Ballet, Jazz Dance, and Folk Dance

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First, there was Early Ballet or Court Ballet, which were performed by nobility members like Louis XIV. In the 18th century, Jean Georges Noverre developed a concept that brought the importance of a plot in ballet, and the use of emotion.

During the 19th century, Romantic Ballet was developed, ‘Romanticism was characterized by a passionate striving to discover meaning in human events, and effect that was uniquely reflected in all of the romantic art, but most perfectly in its ballet.’ (textbook) The first Romantic ballet performed was La Sylphide, however the most famous Romantic ballet is Giselle. Classical Ballet was developed in the late 1800s in Russia. Famous ballets like Swan Lake or The Sleeping Beauty are considered to be Classical ballets. Marius Petipa played a major role in the choreography of both of these ballets. A major characteristic of classical ballet is using music and have the steps of the dancers move with the music.

In the 1900s Contemporary Ballet developed in Russia. Michel Fokine was ‘the first master choreographer of the Ballet Russes, a Russian company’ (textbook). This company was created by Serge Diaghilev, although he was not a dancer or a choreographer he had a passion for ballet. The Ballet Russes would train many of the world’s most famous dancers, such as Anna Pavlova or Vaslav Nijinsky.

The origin of Jazz dance can be traced back to Africa. It was during the 17th century when African slaves were brought to America, they also brought their music and dance. Even after slave masters prohibited drumming, slaves kept the African rhythms alive through clapping their hands, stomping their feet, and singing songs. Jazz began being performed in theaters, but black people were not allowed to perform on public stages. So even though they created these dances, white performers in blackface would appear on stage. In the 1860s black performers began to perform in their own shows, but only in front of black audiences and some Irish immigrants. One major part of these performances was the cakewalk, which came directly from the plantations. It is where dancers will display their best moves and was a sort of contest between dancers to out do each other in mocking white men’s manners and behaviors.

This led to the Vaudeville era which marked the emergence of jazz music, right around the 1920s, this music was a combo of ragtime and the blues. In the early 1920s, a significant period was the Harlem Renaissance. In New York, Harlem is where high-society would go to be seen, going to exclusive clubs like the Cotton Club. During this time, there was plenty of employment for black dancers, like the Nicholas Brothers.

World Concert/Ritual Dances and Folk Dance can all be referred to as ‘ethnic’ dance. But, one difference between world concert/ritual dance and folk dance is the world/ritual are often performed in front of an audience, whereas folk dance is a participatory dance.

World/Ritual dances usually portray something important to a specific culture; like religion, moral values, work ethic, or history. These dance are passed down through generations and are often part of tradition gatherings. Folk dances are also passed down through generations, but some movements may have changed throughout the years. Which is why there can be multiple version of certain folk dances. This exemplifies another difference between world/ritual and folk dance, because ideally, world/ritual dances should be true to the dance’s origin.

Some contemporary influences on world dance is that many of these dances are now being commercialized, and are unrecognizable to how they were once performed. For example, Hula in Hawaii is now performed for tourists, but originally was a hand dance that celebrated man’s communion with the elements and nature. One positive is that now these cultures have an opportunity to share their dances, however, mainstreaming is downplaying the ritualistic purpose of some of these dances.

Isadora Duncan is often credited with be the first to present ‘modern dancing’ to the public. Duncan felt that ballet was too confining, so she left her technical training behind or order to dance in a way that she felt was more natural. She developed a technique that used ‘hopping, running, swaying, and skipping,’ (textbook) because these movements felt more natural to her. After Duncan, many more choreographers emerged, like Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, who in 1915 created the Denishawn school. They brought of view of dance from other countries to America, although their dance were not authentic. The Denishawn schools purpose was to educate the ‘total’ dancer in body, mind, and spirit. From the Denishawn School three major dancers emerged, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman, who would be considered the pioneers of modern dance.

Cite this paper

Ballet, Jazz Dance, and Folk Dance. (2021, Jan 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ballet-jazz-dance-and-folk-dance/



Is ballet a folk dance?
No, ballet is not a folk dance. It is a highly stylized and formalized dance form that originated in the courts of Renaissance Italy and France.
What are the 3 types of jazz dance?
There are three types of jazz dance: theatrical jazz, street jazz, and competitive jazz.
What is the relationship between folk dance and ballet?
Folk dance is a type of dancing that is usually performed to traditional music. Ballet is a type of dancing that is usually performed to classical music.
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