Exploring the Movement and Cultural Literacy of Jazz

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Teresa Heiland, Professor of Dance Education (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Are there identifiable elements of body action, use of space, movement quality, and relationship that arecharacteristic of the genre of jazz dance? If so, where are these elements found within the diverse styles ofjazz? How do these core elements reveal relationships between the social, commercial and theatricalcontexts of jazz dance? Can the identification and classification of these elements promote the effort to“legitimize” jazz dance as a meaningful and rigorous component of dance education and training in theacademy? How does being literate in a dance genre reveal deeper physical, social, critical and artisticdimensions and connections?These questions shaped our inquiry or emerged from our investigation as artist/teacher/researchers in theprocess of collaborative research to uncover what makes jazz dance count as a cultural, theatrical andcommercial dance form. Using the frameworks of Laban Movement Analysis and Language of Dance®, weidentified core characteristics of jazz across jazz styles in a multi-layered analysis of performative andwritten literature. Through this content analysis, experiential investigation and shared knowledge, centralcharacteristics emerged that we refer to as “Africanist Aesthetics”.Our goal in this workshop was to experientially, analytically, playfully and collaboratively explore selectedAfricanist Aesthetics elements in the context of three jazz dance styles and to examine the merit of theseelements in an interactive dialogue with our jazz dance and dance education colleagues. The aim of thisinvestigation was to build upon prior and ongoing conversations about jazz dance practice and pedagogy. Itwas our desire to interrogate and expand the scope of our creative research and practice to advocate for jazzdance as a valued facet of dance education. A playful movement experience, lively critical reflection, activedialogue and thoughtful sharing comprised the experience.

Additional Information

Proceedings from the 2013 National Dance Education Organization Conference
Language: English
Date: 2013
dance education, higher education, jazz dance, National Dance Education Organization

Email this document to