Jazz Dance vs. Jazz Funk Dance

What's the Difference?

Jazz Dance and Jazz Funk Dance are two distinct styles within the broader genre of jazz. Jazz Dance is characterized by its syncopated rhythms, sharp movements, and strong emphasis on technique and precision. It draws inspiration from various dance forms, including ballet, modern dance, and African dance. On the other hand, Jazz Funk Dance is a more contemporary and urban style that incorporates elements of hip-hop, street dance, and funk. It is known for its fluidity, intricate isolations, and emphasis on musicality and individual expression. While both styles share the same roots in jazz music, they have evolved differently over time, with Jazz Dance maintaining a more traditional and structured approach, while Jazz Funk Dance embraces a more free-flowing and experimental style.


AttributeJazz DanceJazz Funk Dance
OriginRooted in African American vernacular dance stylesEvolved from jazz dance with influences from hip-hop, funk, and street dance
StyleEmphasizes technique, improvisation, syncopation, and musicalityCombines jazz dance elements with urban and street dance styles
MovementFluid, smooth, and graceful movementsDynamic, energetic, and often incorporates isolations and popping
MusicTraditionally performed to jazz musicCan be performed to various genres including jazz, funk, hip-hop, and R&B
CostumeTypically includes leotards, tights, jazz shoes, and skirtsOften includes urban streetwear, sneakers, and accessories
ChoreographyOften incorporates traditional jazz dance steps and formationsMay include elements of street dance, hip-hop, and freestyle movements
PopularityHas been popular since the early 20th centuryEmerging in popularity in recent years

Further Detail


Jazz dance and jazz funk dance are two popular dance styles that have their roots in African-American culture and music. While both styles share similarities, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the key differences and similarities between jazz dance and jazz funk dance, highlighting their techniques, music choices, costumes, and historical backgrounds.


Jazz dance is characterized by its strong, sharp movements, syncopated rhythms, and emphasis on isolations. Dancers often perform high kicks, leaps, and turns with precision and control. The technique focuses on proper body alignment, flexibility, and strength. Jazz dance incorporates elements from ballet, modern dance, and African dance, creating a unique blend of styles.

Jazz funk dance, on the other hand, combines the technical aspects of jazz dance with the fluidity and groove of funk and hip-hop styles. It incorporates more street dance elements, such as popping, locking, and waacking. Jazz funk dancers often showcase intricate footwork, body rolls, and intricate isolations. The technique requires a strong sense of rhythm, musicality, and the ability to seamlessly transition between different movement styles.


Jazz dance is traditionally performed to jazz music, which is characterized by its improvisation, syncopation, and swing rhythms. Jazz music often features brass instruments, piano, and drums, creating a lively and energetic atmosphere. The dancers' movements are closely connected to the music, with the choreography reflecting the rhythm and mood of the jazz tunes.

Jazz funk dance, on the other hand, is more versatile in terms of music choices. While it can still be performed to jazz music, jazz funk dancers often incorporate a wide range of genres, including funk, R&B, hip-hop, and electronic music. This flexibility allows for more creative and diverse choreography, as dancers can explore different musical styles and experiment with various rhythms and beats.


In jazz dance, costumes often reflect the elegance and sophistication of the style. Dancers typically wear form-fitting attire, such as leotards, tights, and jazz pants. The costumes may feature sequins, feathers, or other embellishments to enhance the visual appeal. Jazz dance costumes aim to highlight the dancers' lines and movements while maintaining a classic and polished look.

Jazz funk dance, on the other hand, embraces a more urban and contemporary style. Dancers often wear streetwear-inspired outfits, such as baggy pants, crop tops, sneakers, and accessories like hats or sunglasses. The costumes in jazz funk dance allow for more individuality and self-expression, reflecting the modern and edgy nature of the style.

Historical Background

Jazz dance originated in the early 20th century, primarily in African-American communities. It emerged as a fusion of African dance, European ballet, and social dances like the Charleston and the Lindy Hop. Jazz dance gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s with the rise of jazz music and the Harlem Renaissance. Over the years, it has evolved and incorporated influences from other dance styles, becoming a staple in musical theater and commercial dance.

Jazz funk dance, on the other hand, emerged in the late 20th century as a response to the growing popularity of funk and hip-hop music. It draws inspiration from street dance styles, such as popping, locking, and breaking, and combines them with the technical foundation of jazz dance. Jazz funk dance gained prominence in the 1990s and continues to evolve with the ever-changing trends in music and dance.


In conclusion, while jazz dance and jazz funk dance share common roots and influences, they have distinct attributes that make them unique. Jazz dance focuses on strong technique, syncopated rhythms, and elegance, while jazz funk dance incorporates street dance elements, fluidity, and versatility. The choice of music and costumes further differentiates the two styles, with jazz dance traditionally performed to jazz tunes and featuring more classic attire, while jazz funk dance embraces a wider range of music genres and urban-inspired costumes. Understanding the differences and similarities between these two dance styles allows dancers and enthusiasts to appreciate their rich history and diverse expressions.

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