It was mid-March 2020 and my Dance I students were just completing their 3rd quarter Ballet unit by showing their original dances based on a fairy tale someone else in the room had written. Besides studying ballet technique, we’d also studied ballet mime and how to turn words into gesture and movement. Students saw their stories coming to life as their peers danced their interpretations. As a class, we used Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process to observe and ask questions about the dances. Then I caught a student looking at her phone. I asked her to put it away, but she said, “Ms. Compton, the coronavirus is here. It’s just been confirmed. We have one case in New Mexico.”
Everything after that runs together. Schools shifted online. I trained in a week on my school’s chosen online education platform Open Access trying to figure out how to give my dance students class through a computer. I was told students should only be expected to give 3 hours a day to online school. I was used to 1hr 30min classes and so I knew I’d have to get really organized, streamline my content, and figure out the heart of what I wanted my students to have during this time. Quarter 4 was scheduled to focus on Jazz. So, I started by researching the work of Melanie George and Jazz is…Dance Project: https://melaniegeorge.org/jazzis
I considered that Jazz dance is:
- Vernacular – a language shared by residents of a particular region or community
- Improvisatory- created and performed spontaneously
- Egalitarian- all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities
So I decided to build an online curriculum that not only presented a history of Jazz dance, but also opened up a path to experiential exploration, agency, creative expression, and even social connection during a time of “social distancing”. I wanted to continue the critical thinking work we had established earlier in the year. I considered the social currency of learning social/vernacular dances that might motivate my students. I also knew that continuing to dance could help their mental, physical, and emotional health during the pandemic so I purposely tried to curate dance tutorials that I thought might speak to them and coax them off the couch or out of bed. I also knew our class would need to be asynchronous due to limitations in access to WiFi and other issues that came up during a pandemic. I was able to send hard copies of our curriculum to students who told me they could still access video tutorials via their cell phones.
Before I share our full online Jazz dance curriculum below…here are 10 reflections from my students written after their experiences in their own words:
Descubri que yo puedo hacer cosas que nunca me imagine, no es nada facil pero es un buen reto de demostrarme que puedo, me gusta bailar pero siento que no soy buena en ello, pero con disciplina y otras cosas podre lograrlo.
Dancing this year has helped me gain more confidence in myself, both in my body and my creativity. I did not expect to find so much freedom in dance as I did, but because I took this class I feel more sure of my creativity and my creative choices. Dance has helped me recognize when something can be better or when I should cut something out. Through the freedom I had in the class, I felt in control in what I was doing while being guided. Overall, through learning different genres of dance, I was able to recognize different parts of myself.
Dance has helped me discover multiple ways to express my creativity and ideas by learning the diverse dances around the world and their origins. They are like the fundamentals and the rest is up to my imagination.
Even though I wasn’t here all year, dance (especially at home) has really helped me with anxiety, and helped guide me to find my artistic side. I’ve really enjoyed dancing at home.
Dance this year has been amazing. It has allowed me to be more creative and think outside of the box as well as collaborate with others and make amazing new friends. It has also helped me out of my shell and go for things I’d only dreamed for. Dance is a support and a lifeline for me and I can’t wait to continue it next year.
When I started this year, I felt uncomfortable dancing and never would do it in front of anyone. Now I had even performed my own solo choreographed piece for an audience and shown videos I made for this class to my friends and family. It showed me that the construct that I am a horrible dancer came from my own insecurity of self-image, but if everyone else is dancing, nobody will say you look bad, they will just support you. With guidance, I found that dance is more of a sport than I thought, and it has a lot more meaning than just looking pretty on the stage. The thought that I would have to make a dance, with a partner, in a group or alone was amazing, and now I feel like not only did that allow me to better understand the storytelling aspect of dance, but also help me gain confidence and maybe facilitate dancing at a party or school dance.
In a way, dancing has helped me see a deeper meaning to it because it helped me discover more about myself, as well as helping me come out of comfort zone and trying out new, creative and different ways to move. It did in a way help me get closer to others, like in family gathering or in the partys how everyone on the dance floor would be in sync with the song and having fun.
Dancing has been a way to bring people together but also its evolve into something more, it’s hard to find words to explain it but dancing has helped me discover a side of myself I didn’t know before, and I’m glad that I continued dancing to discover it.
Dancing this year has made me find ways to better express my emotions. Creativity that I usually wouldn’t talk about or express has become more expressed by me because dance is very releasing. It has helped me discover new creativity I didn’t even know I had.
Dancing really helped me a lot this year. It really helped me show what I can actually do. I discovered so many stuff that I didn’t discover before. I realized that I can actually do something. It felt like I found the real me. Dance was indeed an amazing class. It always made my day better especially when I see everyone’s bright smiles. I really enjoyed dance, and I would also like to thank you Ms. Compton for teaching us so many stuff and giving us an experience on what dance is actually is. ❤
Our Online Introduction to Jazz Dance Curriculum…
SFHS Dance 1/Spring 2020 (March 30-May 20)
4th Quarter Focus : Jazz Dance
Teacher: Ms. Compton
Lesson 1 – March 30-April 9
Consider what plagiarism might look like in the dance world. Then look up the following links and complete the following Thinking Routines.
Mexican Breakfast vs Single Ladies https://youtu.be/mOAwBUfyfDg
- I see…
- I think…
- I wonder…
Split Screen Beyonce Countdown vs Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker https://youtu.be/Yj5Kp38Oz04
- I see…
- I think..
- I wonder…
Please keep plagiarism in mind as we study other people’s work and build towards making our own dances. Please always give credit to original choreographers if you submit a video of yourself dancing any of their ideas.
Now we begin to learn about Jazz Dance!
Warm-Up: Warming up is a crucial part of any dance class. It keeps us safe from injury as well as prepares our brain and body for our best work. This is a warm-up that doesn’t take up too much space. Attempt this warm-up in the part of your current space/home that feels best to you. Remember to always make modifications for your body and your space when necessary. (Like if you have an injury and need to sit in a chair and just do the arms for example.) If the teacher does the splits and you can’t, do something else to stretch. It might be fun to invite others from your home to join you sometimes as well.
Look up “Dance Warmup & Stretches I @MissAuti” https://youtu.be/PmIKrzDvJHs
Now Choose and Try a Class!
After you have completed the warm-up you can move on to participating along with one of the following tutorials. Browse through and see which one looks most interesting to you. Of course if you start one class and find that it is too easy or too hard you may stop and try one of the other options. Please remember to stay safe. If you are unable to do something asked of you in the classes please modify so that you do not get injured. Here are some choices…try to complete at least 30-60 minutes of one of these tutorials.
Look up “Full Moon, Free Hip-Hop dance tutorial with Kenya Clay, DancePlug” or https://www.danceplug.com/class/ken-003
Look for “Alone, Free Dance Tutorial, DancePlug with Joelle Martinec” or https://www.danceplug.com/class/jm-023
Look for “Learn A Jazz Dance I @Auti Kama” or https://youtu.be/TVDjNVufWJg
Look for “Social Distance Hip Hop with Juel D. Lane” or https://youtu.be/Wh8_f1ByfMY
Now Complete a Reflection Quiz:
When you have completed at least 30-60 minutes of exploring and practicing ANY of these videos, complete the reflection questions for a grade. (Notice I said “explore and practice” and not “get perfect”.) Please answer each of the following questions:
1) What is one positive experience you can share from trying at least 30-60 minutes of the online dance class videos?
2) What was challenging?
3) What accommodations or adaptations did you need to make (because of space, physical limitations, work interruptions, confusion, etc.)?
4) What did you learn from dancing these classes?
5) Which tutorial(s) did you end up doing?
Lesson 2 – April 13-17
What Is Jazz Dance? The art of Jazz is one of America’s most unique contributions to dance and music. Jazz traditions are rooted in the interaction and inter-connectedness of music and dance—the musician responding to the dancer and the dancer responding to the musician. Jazz dance grew out of this relationship and communicates both the rhythmic complexity and emotional dynamics of music.
Jazz also melded dance traditions that people from other countries brought to America—from African ceremonial dances to European jigs, and various Latin social dance forms.
Jazz dance began as a social/vernacular dance form with dances such as the Charleston, the Big Apple, and the Lindy Hop but evolved to become a performance art as well.
Assignment: Watch the 3 short videos from the Jazz to Hip Hop Program at Jacob’s Pillow and read the surrounding content taken from the podcast “The Roots of Jazz Dance” by Melanie George. Then complete a quiz over The Roots of Jazz Dance.
(Look this up to listen to Melanie George’s podcast for yourself. You will read her words echoed below): https://pillowvoices.simplecast.com/episodes/the-roots-of-jazz-dance EDITOR’S NOTE: I TRANSCRIBED A LOT OF THE CONTENT FROM THIS PODCAST BECAUSE I HAD SEVERAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS WHO NEEDED TO BE ABLE TO USE GOOGLE TRANSLATE IN ORDER TO KEEP UP WITH CLASS CONTENT. THEY WOULD NOT HAVE UNDERSTOOD AUDIBLE CONTENT ONLY.
As you watch the videos below, notice Jazz dance elements including: movement close to the ground; movement initiated from the pelvis; bent limbs; the use of flat feet; articulate torsos; an emphasis on rhythms including polyrhythms and syncopations; isolations; angular and asymmetrical movement; and improvisation.
In this first video you can see how the roots of the Jazz dance family tree are African, (with branches that intersect with European and Latin cultures). Notice the social elements from African traditions replicated in Jazz dance such as: vocal encouragement; fluid exchange between the musician and the dancer; call and response; and the aesthetic of the cool or the coexistence of control and vitality in one body).
Look up “Social Dances: Jazz to Hip-Hop Program at Jacob’s Pillow -Call and Response by Camille A. Brown” or https://vimeo.com/133109626
Notice how the drum continues to live in the body (because when Africans were brought to plantations, their drums were taken away so they wouldn’t use them to communicate).
In this second video notice the reverence for the rhythms the body can make in relation to the floor as well as the distinctions between accented and unaccented beats. Also notice the nonhierarchical circle remembering that Jazz dance is of….for….and by the people and it always reflects society. In this video you can see a collection of social dance steps developed in dance halls and ballrooms of 1920’s Harlem known as the Lindy Hop, named after Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean. This particular structure is known as The Big Apple, speculated to have started in South Carolina in the 1930’s.
Look up “Social Dances: Jazz to Hip-Hop Program at Jacob’s Pillow -The Big Apple by Moncell Durden” or https://vimeo.com/134441858
Consider the common myth about Jazz dance getting its name from Jazz music, but in fact they developed in tandem or side by side. Therefore Jazz dance is not subordinate to Jazz music. The dancing inspired riffs in the music just as much as the music inspired movements in the dance.
Consider what famous Jazz dancer/choreographer Dianne McIntyre’s once said, “Making the music visible through the body actually makes dance and music equal, enhancing and strengthening both. Dance becomes music in motion. The dancer’s body becomes a musical instrument.” Going back to African roots, there is a lack of separation between music and dance in Jazz dance.
In this last video you see an example of why Jazz dance is hard to define. When Jazz music moved on from Swing to Bebop, Jazz music became more difficult to dance to and that is when Jazz dance moved away from Jazz music to Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll became the dominant popular music and therefore what people danced to. Later popular music included Funk, Disco, Pop, and Hip Hop. That is why Jazz dance doesn’t have to be danced to primarily Jazz music. In this video you’ll see examples of Locking invented by Don “Campbellock” Campbell in the 1970’s danced to Funk and R&B music.
Look up “Social Dances: Jazz to Hip-Hop Program at Jacob’s Pillow -Verdy Locking 2.0 by Adesola Osakalumi” https://vimeo.com/133473487
Remember, because Jazz dance is so intimately tied to popular culture, it can evolve, shed its skin and take on new identities. Jazz dance has an ever changing nature…evolving more rapidly and consistently than any other popular dance form of the 20th century. It also has significant differences from region to region. Jazz dance evolves with the times and keeps current with trends of popular culture. Americans’ relationship to gender, race, class, and sexuality can be mapped out through observing the evolution of Jazz dance
Complete this lesson by taking the quiz over “The Roots of Jazz Dance”.
- Which are elements that will help you identify Jazz dance?
- Movement that is close to the ground; initiated from the pelvis; with bent limbs; the use of flat feet; an articulate torso; an emphasis on rhythms with polyrhythms and syncopation; isolations; angular and asymmetrical movement; and of course improvisation
- Basically any dance that is danced to Jazz music, because Jazz dance is subordinate to Jazz music
- Movement that is light and lifted away from the earth, like the ghost Giselle
- Its elements cannot be defined
- It is difficult to define Jazz dance because it has an ever changing nature, which evolved more rapidly and consistently than any other popular dance form of the 20th century and it changes significantly from region to region. It evolves with the times and it keeps current with trends of popular culture.
- Americans’ relationship to gender, race, class, and sexuality can be mapped out through the evolution of Jazz dance.
- Jazz dance is of…for… and by the people. It always reflects society.
- A widely known example of Jazz dance is the _______________, or a collection of social dance steps developed in dance halls and ballrooms of 1920’s Harlem and is named after Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.
- The Lindy Hop
- The Twist
- The Electric Slide
- The Savage
- If we use the model of a family tree, the roots of the tree are:
- African, with branches that intersect with European and Latin cultures
- European, with branches that intersect with African and Latin cultures
- Social elements from African traditions replicated in Jazz dance include:
- The circle (nonhierarchical); vocal encouragement; fluid exchange between the musician and the dancer; call and response; and the aesthetic of the cool (or the coexistence of control and vitality in one body)
- They have nothing in common
- The music being more important than the dance
- When it comes to the role of rhythm in Jazz dance, there is a reverence for the rhythms the body can make in relation to the floor and the body’s ability to make distinctions between accented and unaccented beats.
- Which person used to practice with live Jazz musicians and is known to have said that making the music visible through the body actually makes dance and music equal, enhancing and strengthening both. Dance becomes music in motion and the dancer’s body becomes a musical instrument.
- Diane McIntyre
- Melanie George
- E. Moncell Durdan
- A common myth about Jazz dance is that it gets its name from Jazz music, but in fact they developed in tandem or side by side instead of Jazz dance being subordinate to Jazz music. The dancing inspired riffs in the music just as much as the music inspired movements in the dance.
- According to Camille A. Brown the drum continues to live in the body in dances with African roots because…
- When Africans were brought to plantations their drums were taken away for fear they might use them to communicate, and so the drums had to live within the body
- No one can communicate with drums and no culture on Earth has ever figured out how to do such a thing
- In Africa…
- music and dance are not seen as separate as they are in other cultures
- music and dance are completely separate
- dance is the most important thing
- music is the most important thing
- How is Jazz dance able to keep taking on new identities?
- Because it is so intimately tied to popular culture which is always changing and shedding it’s skin
- Because Jazz dancers have to make a living and so they reinvent the form to stay relevant
- That isn’t true, Jazz dance is not adaptable
- When Jazz music moved on from Swing to Bebop, it became more difficult to dance to and that is when Jazz dance moved away from Jazz music and onto other popular music such as Rock and Roll, Funk, Disco, Pop, R&B, and Hip Hop. This is the reason Jazz dance doesn’t have to be danced to primarily Jazz music.
Lesson 3 – April 20-24
This week we will watch, read, quiz, dance, and respond while studying Jazz dance as a communal practice.
Assignment: Watch the following three videos in order to complete a Thinking Routine.
“The history of African-American social dance – Camille A. Brown” https://youtu.be/dpCBMwAweDI
“RENNIE HARRIS RHAW EDUCATION OUTREACH NETWORK” https://youtu.be/3V327SziR9I
“Granny Dances “The Slop” | Flex and Shanice | Oprah Winfrey Networ” https://youtu.be/VJ7tZ9mjPHU
I thought we were studying Jazz dance!
Why are we so focused on social dances?
Well, as we are learning, Jazz dance and social dance used to be one and the same. Jazz dance roots are:
- Vernacular – a language shared by residents of a particular region or community
- Improvisatory- created and performed spontaneously
- Egalitarian- all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities
It is also true that the Jazz dance family tree has grown so large, it now encompasses theatrical styles like Broadway; commercial styles like music videos; and even forms that have traveled around the world and back again (Bollywood Hip Hop and KPop anyone?).
Jazz dance forms develop because Jazz makes room for agency and improvisation. The dancers might have a shared common vocabulary, or collection of dance steps they all know in a particular social environment. Imagine a school dance where friends break into popular Fortnite or TikTok dances and then begin improvising variations or personal nuanced ways of doing those popular dances. There is room for individual expression in the communal experience. There is freedom to negotiate the known structure with your body, and be the way you want to be in community with others.
So in this lesson we are not just learning technical steps, but learning how steps are related to communities. We’ll try to notice the relationship of the movement to the people making the movement. Keeping in mind, if you have better social context about the origin of a movement, then you’ll probably be better at dancing the movement as well as gain membership into a new community.
Also there is worth and dignity, stemming from creative processes for any dancer personalizing a dance. The dancer’s roll is elevated to active citizenship within community. They are no longer a performer being told what to do, but a composer/creator deciding what they will do. This perspective moves away from a “right and wrong” way of physical expression to instead asking, “what if” and “why not”. This is Jazz dance.
Please complete the following short quiz over this material…
- What does vernacular mean?
- Name a dance you recognized or maybe liked the best (if none of them were familiar) from the Camille Brown TedEd or Rennie Harris Social Dances in Hip Hop presentation.
- Which dance was James Brown doing according to Grandma in the Flex and Shanice video?
Assignment: Below are several examples of movements that are social/vernacular dances. Please try 3- 5 of them and then complete one of the following choices:
Here are the tutorials you can choose from. Please choose what interests you.
Try a line dance: “Mr C The Slide Man – Cha-Cha Slide”
Try “【Basic Movements Hip-Hop】 Combo”
Try “Bollywood Dance Workout to Have a Blast While Burning Calories”
Try “Next School Dictionary (Lite Feet Edition Lesson)”
Try “Popping Dance Tutorial with Dey Dey | How to Pop for Beginners | Red Bull Dance 2020”
Try “Next School Dictionary Jazz To HipHop”
Try “How To Do Tutting Concepts Ft. Slim Boogie | Dance Tutorials | STEEZY.CO”
Try “Skeeter Rabbit : locking tutorial”
Try “How to Shuffle (Dance Moves Tutorial) | Mihran Kirakosian”
Try How To Whack | Lorena Valenzuela | Beginner Whacking Tutorial
Try “House Old School Dictionary”
Now choose one of the following:
1) Send a video of yourself dancing 16-32 counts (10-30 seconds) of any of these movements or variations you come up with based on these movements, captured with your phone or other device. Use any music you like. You can text, email, or upload your video to our Google Classroom.
2) Write a full page double spaced, 12 point font essay about your experience including the following information: Which 3-5 tutorials did you try? Describe your experiences during each tutorial. What did you see, think, and wonder about each tutorial? What was meaningful, evocative, interesting, exciting, and/or striking in each tutorial? What didn’t go very well? What did you not know before…what do you know now…and what will you know in the future after trying these tutorials? (Please be as descriptive as possible and fill the page for full credit. If you don’t have enough experiences to fill a page, you should try another tutorial.)
Lesson 4 – April 27-May 1
This week you will dance, respond, watch, and respond.
Assignment: Try this 3 part warm-up and then attempt the choreography from All That Jazz:
“Jazz Dance Class Warmup Part 1 – Bob Boross” https://youtu.be/oGCRY14jvwA
“Jazz Dance Class Warmup Part 2 – Bob Boross” https://youtu.be/VKQ9tbfCWMk
“Jazz Dance Class Warmup Part 3 – Bob Boross” https://youtu.be/OEJu4F88x5c
“Bob Fosse – And All That Jazz” https://youtu.be/K_7oxKShjLY
Now watch these three important videos and consider how social/vernacular dance connects to other Jazz dance styles.
“TRANMSISSION SIZZLE REEL” https://youtu.be/wAVb8LVTlks
“Bob Boross, What Is Jazz Dance?” https://youtu.be/BfWrQ3Qpvk4
“Gene Kelly discussing his Dance Style” https://youtu.be/CDeXUIISYRI
Now complete: “I used to think…now I think…and in the future I will…” in response to the information in these three videos in ONE Thinking Routine.
Also watch these three successful examples of Jazz dance and complete THREE separate “I see, I think, I wonder” Thinking Routines for EACH video.
Video #1: Ephrat Asherie Odeon ArtPower
Video #2: West Side Story – Prologue – Official Full Number – 50th Anniversary (HD)
Video #3: Bob Fosse – Sweet Charity
To finish this lesson complete four separate Thinking Routines
1) Use: “I used to think…now I think…and in the future I will…” to respond to the Transmission, Bob Boross, and Gene Kelly videos in this module using only ONE Thinking Routine.
2) Use: “I see, I think, I wonder” to respond to Ephrat Asherie’s concert dance.
3) Use: “I see, I think, I wonder” to respond to Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story.
4) Use: “I see, I think, I wonder” to respond to Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity.
Lesson 5 – May 4-8
This week you will warm-up with our old friend Bob; try some commercial Jazz dance choreography; and respond.
Assignment: Review this warm up with Bob . Try to do it without stopping.
“Jazz Dance Class Full Warmup Exercises – Bob Boross” https://youtu.be/mgba3anFxkg
Next: choose to dance at least 45 minutes of commercial Jazz from one or all of these Masterclasses.
1) Marguerite Derricks teaches a Bob Fosse style choreography here:
MASTERCLASS LEGENDS: MARGUERITE DERRICKS [DS2DIO]
2) Aakomon “AJ” Jones teaches choreography from his work with Usher and others:
MASTERCLASS LEGENDS: AAKOMON “AJ” JONES [DS2DIO]
3) Justin Timberlake’s choreographer Marty Kudelka shares a new choreography:
MASTERCLASS LEGENDS: MARTY KUDELKA [DS2DIO]
3) Jamaica Craft teaches you how to do her Ciara choreography from “Promise”:
MASTERCLASS LEGENDS: JAMAICA CRAFT [DS2DIO]
To Finish: After completing the Jazz dance warm-up with Bob and choosing to study one …all…or a mix of many…of these Masterclass videos for at least 45 minutes. Please respond to the following questions according to your experiences.
- What is one positive experience you can share from trying at least 45 minutes of the Masterclass videos?
- What was challenging?
- What accommodations or adaptations did you need to make (because of space, physical limitations, work interruptions, confusion, etc.)?
- What did you learn from dancing these classes?
- Which Masterclass(es) did you end up doing?
- During the choreographer(s) interviews, what did you learn from listening to them tell their stories?
- Consider Jazz dance scholar Moncell Durdan’s acronym of the word D.A.N.C.E. = Discovering the Autobiographical-self Negotiating Creativity and Expression. Please finish this module by answering, “How has dancing this year helped you discover more about yourself through negotiating your personal creativity and expression?”
Lesson 6 – May 11-15
You are almost finished. Congratulations on how far you’ve come! This week you will choose and begin your Jazz dance unit project. This project will be your last assignment this year. You can do it! Here are your choices:
Create and upload a dance between 1 and 3 minutes long inspired by or using any of the dance material from this online Jazz dance unit.
- Your video can be a solo as well as include other dancers from your family/household.
- Include a separate written document in which you write a paragraph explaining 1) which style of Jazz dance your movements come from; 2) why you chose those movements; and 3) cite and reference any choreography you use from your online choreographers/tutorials as well as your music.
- In the same written document finish with a 2nd paragraph answering the question, “What advice would I give new students to Dance 1 next year?”
Create a 1.5-2 page paper/presentation on any Jazz dance idea: choreographer, teacher, performer, or scholar. (If I haven’t listed something you are interested in, ask me about it. It will probably work. I just didn’t think of it.)
- The paper part of your presentation must be between one and a half to two pages, double spaced with 12 point font.
- Besides all of the information you’ve researched on your chosen topic you must also include in your paper the following: 1) why you chose your topic; 2) what is applicable to your life concerning what you learned exploring your topic; and 3) in your closing paragraph answer the question, “What advice would I give new students to Dance 1 next year?”
- Last, you must include 2-3 media examples via photographs, video, podcast links, etc. These can be embedded or copy/pasted on an additional last page or just uploaded as media. It’s your choice.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you want to talk through any ideas.
I really look forward to seeing what you make!
EXTRA CREDIT: Ms. Compton was a “Solid Gold Dancer” in this movie choreographed by Dianne McIntyre. Two bonus points if you can find me AND if you can finish this quote from Ms. McIntyre: “Making the music visible through the body actually makes dance and music…”