Difference Between Jazz and Contemporary

Jazz vs Contemporary

The world of dance is comprised of many different dancing styles signifying the emergence and domination of popular music style and dance styles in different eras and different places. Jazz dance was a result of the popularity of jazz music and consisted of steps originating in Africa. It was in the 50’s that jazz changed with Caribbean style of moves getting incorporated in modern jazz dance. There is another style of dancing called contemporary that has many similarities with jazz dancing. While contemporary dancing has not evolved out of any particular music, it incorporates influences of many dancing styles. Despite similarities, there are many differences between Jazz and contemporary that will be highlighted in this article.


As the name implies, jazz dances is a kind of dance that evolved mainly to be able to dance to the tunes of jazz music. It is a modern dance that is very popular because of TV shows and movies where it is performed quite often. It is a very expressive and individualist style of dancing that involves a very enhanced feet and body movements. There is a lot of fancy footwork that looks exciting to watch. It is fun to do and see and requires a lot of energy on the part of the dancer. Though not necessary, it helps to have some knowledge of the dance form of ballet to be able to dance in jazz style fluently.

Jazz dance is inspired by jazz music, and its steps are also inspired by the movements of the African American community. This dance grew very popular to influence even the Broadway musicals and then the movies made in Hollywood. At times, jazz moves may be slow and dreamlike, whereas they can be very abrupt and fast and sharp at another moment. This requires agility and flexibility on the part of the jazz dancer.


Contemporary dance is a modern style of dancing that is not defined by any set pattern like jazz or ballet. It actually encompasses many different dancing styles and techniques and is hard to define. It evolved as a backlash to the rigid dancing techniques of ballet and jazz though it incorporates many of the steps of these dancing styles. Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan are believed to be founders of this dancing style that emphasizes on natural body movements, thereby allowing for more fluid and easy movements than rigid dancing styles. It is also a very versatile style of dancing that allows a lot of improvisation. Often done bare feet, contemporary dance allows good use of gravity with dancers using it to pull themselves down to the floor again and again. One can come from any school of dancing to learn contemporary dancing.

What is the difference between Jazz and Contemporary Dance?

• Contemporary dance is a kind of modern dance that originated in Europe a century ago as a backlash against rigid dancing styles of jazz and ballet.

• Contemporary is more expressionistic and fluid than jazz.

• Contemporary dance emphasizes upon natural body movements allowing for more improvisations than jazz dance.

• Jazz dance is a dance form that is inspired by jazz music and follows the body movements of the African American community.

• Jazz dance is perhaps more popular than contemporary because of its use in dance shows on TV and even movies.

• Contemporary dance incorporates many dance movements from jazz and ballet.