“Rooted Jazz Dance sends the very clear message that jazz dance is reclaiming its time.”—Ayo Walker, Austin Peay State University
“Explores the long-overdue recognition of jazz dance as historically a Black American form of dance, steeped in Africanist aesthetics that parallel the cultural history of Black people in the country. It is not only a timely correction to our dance culture, but is also necessary for proper assessment of who we are as a national culture.”—Halifu Osumare, author of Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir
“A timely book. Jazz has long assumed multiple identities, many that obscure its Africanist roots. With courage and conviction, contributors do justice to the form and all of its identities while taking a firm stance in where it is truly rooted.”—Jill Flanders Crosby, coauthor of Situated Narratives and Sacred Dance: Performing the Entangled Histories of Cuba and West Africa
An African American art form, jazz dance has an inaccurate historical narrative that often sets Euro-American aesthetics and values at the inception of the jazz dance genealogy. The roots were systemically erased and remain widely marginalized and untaught, and the devaluation of its Africanist origins and lineage has largely gone unchallenged. Decolonizing contemporary jazz dance practice, this book examines the state of jazz dance theory, pedagogy, and choreography in the twenty-first century, recovering and affirming the lifeblood of jazz in Africanist aesthetics and Black American culture.
Rooted Jazz Dance brings together jazz dance scholars, practitioners, choreographers, and educators from across the United States and Canada with the goal of changing the course of practice in future generations. Contributors delve into the Africanist elements within jazz dance and discuss the role of Whiteness, including Eurocentric technique and ideology, in marginalizing African American vernacular dance, which has resulted in the prominence of Eurocentric jazz styles and the systemic erosion of the roots. These chapters offer strategies for teaching rooted jazz dance, examples for changing dance curricula, and artist perspectives on choreographing and performing jazz. Above all, they emphasize the importance of centering Africanist and African American principles, aesthetics, and values.
Arguing that the history of jazz dance is closely tied to the history of racism in the United States, these essays challenge a century of misappropriation and lean into difficult conversations of reparations for jazz dance. This volume overcomes a major roadblock to racial justice in the dance field by amplifying the people and culture responsible for the jazz language.
Lindsay Guarino, associate professor of dance and chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at Salve Regina University, is coeditor of Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches. Carlos R. A. Jones, associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and professor of musical theatre and dance at the State University of New York College at Buffalo, is a performer and choreographer whose works have appeared on television, film, and regional theatre. Wendy Oliver, professor of dance and chair of the Department of Theater, Dance, and Film at Providence College, is coeditor of Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches.
Publication of this work made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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