Famous jazz dancers: the best and most influential ones (with videos)

Around the turn of the 20th century, African American culture and tap dancing served as the forerunners of jazz dance. Due to its inclusion in movies and Broadway musicals, as well as the skill of the renowned jazz dancers we discuss in this article, jazz dance grew in popularity during the course of its history and development.

Jazz underwent a transition from the 1930s through the 1960s. The dance now required highly skilled dancers. It was no longer a slaves' dance, a secret, hidden dance.

New choreographers and dancers emerged as a result of the dance form's experimentation, and the elite gained notoriety and acclaim in movies and Broadway productions. Let's see who the most famous and influential jazz dancers of all time are.

Famous jazz dancers

Lynn Simonson

Lynn Simonson was born in Los Angeles, California. She created a dance move that primes the body for movement. The "Simonson Technique," which she developed after being invited to lecture in Amsterdam, Holland, was the source of her inspiration.

Upon her return to New York, she established Theater Dance Collection, where she spent a number of years as a soloist, choreographer, and co-director. She leads seminars for instructors around the nation and has won honors from organizations including the American Dance Guild, the National Dance Association of the USA, and the National Dance Educators of America.

Mia Michaels

A US choreographer and judge on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance," Mia Michaels Melchiona is better known by her stage name, Mia Michaels. She has worked with a number of well-known celebrities, such as Madonna, Tom Cruise, Ricky Martin, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Her choreography for Celine Dion's "A New Day" earned her an Emmy nomination. She has received two Emmy Awards during her career for her choreography on "House" and season 2 of SYTYCD.

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul is a well-known TV personality, singer, actress, dancer, and choreographer from the United States. From an early age, she began studying jazz, ballet, and tap.

During her first year of college, Abdul was selected from a pool of 700 applicants to join the illustrious Laker Girls, the cheer squad for the Los Angeles Lakers. In less than a year, she advanced fast enough to become their lead choreographer.

She began by concentrating on choreographing and dancing and quickly established a reputation as one of the most significant choreographers of jazz-funk dance. Abdul has maintained a lucrative career despite switching from singing to acting or serving as a judge on several TV shows.

Juanjo Hinojosa

Spanish-born Latin jazz dancer Juanjo Hinojosa is well-known. Early in his career, he received ballroom dancing instruction from Spanish, Italian, and Belgian dance instructors.

He performs at the top level in both the Latin and Standard modalities and has frequently advanced to the Spain Championship finals and semifinals. He has competed for Spain in a number of international competitions held across Europe.

He had contemporary and jazz dance training in Germany, Spain, and London. He has worked as a dancer with several dance groups as well as on television, in movies, in musicals, and in opera productions. Juanjo instructs dance classes and dance workshops on a regular basis all over the world.

Eugene Louis Faccuito (Luigi)

The jazz exercise technique is said to have been created by US jazz dancer, teacher, choreographer, and pioneer Eugene Louis Faccuito, better known by his stage name Luigi.

A training method known as Luigi's Warm-up Technique, which is also used for rehabilitation, promotes body alignment, core strength, balance, and the capacity to "feel from the inside." This method was the first globally accepted approach to teaching jazz and musical theater dance.

John Bubbles

John Bubbles is a well-known jazz-tap dancer, singer, and pianist who is also widely regarded as the undisputed father of rhythm tap. The black dancer is credited with fusing jazz and tap for the first time, opening the door for various jazz-tap ensembles that exist today. He added off-beats, which changed the speed, phrasing, and dance emphasis.

In addition to shocking the tap dance community, Bubbles has impacted today's jazz tap dancers. Dancers used to use flash steps, tap their toes, and sharp 2-to-a-bar phrases before his innovations.

Bubbles paved the path for significant rhyming exchanges between tappers and jazz musicians by using his bar, kicking off his heels, and striking different accents and syncopation, ushering in the age of modern jazz-tap percussion.

Matt Mattox

American jazz and ballet dancer Matt Mattox performs internationally. He is a Broadway performer who has also performed in a number of Hollywood musicals. His most well-known film performance was as Caleb Pontipee in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954). After his Broadway and film accomplishments, Mattox moved to Europe and established a successful dancing school.

Using the techniques he learned in ballet, he created his own jazz dance style. Similar to a ballet class, his jazz lessons were organized. "The barre" is how Mattox referred to his exercises. The poses, forms, and qualities he learned at the barre are reflected in his own careful and elegant manner.

Katherine Dunham

She is well-known for several of her inventions, the most well-known of which is her Dunham technique, which consists of a set of exercises and motions based on traditional African Diaspora dances.

In 1944, Katherine established the first black dance company in the country and launched her dancing studio in New York City. Additionally, she was the Metropolitan Opera's first black choreographer.

Many performers were eager to study with Katherine and attend one of the most prestigious institutions in America at the time. She educated Gregory Peck, Shirley Maclaine, and many more actors and famous people.

Jack Cole

Jack Cole, known as "The Father of Theatrical Jazz Dance," is the last figure we shall discuss. He was a choreographer, dancer, and theater director. The eminent jazz dancer from the United States created a jazz-ethnic ballet technique that is still widely employed in musicals, movies, nightclub performances, and music videos today.

Cole's dancing is acrobatic and angular, and small dance ensembles rather than a large company execute the shows. As a result, it is more comparable to glittering performances on a nightclub floor than a ballet stage.

Famous jazz dancers - Conclusion

A few of the finest jazz dancers ever have been listed on our list. Innovators like Katherine Dunham, Jack Cole, and others revolutionized the dance form by fusing it with ballet and their own styles.

Modern jazz dancers can become well-known by performing in motion pictures, television programs, and instructing dance schools, in addition to experimenting with the dance form.

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Written by CalypsoRoom Editorial Team
The CalypsoRoom Editorial Team is a skilled and diverse group of writers, researchers, and industry specialists who have access to Calypso's data and information in order to give you broad knowledge about the music industry as well as helpful advice to help you manage your music and dancing career.

Updated January 2023

Famous jazz dancers: the best and most influential ones (with videos)

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