And All That Jazz – Idea File

Students explore isolations, a technique characteristic of jazz dance, through observation and experience.

Grades: 6-12

Heat/Ode to Sabrina in video segment

Suggested Uses:

Dance: elements (time and space)
Dance: dance styles (jazz dance)

Teaching Concepts:
Jazz dance technique works a great deal with isolations and coordination.
Jazz dance communicates the rhythmic complexity and emotional dynamics inherent in jazz music.

Lesson Idea

Open: Tell students they will watch two different examples of jazz dance. As they watch, tell them to note characteristics of jazz technique.

View: “Heat/Ode to Sabrina” from Dance Performances DVD or in PBS LearningMedia, including David Thurmond’s introduction. Optional: Watch Program 9, “Jazz Dance,” from DanceSense.

Discuss: The characteristics of jazz dance and the connection between jazz dance and jazz movement. Did the dances and music seem interconnected? Focus in on isolations: Did students see examples of isolations in the dance performances?

Move: Have students practice isolating specific body parts; e.g., head side to side or down and up, shoulder up and down, ribcage forward and back, hips side to side. Use jazz music and do this to the beat of the music. This exercise lets students work with the element of time while defining space by the shapes their bodies make. Try moving two parts independently, but at the same time; e.g., shoulders and hips. Try walking in time to the music while isolating and moving one body part to the beat.

Author: Adapted from the DanceSense guide

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K-12The Arts