Jazz Moves

Jazz dancer

Jazz moves and warm ups can contain a lot of Ballet and Yoga moves.

Depending on your teacher, they may be referring to these moves by their proper names – "stand in fifth position", "degage to the front", "sit in a half lotus position" – you get the picture.

In fact, if you hear genuine Jazz moves names or phrases like 'a Jazz Kick' for example, and ask for a definition, you may get it in Ballet terms – "It's like a grande battement".

Yep, this could leave you in a terrible muddle.

Naturally, as your dancing progresses you will pick up various dance terms.

But to end up in a beginners class and hear a torrent of these expressions might be a little disorienting.

Don't panic – just choose the right class.

Because, in a true beginners class everything will be thoroughly explained to you.

But there isn't any harm in taking a quick look at our Ballet section for an explanation of what these terms actually mean.

Jazz Warm Up and Stretching

This is the big thing in Jazz. You will be stretched as far as you can go in the warm up.

One of the Jazz moves you may encounter which you wouldn't expect to see anywhere anymore is the bouncing stretch.

You know – the kind of bouncing warm up that used to feature in a lot of 80's style workout tapes and pop videos.

The research data into this is fairly conclusive as far as we can see.

Bouncing while in a stretch can cause muscle damage.

Most experts in the field of stretching and flexibility training all agree – don't bounce.

Leave that particular movement to the super-fit, who will be very well aware of the range of movements their muscles have.

While you're still a beginner, be gentle on your body.

If you do happen to get into a lesson and find that you are being instructed to bounce, our advice would be – don't.

Stretch gently and hold that stretch at the point where you can feel it working your muscle (not to your pain threshold or anywhere near it).

Hopefully you will be in a class with a teacher who is well informed on these matters.

Don't be surprised if you are asked to do push-ups and other traditional workout moves.

The Jazz warm up really is very thorough and encompasses as many different styles as are necessary to get you really warmed up.

Jazz Stretch

Jazz Routines for Beginners

In your first routine, you could be asked to do quite a lot of different Jazz moves and steps - jumps, a shimmy or two, and turns and spins.

Pay attention here – it's Jazz so it's probably going to be fast… But it'll also be great fun.

Turns and spins (indeed any variation on a pirouette) should be well deconstructed by your teacher.

And you will probably find that you have the opportunity to practice a static turn.

This is where you do every movement (the arm and head position, how high on your toes you should stand) without actually turning around.

This will give you a great idea of where you body weight should be.

This is incredibly important in learning how to turn.

If your body weight isn't where it should be, you could end up splattered all over the wall or floor. Never a good place to be.

Core Muscles

Core muscles are absolutely key to successful Jazz moves – do this dance on a regular basis and you will build immense core strength (and a very flat belly).

A useful exercise is to do a slow sit-up and hold it half way to sitting up, controlling it only with the stomach muscles.  Or a basic, static plank will produce the same result.

Both are really good ways of finding out exactly where your core muscles are.

Of course, putting so much emphasis on the core area means that you do have to protect your lower back – mainly by making sure that your behind is not left sticking out a mile when you're dancing. Tuck it under!

So, you'll come to dance your routine, which could be 64 beats long, and you'll find you have a huge amount to remember.

But, by simply tuning in to the music (likely to be a blaring show tune that you know well), you'll find that the familiar beat will guide you.

And if you get stuck and lose a couple of steps mid-way through, give it a shoulder roll or shimmy while you find your feet.

When we're talking Jazz moves, it's the attitude that counts!

Wow!  If you've read each Jazz dance section in turn, you've now got lots of tips, hints and advice that will make joining your local jazz class a breeze.  Enjoy your dancing!

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