was featured in the 1999 Broadway show Swing. Terry Monaghan, another British expert practitioner of what he referred to as “authentic jazz dance,” created a successful company called the Jiving Lindy Hoppers. Monaghan’s expertise in this form of jazz dance has served the industries of television, film, and academia.7 The United Kingdom

The UK’s equivalent of Broadway is the West End. This entertainment industry served to develop professional jazz dancing in parallel to its trajectory in the United States because many productions transferred from one place to another. In this context, the jazz dancer’s role is largely as a chorus member, with the exception of shows like West Side Story and Cats, whereby the leading characters are highly articulate dancers who can also sing and act well. The backgrounds of Jerome Robbins (American) and Gillian Lynne (British) are well documented, as are those of other choreographers who contributed to the development of theatrical jazz dance. Therefore, this chapter will focus on the lesser known communities of jazz dancing that developed in British nightclubs during the late twentieth century. A distinct youth “club jazz” movement evolved in London, the Midlands, and northern British cities. Eventually, some of these dedicated amateur dancers started professional companies. Irven Lewis, a dancer and choreographer from Leeds, is one such aficionado. His devotion to his “Northern Style” of dancing hailed from his deep familial roots in Jamaica. His dancing life began through a music known as ska, which became popular in the 1970s along with a dance style called “skanking.”8 In order to skank, the body’s posture had to portray a sense of weight and groundedness while, at the same time, it was very fluid and relaxed. The syncopated bass rhythms in the music reflected a sequential dispersed flexion of the hips, knees, thoracic cavity, neck, shoulders, and elbows. Listening to ska and practicing this style of dance eventually connected Lewis to a wider social dance scene. For Lewis, this was the ’70s school disco (a school-sponsored place for teens to learn to dance) and the music included reggae, disco, and funk. He observed how people were dancing to this music, and in the beginning he followed suit. Within the Afro-Caribbean communities in tandem with the pop chart– influenced school discos were black community centers where Domino Dances took place. A Domino Dance was a multigenerational Caribbean social event built around local teams of Caribbean men who pursued the Jazz Dance as American Export in France and the United Kingdom · 251

playing of dominoes as a competitive sport. After a three- to four-hour team game of dominoes, the community venue was transformed into a dining venue and then a social dance club until 2 am the following day. Lewis recounts that the reggae dance styles included gestures that were considered to be forms of communication, remembering that he and his peers used to prepare by watching Charlie Chaplin videos for inspiration. Over time reggae, blues, and soul music began to synthesize, and new expressive dance ideas were needed to portray this new kind of music called Northern Soul. As a result, what became known as the “Northern Style” of dancing emerged. According to Lewis, when southerners in London first saw it, they thought their northern rivals were doing ballet. In an interview on July 18, 2011, he told me, “We began watching West Side Story, and we could relate to it. We saw it as gangs dancing in the streets, so we just copied it.” As a result of this adaptation, a group of dancers from Leeds was instilling the aesthetics of Jerome Robbins’s ballet-jazz dancing. They also utilized the film’s narrative of rival groups as a means to map out their own territory through dance. The cities of Leeds, Manchester, Preston, Nottingham, Birmingham, and Leicester were central to this “Northern Style” jazz dance community. Lewis recollects, We didn’t have cars back then, so we would go from city to city on the trains. I remember going to a massive club in Preston called Clouds. The train would be full of people going to this venue. I remember it was like a fashion show. It was amazing! When we got to Preston there would be this scene walking to the town center—one line going to this one club.

The main event at these clubs took place on the dance floor; “battles” of dance were enacted that led to humiliation and then to actual fighting, but not by the dancers themselves. After the clubs, the dancers returned home to pursue more dedicated training and research to reverse the loss or ensure further domination. The star dancers such as Lewis and his friend Wayne James would literally have protection “minders” who would ensure that their dancing bodies were not hurt so they could remain in top form for the next dance “battle.” Within the “posses” or “crews” there were also female dancers. Lewis recalls the brilliance of Sophie Clinch and Angela Brown from Nottingham, confirming that in the early 1980s they were among the very best. Lewis said that Clinch was able to challenge the male dancers and “humble” them on the jazz floor. Clinch remarked that because of her parents she had developed a deep affinity for jazz music, praising the likes of Miles Davis, Sonny

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Rollins, and Keith Jarrett. Although the men in club jazz outnumbered the women, the women were important to the overall development of the form; however, their contributions have not yet been fully acknowledged. For instance, jazz DJ Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove omits women from his 285-page account of the UK club jazz music and dance scene, which covers its central period between the 1980s and ’90s.9 Within his richly compiled archive of jazz club events memorabilia and testimony there are no named or interviewed female dancers included. Both the dancing men and women were deeply committed. Their passion was converted into an earnestness that developed high levels of control and skill. The types of club settings in which they gathered were not only the standard 9 pm to 2 am venues, but also specialty soul and funk venues that operated as “All-Nighters” from 2 am until 10 am or “All-Dayers,” which typically took place on a Sunday from 2 pm until 11 pm. DJs played fusion, AfroLatin jazz, and bebop at venues such as Rock City in Nottingham, Lacarno in Birmingham, and Scamps in Leicester. Many amateur dance groups evolved from these clubs, and in 1986 Lewis formed a partnership with equally ardent Leeds dancer Wayne James. They became known as Brothers in Jazz. Eventually they added a third member, Trevor Miller from Bolton, when they discovered that they did not have enough stamina to sustain their high-velocity routines. They moved to London and were offered paid gigs at prestigious nightclub venues such as Limelight on Shaftesbury Avenue. Almost immediately upon arrival in the capital, Brothers in Jazz met their match in the group known as IDJ (I Dance Jazz). IDJ focused on fast, complex footwork, syncopated breaks, knee drops, and spins. They called their style fusion. The dancers, led by Jerry Barry, were regulars at Wag, a hip nightclub on Wardour Street in London’s West End. Here the groups “battled” it out and attempted to distinguish their vocabularies from one another to assert themselves as the most innovative. Brothers in Jazz entered into professional dance training at the Urdang Academy in Covent Garden. By day they practiced ballet, contemporary dance, and theatrical jazz and by night they brought their articulated bodies to the stage or dance floor. Here they demonstrated higher jumps, more daring knee drops, faster and fancier spins, and more unexpected shifts in their rhythmic play within the music. They began adapting petit allegro into their jazz routines, making them even sharper and flashier than allowed in a ballet context by adding unconventional uses of the arms that in some cases disguised the origins of the movement. With seamless transitions, they moved at mercurial speed. In response, IDJ expanded their fusion style, with

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more speed, polish, and wit than before. The scene they created was literally electric,10 and many other serious enthusiasts caught on to the disciplined and technical turn that these two groups ignited. Significantly, both groups were earning a living by making appearances in independent films, music videos, and television programs. Their influence also spread throughout Europe, including France. Lewis considers that the French “are very strong when it comes to dance” and that French jazz dancers had borrowed the Brothers’ style and adapted it to a slower pace and called it jazz rock. Brothers in Jazz received an invitation to appear in Japan, and as a result of extensive media exposure they became well known. For one season they were part of a lucrative Christmas advertising campaign for one of Japan’s major retail chains. Through this exposure they were invited to teach and train both professional and amateur Japanese dancers. Beginning in the early 1990s, Lewis developed specific methods to develop his Japanese students’ understanding of how to approach improvised dance. Aside from teaching specific vocabulary as building blocks for improvisation, Lewis put students through rigorous cardiovascular training, since maintaining stamina is critical in developing the ability to respond dynamically to hearing different kinds of rhythm in order to out-dance an opponent. When choreographing for K Broadway Dance Company, he insisted that the more you “listen to all types of music, the more rhythms you can dance.” Additionally, he was involved in setting up the UK-style jazz dance club Be-Bop Square in Tokyo, which enabled the Japanese scene to continually renew itself. Even though this self-sustaining environment was established in Japan, dancers traveled to London to train directly with Lewis and experience the capital’s club scene directly. Although Lewis pioneered this Japanese expansion of the British style of club jazz dancing in Japan, others such as JazzCotech’s artistic director Perry Lewis have continued to facilitate the UK-Japan exchange. British DJs partnered in this endeavor by showcasing jazz music and fashion culture, thereby setting the stage for the dance.11 Due to these cultural migrations, the jazz dance scene in Japan has distinctive UK echoes. Reflecting on his teaching experiences, Lewis recognizes an important Japanese characteristic that makes for fertile transplanting of these “Afropean” movement modalities. He observes that there is a cogent understanding of bodily nuance in Japanese cultures, enabling a felt-sense groove. This is the microtiming experienced between the beats. Musician and composer Vijay Ayer has analyzed the microtiming in the bass line of AfricanAmerican music. He posits that the felt-sense lives in the body and expresses itself as music-imbued dance movement.12 Lewis recognizes that collectively, 254 · Sheron Wray

Japanese dancers were able to bring their attention to this nuanced feeling by embodying the music and then synthesizing it effectively. He also sees that Japanese dancers express character and personality and so intuitively brought this into the dance. In short, they understood this new language performatively and not mechanically. France

Despite France being only a short distance from England, there are major cultural distinctions that separate them. This is equally apparent in how the trajectories of jazz dance have been shaped in these two countries. Significantly, what they do have in common is that they both diversified their populations in the 1950s and ’60s with ex-colonial subjects from Africa and the Caribbean. The earlier migrations of jazz to France and the UK led to it being nurtured institutionally within their cultures mainly through music festivals. There are also well developed jazz music courses, social dance societies, and jazz dance training in professional schools in most of Europe. Matt Mattox, heralded as one of the founding fathers of theatrical jazz, was a master teacher of jazz dance, and Europe was his home beginning in 1971.13 His work has significantly influenced the trajectory of theatrical dance in the UK and concert dance in France. After basing himself in London for several years, Mattox moved to France in 1975, making Perpignan his permanent home with only occasional visits to the UK. He did, however, leave a keen understanding of his methods with some of his early students, including Jane Darling, Jackie Mitchell, and Michèle Scott. Notably when he left for France, one of his students left with him, Geraldine Armstrong, now a distinguished teacher and artistic director of her own jazz dance company in Paris. Mattox called his approach “free style” and was not the first teacher to offer jazz dance to the French, or the only American émigré to settle there.14 Rick Odums is the director of the Institut de formation professionnelle Rick Odums (IDFPRO) in Paris. It is a leading training institution. In September 2011, the organization had its inaugural class in what is Europe’s first bachelor of arts program in jazz dance performance. Arriving at this seminal juncture in 2011 was the result of tenacious dedication to the pursuit of jazz dance as an art form equal to other western concert dance forms. Odums’s perspective is that “to become a dancer, or to dance, one must become part actor, part musician, sculptor, painter, and part architect and writer, if the dancer is to one day become a choreographer. To dance jazz, one must be able to free himself of all inhibitions, prejudice, preconceived thoughts, or structured ideas. One must be completely open Jazz Dance as American Export in France and the United Kingdom · 255

Figure 30.1. Rick Odums teaches a jazz dance technique class in France, October 2012. By permission of Danielle Soubrillard.

to one’s inner self, in a constant state of total awareness, free to let oneself become totally involved with and encompassed by the music without which jazz does not exist.”15 Since leaving New York in 1977, Odums has pursued this philosophical vision of jazz dance in France. Preceding Mattox and Odums, there was another important American presence in Paris, Katherine Dunham. She and her company toured France in 1948, and according to historian Joyce Aschenbrenner, her dramatic performances were a “triumphant success.”16 As a result, several more tours transpired with residencies extending into months at one location. Furthermore, dancers from her company chose to stay on in Paris and began to teach. Walter Nix was amongst this group of Dunham dancers who impacted the French scene, and the Dunham technique served as the primary pedagogical model. James Carles, a choreographer and dance theorist based in Toulouse, has observed the French jazz dance ecology and deduced that there are two strands to the French origins of jazz dance and they are racially determined. Sometimes these intertwine, and at other times they remain separate. After fifteen years of researching the essence of the art form, he finds that “jazz 256 · Sheron Wray

[dance] is universal, but the motif is black—it’s African-American but comes from a deep African motif. The problem of jazz dance is one of identity. A lot of people have problems with black roots. I really believe it—even people who practice the art of jazz dance.”17 The reason for this identity problem stems back to the contestation that jazz has faced throughout the western world. Upon its arrival in France, says Odums, it was categorized as American folk dance. There is a love-hate relationship with jazz dance, and that conflict reformulates itself in ever-new ways as artists and critics from different ethnic backgrounds seek to address the changing accents within jazz aesthetics. In an account of the internal French evolution of jazz dance, Carles outlines significant classifications and definitions that artists constructed to navigate and synthesize conflict between their jazz aesthetic and their ethnic background.

Jazz dance

They choose no modifying adjective, simply “jazz dance”; they are in fidelity with vernacular traditions, synthesizing with modernizing elements that facilitate the concert stage aesthetic. They are also close to the philosophy of Matt Mattox and Jack Cole. Propagators: Rick Odums, Gianin Loringett, René Deshauteurs, Geraldine Armstrong Modern jazz

They perceive that they do not follow traditional or vernacular jazz roots. Propagators: Bruno Vandelli, Bruno Collinet, Daniel Tinazzi Contemporary jazz dance

Artists who labeled themselves “modern jazz” in the 1990s but now choose to update to “contemporary jazz.” They do not follow vernacular jazz roots. Propagators: Anna Marie Porras, Razza Hammadi, Bruno Agati. No name

Only interested in the concept of jazz dance—energy, rhythm, versatility, sensuality—they use these concepts to create their work. They do not want to attach any identifying name or frame to limit their work. Propagators: Bruce Taylor, Alain Gruttadauria Jazz Dance as American Export in France and the United Kingdom · 257

Jazz Nouveau concept

Choreographic and scientific approach—engages both with contemporary concepts and African-based traditions (and black heritage). Interested in connecting to community engagement. Propagators: Wayne Barbaste, James Carles. This French genealogy of jazz dance demonstrates that some artists’ aesthetic concerns place them outside the jazz dance paradigm altogether. Jeffrey Jackson, in Making Jazz French, points out that early French attempts to define jazz revealed “widespread musical confusion. . . . Often any upbeat, danceable sound or any music with a bit of syncopation in its rhythm received the name.”18 In some cases the invoking of modern entertainment was enough to call the activity jazz. For instance, a French magazine entitled Jazz: l’actualité intellectuelle was just a general publication on culture and featured nothing to do with jazz in France. Similarly, the current French jazz dance classifications are complex and antagonistic, signaling what is important about jazz dance is changing over time. The category of contemporary jazz dance departs from any semblance of a connection to African-American vernacular, suggesting that greater levels of recognition are accorded to an artist perceived to be creating within a French idiom. In the case of the “no name” category, artists may choose to distance their philosophy of dance from any previous aesthetic ideas, which enables them to lay claim to greater levels of originality in the competition for funding. These self-imposed labels and categories were generated over the past forty years by different generations of practitioners to distinguish themselves to their audiences. The major market for jazz practitioners remains within the space of regular studio teaching and specialty seasonal workshops. In the late twentieth century in France, jazz dance made up 80 percent of all the dance activity, while modern or contemporary dance accounted for 5 percent and ballet accounted for 15 percent. The governing bodies for French culture produced these figures in 1990 when they sought to develop the rubrics for a teaching accreditation that would nationalize standards, and for this, Odums was commissioned to develop a syllabus and deliver a jazz teachers’ certificate program. The significance of these numbers demonstrates the potency and sustained interest in jazz dance that, according to Odums, has not suffered a dramatic fall despite the recent rapid advancement of hip-hop dance. Regardless of the widespread popularity of jazz dance, challenges for the French community remain. Although there are a wealth of classes and workshops, this has not led to a multitude of concert jazz companies or 258 · Sheron Wray

performances due to a lack of support from governmental sources of funding. The year 2012 marks the beginning of the new Odums degree course, and by 2015 there will be a new crop of educated jazz dancers who understand not only jazz dance but also jazz music, since the accredited course will be in conjuction with the new jazz music academy headed by premier French musician and composer Didier Lockwood. It is Odums’s hope that this dance and music curriculum will vitalize the next generation’s ability to sustain performing jazz dance companies along with a deeper understanding of the political labryinth associated with the funding of concert jazz dance. Conclusion

In both the UK and in France, jazz dance continues to have a mixed economy of professional artists and serious enthusiasts who regularly participate in performances, classes, or social dance events in large numbers. This expression of dance has also found its way into Japanese dance and music culture through the dedication of groups like Brothers in Jazz who developed a unique pedagogy to unite eastern and western cultures. In France there is an ongoing development of subgenres of jazz, and this is part of its cultural struggle to be recognized as a site for concert dance. Despite jazz being of western origins, it continues to be contested because it emerges from what the French consider folk roots and therefore remains a primary site for elitist dogma on notions of primitivism. In the UK, the Lindy Hop genre has maintained a large community of practitioners since the Second World War and quietly boasts widely recognized international choreographers. The unsung are the dedicated female club jazz dancers. A deeper examination of their participation in the club scene at its most robust will give the richest account possible of their unique role in the UK’s contribution to jazz dance. France’s large jazz dance community together with Odums’s innovative new jazz performance degree should ensure that this community will yet become assured, dynamic, and successful in harnessing funding and creating work with jazz musicians. Jazz is at home in France and Britain; it adapts, it synthesizes, and it persists. Notes 1. Michèle Scott’s unpublished manuscript “Deep Roots and Changing Leaves: A Concise History of Modern Jazz Dance” gives details on this minstrel artist’s international career. No publication date, 7. Michèle Scott is a jazz dance expert in the UK and is also an author in this book. 2. See Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance (New York: Macmillan, 1968) for extensive cataloguing of popular dances. Jazz Dance as American Export in France and the United Kingdom · 259

3. Shannon Lee Dawdy, Building the Devil’s Empire: French Colonial New Orleans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 2. 4. See Nelson George, The Death of Rhythm and Blues (London: Omnibus, 1988) for further discussion of the American race-music paradigm. 5. André Lepecki, “The Melancholic Influence of the Postcolonial Spectral: Vera Mantero Summoning Josephine Baker,” in Blackening Europe: The African-American Presence, ed. Heike Raphael-Hernandez (New York: Routledge, 2004), 135. 6. Ryan Francois, a dancer/choreographer from London, has choreographed for numerous American films and now resides in the United States. 7. See Terry Monaghan, “Rock around the Clock: The Record, The Film, and The Last Historic Dance Revolt.” Popular Music History 3.2 (2009): 123-48, for connections between swing dance, rock ’n’ roll and Hollywood. 8. For further insight into reggae dance and music, see Stephen A. King, Reggae, Rastafari, and the Rhetoric of Social Control (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002). 9. Mark “Snowboy” Cotgrove, From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: The History of the UK Jazz Dance Scene (London: Chaser Publications and Authorhouse, 2009). 10. One of the other primary venues for this type of dancing was the Electric Ballroom, Camden Town. 11. Culture would include a distinct type of fashion. 12. Vijay Iyer, “Embodied Mind, Situated Cognition, and Expressive Microtiming in African-American Music.” Music Perception 19, no. 3 (2002): 388. 13. Gus Giordano, ed. Anthology of American Jazz Dance. Evanston: Orion, 1975. According to Giordano, the four founding fathers of modern jazz dance are Luigi Faccuito, Matt Mattox, Gus Giordano and Jack Cole. 14. Mattox referred to his practice and pedagogy as free style, not to be confused with hip-hop improvisation. 15. Read by Rick Odums during our interview in Paris, August 27, 2011. This passage was from a book he was working on at that time. 16. Joyce Aschenbrenner, Katherine Dunham: Dancing a Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 142. 17. Carles interview, August 28, 2011. 18. Jeffrey H. Jackson, Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 28.

260 · Sheron Wray

31 A Study of the Power of Club Jazz in 1980s London Michèle Scott

In the 1980s, a few young DJs began playing jazz music in English clubs and at all-day dance events. Jazz music, with its complex layering of rhythm and phrasing, presented a challenge to dancers more familiar with disco and funk. The search for a dance style that fitted the music resulted in a return and renewal of jazz dance. Street jazz dance, or club jazz, which is the term I will use, was inspired by the rhythm tap and vernacular dance that the dancers had seen in musical films of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Many of these new jazz dancers had been street dancers, and some street moves were worked into the new club jazz style. The influence of the earlier jazz forms remained, nevertheless, of fundamental importance. With choreographic ingenuity, individuals created what would become a British jazz dance style. In 1988 I was deputy head of dance at Lewisham College in south east London, one of the team running a Dance Foundation Course for sixteen- to twenty-one-year-olds. I taught jazz technique, dance history, criticism, and analysis. The state-funded Dance Foundation Course was open to students of limited financial means, unlike most dance courses, which charged large fees. Most of our male students came from the upper age range, and quite a few of them came from street dance and club jazz backgrounds. I was also an undergraduate studying anthropology and sociology at London University. I decided, as part of my studies, to research club dance, wanting to find out what it was about jazz dance that attracted this generation that was distant in terms of both time and culture from the origins of the medium. I tested 261

the water with some of my students at Lewisham College who, it became apparent, were very keen on my anthropological project. Informal interviews led to more formal ones and invitations to watch club jazz in situ. Later in the course of my study—principally at Dingwalls, a club in north London—I met other club jazz dancers, including a small group of female dancers.1 My research showed that jazz music had been the catalyst for the development of club jazz dance. When I asked my students about their interest and discovery of this complex musical form, most spoke about a sort of initiation in jazz music leading to a more and more sophisticated appreciation. For example, Clifford told me that he thought jazz music was something “you mature with. You’ve really got to listen. The more you listen the more you hear. When you’re young, it’s just like beats and rhythms—you can’t understand it. So you say I don’t want to hear it anymore. This is just a mess to me.” Mark told me that jazz music was the turning point for him and that the music “stirred something within me.” Dancing to and listening to jazz made him feel “completely different from any other style of music or dance.” He started reading about jazz to expand his knowledge of the music. Mark also found himself dancing not only in clubs but also, when inspiration grabbed him, in the street and in parks, working out ideas. Many of my students had done body popping before turning to jazz. In the clubs they were inspired not only by the music but by those dancers who had already started to find a jazz aesthetic. They also discovered original jazz dance in musicals shown on television, and among their favorite artists were the Nicholas Brothers and Fred Astaire. Clifford explained that his main interest in the tap of the 1930s for him was its free flowing, aggressive dynamic. I asked him about its aggression, and he said, “It was something to do with working-class street club life.” When I asked Gary about the aggressive element in the club jazz dynamic, he said, “It’s about power,” but quickly added, “It’s just part of the style.” Gary was the first among my informants to use the word power in his analysis of club jazz, but he was not the last. It was July 2, 1989, and a sunny afternoon when I first went to Dingwalls, a club that was a key location for club jazz dancers. My student Kole met me there and introduced me to his brother Michael, who was a business student and a regular at the Sunday sessions. Dingwalls is situated at Camden Lock, north London, in the midst of a lively and trendy market. After my initial visit, I decided to spend as many Sunday afternoons as possible at Dingwalls. I always arrived early because that was the best time to chat and do interviews before the dancing got started. People generally stood and listened to the live bands and danced to the recorded music that was provided by the influential DJ Gilles Peterson.2 The dancers seemed to divide music into two 262 · Michèle Scott

Figure 31.1. We are we and I am me, 1989, a concert jazz piece choreographed by Michèle Scott based on her field research in club jazz. Lewisham College Dance Foundation Course students; Lewisham College, London. Photo by Toni Nandi.

categories: live music you listened to and recorded music you danced to. It occurred to me that not dancing when the bands played may have been a form of respect and an opportunity to get into and understand the music more deeply. I formed the opinion that dancers had only one chance to hear the live numbers and watch the interaction of the musicians—hence their attention—whereas they could listen to records over and over. Of course, not all the clientele were club jazz dancers, but those who were displayed undeniable ability and style. Even without them dancing I could see who the jazz dancers were. Their identity was important, and dress codes and style were visible and obvious indicators. The male dancers I talked to told me that they identified with the 1930s look, which they felt to be the jazz look. But although they said they liked zoot suits, they rarely came dressed in them. Instead they mainly wore baggy Levi 501 jeans—easy to move in—tightened at the waist with a leather belt. As accessories, twotone shoes highlighted their footwork. Female dancers had a self-confidence that was impressive. They were in a predominantly male domain and held their own with style. Some of the women, like their male counterparts, wore baggy jeans, but others sported black leotards and short circular skirts or A Study of the Power of Club Jazz in 1980s London · 263

sleeveless mid-thigh length dresses. These young women had a sense of their own power and enjoyed the feeling as well as the joy they got from dancing. They brought their dance outfits and changed in the ladies’ room, knowing full well that after a session they would end up wringing wet with sweat but could go home comfortably in their street clothes. The vocabulary of club jazz dance was very “leggy.” One of the basic steps looked like a breakneck Charleston with that instantly recognizable knee action. Also reminiscent of the Charleston were inward and outward foot gestures, passing the legs forward and back as if furiously stubbing out cigarettes. Fast, intricate footwork was interspersed with glides, spins, drops, splits, and nerve shakes. One could distinguish the tap influence not only in the footwork but also in the upper body poise, arm gestures, and nerve shakes. Lindy style breaks were another feature; a break was a pause followed by a brief change of rhythm that broke up the fast flow of the footwork. The use of dynamic contrast heightened the aesthetic interest—sometimes jerky, sometimes smooth—that contained energy followed by explosive bursts; the effect was captivating. I knew that I was looking at a distinct form of jazz dance: variations on jazz of the past sculpted by the choreographic talents of British dancers had resulted in the evolution of an innovative and progressive style. Club jazz dance, as I witnessed it, was a social form without partnering and seemingly dominated by male dancers. But the female dancers at Dingwalls did not take second place to their male counterparts. For Eyon, one of these young women, solo dancing was particularly important. She didn’t like, for example, jiving where the woman had to take a “subservient role.” Eyon had a beautiful style, intense contained dynamic, and sinuous Latin feel. Her father was Jamaican, her mother Cuban. Eyon had grown up listening to ska and Latin American music. She always came to Dingwalls with her friends Ireta and Daniella. Ireta had first seen club jazz in Birmingham, a city in the center of England. She looked full of joy when she danced and had elegant poise. Daniella, who was Italian, had first seen club jazz in London. She liked the complexity of the music, but didn’t know how to dance to it at first. She used to worry about how she looked and what step to do next. Through dedicated practice, she had become a spontaneous and vibrant dancer. I asked these young women if they felt intimidated when the men were doing their flashy steps. “No, I find it stimulating,” said Ireta, adding, “If I see a move I like I go home and practice it.” Eyon’s response was, “We can do what they do.” In a club setting the jazz dancers gave improvised performances that I analyzed. Their virtuosity, expression, dynamism, and energy appeared to thrill onlookers and inspire budding dance enthusiasts. The dancers were keenly 264 · Michèle Scott

aware of their ability to both entertain and express themselves. They also seemed to enjoy communicating with each other in call-and-answer fashion, presenting their own moves and inviting other dancers to join in and enjoy the moment. The question-and-answer responses could be friendly, but on some occasions they were aggressive. There were less tangible but nevertheless apparent corporal conversations with the “spectators.” The roles of dancer and spectator were commonly interchangeable. Whether any one individual danced was often determined by who else had taken to the floor at any given time. It was fascinating to see the room divide up. There might be one area for the good jazz dancers fringed by spectators, and a second arena for those with fewer spectators. These dance arenas were not necessarily in the same part of the dance floor each week; instead, they appeared around the dancers spontaneously. The dancers had the power to impose boundaries anywhere in the space. A space might be left open after one of the ranked dancers had finished. Only another top dancer would then dare to fill it without a respectful lapse of time. I observed that the corporal conversations in the better jazz dancers’ arena spoke the loudest. Here I interpreted the discourse to be about “Watch the show,” or “How do you do that?” or “We know something you don’t know,” or “That’s great. Where did you learn that?” or “This is our territory,” or “Don’t enter unless you’ve got something worth saying.” The dancers recognized ability in each other and respected newcomers if they showed skill. There were times, however, when competition and tempers ran high and violence erupted. This generally occurred when a dancer felt that another had encroached on his space or he had seen a move by another dancer as a challenge. A perceived challenge could be responded to in a competitive spirit or through a fighting one; a dancer’s status was a coveted prize to be won or lost. Often a dancer would show his moves and would back down if he knew his opponent was better. The dancers referred to these challenges as “running.” Some dancers would congratulate another who would “drop a good move,” while others would “run” him or her. You had successfully “run” someone if your opponent walked off. Kole and Martin told me of some established club dancers who, “if someone busted a better move than them, they’d all bust and spin and stick out their leg,” which could have led to injury. I was witness to such an event during a jazz competition at the West End club Legends. One dancer got angry with another and started to incorporate movements that could trip his opponent. The angry dancer became so threatening at one point that another dancer intervened and they all danced their way out of the situation. It was an amazing example of negotiation through the medium of movement. A Study of the Power of Club Jazz in 1980s London · 265

All of the dancers I interviewed spoke about the power of jazz dance to transport them. It was evident from watching, and from the dancers’ own descriptions, that they all experienced catharsis at one time or another.3 Martin told me that dancing was his “key to freedom” and spoke of finding “a kind of paradise.” Eyon explained “that sometimes your head and your legs lose touch” and that “the music can send you to a different plane.” Ireta added that jazz dance was a release, allowing her “to go way up to the skies.” Kole once injured himself when he jumped down into the splits. The next day he told me, “The music just sent me.” He hadn’t noticed the pain while he was dancing. It is well documented that dance in many forms has a liberating and therapeutic effect as experienced by the club dancers. Through dance, these young people entered another realm where real time had no meaning and worries disappeared. But it was not only the act of dancing that liberated these dancers; it was finding a medium through which they could express their individuality, knowledge, and dominance in the club world where they had gained respect. The club jazz dancers were all self-taught. Attaining the highest levels of technical ability was not just a matter of talent but the result of hours of practice. These dancers studied in an informal but thorough way, thereby honing their skills in dance and musical appreciation. Dancing at that speed also required a high level of improvisational skill. Martin told me that he worked on ideas at home and based his style on characters. He explained to me that his improvisations were not spontaneous but came from a “different kind of thinking,” which he called “speed thinking.” Nevertheless, I feel sure that the improvisational nature of the dance was also the result of hours of work and reflection. Technical study, choreographic planning, and musical analysis were all part of the club dancer’s tool box. For some dancers, club jazz was a passion reserved for their leisure time. For others it became a professional ideal that still has influences today. For example, a group of club dancers from London formed the company IDJ, which had an earthy, energetic street style. Another important group to emerge from the club scene was the Brothers in Jazz, a trio from the north of England made up of Wayne James and Irven Lewis from Leeds and Trevor Miller from Manchester. Developing their jazz skills on the northern club circuits, they came to London to study dance formally. The style of the Brothers in Jazz was elegant, acrobatic, and dynamic. A modern-day “flash act,” they blended classical technique with their club jazz, creating a stylish allure that gained them critical acclaim. Performing in the late 1980s and early ’90s, they were highly influential to many young would-be dancers including 266 · Michèle Scott

some of my students. Later Irven Lewis formed the Urban British Jazz Dance Company, taking his choreographic vision a stage further. UK jazz found a keen audience and imitators as far afield as Japan and Korea. Revisiting my study of London club jazz dancers made me reflect on the nature of power in jazz dance as an expressive, empowering, and still-relevant medium. Through the corporal language of jazz, young dancers were building a cultural identity that elevated their self-esteem and confidence. They found freedom, knowledge, and respect. Jazz dance had inspired them to invest time and energy in a world where instant gratification was—and still is—the norm. In London in the late 1980s, jazz spoke loudly to the imagination of these young dancers, creating a moment in dance history that still resonates today.4 Notes 1. I have used the real first names of my informants. I thank all of them for their insights, cooperation, and enthusiasm. 2. Gilles Peterson currently works for BBC radio and performs at various events. He cofounded the “Acid Jazz” record label with Eddie Piller in 1986, the same year that he set up Dingwalls. He quit Acid Jazz in 1990 to set up the record label “Talkin’ Loud.” He was responsible for the instigation of the Worldwide festivals in France and Singapore and has produced many compilation albums that illustrate his eclectic taste in jazz. 3. Altered states of consciousness can be induced by movement. Movement produced states are produced by activities such as hyperventilation, response to rhythms faster than the normal heartbeat, and physical exertion that affects the central nervous system. Anticipation and the encoding of internal and external cues can also play an important role. For these reasons dance can be particularly efficacious in achieving therapeutic results. 4. The intricate footwork of club jazz is still a source of fascination to club and street dancers today. Remnants or modifications can be seen in house dance.

A Study of the Power of Club Jazz in 1980s London · 267

32 Performing Energy American Rhythm Dancing and the Articulation of the Inarticulate Billy Siegenfeld

Energy is the only life, and is from the Body. —William Blake Emotion is an organizer of form. —Ezra Pound

In the 2005 documentary Rize, Li’l C says this about the explosive urban dancing he does called “krumping”: “People have problems, you know, didn’t get this, didn’t get that. . . . Just the fact that you can get krumped, you can channel that anger, anything that negative that has happened in your life, you can channel that into your dancing.”1 His thoughts relate to a comment Jack Cole made forty years earlier. In an interview published in 1963, Cole is asked whether he would call a ballerina dancing ballet steps to jazz music “jazz dance.” He says, “No. No, it wouldn’t because for one thing . . . it would lack the essence of jazz, which is its feeling.”2 Cole and Li’l C share a point of view about the kind of dancing generally characterized as “jazz”: it comes from a dancer’s feeling and is crafted so that that feeling impacts the audience in performance. Dancing is not just about the technique the body masters or about the movement itself. 268

Cole’s remark that jazz’s feeling-essence is lacking when done by ballet dancers aligns his thinking with that of the premodern dance and modern dance mentors he worked with—Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, then Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, who both danced with Denishawn before Cole arrived. These groundbreakers were searching in their own ways for a kind of dance that came from them, not from ballet’s already codified, centuries-old system of training. Humphrey equated the dancing she was doing at Denishawn with feeling “free” with her body. She was enjoying discarding “the old routine things.” She was reveling in the discovery of how it felt to be “moving from the inside out.”3 Martha Graham, another Denishawn alum, pronounced that technique should be practiced with one purpose in mind: “so to train the body as to make possible any demand made upon it by the inner self.”4 By the 1940s, by which time Cole was fully launched into working out his own jazz language, the idea was in the air: to make art in any medium depended upon what the painter Wassily Kandinsky called creating from one’s “inner need.”5 Twice more in the interview Cole makes comments suggesting that, for him, dancing jazz has to happen from the inside out. He asks himself, “Is what a ballerina does accessible to the mass of urban folk?” He answers, “The man on the street can’t get on pointe; he can’t pirouette. Whenever I see someone come out and go through a “swinging” routine with a second position in it, I know he’s left the track.”6 His use of the phrase “urban folk” in the question helps explain his answer. Acknowledging jazz’s populist roots, Cole contends that such dance is best done by “technically untrained folk.” Using an academically schooled movement like second position when doing the Lindy doesn’t make sense to him. It originated not from personal feeling but in the codes of proper conduct taught to the nobility frequenting the French and Italian courts. A “man [or woman] on the street” would never use second position. More, the turnout required to hold the legs in second’s wide stance would interfere with moving the feet in the fast, loose-jointed manner necessary to swing-dancing. A comment by Donald Saddler, who was serving as artistic director of the Harkness Ballet when Cole created a dance for the company, sheds light on Cole’s sense that the two forms make strange bedfellows. Referring to the rehearsals for the Cole piece, Saddler reflects on the challenge the ballet dancers faced—that of performing “what’s effective in . . . movement; how to rivet every ounce of concentration on just doing that. Not overdancing, but pulling back, almost being still.”7 Saddler’s “overdancing” comment is instructive. It recalls the aim in ballet to train the body’s parts to expand spatially—to make the spine and Performing Energy · 269

especially the legs extend beyond where the skeleton’s normal anatomical limits want them to go if aligned in relation to the pull of gravity. That is, the object of the training compels dancers to work at re-creating the look of the body—to reshaping the body’s outside, to rearranging what the audience sees so that it meets the goal of aggrandizing the body’s presence in space. This is different from an approach that requires “pulling back, almost being still,” not to mention sensing what’s in a given movement. Cole expands on this distinction: “The ballet kids, with their dedication to and orientation to linear design, do the whole thing from the outside. They assume feeling. [Jazz] seems to require a less formal person: by that I mean someone who is more concerned with individual expression.”8 Cole is suggesting that ballet’s mandate to perform spatially expanded movements can block a dancer from sensing inwardly. Thinking outward and upward diverts the dancer from getting down, to recall a core principle of Africanist-inspired performance practice. Downwardness, I would further suggest, allows inwardness—the kind that leads to greater kinesthetic and emotional awareness. Being grounded, which relaxes mind and therefore body, makes possible the sensing-in which Saddler suggests eluded the Harkness dancers. Cole presses the difference between the two forms by contrasting the phrases “dedication to and orientation to linear design,” “assume feeling,” and “outside” with those of “individual expression” and “less formal.” He is noting that ballet, for every justifiable reason given its aesthetic requirements, captivates audiences’ eyes more by refining what’s seen on the outside of the body than what’s felt in it. Cole says that where “true jazz feeling” lies is in the vernacular-bodied Lindy Hop he saw performed at dance halls like the Savoy.9 Watching the Lindy in films like A Day at the Races and Hellzapoppin’ can give a sense of this. In the latter, Frankie Manning’s choreography to Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” defines the way energy-explosive, time-precise partner-dancing can be used to grab audiences kinesthetically as much as visually. That is, it fires their empathy as much as, if not more than, their awe. Instead of emphasizing the outside-seen beauties of the body, the Lindy invites the eyes to feel-through beneath the body’s surface to the energy shared by two people engaged in vigorously rhythmic, calland-response relationships. Rhythm is a phenomenon of energy and thus something sensed within the body. The verticality-asserting spine of ballet is a phenomenon of space and thus best appreciated by the eyes. Peggy Harper parses this distinction in an observation about African-based and European-based dancing: 270 · Billy Siegenfeld

Body weight and gestures are directed into rather than away from the earth. . . . In many forms of European dance movements are primarily concerned with the geometric patterning in spatial terms and escape from the ground surface. . . . The emphasis is on moving from one distinct spatial position to another, whereas dancers in Africa [perform] with the emphasis on the rhythmo-dynamic aspects of the movement.10

A dance student who has taken a ballet or ballet-based class and then one in West African or the Lindy might understand these differences. The spatially determined positions of European dance compel the dancer to work at—and the viewer to look at—what is commonly referred to as the “placement” of the body. Brenda Dixon Gottschild elaborates further on this space-fixing aspect of ballet: “In traditional European dance aesthetics . . . the erect spine is the center—the hierarchical ruler from which all movement emanates . . . the absolute monarch, dominating the dancing body. The ballet canon is organized around this center.”11 It is the stabilizing of the body around its center—whether by “tightening the core” or “sucking in the stomach”—that keeps one’s attention focused on the space of the body rather than on, as in the Lindy, the “rhythmic conversation”12 two partners bat back and forth over a base of infectiously beat-driven partner dancing. In Gottschild’s reading, it makes sense that ballet began under an autocratic French ruler. Louis XIV had no interest in anyone’s being his equal—and therefore no interest in having his subjects relate to him in other than a deferential way. The dancing masters he hired taught the nobility a code of elegant bodily conduct that communicated this absolute obeisance. That is, it forced people to keep their eyes focused on the spatial signals the body was displaying, not on the feelings going on within it. The aesthetic of Merce Cunningham, surely one of the twentieth century’s greatest dance innovators, offers an example of how a ballet-based approach to movement can be used to direct one’s attention onto the outside of the body. His choreography, performed by determinedly affectless dancers, provides no narrative or emotional through-lines, reduces sharp-soft dynamic contrasts to a minimum, and shuns both metric music and dancing to the beat of such music. These standards have been influencing the way dance is both made and viewed for over two generations. It effectively advises that movement be seen as “an object, something to be examined coolly.”13 In an interview, Cunningham reveals one of his reasons for pursuing an anti-affective aesthetic. He says of his years performing the emotion-driven dances of Martha Graham, “the idea that was being given to you [was] that a particular movement meant something specific. I thought that was Performing Energy · 271

nonsense.”14 Given this reaction, it makes sense that he embraced the visually transfixing vocabulary of ballet: its focus on the body’s outside helped support his movement for movement’s sake point of view. A response he made to an observation of dance critic Anna Kisselgoff explains the preference further. When she remarked on how he seemed to favor working with ballet-trained dancers, he answered: “I want someone with legs. I need that; that’s the way I think.”15 This also makes sense. The legs have nothing to do with communicating emotion in human behavior—in contrast to the hands, head, and voice, which have everything to do with it. Highlighting leg gesture deflects audiences from searching for meaning in a dance’s movement vocabulary. The “rhythmo-dynamic” aesthetic of an African-originated form like vernacular-bodied jazz works differently. It concentrates on crafting percussively dynamic, emotion-carrying energies generated from within the body. Such rhythm-generated jazz expresses time-articulated energy more than space-articulated shape.16 It prefers giving one’s body over to the gravity-directed accents and pulses of a rhythm to geometrically organizing it around codified positions. Thanks to the preservation of dance on film, examples of this abound. Citing only a few, watch Gwen Verdon use staccato-attacked isolations of eyes, hands, and voice to tempt an innocent in “Whatever Lola Wants” in Damn Yankees; or Gregory Hines unleash a barrage of hard-hitting taps to defuse the depression of the life he lives in Soviet Russia in White Nights; or Miss Prissy, one of the South-Central L.A. krumpers in Rize, convert head, torso, and arms into a series of whiplashed body-hits that repeat with increasing intensity. These virtuoso feats of expressivity—as difficult to perform clearly as any feat of technique-displaying formalism—depend less on idealizing the look of the body than on crafting it to behave as it instinctually does when feeling drives its actions. When asked to define further the essence of jazz dance, Cole says, “It is the great articulation of the inarticulate.”17 I feel this remark could serve as a clarion call not just to dancers who use their bodies as percussion instruments but to any creative person seeking to transform inner need into art. Cole’s childhood included a father he never knew, a mother who returned no affection, and the self-consciousness of bodily disfigurement (his eyes had a cast in them). As strongly as childhood’s wounds might have led him to turn reclusive, Cole turned his trapped energies into creative fuel. Barton Mumaw, who danced with Cole in Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers, knew something of Cole’s difficult past. When asked about Cole’s notoriously disruptive behavior during his early dance years, he doesn’t hesitate to say that Cole’s 272 · Billy Siegenfeld

recalcitrance fed his art: “It affected his kind of [dance] movement, if you want to get down to it. If you look at Jack’s movements, you’ll see a lot of hurt and a lot of fight. It’s aggressive, and there’s a deep resentment.”18 The krumper Tight Eyez, in speaking about his own dancing, says, “It seems a little bit aggressive, but it’s a good way to take out your anger when you go through stuff in your personal life.”19 His and Mumaw’s words (hurt, fight, aggressive, and anger) point to the emotional sources of the bold dynamic contrasts, animal stillnesses, and sudden drops into the ground and pounces away from it that characterize the sources of percussive dancing in general. Historically, such feeling-states explain the motivation fueling America’s first publicly noticed performers of vernacular-bodied, rhythm-driven dancing. W. T. Lhamon Jr. documents how newly freed young black men doing pre-tap, foot-percussive shingle dancing at the Catherine Market in New York City in the early 1800s transformed hurt and fight into the beginnings of what I term (and will define in a moment) “American Rhythm Dancing.” Given the overwhelmingly confining social, political, and economic conditions weighing against blacks at that time, he notes the obvious: it was survival-infused emotion that drove the performers. Lhamon writes: “Young blacks were dancing a free identity in a place that valued it against a backdrop of enslavement.” For emphasis he then rephrases the metaphor, observing how this same emotional factor has continued to influence the expression of vernacular-bodied rhythm forms like hip-hop today: “[It] is still playing virtually two centuries later: runaway freedom within confinement.”20 “Free identity” against “enslavement,” “runaway freedom” against “confinement”: these clashing images suggest an urge to take the emotional-mental energies within the self and funnel them outward—to do what all living things not just want but, it would seem, are compulsively hard-wired to do. As the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins describes it, Each mortal thing does one thing and the same, Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves—goes itself.21

For the Catherine Market dancers, the desire to “selve,” to “deal out that being indoors” was being denied exit because it was battering against societal resistance. And this barrier to their instinct to push out, to not hold back what they felt, transformed their bodies into compression chambers. What was being trapped there behaved like any element about to reach boiling point in a sealed-tight container: the volatility, the pressure to release becomes so great that when it issues, it does so ballistically, with power and Performing Energy · 273

suddenness. It’s tightly funneled articulation of initially compressed then exploded energy that these pioneers of percussive street dancing must have brought to their performances. Must have because what pushed back against them was a social mandate that African-Americans, deemed three-fifths human in the Constitution, were not entitled to freely express themselves. But the trickster wit that the combination of African heritage and American trauma bequeathed them—their use, that is, of “a strategy for disguising their inner emotions from the whites”22—allowed them to escape whips or death and transform their desperation into art. Transforming one’s feelings, whether of aggression or grief, into percussive motion is the dance tradition these canny, socially marginalized dancers passed down through generations. The tradition’s beneficiaries are legion: they are any dancers who have ever taken hold of intensely felt, survivaldriven energies and artistically converted them into rhythm-driven bodymusic. To recall only one example among hundreds of legendary rhythmicists, watch singer-dancer James Brown use his hands, head, feet, and blurted scat syllables to percuss hard-edged accents against not just the floor but against all the other imaginary drumheads surrounding the space of his body. I group any such acts of dancing, singing, and/or instrumental-playing driven by inner need under the rubric “American Rhythm Dancing.” This ongoing tradition includes all types of African-American–originated, fullbodied music-making that honor the performance principle called “ngoma,” which, from the Bantu, translates as “drumming and rhythmic song-dancing.”23 American Rhythm Dancing, as performance practice, fuses body and voice into a multi-body-part-percussing musical instrument that uses jazzbased, blues-based, funk-based, or hip-hop-based rhythms to articulate the fundamental impulses of instinct-driven human behavior. I would also propose that the tightly funneled rhythmic energy associated with this tradition impacts best when performed through the vernacular body rather than through one that organizes movement to be valued spatially. The latter type celebrates dancing that beautifully expands and elevates the body. The former prefers dancing that physicalizes three ideas: Cole’s, that jazz dance anchors in the rhythmic articulation of feeling; Harper’s and Gottschild’s, that its African roots compel the performance of energy more than space; and this author’s, that it’s the solidity of the earth, not the porousness of the air, that the body needs to push against if it is to make clear the accented dynamics of percussive rhythm-making.24 American Rhythm Dancing favors using the vernacular body because,

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as with the art of acting, it more readily allows one’s common humanity to radiate through a given performance. It therefore also frees the performer to speak his or her private heart in public with greater believability and less artifice. The jazz music author Gary Giddins has this individualist dimension in mind when he says, “The one truth about jazz of which I am certain is that it incarnates liberty, often with a stubbornly proud intransigence, merging with everything and borrowing anything, yet ultimately riding alone. . . . Not a bad thing, independence, which is what hooked many of us on art in the first place.”25 It’s true that Giddins is talking about music, not dance. But his insistence that the art’s core value is independence coupled with intransigence can readily include dance iconoclasts whose performances embrace these qualities. Being free to speak one’s inside voice requires taking a stand apart from what is conventionally approved of, whether in one’s surface life or, today, on the surfaces of digital screens providing us with answers that, courtesy of nanosecond-fast search engines, require little digging down for. Ballet and ballet-based dancing are among humanity’s glories. It is a constant inspiration to watch performances of dance in which humans successfully strive to achieve transcendence. But the urge to transcend can also promote tacking in directions that take one away too far from the earth and the self. “We go outside ourselves,” Michel de Montaigne writes, “because we do not know what it is like inside. Yet there is no use our mounting on stilts, for on stilts we must still walk on our own legs. And on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting only on our own rump.”26 Mary Oliver continues Montaigne’s wry thought, noting the universal law that constantly signals us to make peace with where we already are: Gravity is a fact everybody knows about. It is always underfoot, like a summons.27

Jump Rhythm® Technique—a vocal-rhythmic approach to jazz-based learning—suggests putting away the stilts.28 It builds into the pedagogy what the combination of gravity and basic instinctual intelligence has already taught the body to do: to dance not by overdancing but by quieting the mind enough so that it can sense what gravity’s directives—not “preconceived notions as to how we ought to look”—are telling the body to do.29 Surely this is why people still delight in watching a brilliant body-musician like Fred Astaire. His movies teach us not only that he knew how to let

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his body just be. He also knew how to use his inarguably cool groundedness to explode into space some of the most perfectly weight-flung, precisiontimed rhythmic accents ever recorded. Astaire was, by his own admission, “bad-tempered, impatient, hard to please, critical.”30 But, as with any artist whose work continues to impact on us, his temperament drove him to figure out how to dance what his gut commanded: “I do nothing that I don’t like, such as inventing ‘up’ to the arty or ‘down’ to the corny. . . . What I think is the really dangerous approach is the ‘let’s be artistic’ attitude.”31 Reminiscent of how Giddins sees jazz, Astaire enjoyed borrowing from everything, worshipping nothing, and turning the movement he chose into masterpieces of full-bodied rhythm-making. Giddins calls it liberty; Astaire called it his “outlaw style.”32 This highly individuated point of view conveys neither the upper-class superiority that audiences of his time associated with the wealthy and powerful nor the white-tie-andtails elegance people still glibly tag him with—a look Astaire himself didn’t like. It rather communicates what Morris Dickstein calls the “instinctive democrat” in him.33 His dancing is about “a sense of movement and relationship to those who [feel] hemmed in and isolated, a democratic kind of classiness . . . to replace stiffly hierarchical notions of class.”34 The people who first saw Astaire’s movies wanted to dance like him not just because they too wanted to cavort on an Art Deco set. They did so because populist nonconformity lay at the core of Astaire’s performances. That inspired most of them, who either lived during the Depression or vividly remembered it, to use dance to express their own wit-laced rebellions. As Arlene Croce says of one of his duets with Ginger Rogers, “It’s like a moment of cinema verité bursting through the surface of a polished commercial film.”35 Outlaws like Astaire can do this for us. Their examples can help those of us who do jazz to create this “bursting through” effect in our own work. As models of convention-defying artistry, they inspire us to use the art form as a means of authentic self-expression. They inspire us to make and perform dances that break apart the polished surfaces of classroom-imitated “steps” to reveal that more reliable source of creativity lying within each of us—our own wondrously peculiar, real-life behavior. In this spirit, may more of us continue to honor the tradition of American Rhythm Dancing. May more of us be good outlaws as well as good citizens. And may more of us take the time to roam not the Wild West but those other, equally real wide open spaces—the ones in us. If we do that, if we allow ourselves to become, to borrow Margaret Lloyd’s metaphor about Graham, excavators who dig downward as much as explorers who seek outward,36 we join the larger dance tradition of “moving from the inside out.”37 This 276 · Billy Siegenfeld

revolutionary idea was effectively started by the dance world’s first certifiable rebel, Isadora Duncan, and continued by groundbreakers like Graham and Humphrey in expressionist modern dance, and Jack Cole and James Brown in feeling-generated percussive dance. The future of jazz and its offshoots lies in this practice. It’s there, beneath the body’s surfaces, that we tap into our emotion-charged energy. When we focus primarily on performing energy, not space, when we focus primarily on performing inside-felt urgency, not outside-seen spatial design, we affirm what artists throughout the ages have always acted on, often against great odds: the need to speak one’s subjective truth. This is what the pioneering foot-percussionists did at Catherine Market. By daring to give articulation to the inarticulate rioting within themselves, they danced the freedom-seeker’s challenge spoken in the last lines of Shakespeare’s Lear. Its message, as relevant today as at any other time, affirms what inside-out creators have always done in the face of pressures to conform to what established society deems right or proper: “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”

Notes The author is currently applying to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the term American Rhythm Dancing. 1. Rize, dir. David LaChapelle (Lions Gate Entertainment, Santa Monica, 2005), 28'37"– 28'46". 2. Gus Giordano, ed., Anthology of American Jazz Dance (Evanston, IL: Orion, 1975), 72. 3. Selma Jeanne Cohen, Doris Humphrey: An Artist First (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1972), 75. 4. Selma Jeanne Cohen, ed., Dance as a Theatre Art: Source Readings in Dance History from 1581 to the Present (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 139. 5. Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, trans. M.T.H. Sadler (New York: Dover, 1977), 34–35. 6. Giordano, Anthology, 73. 7. Glenn Loney, Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole (New York: Franklin Watts, 1984), 329. 8. Giordano, Anthology, 73. 9. Ibid. 10. Peggy Harper, “Dance in Nigeria,” Ethnomusicology 13, no. 2 (May 1969): 289–90, 294. 11. Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), 8. 12. Billy Siegenfeld, “Standing Down Straight: Jump Rhythm Technique’s RhythmDriven, Community-Directed Approach to Dance Education,” Journal of Dance Education 9, no. 4 (December 2009): 117. Performing Energy · 277

13. Sally Banes, Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980), 43. 14. Calvin Tomkins, “Appetite for Motion,” New Yorker, May 4, 1968, 54. 15. Anna Kisselgoff, “Ceaseless Novelty in a Lifetime of Dance,” New York Times, July 18, 1999, sec. 2, 1. 16. Siegenfeld, “Standing Down Straight,” 118. 17. Giordano, Anthology, 72. 18. Loney, Unsung Genius, 35. 19. Rize, 28'31"–28'36". 20. W. T. Lhamon Jr., Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 16. 21. W. H. Gardner and N. H. Mackenzie, eds., The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 90. 22. Lawrence W. Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 133. 23. J. M. Janzen, Ngoma: Discourses of Healing in Central and Southern Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 1. 24. Siegenfeld, “Standing Down Straight,” 114. 25. Gary Giddins, Visions of Jazz: The First Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 8. 26. Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works, trans. Donald Frame (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), 1044. 27. Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, vol. 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992), 19. 28. Jump Rhythm® Technique bases its rhythm-driven approach to movement learning on the gravity-directed alignment concept called Standing Down Straight®. For further reading, Billy Siegenfeld, “Standing Down Straight: Jump Rhythm Technique’s RhythmDriven, Community-Directed Approach to Dance Education,” Journal of Dance Education 9 (December 2009). 29. Mabel Elsworth Todd, The Thinking Body: A Study of the Balancing Forces of Dynamic Man (Hightstown: Princeton Book, 1959), 34. 30. Fred Astaire, Steps in Time (New York: Harper Brothers, 1959), 7. 31. Ibid., 6–7. 32. Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance (New York: Macmillan, 1968), 226. 33. Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009), 382. 34. Ibid., 392. 35. Arlene Croce, The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book (New York: Outerbridge and Lazard, 1972), 47–48. 36. Margaret Lloyd, The Borzoi Book of Modern Dance (Brooklyn, NY: Dance Horizons, 1974), 48. 37. Cohen, Doris Humphrey, 75.

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33 A Journey into the Heart of Jazz Dance Jill Flanders Crosby

Sketching the Journey

In 1981, I began a long artistic and scholarly journey in search of jazz dance. I already considered myself a jazz dancer, for I took “jazz” classes in high school, college, and professional studios in New York City.1 I was in love with the form and identified its aesthetic as primary to my artistic voice. University employment in Alaska immediately after my 1975 BA degree required a terminal degree, and I began this process in 1981 first with my master’s degree and then doctoral work in 1989.2 Little did I know when I began that my journey would eventually take me to Ghana, West Africa, and Cuba and significantly reshape how I understand jazz. I began by asking “What is jazz dance?” My initial exploration led me to the seminal 1959 article by jazz historian Marshall Stearns, “Is Modern Jazz Hopelessly Square?” Stearns laments about the present state of dance called jazz in the 1950s, arguing that jazz dancers and choreographers were ignoring jazz rhythms and music. He was challenging the very structure of dance that I knew and loved as “jazz.” “How can he say that?” I thought. “I dance this form, and all my teachers call it jazz. Therefore it must be jazz dance.” I wanted to prove him wrong but discovered I could not. So I began investigating.



Over the next eight years, I explored jazz dance as an artist and as an educator. I was influenced not only by Stearns’s article, but also by his seminal book Jazz Dance, which chronicles the development of vernacular jazz dance in the early twentieth century.3 This led me into further explorations of jazz dance’s West African and African-American vernacular roots and into jazz improvisation. I discovered during my master’s work that jazz musicians and historians believe two key components are vital to jazz: rhythmic complexity and improvisation.4 In order to explore these elements, I began dancing to jazz music: standard tunes by artists such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and John Coltrane. This pushed me into a new artistic direction, as my jazz classes primarily used pop music. We seldom improvised and steps were usually organized around a ballet and modern dance vocabulary with little attention to jazz rhythms. During these same eight years, I also traveled to New York City almost every summer to take jazz dance classes, and as it is well documented beyond Stearns’s work that the West African aesthetic is foundational to jazz dance and music, I took multiple West African and West African Diaspora dance classes.5 Despite all this, I still could not find the core of jazz dance and music as Marshall Stearns had described it. 1989–1998

I began doctoral work at Teachers College Columbia University. In order to truly grasp the West African roots of jazz expression, I took dance and drumming classes at the University of Ghana for a year, while also conducting fieldwork.6 I spent a second year in New York City (and an additional two summers) taking two classes that honored jazz music and multiple theater dance, West African, West African Diaspora, and tap classes.7 I took Lindy dance classes and went out social swing dancing.8 I spent hours in the New York City Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library, visited Washington’s Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Collection, went to jazz music clubs, and interviewed seminal jazz dancers and musicians—all critical research steps I had missed during my master’s work. Finally, I performed under the direction of nationally recognized jazz choreographers who honor an approach embracing rhythmic complexity, structured improvisation, and performance to live jazz music.9 I culminated my doctoral work in 1995 by detailing a new understanding of jazz dance. I presented arguments that contrasted this new understanding—what is identified in this book as rhythm-generated jazz—with the 280 · Jill Flanders Crosby

earlier form of jazz that I had danced—which for the purposes of my dissertation, I called pop dance. I found that both forms trace their roots back to African-American folk and vernacular jazz dances. However, I also found that they have differing styles and techniques and embrace the West African and African-American roots from divergent perspectives. But before I detail what changed for me, I cannot stop describing my jazz journey, for it really did not stop here. In 1998, I started researching the sacred dances of the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo, West Africa, and the Arará sacred dances in Cuba (related through the transatlantic slave trade), examining their transformation for the performance stage by national folkloric dance companies. I used these sacred dances as performance forms in urban settings and their community-based forms in the field. I interviewed dancers, educators, and religious practitioners in both Ghana and in Cuba. The words original and authentic came up frequently. In order to honor the words of those I interviewed, but recognize problems with the word authentic, I began examining the dense issues surrounding the concept of authenticity. This led me right back to jazz. Is one form more authentic than another? Who decides? What does authentic really mean? Authenticity

Authenticity is a messy term. We often hear the word authentic: an authentic signature, the authentic people, the authentic dance. Frequently, authenticity is tied to the word traditional, so we often hear dances described as “traditional” thus “authentic” and “original.” This was problematic for me. However, inspired by multiple readings on authenticity, I now understand authenticity as a process and a construction. What is “authentic” (and traditional) is ever changing and in public negotiation.10 Anthropologist Mattijs van de Port suggests that researchers should investigate the stories that claim “truth” surrounding the construction of authenticity rather than critique authenticity or argue whether one thing is more authentic than another. Authenticity, he says, rests in these stories and in the meaning participants find for themselves, resulting in a “felt authentic grounding.”11 This “felt authentic grounding” was a critical concept for me and is now the anchor for my jazz voice. I do not claim that rhythm-generated jazz dance is more “authentic” or more “original.” Artists constantly push boundaries in new directions, creating shifts in taste and style as well as new forms. Asking “what is jazz” may be better approached by discovering that jazz is everchanging with multiple centers of meaning and personal aesthetic choices. I have come to recognize that each jazz style, including the style I once A Journey into the Heart of Jazz Dance · 281

referred to as pop dance, has differing constructions of jazz within its own history, shifts, changes in style, and “felt authentic groundings.” However, what is important is that because of my artistic and scholarly inquiry, I found that the “felt authentic groundings” within a community of jazz musicians and dancers who all practice a rhythm-generated approach to jazz strongly resonated with groundings I found during my West African work. My journey took me to the very roots of jazz. Of course, it is dangerous to make comparisons across West African and jazz forms as if they are universal. But I discovered that in all the forms I danced, such striking “felt authentic groundings”—in a sense, deep structures—were prevalent across my West African and rhythm-generated jazz work. By deep structures, I mean the centers that are markers of each dance form’s identity in spite of their differences. However, I stress that the West African and jazz forms I discuss here are the West African and jazz forms as I have come to know them. Evoking the Journey—Discoveries in Ghana

It was only my third class at the University of Ghana when I was struck with the intimate connection between movement and music. We were learning Fast Agbekor,12 a dance where rhythmic changes on the master drum dictate changes in movements. In order to learn these movements, we had to learn how to sing their corresponding drum rhythms through a technique my teachers called mouth drumming: syllables that re-create drum rhythms in tone and timbre. As my teachers emphasized, dance makes the music visible and music makes the dance sound. Mouth drumming while trying to master movements was the only way I could even begin to merge movement and music. Movements push and pull on and play with the rhythms, and a dancer has to be “on with the drum,” for in Ghana, “timing should never be at the left side of the drum.” I had to learn to sharpen my listening skills to a brand-new level. The idea of mouth drumming was not limited to the university. Drummers I interviewed out in the field described creating new patterns in one’s mouth. And if rhythmic patterns did not specifically dictate every move, specific rhythms were still critical to specific dance identities. One did not dance Agbekor to anything other than Agbekor music. In the field, I was always struck by the immediacy and vibrancy of movements that were in conversation with the rhythms; dancers would seemingly fold into the drums both physically and with motional qualities as if the drums and dancer became one circular ribbon of motional, weighted and

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Figure 33.1. Jill Flanders Crosby dancing in the field, Dzodze, Ghana, 2006. By permission of Rob Shipster.

rhythmic conversation. The rhythms were never something to dance “to”; they were symbiotic and interactive partners. Equally striking was the weightedness and rebound quality of the dancing body. If I did not equally weight my body, I could not master movements. I had to shift from an over-curve movement approach through space and one that emphasized lengthening away from and defying gravity based on my ballet, modern and early pop dance training, to an under-curve approach through space releasing into gravity with a rebound quality. As striking was the concurrent, conversational quality between dancers, musicians, and community members attending celebrations. Finally, I found that often dancers would embellish and transform steps that belonged to particular rhythms with playfulness and improvisational interpretations. The core identity of the movement was never thrown away, but dancers played with that core while in conversation with the drum. This sense of improvisation was never lost on me in Ghana. Ghanaian master drummer Wilson Akortia told me that when he is drumming, he knows when a dancer “is just dancing and not making anything to tell you some-

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thing or to communicate with you.” When this happens, “then you will keep on drumming the way you like.”13 Evoking the Journey

My time in New York City immediately after Ghana was strikingly similar. Swing dancing one night with Buster Brown,14 I listened to him scat (verbally call/sing out) rhythms in conversation with the music. I also felt him translate those scats in his dancing body through our hands with a weighted sense of swing motion. I could feel and hear the relationships and conversations between his dancing, his scats, the music, and me. He placed his feet down firmly and played with the beat, pushing and pulling on it to either hesitate or anticipate its arrival. In rhythm-generated jazz classes with Billy Siegenfeld, or when I was learning rhythm-generated jazz choreography, an intimate relationship with music and scatting was essential. In class with Siegenfeld, I had to learn how to sing what I danced. For choreographies with jazz artist Katherine Kramer, I learned the rhythmic structure and melodic line of each tune (often called the “head” of the tune) as a scat.15 We then danced the head of the tune sometimes exactly (and I mean exactly) or as playful but alternate rhythmic scat either improvised or choreographed. To actualize these movements, I had to scat while dancing. I could not learn or perform movement as steps and counts. I learned and performed them as a song. I conversed with the music, singing what I was dancing. The intimate connection to music, I discovered, goes even deeper. Jazz musicians and dancers would smile when they quoted that famous line “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” But behind the smile was an adamant conviction that swing is foundational to jazz expression. Swing occurs through a particular rhythm and a propulsive groove (simplistically described, swing is created when the quarter note is divided into three unequal eighth notes). The only way for me to master rhythm-generated jazz was to radically shift my movement approach in space and my relationship to gravity with the same under-curve and release into gravity I needed in Ghana. What Does It All Mean?

In my search for jazz, the intimate connection between music and dance emerged as critical. My listening skills had to change. West African and jazz music are rich with rhythmic complexity and surprise as opposed to music that has a steady backbeat or groundbeat.16 Rhythm-generated jazz dance pushes and pulls on rhythms and literally embodies that rhythmic com-

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plexity. This was similar to the complexity I found across the various West African forms I studied in Ghana as well as in New York City. In my pop dance classes, warm-up exercises, movement phrases, and combinations were usually drawn from a ballet and modern dance repertoire. Steps became “jazz” with the addition of “jazz” shapes and a “jazz” energy. In contrast, rhythm-generated jazz dance movements draw inspiration not only from the swing and rebound movement qualities of West African and vernacular jazz dances but also from the actual repertoire of West African and vernacular jazz steps. It became clear to me that it is not the presence of the shapes and steps from West African or vernacular social dances that make dance jazz. It is how they are present. Are they “jazz” shapes layered over music to create a “jazz” picture? Or do they find shape from and in mutual conversation with musical and propulsive rhythmic impulse and swing? Improvisation was another important discovery during my journey, but it is structured. Structured improvisation can mean (but is not limited to) experimenting with the melodic line or rhythmic structure of the tune (for both musicians and dancers), or with a choreographic phrase by reinventing it, or by exchanging rhythmic and movement conversations inside a specific number of beats between dancer to dancer, musician to musician, or musician to dancer. West African forms also improvise. Ghanaian drummers often described to me how they find ways to play around with rhythms without losing the sound of those rhythms. Returning to Ghanaian master drummer Wilson Akortia’s comment, improvisation is also important when dancers improvise on their steps. Jazz musicians and dancers are eager to find the never-been-stated-before. They don’t throw away structure, but they do push it as far as they can. This stands in contrast to most pop dance classes I took where improvisation was characterized by individual embellishments a dancer contributed to set choreography.17 Finally, I discovered the conversational relationship and sense of community among and between dancers, musicians, or dancers and musicians. In all the West African and Cuban forms, drummers exist as part of the performance, whether in religious ceremony or social event. Dancers dance in relationship to and in conversation with the drummers. The same is often true of rhythm-generated jazz dance performance, for in my experience as a performer, live music is often used with musicians and dancers onstage together. The community and conversational relationship is vital during improvisation. When I am dancing with a musician who is soloing and we are both improvising, we are in direct communication, watching and listening to each other, always ready to respond to what the other is creating. In my

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swing dancing with Buster Brown, he would break away from the Lindy structure and improvise in conversation with the musicians, rhythmically scatting what he danced. He was listening, and he was talking back. Last Thoughts

Near the end of my first year in New York City, I was coming to recognize and understand shared meanings, “felt authentic groundings,” after a particular visit to a jazz club. I was in the company of jazz tap dancers Heather Cornell and Jeannie Hill to hear jazz drummer Lewis Nash. Nash was described to me as a drummer that a jazz dancer could always draw inspiration from for his creative sense of rhythmic play. As we listened, Hill’s and Cornell’s bodies were actively responding to the music in a weighted, rebound quality against their chairs and an elastic and rhythmic motion of push and pull between music and dancer. Hill was scatting rhythms vocally while her hands made rhythmic gestures sometimes moving the rhythms exactly, sometimes as interpretations of the rhythms. Cornell was no less animated, and her feet would pick up the action and shape of the rhythms as she played with ideas entering into her own musical conversation. I could not keep still myself. At that moment, I realized I had come to an “understanding” of jazz expression, for between us three dancers, we shared common responses. With every unusual rhythmic twist and surprise from Nash’s drums that defied the standard backbeat, we exchanged looks of surprise and admiration at Nash’s rhythmic invention. Nash’s rhythms were mini-sentences, and his improvisations were intriguing journeys. At the end of the set, a woman sitting at the musicians’ table came over to us. “You girls really had a good time, didn’t you? You understand jazz.” In 1994, I returned to Ghana and had a follow-up conversation with Wilson Akortia. I discussed how I had come to know jazz. I described jazz to him as a pushing and pulling of the rhythm by musician and dancer, the rhythmic surprises and rhythmic inventions. I described how a jazz dancer sometimes moves the rhythmic structure and melodic line or an interpretation of the rhythm and melodic line. I described the conversational interaction between dancers and musicians, the use of improvisation, and the weighted-ness of the swinging dancing body. “Well,” he said, “then it is like ours.”

286 · Jill Flanders Crosby

Notes 1. My undergraduate degree was at Western Kentucky University. Prior to my master’s work, I took classes in New York City with Tanya Everett, Chuck Kelly, Luigi, Betsy Haug, Frank Hatchett, Lynn Simonson, and Nat Horne. I took additional classes in Chicago with Gus Giordano. 2. I earned an MA from the Gallatin Program at New York University and an EdD from Teachers College Columbia University. 3. Jazz Dance by Marshall and Jean Stearns was first published in 1964. 4. Jill Flanders Crosby, “Will the Real Jazz Dance Please Stand Up? A Critical Examination of the Roots and Essence of Jazz with Implications for Education” (EdD diss., Teachers College, Columbia University, 1995), 80–88. 5. Ibid., 2. 6. My early fieldwork locations were Dzodze and Peki, Ghana, with occasional visits to northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso. 7. My teachers during this time included Billy Siegenfeld, Ann Reinking, Lee Theodore, Buzz Miller, Pepsi Bethel, Robert Tucker, Anita Feldman, Jeannie Hill, Richard Gonzalez, Carolyn Brown, and Bernadine Jennings. 8. My Lindy classes were with Margaret Batiuchok. I social-danced at three locations: the Continental located downtown at 15th and Irving Place, Willie’s located one block from the Apollo Theater, and Wells located on Adam Clayton Boulevard and 132nd Street. I was often accompanied by Ernie Smith, former assistant to Marshall Stearns. 9. I performed with Katherine Kramer, Heather Cornell, and Jeannie Hill and commissioned a solo from Billy Siegenfeld. 10. Edward Bruner, Culture on Tour: Ethnographies of Travel (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005), 71–100. 11. Mattijs van de Port, “Registers of Incontestability: The Quest for Authenticity and Beyond,” Etnofoor 47, nos. 1/2 (2004): 7–22. 12. Fast Agbekor at the University of Ghana is an arrangement created by Mawere Opoku based on Atsiagbekor of the Anlo-Ewe peoples. 13. Wilson Akortia interview, Peki, Ghana, 1992. 14. Buster Brown (1913–2002) was a well-known tap dancer and a member of the Copasetics. 15. Katherine Kramer (1951) is a seminal rhythm-generated tap and jazz dancer. 16. The backbeat or groundbeat is the strongest beat felt inside a musical bar. 17. Crosby, “Will the Real Jazz Dance,” 167–98.

A Journey into the Heart of Jazz Dance · 287

Miguel Perez. Photo by Ed Flores: edflores.com; dance and art photography, Tucson, AZ.

APPENDIX A Sampling of Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Companies

There are several professional jazz dance companies around the world, and their identities vary widely. While there are many concert dance companies that perform jazz-influenced choreography, few dedicate their mission primarily to jazz dance choreography. This listing offers a glimpse of companies from the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Japan, and Sweden; it is not all-inclusive. All of these companies have worked or are working actively and have been established for at least ten years as of 2012. Most have toured nationally and/or internationally, and all have established reputations within their respective countries. Most important, each company has as part of its mission a specific commitment to jazz dance and/ or music, whether authentic jazz, jazz tap, theatrical jazz, or contemporary jazz. Ballet Jazz Art (1980–present) This company was founded in 1980 in Paris by Matt Mattox, but in 1981 Raza Hammadi became director. Strongly influenced by Mattox’s jazz technique, Ballet Jazz Art works with choreographers in a style blending ballet and contemporary jazz. In addition to teaching dance classes to students at their large space, they offer a curriculum for future jazz dance teachers, including dance history, anatomy, physiology, and music. www.balletjazzart.com Black Source Dance Theatre (1988–present) Geraldine Armstrong danced with Matt Mattox in his Ballet Jazz Art Company and then started her own group, originally named Armstrong Jazz Ballet. The style blends ballet and traditional black dance in the style of Alvin Ailey and uses music including blues, swing, and gospel; she is also linked to “Afro-jazz” style. Armstrong actively promotes and develops jazz dance in France and internationally. http://www.merignac.com/culture-et-loisirs/les-%C3%A9quipements-culturels/le -pin-galant/la-programmation-culturelle-du-mois/armst


Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (1984–present) This company was founded in Calgary, Canada, by Vicki Adams Willis, Michèle Moss, and Hannah Stilwell and honors the African-based roots of jazz dance. They believe that jazz music is at the heart of jazz dance, and they often work with jazz musicians including the late Big Miller, Tommy Banks, Mark Murphy, PJ Perry, and Jackie Richardson. Touring both nationally and internationally, DRJ has created more than fifty full-length works, and it also runs a large school and outreach program. www.decidedlyjazz.com Giordano Dance Chicago (1963–present) Jazz dance advocate Gus Giordano created this Chicago-based company as a manifestation of his deep commitment to jazz dance. His daughter, Nan, is the current artistic director and continues the company’s mission to develop and preserve jazz dance as a uniquely American art form. The company now has a diverse repertory, which ranges from classical jazz to contemporary jazz and includes works by Gus Giordano, Nan Giordano, and a number of guest artists. http://giordanodance.org

Figure A.1. G-Force, 2012, Giordano Dance Chicago. Choreographer: Autumn Eckman. Dancers: Devin Buchanan, Ashley Rockwood, Maeghan McHale, Martin Ortiz Tapia. Gorman Cook Photography. 290 · Appendix

Harlem Hot Shots (2002–present) This Swedish company is dedicated to performing authentic jazz dance representative of the swing era in the United States. They strive for genuine reconstructions of dances such as the Lindy Hop, Charleston, Jitterbug, and Black Bottom, which they stage based on authentic film clips and interviews with dancers from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. The dancers keep their commitment to the style alive with their use of comedy, singing, and acrobatics, and they have toured worldwide. http://www.harlemhotshots.com/en/ JazzAntiqua Dance and Music Ensemble (1993–present) This company celebrates jazz as a reflection of African-American culture and heritage. In a style that blends theatrical jazz dance with dance of the African diaspora, this Los Angeles–based company performs works set to original jazz compositions and also to pieces by jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. Artistic director and choreographer Pat Taylor honors the company’s mission to inspire, educate, and entertain through performances, classes, and community work. http://www.jazzantiqua.org JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski (1979–2005) Buraczeski founded his company in 1979, creating a new vernacular-based jazz dance, using a rhythmically complex, swinging movement style. Many of Buraczeski’s works for JAZZDANCE were commissioned by presenters around the country including the Walker Art Center, the Bates Dance Festival, and the Library of Congress. His Minneapolis-based company’s repertory included dances choreographed to swing, klezmer, blues, and contemporary jazz music. http://www.smu.edu/Meadows/AreasOfStudy/Dance/Faculty/BuraczeskiDaniel Jazz Tap Ensemble (1979–present) This Los Angeles–based ensemble, founded and directed by Lynn Dally, has revitalized the tap dance scene through its commitment to tap dance and jazz music. Composed of dancers and musicians, the company pays homage to the vernacular origins of tap dance while exploring contemporary movement vocabulary. Jazz Tap Ensemble claims to be America’s first touring tap dance company; they represented the United States in a 2012 tour of Africa through DanceMotion USASM. http://www.jazztapensemble.org/ Jiving Lindy Hoppers (1984–present) This British company was founded by Terry Monaghan and Warren Heyes, who wanted to revive authentic jazz dance as seen in the United States during the A Sampling of Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Companies · 291

1920s–1940s. The company is currently directed by dancer Carolene Hinds, who, along with Heyes, developed training techniques for the dancers, based on extensive research by Monaghan, who studied in the United States. They have been called the “world’s foremost authentic jazz dance company,” and they often teach authentic jazz history through lecture-demonstrations. Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project (1990–present) Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project is a Chicago-based company founded by Billy Siegenfeld, whose mission is to use dancing and singing as a medium for expressing energy. The company is rhythm-driven, and they perform to jazz, blues, funk, hip-hop, and world music. Siegenfeld’s movement style has been developed into a copyrighted approach called Jump Rhythm® Technique, offered in classes throughout the Chicago area and in workshops nationally and internationally. http://www.jrjp.org/home.html Masashi Action Machine (1990–present) Artistic director Kumiko Sakamoto and principal dancer/choreographer Masashi Mishiro formed this Japan-based jazz dance company after studying under Frank Hatchett in New York. They bring jazz-influenced techniques combined with remarkable skill, precision, and acrobatics to audiences across Japan and overseas. The company has performed numerous times at Jazz Dance World Congress, most recently at the August 2012 event in Pittsburgh. http://www.dancepro.co.jp/action-machine/ OFFJAZZ Dance Company (1981–present) Created in 1981 by Gianin Loringett, this French company has a broad jazz repertory that includes jazz rock, swing, musical theater dance, ethnic jazz, and contemporary jazz. Loringett studied with Matt Mattox and Luigi, and he runs a school as well as the company. OFFJAZZ has toured Europe and resides in Nice in the southeast area of France. www.offjazz.com/offjazz.dance.company.htm Odyssey Dance Theatre (1994–present) Derryl Yeager founded this company with the intention of entertaining audiences without elitist notions regarding concert dance. Based in Salt Lake City, Odyssey Dance Theatre explores all styles and outlets of jazz dance—from the rawness of hip-hop to the all-American virtues of Broadway and vaudeville. The company has a vibrant presence in Utah and regularly tours internationally, including Beijing and frequent tours of Europe. www.odysseydance.com 292 · Appendix

Figure A.2. Kongas, 2003, OFFJAZZ Dance Company, Nice, France. Choreography: Gianin Loringett. Dancers: Grazia Petti, Raivis Djamko, Grégory Delpeuch. Photographer: Alain Hanel.

Rennie Harris Puremovement (1992–present) Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris founded his Philadelphia-based company in 1992. His goal of preserving and disseminating authentic hip-hop dance and its culture has led him and his company to tour both nationally and internationally. They are now considered hip-hop ambassadors, and they pride themselves on their longevity in organized hip-hop theater. Harris passionately believes that hip-hop has the power to transcend any social or political lines and is the original voice of a new generation. www.rhpm.org Rick Odums’s Jazz Ballet (1983–present) Rick Odums studied with Alvin Ailey and performed on Broadway and with Dance Theatre of Harlem before settling in France. His company blends classical ballet with modern jazz dance and is considered the “French ambassador of jazz dance.” They have performed in more than twenty countries and have participated in the Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago. They are one of only two jazz dance companies in France that receive government funding. www.centre-rick-odums.com A Sampling of Twenty-First-Century Jazz Dance Companies · 293

River North Dance Chicago (1989–present) Formed by four dancer/choreographers who recognized the wealth of talented jazz dancers in Chicago, the company is recognized both nationally and internationally. Director Frank Chaves continues the legacy of creating and commissioning jazz-based contemporary works with a theatrical edge. Each work in the diverse repertoire has the feel of “Americana,” from their acclaimed “Habaneras, the Music of Cuba” to their signature piece, “Evolution of a Dream.” www.rivernorthchicago.com Savage Jazz Dance Company (1992–present) Founded by Reginald Ray-Savage in the San Francisco Bay Area, Savage Jazz is committed to performing works inspired by jazz music. They often perform with live musicians onstage. Ray-Savage began his career performing in Katherine Dunham’s company, and he believes in strong training in both ballet and modern dance for his dancers. The company is affiliated with the Oakland School for the Arts and has performed at the Jazz Dance World Congress. http://www.savagejazz.org/

Figure A.3. Jarrod Mayo, Savage Jazz Dance Company. © 2012 Mark Kitaoka

294 · Appendix


Takiyah Nur Amin, PhD, is assistant professor of world dance at UNC Charlotte, where she teaches courses in dance history. Dr. Amin has shared her research with the Congress on Research in Dance and the Society of Dance History Scholars and through publication in Dance Chronicle, the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Pan African Studies, and the Community Arts Network. B ob B oross is known internationally for his artistic excellence as a jazz dance teacher, choreographer, and author. His career has taken him from dancing on Broadway to choreographing musicals and concert dances across the globe, as well as contributing articles to Dance Magazine, Dance Chronicle, and Dance Teacher, where he also serves on their advisory board. He currently teaches dance at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Patricia Cohen, MA, RDE, is a faculty member in the NYU/Steinhardt Dance Education Program, where she created the syllabus for, and teaches, Jazz Dance: Culture and Pedagogy. Cohen is also adjunct professor in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. A certified teacher of Simonson Jazz Dance Technique, she studied extensively with jazz legends Matt Mattox and Luigi, and she has presented jazz workshops nationally and internationally. Saroya Corbett is a certified Dunham Technique instructor and has an MFA in dance from Temple University, where she also holds a certificate in women’s studies. Currently Saroya is a dance artist in the Philadelphia community. Jill Flanders Crosby is professor in the Department of Theater and Dance, University of Alaska Anchorage, and has performed, choreographed, and taught jazz dance since 1976. She conducted fieldwork in Ghana, West Africa, and New York City from 1991 to 1993 for her doctoral research on jazz dance. She continues research in Ghana and concurrently in the Matanzas province of Cuba investigating religious dance forms.


Teal Darkenwald is on faculty at East Carolina University. After earning her BFA from the University at Buffalo and her MFA from the University of Arizona, Darkenwald taught at the University of Arizona, Glendale and Scottsdale Community Colleges in Arizona, and Ottawa University. Most recently, she was a recipient of the Teaching Grant Award by the University of North Carolina system to continue her research on the lineage and comparative styles of jazz dance. Moncell Durden is a Philadelphia-based embodied dance historian specializing in pedagogical practices both practical and theoretical that provide a cultural/ historical context in American Afro-Latin social dance. He spent ten years as a member of the NYC hip-hop pioneering group Mop-Top and twelve as a member of Philadelphia’s hip-hop theater company, Rennie Harris Puremovement. Melanie George is the dance program director at American University. She holds a BA in dance from Western Michigan University, an MA in dance and a graduate certificate in secondary teaching from American University, and is a certified movement analyst. She has presented her research on jazz dance pedagogy throughout the United States, Canada, and Scotland. Lindsay Craven Guarino is assistant professor of dance and the director of the dance program at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. She has taught modern and a variety of jazz dance styles at the University of Arizona, Providence College, Salve Regina University, and a number of private dance studios across the country. She holds a BFA in dance from the University at Buffalo and an MFA in dance from the University of Arizona. Kirsten Harvey is assistant professor of jazz and musical theater dance at Western Michigan University. She received her BA and MFA from the University of California, Irvine, and danced professionally in the Los Angeles area both in concert and commercial venues. Ms. Harvey’s research on jazz dance improvisation and acting for dancers has been published and presented in the United States, Australia, Britain, and Germany. Karen Hubbard, associate professor in the UNC Charlotte Dance Department, holds a BA in sociology from Kent State University, an MA in dance from Ohio State University, and a certificate in African/Kenyan studies from the University of Nairobi as a Fulbright-Hays scholar. Her jazz-related training includes modern jazz, ballet-based jazz, Dunham-based jazz, and authentic jazz. Karen performed on Broadway and film and has taught traditional jazz dance master classes in the United States and abroad. Her writing appears in academic journals and books, and her innovative teaching methodologies are utilized nationally.

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Carlos Jones is assistant professor at Buffalo State College, where he is a State University of New York Faculty Diversity Fellow. He teaches musical theater and American vernacular dance. Prior to his arrival in academia, Jones had a vibrant career in television, film, and regional theater. Kimberly Karpanty, MA, MFA, studied with Lynn Simonson for more than a decade in New York City and has been a certified teacher of the Simonson Technique since 1989. She is associate professor of dance at Kent State University where she directs the Kent Dance Ensemble and teaches modern, jazz, and American jazz dance history. Karpanty’s concert jazz dance choreography has been commissioned and performed throughout the United States and abroad in Latin America. Michael McStraw is executive director of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and Jazz Dance World Congress. He holds a BS in geology from Allegheny College and an MFA in modern dance performance from the University of Michigan. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and worked for more than seventeen years in the pharmaceutical industry. He is a dancer, educator, musician, painter, and lifelong advocate for the power and value of the performing arts. Ray Miller is professor in dance studies and theater arts at Appalachian State University. He has published in Studies in Musical Theatre, Dance Research Journal, Dance Chronicle, International Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Journal, and Text and Performance Quarterly, among others. He served as president of the Congress of Research in Dance from 2006 to 2008. Gill Wright Miller, PhD, associate professor of dance and women’s studies, focuses on embodied research and methodology. A proponent of cultural diversity, Dr. Miller created the world dance program at Denison in 1998, and she teaches African aesthetics in the cultural studies program there. She is also the author of Exploring Body-Mind Centering: An Anthology of Experience and Method and the collaboratively produced film BMC and Qi. Michèle Moss is a choreographer, dancer, scholar, and educator. She is assistant professor in the Department of Dance at the University of Calgary (Western Canada) and a co-founder of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, a professional concert dance company (1984). She continues to find great pleasure exploring the nature of jazz, from the roots to its innovative blossoms. Cheryl Mrozowski is chair of theater and dance studies and head of the Visiting Artists Program for the performing and creative arts at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Serving as director of dance for the past twenty-five years,

Contributors · 297

she transformed the dance program from being positioned within athletics into an academic major within the Department of Theater and Dance. She has a BA in history and an MA in dance from American University. Wendy Oliver is professor of dance at Providence College and serves as the editor for the Journal of Dance Education. She wrote the textbook Writing about Dance and has published in JODE, Dance Research Journal, and JOPERD. She holds an MFA in dance from Temple University and an EdD in dance education from Columbia University. Lynnette Young Overby is professor of theater and dance and faculty director of undergraduate research and experiential learning at the University of Delaware. She has served the dance profession for over thirty years as a teacher, choreographer, editor, and researcher. Creating opportunities for making dance a part of each person’s life has been the impetus for her work in community engagement. Tom Ralabate is professor of dance at the University at Buffalo. He has taught for all major dance organizations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. A former U.S. Latin Ballroom Dance champion, he was the American representative with his sister, Kip, to the World Latin Dance Championships. Honored for his contributions to dance, Ralabate is the recipient of numerous awards presented by SUNY, DMA, DTCB, CNADM, JDWC, and Dance Teacher Magazine. Michèle Scott started her training in jazz dance with Ivor Megiddo, who had studied with Jack Cole and Luigi Facciuto. Later she studied with Matt Mattox. Michèle has taught jazz dance at schools and colleges throughout London, and in 1992 Michèle became the jazz director of Dance Arts International, for whom she devised a syllabus and wrote Le Radici Profonde ed i Cambiamenti, a jazz history book that is currently in preparation for their Italian associate schools. Billy Siegenfeld is the artistic director of Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project. He is also the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, a Fulbright Senior Scholar, Finland, and an Emmy Award winner. He created Jump Rhythm® Technique (jazz-rhythm-based system of movement-and-voice training) and Standing Down Straight® (gravity-directed, injury-preventive alignment system). Recognitions include Dance Chicago Choreographer of the Year, Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Choreography, and Jazz Dance World Congress Gold Leo Award for Outstanding Choreography. Susie Trenka, MA, is a PhD fellow and research assistant in film studies at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and during 2012 she was a visiting scholar at Tulane University, New Orleans. She is working on a PhD thesis on cinematic

298 · Contributors

representations of African-American vernacular dance from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. Her other research interests include film musicals, star studies, and issues of race in American cinema. Kim Chandler Vaccaro is assistant professor of dance at Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She holds a BA in choreography and performance from the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MA in dance education from the UCLA, and an EdD from Temple University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Jazz Dance Today with Lorraine Person Kriegel, the editor for Dance in My Life, and a contributing editor to the award-winning Core Collection in Dance. Sheron Wray performed with the UK’s leading contemporary dance companies Rambert and London Contemporary Dance Theatre for more than ten years. In tandem she began the JazzXchange Music and Dance Company. Her recent research centers on improvisation, which incorporates African principles as well as shifting to generating audience-centric experiences through use of technology. She teaches jazz dance and improvisation at the University of California, Irvine.

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Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations. Abdul, Paula, 31, 71, 178, 179, 182 Academy of Swing, 208 Aesthetic of the cool, 6, 25, 41, 61, 66 Africa(n): aesthetic, 1, 12–15, 25, 35–43, 68, 165, 169–70, 210, 235, 236, 238, 250, 257, 270, 271, 280–86; dance, 3–7, 37–43, 139–40, 169, 172, 186, 187–88, 271, 280–86; diaspora, 35–43, 207, 250; roots, 3, 13–14, 35–43, 45–47, 55, 59, 139–42, 240, 274, 280–86; study abroad, 223–24; tradition, 210 African-American, aesthetic, 60, 164–73, 235; concert dance, 164–73; culture, 3, 14, 30, 67, 165, 184–92, 274; expression, 14, 188, 214; in film, 240–47; in France, 250, 255–59; and hip-hop, 137, 184–92, 238, 245–47; and minstrel shows, 40–41, 140–42, 249; and music, 14, 26, 46–54, 254; musicals, 50, 54, 144, 222; and racism, 141, 171, 231–39, 240–47; rhythms, 139, 140; social dance/vernacular dance, 3, 5–6, 26, 30, 35, 38–43, 46–54, 64, 78, 92, 139–51, 184–92, 208–10, 240–47, 281; studies, 207–8, 210–11; values, 191 African-American concert dance, 164–73 African diasporic dance, 165–72, 291; and Katherine Dunham, 89–95, 156–57, 166 Afro-Caribbean, 26, 91, 184, 185, 188, 191, 251 Afro-Caribbean dance, 26, 184, 188 Afro-Cuban music, 70, 85, 95 Afropean, 254 Agati, Bruno, 257 Agon, 23 Ailey, Alvin, 11, 137, 164, 167, 168, 172, 174 Alexander, Bob, 126 Ali Baba Goes to Town, 242

All That Jazz, 101, 158 Alton, Robert, 114, 154 Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, 161 “America” (West Side Story), 128, 157 America Dances, 166 American Authentic Jazz Dance Company, 79–80 Americana Suite, 92 American Ballet Theatre, 161 American Bandstand, 234, 239 American cinema, 240, 247, 299 American Dance Festival, 122 American Dance Machine, 175, 182 American in Paris, An, 113 American Rhythm Dancing, 268, 273–77 America’s Got Talent, 201 Animal dances, 4, 38, 47, 186; Buzzard Lope, 4, 38, 39, 69, 186 anthropology, dance, 89, 166, 261 Anything Goes, 146, 154 Apollo’s Angels, 191, 193 Apollo Theatre, 50, 287 Appins, Leroy, 51 appropriation, blending of European and African aesthetics, 5, 43; concept of, 170; of African aesthetic, 250; of AfricanAmerican vernacular dance, 234, 237, 243; of hip-hop dance, 190, 238, 245, 246 Arará, 281 Armstrong, Geraldine, 255, 257, 289 artistry vs. tricks, 154, 156, 160, 181, 201, 202 Asquiew, Jeff, 51 assimilation of black culture, 80, 92, 143, 193, 208, 241 Astaire, Fred, 18, 55, 147–48, 171, 176, 275, 276; and Adele, 144, 146, 154 Atkins, Cholly, 50, 60, 145, 148, 179, 188 Audy, Bob, 8


authentic jazz dance, 5, 24–29, 188, 240–44, 251; and Pepsi Bethel, 63, 75, 77–80; in concert dance companies, 291, 292 authenticity, 245, 281 Baby Laurence, 53, 148 Backstreet Boys, 179 Baker, Josephine, 145, 250 Balanchine, George, 54, 121, 148, 151, 154–56, 171 Ballet Jazz Art, 289 Ballin’ the Jack, 6, 47 Ballroom, 47–50, 52, 55, 84, 147, 199 Bal Nègre, 156 Bandwagon, The, 120 Barbaste, Wayne, 258 Baryshnikov, Mikhail, 150 Basil, Toni, 178 Basin Street Revue, 77 B-boying, 184, 185 beatboxing, 30 “Beat It,” 177, 179, 180 Beatty, Talley, 128, 166, 167, 171–73 bebop, 26, 33, 52, 58, 70 Bell Telephone Hour, The, 121 Benatar, Pat, 177, 180 Benjamin, Fred, 63, 131 Bennett, Michael, 156, 159, 160, 163, 174 Berkeley, Busby, 144, 147 Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The, 160 Best Special Theatrical Event Award, 162 Bethel, Pepsi, 63, 73, 75–80 Beyoncé, 180, 182, 203 B-Fats, 186 Bharata Natyam, 83, 87 Big Daddy Kane, 187 “Big Spender,” 98, 99 Black, Phil, 63, 112 Black and Blue, 62, 149, 151 Black Arts movement, 165, 171 Blackbirds of 1928, 145 Black Bottom, 41, 69, 92, 293 blackface, 40, 141, 242, 247, 249, 278 black studies/African-American studies, 207–8, 210–11, 295 blues, the, 46, 67, 127 Blues Suite, 11 Bolger, Ray, 145 Boogaloo, 71, 184, 193 Born Happy, 78

302 · Index

Boyz, The, 187 Bradley, Buddy, 50, 144 breakdance, breaking, 7, 30, 185, 186, 193, 238 Breakin’, 178, 185, 186 Breakin’ 2, 185 Briggs, Bunny, 148, 149 Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, 128, 151 British jazz, 249–55, 259, 261–67 Broadway, 54, 62, 127, 153–61; and Jack Cole, 84–85, 156, 236–37; and Bob Fosse, 97–101, 157–58; and Matt Mattox, 121; revues, 47, 54, 144; and tap dance, 144, 146–47, 149, 151, 244 Broadway Dance Center, 68, 109, 110, 112, 199 Brothers in Jazz, 253, 254, 259, 266 Brown, Angela, 252 Brown, Buster, 50, 53, 55, 58, 286, 287 Brown, Clifford, 21 Brown, James, 188, 189, 274, 277 Brown, Ray, 62 Bruce, Mary, 125 Bubbles, John, 50, 55 Buck and Bubbles, 148 Buck and Wing, 145 Bufalino, Brenda, 8, 149, 150, 152 Buraczeski, Danny, 62–64, 131 Bye Bye Birdie, 157 Cabaret, 99–101, 158 Cabin in the Sky, 54, 96, 156, 166 Cakewalk, 5, 38, 39, 41, 46, 47, 69, 223 call-and-response, 5, 6, 26, 42, 47, 188 Calloway, Cab, 49, 53 Camel Walk, 24, 38, 56, 70, 189 Capoeira, 185 Caribbean, 26, 36, 89–94, 156, 166, 250, 251, 255 Carles, James, 256, 258 Carnival in Flanders, 121, 124 Castle, Irene, 5 Castle, Vernon, 5 certification programs, 198 Champion, Gower, 84, 85, 149, 156, 157 Champion, Marge, 84, 85 Charisse, Cyd, 120, 200, 206 Charisse, Nico, 120 Charleston, 9, 24, 41, 46, 47, 48, 70, 186, 243–44, 264

Chaves, Frank, 65, 66, 294 Chicago, 97, 100, 101, 157, 158 Chorus Line, A, 62, 159, 160, 163, 178 civil rights movement, 210, 235 Clancy, John, 64 Clarke, Kenny, 52 class act, 145 classic(al) jazz dance, 113, 199, 290 Clemente, Steffan, 68 Clorindy and the Origins of the Cakewalk, 46 Clouds (club), 120 club jazz, 25, 31, 249, 251–55, 259, 261–67 Club Mental, 187 Cole, Jack, 26, 54, 82–88, 83, 126–27, 156, 170, 236–37, 260, 268–70 Coles, Charles “Honi,” 18, 145, 148, 149, 171 Collinet, Bruno, 257 Collins, Dean, 244 Coltrane, John, 130, 132, 280, 291 Columbia Studios, 85, 237 Come and Get the Beauty of It Hot, 128 Come Fly Away, 161 commercial hip-hop, 190 commercial jazz dance, 28, 119, 166, 179 community, sense of, 6, 285 community dance programs, 217–27 competitions, 142, 197–206, 203 concert dance/concert jazz dance, 28, 62, 174, 191, 259, 289–94 Condos Brothers, 50 Congaroo Dancers, 53 Congo Square, 13, 39, 40 contemporary jazz dance, 11, 18, 28, 29, 178, 199; in France, 257, 258 conventions, dance, 29, 122, 198–201 Cornell, Heather, 62, 68, 286, 287 Cote d’Ivoire, 37 Count Basie Orchestra, 4, 39, 39, 69, 186 Cover Girl, 85 Crazy House, 78 Cuba, 61, 70, 85, 95, 279, 281, 285 Cunningham, Merce, 172, 271 Dafora, Asadata, 171, 208 Dally, Lynn, 151, 291 Damn Yankees, 97, 158, 160, 272 Dance Fever, 176, 178, 200 Dance Masters of America, 198, 199 Dance Space, Inc (Dance New Amsterdam), 132

Dancin’, 97, 101 Dancing to the Hits, 178 Dancing with the Stars, 198, 201, 213 Darktown Follies, 47 Darling, Jane, 255 Davidson, Mickey, 62 Davis, Chuck, 167 Davis, Jr., Sammy, 148, 150 Davis, Miles, 59, 130, 150, 252, 280, 291 Day at the Races, A, 242, 270 Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, 64, 65, 290 deejaying, 30, 184, 191 Dehn, Mura, 50–51, 78–79, 207–10, 214 de Mille, Agnes, 98, 101, 127, 148, 155, 157 Denby, Edwin, 23, 210 Denishawn, 83, 170, 236, 269 Deshauteurs, René, 257 Diamond, John, 142 Dingwalls, 262, 264, 267 Dirty Dancing, 175 disco, 54, 60, 71, 175, 176, 178, 238 District Storyville, 10, 125 Down Argentine Way, 242 downbeat, 17, 19, 20–23, 31, 47 Draper, Paul, 8, 148 Dreamgirls, 160, 163 Duke, Patty (dance step), 71, 186 Dunham, Katherine, 74, 89–96, 127, 156–57, 166, 172, 237, 256 Durang, John, 142, 148 dynamics, 21, 26, 203, 214, 274 Early Music Video Dance, 31, 176–80 East Indian Dance, 94, 126, 156 eccentric dancers (Legomania), 145 Edge, The, 199 Electric Boogaloo, 68, 185, 193 Ellington, Duke, 48–50, 53, 280 Emcee Def Jef, 187 emceeing, 184, 187 emotion, 10, 22, 29, 55, 155, 202, 205, 211, 268–77 empowerment, 192, 247, 267 energy, 10, 21, 55, 193, 205, 268–77 Eurocentric bias, 3, 5, 92, 141, 164, 210, 231, 235 European influence, 29, 43, 59 Europe’s first BA program in jazz dance, 255 Ewe people, 281, 287

Index · 303

Fagan, Garth, 11, 161, 162 Falcon Studios, 114 Fame (film), 102, 180 Fame (TV show), 178 Fancy Free, 157 Fast Agbekor, 282 Fast Forward, 178 Felix, Seymour, 146, 154 Fiddler on the Roof, 157 Flashdance, 60, 101, 178, 185 flash tap, 144, 145 floor-rocking, 185 Footloose, 178, 180 Fort, Syvilla, 93, 127 42nd Street, 147, 149, 157, 159 Fosse, Bob, 10, 27, 54, 73, 97–102, 115, 148, 157–58, 162, 171, 180 Francois, Ryan, 251 freestyle (Eugene Loring), 121, 124 free style (Matt Mattox), 64, 119–23 freestyling (hip-hop), 30, 186, 190, 193 Free to Dance (movie), 231 French jazz dance, 122, 249, 250, 255–59, 289, 292, 293 Friedman, Brian, 181, 201, 204 Frug, 71, 97, 99, 100, 175 funk jazz, 178 funk styles (West Coast), 185, 193 funk/urban funk, 31, 60, 62, 68, 71, 178, 188, 199 Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A, 156 Gaze the Fog, 70, 79 Gelede, 37 Generation X, 180 Gennaro, Peter, 93, 127, 128, 157 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 85, 120, 172 George White’s Scandals, 154 Getting Funky (Video), 187 Ghana, 37, 39, 223, 224, 279, 280–86, 283 ghettocentricity, 245–47 ghettoizing of black performers, 241–44 Gillespie, Dizzy, 49, 52, 95, 128 Giordano, Gus, 27, 55, 64, 94, 103–7, 104, 171, 290 Glover, Savion, 128, 150, 151 Goldberg, Jane, 61, 149, 150 Gottschild, Brenda Dixon, 10, 169, 170, 231, 271

304 · Index

graffiti art, 30, 184, 191, 245 Graham, Martha, 167, 171, 172, 211, 269, 271, 276, 277 Grand Hotel, 160 Grease, 175 Great Lady, 157 griot, 184, 192 Griot, 11 Gruttadauria, Alain, 257 Gypsy, 157 Hairspray, 175 Haiti, 90, 156, 167 Hammadi, Razza, 279 Haney, Carol, 108, 148 Happy Feet, 173, 208, 209 Happy Hunting, 136 Harlem Hot Shots, 291 Harlem Renaissance, 48, 50, 125, 233, 241 Harris, Rennie, 61, 80, 132, 293 Hatchett, Frank, 63, 109–12, 110 Haug, Betsy, 86 Hayes, “Okay” Milton, 51 Heads Data Summaries in Dance, 209 Heavy D., 187 Herräng Dance Camp, 64 high affect juxtaposition, 25, 169 Hill, Jeannie, 286, 287 Hindu Swing, 84 Hines, Gregory, 150, 272 hip-hop, commercialization of, 189–91; culture, 61, 184–93, 238; dance, xvii, 29, 30, 152, 175, 178, 184–93, 190, 293; definition of, 30–31; in Hollywood cinema, 245–47; party dances, 185, 186; true hip-hop, 185 Hit the Deck, 154 Holm, Hanya, 78, 79, 105, 127 Honey, 245, 246 hoofing, 139 hooky sets, 61 Horne, Nat, 63, 287 Hornpipe, 69, 139, 142 Horst, Louis, 20 Hot Gossip, 175 Hot Mikado, The, 145 Hubbard Street Dance Company, 225 Hullabaloo, 174, 175, 234, 239 Humphrey, Doris, 83, 84, 86, 169–72, 269, 277

IDJ (I Dance Jazz), 253 improvisation, African roots of jazz, xvii, 5, 6, 12, 14–16, 25, 42, 55, 210, 280, 285; in club jazz, 266; in hip-hop dance, 30, 245; in jazz dance after the jazz era, 10, 55, 118, 132, 175, 210; in jazz music, 52, 286; in tap dance, 25, 139, 148; in rhythm-generated jazz dance, 26 “Is Modern Jazz Dance Hopelessly Square?,” xvii, 17–18, 20, 55–56, 279 isolation(s), in African dance, 5; and Bob Fosse, 98, 115; and Jack Cole, 86, 87, 156, 170; in jazz dance, 10, 25, 31, 178, 233; and Katherine Dunham, 94; in hip-hop, 185; and Luigi, 117; and Matt Mattox, 123; and Simonson Technique, 133 Jackson, Janet, 177, 179 Jackson, Michael, 29, 31, 71, 177, 179–80, 188, 189 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, 122, 132 Jamaica, 90, 156, 161, 251, 264 Jamaica, 85, 156 Japanese jazz, 60, 254, 259, 292 Jazz dance in higher education, 200, 207–16 jazz dance styles: Afro-Caribbean, 46, 113, 183, 184, 189, 206, 207, 210, 213, 273; authentic, 15, 17, 25, 27, 44–47, 49, 85, 97, 99–102, 159, 210, 262, 265, 266, 273, 313, 314; Broadway, 47, 82, 86; club, 45, 51, 82, 271, 273, 275, 276, 281, 283–89; commercial, 48, 141, 188, 201; contemporary, 13, 31, 38, 48, 49, 102, 154, 200, 221, 279, 280, 311–314; funk, 200; Latin, 49, 74, 83, 117, 275; lyrical, 49, 93, 137, 194, 200, 221, 222; pop, 49, 159, 204, 221; rhythm-based, 86, 313, 320; street, 51, 82, 199–203, 221, 283; theatrical, 16, 27, 28, 46, 76, 77, 82, 84, 87, 88, 104–9, 129, 137, 139–41, 147, 151, 178, 192, 199–201, 227, 234, 273, 275, 277, 311; vernacular, 15–17, 24, 27, 28, 47, 49, 50, 56, 140, 147, 160, 197, 208–10, 214, 251, 262–64, 266, 279, 302, 303, 307; westcoast, 49, 83, 200 Jazz Dance World Congress, 86, 125, 144, 313, 315, 316, 319, 320 jazz era, 29, 45, 256 Jazzercise, 176 jazz music, 17–23, 46–49, 52–53, 59, 67;

African origins, 13–14, 40; characteristics, 280, 284; in France and UK, 249–55, 259, 261–67; history of, 45–55, 59–67; Latin influence, 52, 95: and McKayle, 125, 128; and Simonson, 131–33; rhythmic structure, 17–20 Jazz Project, The, 132 jazz revival, 60 jazz rhythms, 10, 17–23, 55, 80, 151, 279, 280 jazz rock, 254 Jelly’s Last Jam, 151 Jerk, 70, 175, 185, 189, 235, 264 jig, heel, clog dancing, 38, 39, 46, 69, 70, 139, 140, 142, 144 Jitterbug, 54, 70, 208, 234, 241, 244, 250 Jivadeers, the, 78 Jiving Lindy Hoppers, the, 62, 80, 251, 291 John, Elton, 177, 178 Jo Jo’s Dance Factory, 110 Joy Spring Suite, The, 21 Juba, 47, 69, 139, 140, 142 JUMP Dance Convention, 204 Jumping Jim Crow, 70, 141 Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, 64, 292 Jump Rhythm® Technique, 275 June Taylor School of Dance, 121, 131, 148 K Broadway Dance Co., 254Keeler, Ruby, 147, 243 Keep off the Grass, 157 Kelley, Chuck, 63 Kelly, Gene, 105, 113, 114, 148, 155, 176, 206, 241 Kersand, Billy, 249 Kidd, Michael, 127 Kid Millions, 242 Kid ’n Play Kick Step, 186 King, Jamie, 179 Kismet, 85 Kolb Learning Cycle, 221 Kool G Rap, 187 Kraft, Beatrice, 126 Kraft, Evelyn, 126 Kramer, Katherine, 61, 58, 284 krumping, 268, 272, 273 Kwamina, 78 Landon, Tina, 178 Lane, William Henry (Master Juba), 46, 142–43

Index · 305

Lanteri, Joe, 200 Lather, Barry, 178 Latin dance/Latin jazz dance, 29, 52, 53, 156, 185 Latin Quarters, 187 Lee, Sammy, 144, 146 LeGon, Jeni, 50, 241–43 Le Jazz Hot, 92, 166, 172 Le Meri, 83 Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, 62 LeTang, Henry, 62, 149 Lewis, Irven, 251, 266–67 Lewis, Perry, 254 Li’l C (Christopher Toler), 268 Limelight, The, 253 Lindy, Lindy Hop, 24, 49–50, 53–55, 61–62, 64, 146, 244, 248, 270, 291; and Bethel, 77–80; and Cole, 85, 126, 269–71; in UK, 250–51, 259, 264 Lion King, The, 161 Little Richard, 192 Liza with a Z, 100 locking, 30, 184, 185, 189, 190, 193 Loring, Eugene, 114, 119, 121 Louisiana Purchase, 121 “Love Is a Battlefield,” 177, 180 Lovely to Look At, 159 Luigi (Eugene Facciato), 27, 55, 113–18, 131, 260 Luigi Technique, 113, 115–18 Lynne, Gillian, 251 lyrical jazz dance, 29

McKayle, Donald, 73, 125–29, 167, 169 McKinney, Nina Mae, 243 McMillan, Henry “Link,” 191 Michaels, Mia, 204 middle passage, 35, 37 Midlands, the, 251 Miller, Ann, 243 Miller, Norma, 49, 50, 62, 125 Mills, Florence, 145 minstrel stereotype, 242 minstrelsy, 15, 40, 41, 46, 140–42, 145, 249 Mirova, Vera, 94 Mitchell, Jackie, 255 Monaghan, Terry, 62, 75, 78, 251, 291, 292 Monk, Thelonious, 52, 280 Monroe, Marilyn, 84, 85, 120 Moore, Mandy, 181, 202 Mop-Top/Elite Force, 187, 189 Morrison, Margaret, 151 Moss, Michèle, 65 Motown, 60, 70, 179, 188, 234, 235, 239 mouth drumming, 282 MTV, 71, 137, 174, 176–79, 181 multiculturalism, 210, 211 Mumaw, Barton, 272 musical (the), 121, 144, 147–48, 150, 213, 240, 244; history of, 153–62

Nagrin, Daniel, 10, 127 Nash, Lewis, 286 National Association of Schools of Dance, 209 Madonna, 177, 179 National Congress of Dance, 208 Magdelena, 121 National Dance Education OrganizaMali, 36 tion, 212 Mambo, 52, 70, 157, 185 National Tap Dance Day, 145 Manning, Frankie, 49, 50, 53, 61, 62, 244, 270 New Dance Group, 78, 125, 166 Man of La Mancha, 84, 156 New Orleans, 9, 13, 39, 40, 44, 47, 125, Market, Catherine, 273, 277 200, 224, 250 Markie, Biz, 186 Newport Jazz Festival, 61, 148 Marsalis, Wynton, 13, 59 New School of Social Research, 208 Martin, Ethel, 86 New York City Dance Alliance, 200, 201 Martin, George, 86 Nicholas Brothers, 18, 25, 50, 54, 55, 145, Martin, Peter (Jazz), 11 147, 171, 172, 242, 243, 247, 262 Martin, Steve (dance step), 71, 186 Nigeria, 15, 37, 38 Mattox, Matt, 8, 27, 55, 57, 64, 73, 84, 117, Nikolais, Alwin, 105 119–24, 255, 257, 260, 289, 292, 295, 298 Nine, 160 McGowan, Jewel, 244 Nix, Walter, 256 McIntyre, Dianne, 62, 168, 171, 173 N Sync, 179

306 · Index

Obey, Pattie, 107, 108 Odums, Rick, 255–59 Odyssey Dance Theatre, 65–66 OFFJAZZ Dance Company, 293 Once Upon a Mattress, 121 One Mo’ Time, 80 On the Town, 113, 116, 148, 157 On Your Toes, 155, 172 Ortega, Kenny, 178 outreach, 224, 225, 227, 290 Owens, Michael, 8 Pajama Game, The, 97, 113, 158 Pal Joey, 154 Palladium ballroom, 52 Pan, Hermes, 114 parallel position, 10, 99, 123, 155 Parker, Charlie, 52 Parks, Mama Lu, 25 party dances/party rockin’, 61, 184–86 Patterson, Vince, 178 Payne, Travis, 179 Peggy-Ann, 154 Pepé, 120 Perez, Miguel, 4, 288 Peters, Michael, 177, 179–82 Phillips, Arlene, 178 Pigeon Wing, 38, 145 Pippin, 54, 97, 158 Place, The, 122 plantation life, 35, 43 Pollack, Max, 61 polycentricism, 6, 24 polyrhythm, 6, 17, 20, 21, 24, 40, 52, 94, 123, 170, 179 pop jazz dance, 29, 181, 199, 280 popping, 31, 184, 185, 189, 190, 193, 238, 262 popular culture, 31, 174–82, 207, 208, 238, 241, 245; music, 52, 54, 63, 64; studies of, 207, 208, 210, 211 Porgy and Bess, 79 Porras, Anna Marie, 257 Porter, Cole, 154 Powell, Eleanor, 147, 243 Presley, Elvis, 29, 30 Primrose, George, 144 Primus, Pearl, 156, 166, 167 “Private Dancer,” 178 private studios, 197–206

Producers, The, 162 punk rock, 175, 176 racism, 91, 141, 171, 208, 209, 229, 231–38, 240, 245, 246; racial bias, 231; racial intolerance, 234; racial segregation, 156, 242 Radio City Music Hall, 50, 131, 147 ragtime, 5, 40, 46, 47, 50, 69, 143, 145, 174, 184, 186 Rainbow Room, 84 Rainbow Round My Shoulder, 125 rap music/rapping, 30, 186, 193, 245 Rausch, Albertina, 148, 154 Ready, Steady, Go, 235, 239 reggae dance styles, 252 Rehrman, Olivia, 28 Reinking, Ann, 101, 287 rhumba, 185 rhythm-generated jazz dance, 26, 284, 285 Rhythm of the Night, 178 rhythm tap, 25, 61, 145, 148–50, 229, 261 Rice, Thomas Dartmouth, 141 Richie, Lionel, 177 “Rich Man’s Frug,” 97, 99, 100 Ring Shout, 38, 39, 140 River North Dance Chicago, 65, 66, 294 Rize, 268, 272, 277, 278 Roach, Max, 52, 62, 132 Road of the Phoebe Snow, The, 128 Robbins, Jerome, 33, 53–55, 76, 90, 98, 127, 128, 156, 157, 160, 163, 167, 175, 252 Robinson, Bill “Bojangles,” 50, 55, 78, 81, 145, 146, 152, 241 Robinson, Fatima, 179 Robson, Wade, 179 Rock City, 253 rock ’n’ roll, 18, 19, 52, 53, 54, 60, 70, 148, 150, 184, 234, 236 Rodeo, 155 Roger, Jaime, 131 Roger Rabbit, 71, 185 Rogers, Ginger, 147, 241, 276 Rogers and Hammerstein, 154 Rogers and Hart, 154, 155 Romero, Alex, 114 Rooftop, 187 Roxy, 187 Roxy Theatre, 77 Running-man, 71, 186

Index · 307

Runnin’ Wild, 144 Russell, Carroll, 20 Sabo, Paige, 27 Sallid, Otis, 178 salsa, 7, 58, 61, 68, 71 Salve Regina University students, 205,206 sand dances, 46 Saturday Night Fever, 71, 175, 178, 200 Savage Jazz Dance Company, 294 Save the Last Dance, 246 Savoy Ballroom, 6, 48–50, 55, 61, 80, 84, 198 Savoy Swingers, 62 Say Darling, 121 Scarecrow, 4, 79 Scheme Team, 187 School Disco, 251 School for Husbands, The, 84 Scott, Lee, 114 Scott, Michèle, 31, 229, 255, 259, 261, 263, 298 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 121 Sex Pistols, 176 Shag, 175 Shankar, Uday, 83, 94 Shaw, Artie, 49 Shawn, Ted, 83, 84, 132, 156, 236, 269, 272 Shim Sham, 70, 79 Shorty George, 50, 70, 92 Showboat, 159, 162 Shuffle, the, 42, 47 Shuffle Along, 47, 144 Siegenfeld, Billy, 19, 64, 212, 284 Simonson, Lynn, 63, 73, 130, 131, 135, 287, 297; Simonson Technique, 130–34, 297 Singin’ in the Rain, 113 “Single Ladies,” 180, 181, 183, 203 Sing Sing Sing, 10, 54, 107, 126 Skanking, 251 Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, 155 slavery, 33, 36, 38, 278 Slyde, Jimmy, 18, 33, 53, 58, 148 Smith, Jojo, 64, 68 “Smooth Criminal,” 179 Snake Hips, 9, 38, 47, 70 Solid Gold, 175, 178 Song of Norway, 121 Sophisticated Ladies, 62, 149, 172 Soul Brothers, 187 Soul Train, 188, 189

308 · Index

Southland 400 Club, 77 So You Think You Can Dance, 6, 11, 15, 181, 189, 198, 201, 206, 213 Spirit Moves, The, 50, 79, 208 Sponge Bob (dance step), 186, 193 St. Denis, Ruth, 83, 156, 236 Staying Alive, 178 Stearns, Jean, 10, 11, 42, 44, 47, 56, 81, 188, 231, 259, 278, 287 Stearns, Marshall, 10, 11, 42, 44, 47, 56, 81, 188, 231, 259, 278, 287 step dancing, 25, 139, 140 Step Up, 180, 183, 189, 246 Stilwell, Hannah, 65, 290 Stormy Weather, 54, 145, 166, 172, 242, 200 Strange Hero (book), 10, 27 Straw Hat Revue, The, 157 Strayhorn, Billy, 128 street jazz dance, 31, 261 Stretch, Buddha, 187, 189, 190 Strobert, Andre, 79 Strohman, Clarence “Scoby,” 51 Stroman, Susan, 161–62 student organizations, 224, 226 Studio 54, 175 study abroad, 220, 223–24 Style Wars, 185, 186 Sumbry-Edwards, Dormeshia, 151 Summer, Donna, 177, 178 Summertime, 209 Sun Ra, 62 Suzy-Q, 63 Sweet Charity, 76, 119–21, 179–80 Swim, the, 93, 197 swing (musical concept), 17–23, 24, 26, 284 Swing (show), 251 swing dance and music, 1, 6, 42, 65, 70, 77, 79, 84, 112, 126, 127, 145, 146, 208, 234, 269, 280; era, 244; history of, 46–56; qualities of, 284–86; revival of, 60, 64, 236, 239n6 Swing-out, 71, 256 syncopation, 17–23, 24, 40, 145, 148, 165, 170, 172, 175, 258 Tamiris, Helen, 149 tap dance, 8, 23, 25, 98, 188, 189, 147, 262; in film, 241–44; and Fosse, 98; in higher education, 207, 211; jazz tap, 46, 48,50,

286; and Mattox, 120; and McKayle, 125, 128, 167; and musical theater, 154, 155, 160; tap revival, 61–62; in the UK, 262, 264, 272, 273 Tap Dance Kid, The, 151 Taylor, Bruce, 257 Taylor, Cecile, 62 teacher training, 134 television shows, 3, 11, 54, 60, 85, 93, 100, 148, 150, 189, 198, 201; and pop culture, 176, 178, 180; and racism, 234–35 Texas Tommy, 47, 69, 70 Tharp, Twyla, 161, 163 That’s It, 77, 80, 81 theatre dance collection, 131 theatrical jazz dance, 7, 26, 54, 55, 62, 65, 66, 156, 170, 178, 179, 251; and Cole, 82–87, 156, 170; and Giordano, 107; in higher education, 212; and Luigi, 117, 118; and McKayle, 125–28 Theodore, Lee, 8, 174, 175, 182 Thompson, Claude, 131 Thompson, Robert Farris, 6, 25, 41, 165, 170 Thompson, Ulysses S., 145 Three for the Show, 85 Thriller, 177, 179–81 Tight Eyez, 273 Till the Clouds Roll By, 120 Tinazzi, Daniel, 257 Toddlers in Tiaras, 204 Togo, 281 Tokyo: Be-Bop Square (club), 254 Tonight and Every Night, 85 Top-rocking, 185 transatlantic slave trade, 35, 36, 281 Travolta, John, 178 Treads, 79 tree, jazz dance, xvi Tremaine, Joe, 29, 105, 200 Tune, Tommy, 156, 160 Turkey Trot, 4, 38, 47, 69 Twist, the, 6, 29, 70, 185, 234, 235 Twistmouth George, 49 UK jazz dance, 260 Union Square (club), 187 United Nation (club), 187 Up-rocking, 185 Urban British Jazz Co., 267

Vandelli, Bruno, 257 vaudeville, 40, 41, 46, 122, 141–45, 148, 153–55, 157, 158 Verdon, Gwen, 84, 86, 97, 156, 160, 272 vernacular jazz dance, 4, 29–30, 69–71, 280, 281, 285; and film, 240–47; and hip-hop, 186–88, 192; and McKayle, 125 VOP, 109–12 Wag, the, 253 Walk Around, the, 141 Walker, Dianne, 61 Walker, George, 144 Waller, Fats, 241 Washington, Fredi, 243 Water Dance, 38, 39 Wayburn, Ned, 153 Webb, Chick, 49 Wedding of a Solid Sender, 85 Weidman, Charles, 83, 84, 269 West Africa, 3–5, 7, 45, 55, 59, 78, 79, 161, 188, 270, 284, 285; dance and music, 279–81; diaspora, 35–43 West Coast Funk Style, 186 West Coast jazz dance, 29, 178 West End, the, 251, 265 West Indies, 29, 92, 188 West Side Story, 54, 70, 93, 127, 128, 157, 160, 175, 180, 251 What Makes Sammy Run?, 121 White, Herbert “Whitey,” 25, 49, 50, 77, 78, 244 White, Onna, 114 White Nights, 150, 272 White notion of jazz dance, 234 Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, 25, 49, 50, 77, 78, 244 Who Cares, 155 Whoopee, 154 Wild Style, 185, 186, 245, 248 Williams, Bert, 144, 145 Williams, Keith Tyrone, 94 Williams, Michael, 214 Williams, Tess, 49 Willis, Vicki, 68 Wilson, Jackie, 189 World War II, 52, 114, 244 X Factor, 201

Index · 309

Yeager, Derryl, 292 Yolanda and the Thief, 120 Yoruba, 15, 16, 37, 39, 68, 96 You Got Served, 246

310 · Index

Ziegfield Follies, 85, 121, 144, 146, 154 Zigbliti, 37 Zollar, Jawole Willa Jo, 169, 171, 173 Zoots and Spangles, 251