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Jazz Dance vs. Hip-Hop Dance

Updated on July 19, 2012

Studio Styles

Have you ever gone to a dance class expecting to dance what you considered jazz or hip-hop only to find that you weren't doing what you had pictured. The object of this lens is to give you some knowledge about the differences in these two styles of dance so the next time you go to take a class you know what to ask and what to look for.

What is the Difference

Jazz vs. Hip-Hop

I am often asked, "What is the difference between jazz and hip hop?" This can often be a convoluted question and answer since many studios and dance teachers now combine both styles and call it one or the other. For me there has always been a separation, so I thought I would break it down a little bit so you can see for yourself.

Whenever I have thought about jazz dance, my mind goes straight to Broadway jazz. However, to think of just Broadway jazz would be incorrect since there is more than one type of jazz. There is also a lyrical jazz or jazz-funk. The difference in these two styles is that lyrical jazz is smoother and shows longer lines in the body as you dance, jazz-funk is a toned down hip hop with some of the other hip hop style influence. Jazz dance relies heavily on ballet technique, so to be a fluent jazz dancer you will need to also have some ballet background. Some of the ballet steps they you need to be familiar with in jazz would be pirouettes, grande jetes, turning jumps, and leaps. Jazz is what I would consider a pumped up ballet. However, there is something unique to jazz that makes jazz what it is and that is the "jazz walk". This is fun and very popular move that you will use no matter what style of jazz you take. I am sure that there are other styles of jazz with jazz being more of the umbrella word. In my dance studio we teach all three styles of jazz, one being Broadway jazz,the other a lyrical jazz and a jazz-funk for the younger kids. All styles are very energetic and fun to do and watch.

Hip Hop dance has a wide range of styles and has been growing in popularity since the 1970s. Some of the more popular styles that fit under the hip-hop umbrella are: roboting, bopping, locking, popping, turfin, breaking, krumping, and jerkin. These are just a handful of styles and more are coming all the time. I will define just a couple of these styles so you have a better idea of what they are. Breaking is done with footwork oriented steps performed while standing up, or footwork done with both hands and fee on the floor, there are also poses done on your hands, or spins on your shoulder or head. Locking is a freeze or sudden pause (locking in place) and then the dancer starts moving again. They do the freeze or lock a little longer than what might be considered normal. Popping is where you quickly contract and relax muscles to cause a jerk in a dancers body. Tutting, which is all the rave in our community right now, is where you use your arms, hands and wrists to form right angles and create geometric box like shapes.

Jazz and hip-hop dance may share some similarities, but they are definitely different dance styles. So the next time you enter a studio and want one or the other make sure you are educated as to what particular style of dance you want to take or you could find that your dance class wasn't exactly what you expected.

KimiRay's Dance Studio

428 S Mcculloch Blvd

Pueblo West, CO 81007


Check us out online at KimiRay's Dance Studio

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