AA1 Dack PE Fall I- Jaeyoon Cha
The origins of jazz music and dance are found in the rhythms and movements brought to America by African slaves. As slaves forced into America, starting during the 1600’s, Africans from many cultures were cut off from their families, languages and tribal traditions. The result was an intermingling of African cultures that created a new culture with both African and European elements. The rhythms and movements of African dance were woven into what we now call jazz dance.
In the 19th century, American whites decided that they enjoyed the music and dance the slaves had created. With white dancers as the star performers of the minstrel and vaudeville shows, it was difficult for a black dancer to gain stature as part of a dance troupe. Because of this, many black performers migrated to Europe, where they introduced the newly emerging forms of jazz music and jazz dance. In Europe, these talented and innovative performers were more well-received than in America. The minstrel show evolved and was eventually absorbed into the 20th century musical comedy.
The combination of two cultures created jazz, originating from the African culture and developing in Europe. Europe lent elegance to the technique, Africa gave it its movement and rhythm, and America allowed it to have the exposure and growing popularity that has sustained it as a cherished dance style today.