New Orleans Jass Dance

At the core of the Jass dance movement was the free spirited women of New Orleans. 

DANCE STUDIES PROGRAMS

“Danse de la Louisiane” workshop is designed to introduce Louisiana Black Creole history to citizens of Louisiana, the United States, and the international world through the cultural Folk dances handed down throughout generations. “Danse de la Louisiane” showcases both dances dating back to the founding of the Louisiana colony, in addition to present day dances performed by benevolent societies. “Danse de la Louisiane” engages open thought provoking discussion on the social and economic importance and influence of the rich cultural dance heritage found throughout the city of New Orleans.

 

“Danse de la Louisiane” is broken down into 3 unique & invigorating dance workshops tailored to meet your specific needs and surpass your expectations. Each workshop consist of History, Lecture, and Choreography highlighting:

CREOLE NOIR Folk Dance (1719-1865)

Life along the Mississippi River have been filled with music, and dance ever since Bienville brought the first group of French, African, and German pioneers to the shore of the Louisiana Colony. Long before the great plantations were built, music, and dance of the Bambara, the Germans, and the French speaking Black Creoles of Senegal could be heard up and down the river in the area now known as the “Old German Coast”, places later to be named St. Charles Parish, St. John Parish, and St. James Parish.

When the great plantations were built along the rivers edge, music and dance was at the base of all social events. The French minuet, the waltz, and Creole Noir Folk dance flourished throughout the 18th century among the natives living at the river edge. At the turn of the century, New Orleans experienced a unique set of circumstances unlike any other city in America. The great plantations up the Mississippi River began to fold and thousands of plantation workers arrived in the city with their dreams, determined to create a better life for themselves.

NEW ORLEANS Jass Dance 1895 - 1915

At the core of the Jass dance movement was the free spirited women of New Orleans. These incredible ladies could interpret every Jass note played with their body movements. By the year 1915 these women were the masters at “Dancing the Jass”.

They would use the steps from every form of dance that found its way to the Louisiana Colony …Dances like the “Ghanaian Stomp” the “Irish Jig” the “Creole Waltz”, the “One Step”, and the unspeakable “Grisly Bear” Dance. Buddy Boldens Jass gave the women of New Orleans the perfect language to interpret their troubles, their love-sorrows, loss, anger, and most of all their “Joy”.

Challenging life at every level with un-measurable love of freedom, the women of the Jass with their rebellious attitude inspired women across the city to follow their lead and “Dance the Jass”.

For twenty years the people of New Orleans did indeed follow their lead and went mad dancing the Jass”. Dance halls opened everywhere in the city. Basin St., Canal St., Rampart St. all were lined with dance halls. Seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, the free spirit of the Jass flourished.

 

Jazz musicians and dancers began leaving New Orleans as early as 1910, unable to make a decent living with their new art form. One by one they would take the boats to Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and places abroad. With the closing of Storyville in 1917 the exodus increased dramatically. So much that by the year 1939 eighty five percent of the first players and dancers of the Jass moved away from New Orleans never to return.

* * * Casting Call for the New Orleans Jass Jubilee Production * * *

The New Orleans “Second-line”

(1865-Present)

In the vernacular burial traditions of New Orleans, dating back prior to the close of the Civil War, and the beginning of Reconstruction”, there has always been a need to express both the joys, as well as the release of all sorrows and pain as expressed in such songs as “Down by the Riverside”, etc. As the traditional Brass Band procession would follow the corpse playing the favorite songs of their decreased brother, or sister they (the band) became known as the first line.

 

The crowd of people who followed the Brass Band on the banquets became known as the second line.   As the Brass Band left the graveyard, the band would strike up livelier tunes such as “Lord, Lord, Lord” or “Didn’t He Ramble which would strike an instantaneous reaction with followers or second line.  This creative expression performed by that second group of followers has been named the after it originators, “The Second Line” dance.

New Orleans Babydoll Ladies

Jazz Historian, and Musician Eddie Edwards of the Louis Armstrong Foundation, Inc. meet with the New Orleans Babydoll Ladies on Mardi Gras Morning to share a bit of history, prior to the Zulu Parade.

No one quite captures the spirit of New Orleans Mardi Gras quite like the New Orleans Babydoll Ladies. Let's join them as they embark on the traditional Zulu Parade route with special quest stars. Enjoy!

The Louis Armstrong Foundation, Inc.

"Jazz Giving Back"

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louisarmstrongfoundationinc@gmail.com

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1-678-427-8831 

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