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Jazz Dance Theory and Practice

Male dancer with back to camera dancing in front of a large group of dancers.

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Professor: Pat Taylor

Tuition: $310 member / $385 non-member

6 Weeks; 1.5 NDEO-Endorsed PDCs

Feb. 12 - March 24, 2024

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This course traces the continuum of jazz dance from its roots to its many manifestations today. Students will explore their own jazz dance identity through a process of examining historical jazz eras and styles (authentic, vernacular, theatrical, and contemporary) and by engaging in reflection, choreographic explorations, and dialogue with classmates.

Additional course components include reading, video viewing and analysis, and writing assignments that allow students to focus their understanding of jazz dance. Whether you teach in a privately-owned dance studio, in K-12, or in higher education, this course will also offer participants the opportunity to practice a historically-rooted approach for teaching jazz dance that is relevant today in contemporary jazz dance practices. By applying essential jazz dance characteristics that are derived from the origins of jazz but are often forgotten in dance studios today, participants will be able to integrate a rich understanding of jazz dance to classroom exercises that are already in your tool box. Feedback from classmates and instructor will open the doors to a dialogue where, as a community, one can share successes and challenges. In turn, participants will complete this course with a series of class exercises that can be explored and integrated into regular studio classes.

Book required:  Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches by Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver. (2014). Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. Available on Amazon here.

Questions about this Course?  Email

Past Student Testimonials

"This course helped me to see a clear course of study for jazz dance practice and content in an online format. This is why I initially took the class. I really liked the clarity of the assignments and the connection between thinking and writing, thinking and observing, and thinking and creating. "

"Taking this course benefited me immensely. I gained the knowledge and resources I needed to give my students a much more thorough exploration of jazz dance history, musical composition, and cultural perspective. I have so many ideas after reading about the plethora of pioneers and elements learned throughout. I enjoyed the diversity of the assignments and precise feedback that was also encouraging and accurate."

"Help me to put the style of jazz that I teach in the timeline of jazz through history and prompt me to consider new things to include in my teaching of jazz dance. I particularly enjoyed learning about the history of jazz dance."

"This course was very beneficial to me as an instructor. The assignments allowed for me to learn history, explore my own connections to jazz dance and relate this information to how I teach my classes."

"The content was exactly what I needed to better understand the nature of jazz dance and how I can apply this to my teaching."

"I learned so much. This course also got me thinking so much that I think I'd like to repeat it in another year or two to help keep my jazz class fresh."

"This course benefited me as a teacher by informing me of the history of jazz dance and how to teach it as a continuum. I enjoyed all of the assignment options, being encouraged to read a textbook, and of course creating movement from our chapter topics! "

Professor Bio

Pat Taylor, MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts, is the artistic director/choreographer of Los Angeles-based JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble, which she founded in 1993 to celebrate the jazz tradition as a vital thread in the cultural fabric of African American history and heritage and a defining element of the American experience. Her work has been presented at the Music Center of Los Angeles County, Hollywood Bowl/Playboy Jazz Festival, The Southern Theatre (Minneapolis), Glashuset (Stockholm, Sweden) and CIAEI Theater (Indaiatuba, Brazil), among many other venues. Her recognitions include a Brody Arts Fund Choreography Fellowship and grant awards from Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and the Center for Cultural Innovation. Pat teaches and choreographs across the United States and internationally, most recently as Lecturer in Jazz Dance at Peabody Conservatory / Johns Hopkins University and California State University Long Beach, and guest choreographer for University of Idaho and Salve Regina University. She is a contributing chapter author for the upcoming jazz textbook “Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century,” University Press of Florida.

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