It's about That Walk

By Badger, Sarah | Dance Spirit, February 2012 | Go to article overview

It's about That Walk


Badger, Sarah, Dance Spirit


HOW TO MASTER JAZZ WALKS

You're in the studio, hard at work on a snazzy new jazz toutine. As the choreographer adds the finishing touches to a phrase, she mentions that you'll take eight jazz walks to travel to your next formation. You inwardly groan. A ticky pirouette combination? No problem. Jazz walks across the stage? Borderline torture. At best, you feel silly taking those long steps hi a deep plié, and at worst, downright awkward.

If you struggle to strut, you're not alone. Many dancers feel hesitant about jazz walks, but the sooner you master them, the better. You'll find jazz walks in virtually every style of jazz dance, from contemporary pieces ?? sassy Broadway production numbers and everything in between. A clean, confident jazz walk ensures you'll look as polished and poised during transitions in the choreography as you do when you're leaping and turning.

THE BASICS

If you know how to stroll down the street, you're halfway to mastering a jazz walk. Nick Lazzarini, Season 1 winner of "So You Think You Can Dance" and a faculty member at JUMP, tells dancers to relax when it comes to perfecting jazz walks. "So many kids stress out about them," Lazzarini says. "You have to remember that you're really just walking."

Unlike a walk down the street, however, you need to have all your weight on the balls of your feet, while keeping your knees in a deep plié. The more you practice that catlike stance, the more comfortable it becomes. According to Sarah Jo Fazio, master choreographer and jazz instructor for Dance Olympus/DANCEAMERICA conventions, a warm-up with lots of relevé exercises will help you master walking in a small forced arch. "It will strengthen your legs and make the position feel less awkward," she says.

When you're practicing jazz walks, take long, even steps on the beat of the music. "The longer the stride, the smoother it looks," says Lazzarini, who tells dancers to imagine that they're gliding like ice skaters as they walk (though you should avoid dragging your feet). Whether you're moving sideways, forward or backward, long steps- and a deep demi-plie- will help your jazz walks appear easy and seamless. …

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