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Jazz DanceA History of the Roots and Branches$
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Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049298

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049298.001.0001

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The African Origins of an American Art Form

The African Origins of an American Art Form

(p.35) 6 The African Origins of an American Art Form
Jazz Dance

Takiyah Nur Amin

University Press of Florida

Jazz dance, a uniquely American dance form, is rooted in and informed by African movement idioms and aesthetics that travelled to the United States with the trafficking of African peoples, commonly referred to as The Middle Passage or the trans-Atlantic slave trade. During the enslavement era, African dances were transformed to African-American dances with the addition of various movements derived from whites. Post-enslavement and throughout the 20th century, African-American dance evolved in several different directions, one of which was jazz dance. While the term “jazz dance” was not coined until the 1920s, the primary “ancestry” of jazz dance can be found by studying African dance forms and how they changed in the context of plantation life. By decentralizing the primacy of non-African cultural contributions, jazz dance can be more appropriately understood as an amalgamation of cultural influences that informed and created this uniquely American dance form, which remains persistently African at its core.

Keywords:   1920s, African aesthetic, African dance forms, African-American dance, Ancestry, Enslavement, Middle Passage, Trans-Atlantic slave trade

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