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Music About Dance

While we all know that Jazz is as much a style of music as it is a style of dance, many people may not realize the importance that dance has played in music. There are many songs out there that mention the importance of dancing and yet we as a society seem to have forgotten the importance or limited that importance to a certain age group. Once we age it seems that we forget not only how to dance but also the intrinsic importance of dancing as well.

“I Hope You Dance” is only one of many songs that relate the important role that dancing plays in feeding the human soul. If one thing in life is important for all, that one thing would be to dance whenever the opportunity arises. You never know when you will run out of opportunities to dance or find that you’ve squandered so many of them away. Take them as they come and your life will be filled with much greater joy than you may ever realize. Despite many other songs out there that may convey the message, there are very few that say it more concisely than this particular song. “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you’ll dance”.

Garth Brooks is another musician that had an excellent commentary on dance. His song “The Dance” chronicles not necessarily the importance of dancing but of participating. Given the choice, many who have lost their lives in some risky endeavor would more than likely tell those left behind that they would not have traded the dance for one more breath. The lyrics to this song are somewhat haunting “I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance”.

Believe it or not all good songs that mention dance do not happen to be country songs. These honestly happen to be, in my opinion, the most poignant. Other great songs about dance include the song “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. The lyrics to this song include the stanza “Let’s dance for fear tonight is all”. The truth of the matter is that you never know and dancing is a great way to celebrate living.

Music and dance for years have gone hand in hand and will continue to do so long after we’ve left this earth. At least that would be the hope. I would hate to see what a world without dance would be like. It would be like having children without laughter and that would be a sad world in which to live. If you want to keep your children dancing then you must teach them to dance. Teach them that it is okay to dance and be silly around the house. That it is okay to dance their way through their chores (hey if it makes them smile while taking out the trash I say go for it!).  Teach them that dancing is a great way to express joy and that laughter is the best thing to follow their dance.

Native Americans have a long and noble heritage when it comes to dance. They let their dreams beat out the heartbeat of Mother Earth and danced in companionship with nature. They danced for joy and sorrow, war, peace, and praise. I can think of no better example to follow when it comes to dance.

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Jazz as Dance

While few people understand the true origins of Jazz as a music form, fewer people still understand the origins of jazz as a style of dance. Jazz is very much a fatherless child. More than that however, jazz as music and dance seem to have many mothers despite the fact that they have no father. By this I mean that there are many influences to this colorful form of music and dance though no one influence is notable enough in the new creation to be considered the ‘father’ or ‘mother’ for that matter of jazz.

Though jazz has many supposed birth places it really only has one true home and that home would be New Orleans. Much like the music this city is famous for, New Orleans is a city without a father too. New Orleans was a melting pot in the truest sense of the word before we had any real clue what it meant to be a melting pot. From the influences of the French, Spanish, German, English, and of course the population of former slaves and black free men and women, New Orleans was the perfect place for this blended and mixed style of music and dance to call home.

It is no wonder that jazz dance emerged as the result of jazz music. There are simply no adequate dance steps for the delightful music we have come to know over the years as jazz. For this reason something new and a little bit off the main path was needed in order to keep time and pace with the new music that was emerging.

As a style of dance, jazz was much more ‘brazen’ than dances in the past had been and in some circles considered to be singly unseemly. Polite society certainly had no interest in this particular form of dance. The good news for those who enjoyed this style of dance is that there were plenty of places in which jazz, as a form of dance and music, was readily embraced. You had to go off the beaten path a little in order to find it but for many it was well worth the effort.

Jazz music and dance was popular for quite a while and then seemed to go underground except in cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, Kansas City, and St. Louis where it was an ingrained part of the history and culture. We have seen a reemergence of this once popular style of music and dance in recent years however with some notable musicians bringing back the swing and ‘big band’ sound that went hand in hand with jazz as both a music form and a style of dance.

You should understand however, that when it comes to jazz dance, much like the music, there are no definitive rules that you must follow in order for it to be jazz. There are no rigid dance steps that must be adhered to for the ‘jazz’ effect. Jazz dance is often confused as ‘tap dance’ because tap music was often set to jazz music. It is important however to realize that jazz isn’t limited to tap dance and that other styles of dance fall under the rather large umbrella of ‘jazz dance’.

Some of the more common jazz dances include: Black Bottom, Boogie Woogie, the Cakewalk, the Charleston, the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop, and swing dancing. Each of these styles of dance seems to be making a rather remarkable comeback in popularity over the course of the last two decades and are very interesting to watch, as well as in which to participate should you ever have the opportunity.

If you have considered jazz dance lessons for you or your children, I hope you will decide to indulge. Not only is the music for this type of dance excellent and uplifting but also the style of dance in and of itself is quite fun and enjoyable. There are very few styles of dance that can compete when it comes to allowing artistic license, going with the flow, and simply dancing for the sheer joy of dancing. As an art form and as a form of entertainment jazz music and dance are tops in my book.