African American Social Vernacular Dances have influenced the Western Concert Dance both on stage and film in various ways. The later acquires different dancing styles that are used in performing African American Social Vernacular Dances thus contributing to spread of economic, political, cultural and musical styles of African American. The “Jazz” for examples, one of the Western Concert Dances was first applied to a dancing style during World War I. However, and the dance form in Jazz originated from various vernacular dances of Africans. The techniques were brought to the Americas through slave trade. It contributed to the spread of African dancing culture (Ambrosio &Nora, p. 6).
Throughout the history of jazz dance, it developed in parallel to the modern music. The pattern of jazz dance emerged from the African American Social Vernacular Dances and resulted in some elements of movement forming key parts of the dance style. The dance involves physical embodiment of the traditional music with the syncopated rhythm of the music. Another influence of African American Social Vernacular Dances on Western Concert Dance was the introduction of isolations in jazz dance. The isolation finds a quality of movement in jazz dance. Katherine Dunham first introduced it.

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A low gravity and high level of energy form the most important identifying characteristics of the jazz dance. The dance is the stylizations of the respective choreographers and involves an inverted limbs and hunched-over the posture. The dances are designed to create strong dramatic works that are characterized by large leaps in the air just like the earliest African American Social Vernacular Dances. The movement of the dance is characterized by various rhythmic movement going on at the same time.  It implies that most jazz traditions have been imported from African American Social Vernacular Dances. It is because the present jazz dance borrows dancing styles that were used in Africa such as the movement of different parts of the body in response to various rhythms. For instance, arms to one rhythm, and the torso to another.  

Typically these dances are performed solo, but in a group for different ceremonies.  In America, the dances have become competitive for entertainment and transmission of political messages.

Show such as dancers Fred Astaire and his colleague Ginger Rogers improved Western Concert Dance of Ballet by blending the flowing ballet movements using abrupt rhythmic movements of the jazz. Such rhythmic movements have been borrowed from Vernacular Dances of African American.

According to Lindy Fest (2014), Concert Jazz has adopted various dancing styles from Lindy Hop. As a member of swing dance family, dance makers broke with African-American classical forms. The jazz dance are given the weight of gravity that initiates the movement of the dance from the center rather than the limbs. Just like Lindy Hop, Jazz dance combines partnered dancing and solo dancing employing the movements of black dance alongside the formal 8-count structure. In the open position, the dancers are connected hand-to-hand. In the closed position, women and men are linked as if they are in an embrace. Jazz dance also has a combination of crotchets, as well as, quavers that swing dancers in ‘triple steps’ and ‘steps’ and a distinct delay and ‘relaxed’ approach to rhythmic timing. All these provide flavor to the music and hence musical contributions.

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  • Ambrosio, Nora. Learning about Dance: Dance as an Art Form & Entertainment. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 2010.
  • YouTube,. ‘Lindyfest 2014 – Invitational Strictly Lindy Hop Finals’. N.p., 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from