Make Way : Jazz Dance in Motion Through Preservation and Towards Innovation

Date of Award


Document Type

MSU-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


College of the Arts


Theatre and Dance

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Mark Hardy

Committee Member

Christian von Howard

Committee Member

Maxine Steinman


The forward motion of jazz dance is dependent on both preservation and innovation. This thesis aims to explore how jazz stays connected to its deeply rooted origins while moving ahead in an ever-changing society. This is not a historical overview of jazz dance, nor is it an attempt to brand it with a universal definition. It is a personal interrogation of how jazz has earned its weight in the dance world through the roots and branches of its evolution and how I strive to move forward as a jazz educator and choreographer with reverence and significance. The history of jazz dance is rich and complex and my creative process aims to teach as well as to inspire. My interpretation of the art form continues to develop through the rhythmic dynamics, physical attributes, and stylistic influences inherent in the discipline, and my artistic identity continues to expand by responding to those elements in conjunction with my own intuition, education, and creative impulses. I look back to dance forward, sharing my voice with my students and with my audience.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, which is located at the bottom of the screen, is available to anyone interested in reading it.

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