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Jazz dance styles: discover the groove, style, and sass

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Group of 6 jazz dancers
A classic 1950s style of jazz, featured in our 2009 show 'Black Coffee'. Photo by Robert Mikulandura.

Today, we will be exploring the rich and diverse world of jazz dance. From the sultry moves of the Latin Jazz to the high-energy, pizzazz of theatre jazz, this genre of dance offers something for everyone. Whether you are a seasoned dancer or just starting to dip your toes into the world of jazz dance, this post will provide you with an overview of the most popular styles of jazz dance and what makes each one unique. So, let's get started!

We offer many of these styles of jazz at Dragonfly Dance, either as stand alone classes, or incorporated in a general jazz class.


Theatre or Broadway Jazz

Theatre or Broadway jazz is all about putting on a show! Think high kicks, big gestures, and dramatic expressions. This style is inspired by the classic musicals of the past and combines jazz dance with theatrical elements like storytelling and character development. If you love to act and perform, this style is for you!

Learn more about theatre jazz

Check out this example of Theatre Jazz at New York studio Steps on Broadway



Lyrical jazz is a more emotional and expressive style of jazz dance. This style combines jazz dance with ballet and contemporary dance to create a truly unique and beautiful form of expression. The movements are fluid and graceful, and incorporate elongated lines and and upper body movements, including arches and spinal rotation.

Here's a gorgeous example of lyrical jazz from GNI Dance Company



Heels jazz is a newer style of jazz dance that combines jazz dance with high heels. Yes, you heard that right! This style is quite edgy, adding a little bit of sass and attitude. It includes influences from jazz, as well as hip hop, burlesque, and pole dancing.

Watch this enthralling Heels choreography from Chistin Olesen


Vernacular jazz

Vernacular Jazz Dance originated in African American communities in the early 20th century, characterized by its improvisational nature, incorporating elements of swing, blues, and Charleston. It is performed to up-tempo swing or big band music, emphasizing individual expression and rhythm. Vernacular Jazz Dance remains popular today and is often seen in musical theater productions. The dance steps have quirky names like the Tacky Annie, Shortie Georgie, Cake Walk, Falling off a log, and lots of more colourful phrases. Vernacular jazz was the 'street dance' of the early 20th century.

Here's a 'dictionary of jazz dance' video showing some fun vernacular jazz dance steps


Commercial jazz

Commercial jazz is the style you see in music videos, TV commercials, and pretty much any form of media that needs a little bit of jazz flair. It's upbeat, energetic, and always puts a smile on your face.

This style is all about high-energy and show-stopping moves that are designed to impress. Think of those jazz numbers in your favorite music videos or on popular TV shows. They're flashy, fun and perfect for anyone who loves to perform.

Check out this example of Commercial Jazz at New York studio Steps on Broadway


Latin jazz

Latin jazz incorporates Latin rhythms and styles, like salsa, samba, and tango, into jazz dance. There is a lot of hip movement, with complex foot work, and gorgeous arm lines. It's all about letting loose and feeling the rhythm of the movement.

Here's an example of Latin Jazz, choreographed by Juanjo Hinojosa.


Street jazz

Street jazz is inspired by hip-hop, funk, and street dance styles. This style is perfect for those who love to move to a funky beat and show off their grooves.

Check out this example of Street Jazz from Broadway Dance Centre New York


What style of jazz appeals to you?

So, there you have it! The different styles of jazz dance. Which one is your favorite? Well, why not come and try some of them out at Dragonfly Dance? We offer classes for different levels, so whether you're a beginner or an experienced dancer, we have a class for you!

Some of our jazz classes are general jazz, where you get a taste of different jazz styles. Some are specialist classes in a particular jazz style.

So, go ahead and check out our timetable, and book your place today or join our class waiting list. Let the jazz dance journey begin!


Dragonfly Dance offers dance classes to adults of all ages in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and tap. We pride ourselves on offering you a place to indulge your love of dance, whether you’re a complete beginner, had a long break from dance, or danced all your life. Our classes have a broad mix of ages, and our philosophy is that you are never too old to dance, it is never too late to start, and you can dance forever!

If you have any questions, give us a call on 08 7073 2069


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