Archive for October 2017

What the Heck is Jazz Dance?

What the heck is jazz dance? There are literally stacks of books written about what jazz dance is, how it came into being, and how it is executed. But in a nutshell, if you’re wondering if you should take a jazz dance class because you’re not sure even what it is, here’s what you should know:

Jazz dance started as vernacular dance in the African-American communities of the United States coinciding with the creation of jazz music. Huh? It was popular dance that went with the day’s equivalent of pop music.

Carroll Dickerson’s Jazz Band in Chicago, 1924

The dance form continued to be called jazz dance even as it started to be performed to other types of music. You probably wouldn’t refer to Broadway show tunes as jazz music, but those show stopping numbers are primarily jazz dancing. You would not call Michael Jackson’s music jazz, but his dance moves most certainly were jazz dancing. If you love the old MGM musicals with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, that’s jazz dancing. If you grew up watching the dancers on Solid Gold or MTV in the 80s, that’s jazz dancing too.

In the movie “Flashdance,” the lead character gets attention at a ballet audition by doing a killer jazz routine.

Jazz dance has a vocabulary and technique just as ballet does. It has master innovators and teachers who honed the craft over the last century. The late greats Luigi, Gus Giordano, Frank Hatchett, and Matt Mattox among others were not only great dancers in their own right, but took it upon themselves to become teachers who really created or passed down technique. It is possible to learn a jazz dance routine without technical training. But if you wonder why you don’t look quite right doing it, or you struggle with jumping or turning movements, it’s almost definitely from the lack of technique.

Eugene Louis Faccuito, aka Luigi

A jazz dance warm-up can be long and technical.¬†This is not like a sports-type warm-up. The jazz dance warm-up is where you learn your technique. Sure, we could just jog in place and do your old gym class type warm-up. You’d get warm, but you wouldn’t have done much to master any particular dance skill. Rather, a jazz dance warm-up entails movements that not only warm, tone, and stretch your body, but also teach your muscle memory many positions and movements that are going to come up again and again in choreography.

Gus Giordano teaching a master class

Michael Jackson was one of the best jazz dancers of the last 50 years.

With the successful stage and film revivals of “Chicago,” the jazz choreography of Bob Fosse came back into fashion.

Rhythm Nation Dance Class


It’s time. I’ve had multiple requests to teach so we’re finally gonna do it…


Photo: Eugene Adebari/REX USA


Wednesday, November 8th
Kanopy Dance, 341 State Street, 2nd Floor
Ages 18+
$15 at the door; $10 in advance.

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You know you want to dance like that. Here’s your chance!

New dancers, including those with zero prior dance experience, are always welcome. No special clothes or shoes required. Dress to move your body and bring clean-soled shoes you can change into after you get to the studio so we don’t track gunk onto the dance floor.

You’re going to do a little jazz dance warm up, break down some incredible choreography, and have a LOT of fun. We do a different song every week in my Jazz Dance class, so if you want to learn¬†Rhythm Nation make sure you show up November 8th!

As Janet says: Get the point? Good. Let’s Dance.



Kanopy Dance is located at 341 State Street. Enter through the door located between Ragstock and The Gap. Other doors on the block are labeled 341, but only this door has access to the dance studios.

We will be in dancing in Studio 2. At the top of the stairs, you will be standing in Studio 1. You will see a door directly in front of you. That’s the door into Studio 2. Take off your shoes and come on in!

Please leave your shoes or boots on the shoe racks at the top of the stairs!

Thriller Dance Time!

‘Tis the season to Dance to


Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Time: 7:45pm – 8:45pm
Where: Kanopy Dance (341 State Street, 2nd Floor), Studio B
Cost: $5.00 per person (cash or check or charge)

Aside from the moonwalk, Thriller is usually the Michael Jackson dance people most ask to learn so we’re busting it out just in time for Halloween. Class is open to all, including those with no prior dance experience.

**Kanopy Studio Info**

Enter Between Ragstock and The Gap Stores – Many doors on the corner are labeled 341 State Street, but only this door has access into the dance studio.

No Street Shoes – What does that mean? It means you need to bring a pair of clean soled shoes to change into at the studio. You can wear dance shoes, sneakers, whatever. You just may not wear the same shoes you wore outside walking to class on the dance floor. It tracks in too much grimey stuff! When you enter, you’ll go up a flight of stairs. At the top are shoe racks where you can leave your shoes during class.

Go into Studio B – At the top of the stairs, you’ll see a door that says “Pull” over the knob. Just pull (don’t rotate the knob as that doesn’t do any good), and come on in. There will be a ballet class in progress when you arrive. DON’T PANIC! Just quietly walk through to sit on the folding chairs on the other side. We’ll start as soon as the ballet kids are done.

There Are Restrooms, Drinking Fountains, and Changing Rooms If You Need Them – You’ll need to go into Studio B to access them.