If I am asked to explain about all the different styles I learnt in my first Jazz class at the Foundation, it would go something like this.
‘’There is excitement written all over my face as I enter the studio. Jazz , I am told, is one form of dancing that wears many faces because of the vast number of styles one could adopt. So I am confident that I could learn one style per class . The end.’
I wish I could continue more about all the beautiful jazz routines I thought I would pick up during that session. But that is not going to happen because I learnt none. Let me tell you this very clearly. If you really thought you could just walk into the studio, jump into some fancy jazz routine and learn the steps in a month or two , you are like me- unaware of your own body’s movements and limitations, and ignorant about the importance of warming up and conditioning your body before any jazz class.
But what I did learn in that class was how I am beginning to be more aware of my body.If my teacher, Yana Lewis, is dedicating more than half the time of the class for warm-up routines consisting of stretching and isolation exercises, there is a good reason for it. According to a study conducted by the Society of Neuroscience, many parts of the brain will have to act together to turn a body’s discrete movements into a fluid physical art form. In simple words, it’s the brain that dances and it needs to gauge how your body is prepared to make those fluid movements.
This is precisely why these warm-up routines will help you understand your body and ways to work around it. I certainly understood i am hardly giving any exercise to my head and neck muscles when Yana explained the reason for my dizziness while doing a particular warm-up that involved rotating my head while moving my body in circles.In addition, I got my answer as to how ballet dancers can do their pirouettes with no such problems. You would be surprised to know that researchers from Imperial College, London in their study has reported on specific differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them to avoid feeling dizzy while they perform. (Read more about the study here)
These warm up exercises will also gradually help you to widen the range of your body movements . This is
when you can start exploring various styles, because Jazz gives you that freedom to intermix subtle, controlled movements with energy packed jumps and wild hip shakes. Sway yourself to a melodious rupture or jump on your feet to heart thumping music or do both because jazz encompasses it all. And if you are someone who goes through extreme mood swings like me, believe me when I say this-jazz will slowly take control of it, turn it into a virtue because when your teacher demands you to change styles just like that with a snap of her finger, you will have no problem switching from one ‘face’ to the other.
And yes, at the end of it all , you will have pure and unadulterated fun. Period.