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Modern jazz dancers.
Jazz dance is a classification shared by a broad range of dance styles. Before the 1950s, jazz dance referred to dance styles that originated from African American vernacular dance. In the 1950s, a new genre of jazz dance — modern jazz dance — emerged, with roots in Caribbean traditional dance. Every individual style of jazz dance has roots traceable to one of these two distinct origins. Jazz was a big hit in the early 50's and it is still a well loved style of dance all over the world.
Throughout its history, jazz dance has developed in parallel to popular music. This pattern of development has resulted in a few elements of movement key to the dance style, the most important being that jazz is they physical embodiment of the popular music of a given time. An example of this is that during a down time of jazz dancing from 1945–1954, when big bands and dance halls were declining, the vernacular of the dance followed less jazz music and leaned more toward rock and roll, creating moves like "The Monkey" and "The Jerk".
Syncopated rhythm is a common characteristic in jazz music that was adapted to jazz dance in the early twentieth century and has remained a significant characteristic.
Isolations are a quality of movement that were introduced to jazz dance by Katherine Dunham.
A low center of gravity and high level of energy are other important identifying characteristics of jazz dance. Other elements of jazz dance are less common and are the stylizations of their respective choreographers. One such example are the inverted limbs and hunched-over posture of Bob Fosse.
Notable directors, dancers, and choreographers
Katherine Dunham, an anthropologist, choreographer, and pioneer in Black theatrical dance. She introduced isolations jazz dance.
Jack Cole, considered the father of jazz dance technique. He was a key inspiration to Matt Mattox, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, and many other choreographers. He is credited with popularizing the theatrical form of jazz dance with his great number of choreographic works on television and Broadway.
Eugene Louis Facciuto (aka "Luigi"), an accomplished dancer who, after suffering a crippling automobile accident in the 1950s, created a new style of jazz dance based on the warm-up exercises he invented to circumvent his physical handicaps. The exercise routine he created for his own rehabilitation became the world's first complete technique for learning jazz dance.