With the birth of jazz music in the early 20th century, came jazz dance. It’s a joyful, expressive dance style you can do without a partner. Including the legendary Charleston from the 1920s plus many more fun dance steps and routines from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Learn to dance with our adult dance classes in London. Lessons for beginners to advanced.
What is this dance style?
We specialise in vintage jazz dances from the early twentieth century – especially the 1920s, 30s and 40s. We dance them to hot and swinging jazz music, the original style of music they were danced to and evolved alongside.
Like jazz music itself, these dance steps were born in African-American communities in the early 20th century. It’s important that we celebrate jazz dance as a joyous and important part of Black history, honour its creators and preserve its culture & values. Jazz dance is also closely related to tap dance – we dance many of the same steps, but without metal plates on our shoes.
Also known as
What we call “Vintage Jazz” also goes by a few different names, depending on who you are talking to. Here’s a few of them…
Jazz Roots: in most commercial jazz dance classes today you will learn “Modern Jazz” – the style that evolved from around the 1950s onwards (and often has very little to do with jazz music anymore). The vintage dance steps we teach are the roots of modern jazz dance so sometimes this dance style is called “Jazz Roots”.
Vernacular Jazz: this style of dance is part of what’s called the “African American Jazz Dance Vernacular”, so sometimes we call it “Vernacular Jazz” to highlight its roots as a Black dance and pay tribute to its African American creators and innovators.
Solo Jazz: this dance is popular in the swing dance community, who often refer to it as “Solo Jazz” or “Solo Charleston”. Jazz dances (solo) and swing dances (partnered) are related and interconnected, because they share a history and music. So swing dancers often call it “Solo Jazz” – just referring to the fact that it’s their solo dance, done alone without a partner.
Authentic Jazz: another name you might see, referring to the fact that our style of jazz dance is authentic to its roots and music. We dance authentic vintage dance steps to real jazz music.
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Level 1 (Fundamentals)
What is the level? Level 1 is for absolute beginners, no experience needed and everyone is welcome.
What is this class about? This level teaches you the vocabulary of vintage jazz dance. All the most important authentic dance steps from the jazz & swing age – The Charleston, Suzie Q, Shorty George, Apple Jacks, Tabby The Cat, Camel Walk and more. These steps are outrageously fun and expressive, with a soundtrack of hot & swinging jazz that will inspire you to move your body.
You will learn the history of each step, how to execute it with rhythm and style, and how it connects with other steps in the historic repertoire.
Choreography (dance routines) and improvisation (freestyling) are both important parts of jazz dance culture. So in this class you will gain experience of both improvising these steps and also learning them in short routine sequences.
How many classes should I take? Most beginners take this level class for 2-3 months before moving on to the higher level classes. After around 12 classes you will have a comprehensive education in the vintage jazz dance vocabulary.
Level 1.5 (Skills & Technique)
What is the level? Level 1.5 is for improvers and above. Some jazz dance experience is recommended. It would be helpful if you already know the Shim Sham routine, the 1920s Charleston basics and a vocabulary of classic jazz steps (eg: Suzie Q, Fall Off The Log, Shorty George, Eagle Slide, Truckin, Lowdowns, Fishtails, Happy Feet, Gaze Afar, Tabby The Cat, etc). If you don’t know these steps yet, please take the Level 1 class first to learn these fundamentals before progressing.
What is this class about? In the Level 1.5 class you will practice the vintage jazz dance steps you have learned in Fundamentals in different ways and take your skills & technique to the next level. To improve as dancers and develop our own style we need to spend time practicing, drilling, training and exploring. This class gives you a variety of exercises, skills, short routines and challenges with lots of movement and music to keep it fun!
Every class is different, so start anytime and drop in when you like.
Physical skills we might work on include:
- fancy skills like spins, turns, jumps, drops and slides
- balancing like an ice skater
- precise footwork and floor strikes
- hitting gorgeous breaks & poses
- controlling our posture, shapes and lines
- conditioning to build strength, balance and control
- exercises that challenge our coordination and build proprioception
Creative skills need practice & play to master and find our personal style. We might work on:
- understanding jazz rhythms and expressing ourselves rhythmically with the music
- mastering transitions and flow
- deconstructing classic steps and inventing our own
- confident freestyling to a variety of tempos
- using our arms, hands & entire body
- developing our unique personal style
Level 2 (Choreography)
What is the level? Level 2 is for intermediate to advanced dancers. You should already have some vintage jazz dance experience, as you will be expected to already know most classic jazz steps. You should be comfortable learning a routine in class and ideally you should already know:
- the Shim Sham routine
- 1920s Charleston fundamentals
- the classic jazz steps (such as Suzie Q, Fall Off The Log, Shorty George, Eagle Slide, Apple Jacks, Truckin, Fishtails, Happy Feet, Tacky Annie, Half Breaks, Gaze Afar, etc.)
If you don’t know these steps yet, please take the Level 1 class to learn them before progressing to Level 2.
What is this class about? Learn an original jazz routine in the style of the 1920s, 30s, 40s or 50s. Your teacher is fancy flapper Sharon Davis, an award winning jazz and swing dancer with over 20 years experience.
Every class is different, so you can start anytime and drop in when you like. Fun and energetic, this class is great for fitness too. This is a solo dance class, no partner needed.