Jazz Dance: Similarities with Jazz Music and Ballet Dance


Jazz music is innovative and unpredictable. Musicians who play or sing jazz music are some of the best in the world. They are creative, disciplined, and technically adept. Jazz music requires a lot of patience, too, especially if you are still learning it. This is why it complements jazz dance.

Jazz Dance and Jazz Music

Jazz makes use of the techniques and rhythms of jazz music to create movements or dances. The music is one of the reasons people like watching jazz dance performances. Like jazz music, jazz dance is lively, fun, and unpredictable. Like jazz musicians and singers, jazz dancers are given the freedom to interpret and perform the steps and movements according to their preferences and understanding of the music and its message. In other words, jazz dancers can improvise in the same manner that jazz musicians and singers can.


Like jazz music, jazz dance has a past directly connected with African cultures. While jazz music is said to originate from New Orleans’ African American communities, jazz dance traces its early days to the vernacular dance of the African Americans that came out in the latter part of the 1800s to the mid-1900s. Pre-1950s jazz dance was known as a dance imported from African cultures by slaves. Later on, though, after the 2nd World War, jazz dance became synonymous with tap dance because the latter used jazz music.

Over the years, jazz dance evolved and slowly became a fusion of other dance styles. It now has elements of swing, Charleston, boogie, lyrical dance, and hip-hop, among many others. Eventually, it also became synonymous with ballet.

Jazz Dance and Ballet

Even if it is not set to jazz music, ballet dancing has a strong connection with jazz dance.

Jazz dancers have the freedom to experiment with their movements and choreography. Ballet is more disciplined in this aspect, especially since ballet dancers are trained to control their movements. Both dance styles, however, share some forms or moves. For instance, in jazz dance, dancers execute straddle split leaps and pirouettes, which are basic ballet movements. Jazz dance movements, on the other hand, are often used in contemporary ballet performances. Likewise, both styles require a lot of balancing, particularly in tiptoes, leaps, fast turns, and kicks.


Nowadays, one of the most popular dancing styles is jazz ballet, which combines ballet movements with jazz moves. The dance is set to modern jazz.