Dance is an entertaining art form to watch for anyone who gets the opportunity. It can be a display of raw emotion, beautiful technique, precise movement and wondrous storytelling. But to an outsider, and even some who practice it, it can be tough to distinguish between the styles of dance. This can make it difficult to fully understand and enjoy exactly what a dancer or choreographer is trying to portray.
In this article we hope we can shed some light on what defines a few of the major styles of dance, their history and give you a chance to really appreciate what each particular styles of dance is about and where they have developed from.
Tap dance is a style of dance with a long history and an instantly recognisable form. Tap dancing is characterised by the often syncopated, percussive sounds made by the dancers as they strike the ground with metal ‘taps’ fitted to the heels and toes of their shoes. The major styles of dance within tap include flamenco, jazz tap, classical tap, Broadway tap and post-modern tap It is believed that tap dance originated from the cultural blend of African, Irish, Scottish and English roots in urban centres of the USA where many different peoples were living closely together, learning from and adapting to the cultures of one another.
Whatever the true origin story of tap, it has continued to evolve as a style of dance over the years. Tap dance gained popularity over the late 19th and into the early 20th centuries. Performers needed to bring something unique to tap dancing in order to get noticed and to remain relevant. Some of these innovations included using comedy (using the body in strange and unconventional ways to fool the eye of the viewer), novelty (using props like jump ropes and staircases), flash (which involved the use of astonishing feats of acrobatics) and class (which presented a dancer in impeccable tuxedos or beautiful, eye-catching dresses).
Class, in addition to many of the other innovations, has remained a staple of tap dancing even to this day; tap dancers will dress in stunningly decorated and dazzlingly embellished outfits that capture the hearts of their viewers even before the dance has begun. It is even practiced among male dancers to embellish parts of their outfit (usually a vest, suspenders or the seams of their pants) with gemstones or rhinestones, although their outfits are generally more subdued than the females.
Including an embellished look that is unique to your routine and style is something that can be notoriously difficult to achieve without professional help; luckily, we at Zahira offer more than just gemstones and rhinestones, we also provide expert advice and embellishment services to match!
No article on tap dance would be complete without a mention of some of the greats to perform the style! Some of the most iconic names of tap include Fred Astaire, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Rita Hayworth and more recently, Savion Glover.
Like Tap dance, Jazz dance also has a long history, but it wasn’t until the 50’s that the modern iteration of Jazz as a style of dance started to emerge. Jazz dance really started to develop alongside the music genre of the same name that was being popularised by the big bands of the swing era through the 1930s and 40s. Jazz holds its roots primarily from African American culture and from the traditional Caribbean style of dance. Jazz dance is a fluid style of dance that evolves and adapts as to the era its being practiced in and alongside the popular music of the time.
Jazz dance has also branched out and fused with other styles of dance like hip hop and funk. Many popular performers like Beyonce, Madonna and Lady Gaga have each incorporated elements of Jazz dance into their performances and music videos! The influence of Jazz dance can also be vividly seen on the stage on Broadway. Musicals like Chicago and Cats feature modern Jazz dance heavily and more recently the musicals of Lion King and Wicked have incorporated elements of Jazz dance into their choreography.
A talented performer of Jazz dance has charisma, passion and a real feel for the music he or she is dancing to combined with a powerful execution in order to match the strong and usually regular bassline of the music. Some common identifying elements of Jazz dance include isolating the movement of parts of the body, syncopation (accenting an off-beat of the music), contractions of the torso and a strong feeling of sensuality to the performance.
Like many forms of modern dance, it is common for Jazz dance performers to wear a costume or outfit that matches their routine. Jazz costumes are frequently dazzlingly adorned with the highest quality rhinestones, sequins, gemstones pearls and other embellishments. While it can be tempting to cover yourself in bright and gleaming colours, it is usually beneficial to speak to a professional designer (like us) at Zahira Crystals in order to match the sparkle of your outfit to the sounds and feelings that you wish to create or match.