The modern genres of music cannot be considered to be pure, owing to their long histories of change with time and from one geographical place to another. The major aspects that keep changing with time are the styles, rhythm, dancing technique and wording, but it is normally possible to trace the origin of a single music genre (Dils, and Albright 54). Jazz and Ballet are two different music and dance genres that have some similar effects, yet they have different origins and histories. There are a lot of differences between these two terms. Apparently, it is not quite easy to differentiate the two owing to their similarities in styles, but with time the differences and similarities are bound to present. Jazz is actually considered a genre of music rather than a type of music or dancing; however, it is also a discipline in dancing (Paskevska 46). The term Jazz can also be considered as an umbrella term, which includes multiple other genres of music and music disciplines. This implies that there are multiple varieties of music all classified under jazz. For example, there is the hip hop jazz, stylistic jazz and even the lyrical jazz (Dils, and Albright 74). They are actually stylized jazz, rather than the original jazz varieties. In addition, jazz allows its performers to be somewhat more relaxed, with the freedom to include additional and personal styles. This makes the largest difference between the two because in ballet, one is obligated to follow a definite set of positions of the body, which are not easy to learn and perform (Paskevska 57). Ballet performers also undergo rigorous training, and often, one finds it difficult to perform especially in the first few days of training. The positions that one must assume are normally turned out, while jazz appears to have parallel positions (Paskevska 102).
Jazz music incorporates different dancing styles, and is one of the major types of music that have been integrated into various music cultures and in different languages. It is particularly very popular, basically because it is done in high speed, while ballet is very classical and is done under low speed. Taking jazz and ballet, I personally find jazz very fun and enjoyable, while ballet appears both restrictive and slow, thus boring to an extent (Dils, and Albright 36).
Beginners normally find jazz very easy to learn, as it provides them with a strong sense of structure, a range and freedom to choose body positions, while terminologies used in such training classes are quite simple to grasp. However, similarities also appear. A number of styles found in jazz are also solid in ballet. They also share a number of wording styles, while the terminologies used in training classes may overlap, despite the fact that in jazz, there are less of such terminologies (Dils, and Albright 59).
Looking at their histories, one is able to determine the actual reasons for the similarities and differences observed between the two terms. The actual origin of ballet dance seems to have been in Italy, sometimes in the 1600s (Stoneley 29). However, the term ballet is French, probably because the French were the first people in the world to engage in massive ballet training, and performing it in public places and festivals. In Italy, the music began as a remnant of traditional music categories that were popular inn ancient Italy and Rome. It is probably during the renaissance period that the type of music arose (Stoneley 29). During this period, people in Italy developed a great appreciation of music and other forms of arts. Learning was also developed, and music formed a part of the traditional school subjects. In the same time, there was great interest inn trade and commerce, with international trade taking place between Italy and various other city states around Greece, Sicily and Western Europe. Military rivalry has greatly subsided, and all what remained at this time was great competition in technology and arts. Music, for instance, was a special kind of art, as it formed a part of each states culture and pride. City states tried to outdo each other on music grounds, and thus, several types of music were being developed in each state in order to produce a superior style than others (Stoneley 53). Dukes and other nobles in Italy competed with each other on the ground of in terms of entertainment parties, which normally included dance and other forms of arts. In this way, performers became wealthy as they were being paid heavily. In addition, they also competed with one another over the kind of music they performed in such occasions. Ballet was a popular music and dance of such kind, and found its way to Western Europe through the trade routes (Stoneley 56). Once ‘ballato’ reached France, its name changed permanently to the French equivalent -the ballet. It had been introduced into France by an Italian queen in around 1857, and the first of the Italian performer in France was Balthazar, who performed the kind of music that can be determined to be the first ballet (Stoneley 86). Paris became popular with such kind of music, and gave rise to several academies of ballet music. However, the styles were rather rigid and traditional. During the 19th and eighteen centuries, ballet became popular as young people, eager to abandon old styles, included romance to the styles. The music also reached the United States of America, where much of modernization was taking place. The modern forms of ballet originated from this period, where romantic styles were included, doing away with the rather rigid types of traditional French and Italian ballet (Stoneley 91).
The history of jazz is sometimes complicated, owing to its mixed styles and traditions. However, the modern jazz is a combination of several varieties of music from various areas (Stearns, and Stearns 43). Although jazz developed in New Orleans, the African American slaves had the major effect on the development of the style. Most of the styles used in jazz such as syncopation, swung, improvisation and blue notes have their origin in the western part of Africa, mainly in modern day Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast (Stearns, and Stearns 49). Other styles and wording originated from Europe, especially the traditional European dances found in France and Britain. In addition, few aspects of the music have their origin from the traditional North American tribes, but this is sometimes insignificant. In the North American coast, especially the west coast, the music became very popular in the 1800s and1900s, with various commercial dancers in jazz coming up in the better part of the 19th and 20th centuries (Stearns, and Stearns 57). For example, Milles Davis, Luis Armstrong and Billie Holiday were among the first celebrities in jazz, whose names were known beyond America. In New Orleans, Chicago and New York City, the music became very popular and commercialized, with some of the first dancers developing huge wealth and fame in the Americas and beyond. Young people were the best fans, and often the bets dancers as it deviated from traditional rigid forms of music, while the speed was a fun to many dancers. In addition, jazz clubs became popular in America, where renowned performers would hold night long discos in jazz, normally under hefty remunerations. Moreover, they competed with each other, thus each of them would try to include new inventions into his style in order to appeal the audiences (Stearns, and Stearns 73).
Modern styles in both jazz and ballet are quite different from the earlier versions. In the traditional styles, it was quite easy to determine a clear lone between jazz and ballet, and often the performers were classified different varieties or categories (Paskevska 116). There was also a clear separation between the kinds of wording and rhythm as well as body movements between ballet and jazz. However, in the modern world, the two categories have been integrated into each other, and with other several styles (Paskevska 152). It is quite difficult for novice people to differentiate the two, although some differences still exist. For example, ballet is still recognized as a classical style, while jazz is very vigorous and modernized, with dynamism in all its aspects. Despite this, jazz and ballet have been combined, and as far as I am concerned, it seems we have a very different and new variety of music and dance. However, I leave the topic to debate as long as there has never been developed a new name for the new style.
Dils, A., and Albright, Cooper. Moving history / dancing cultures: a dance history reader. Wesleyan University Press, 2001. Print.
Paskevska, Anna. Ballet beyond tradition. London: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Stearns, Marshall, and Stearns, Jean. Jazz dance: the story of American vernacular dance. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994. Print
Stoneley, Peter. A queer history of the ballet. London: Taylor & Francis, 2007. Print.