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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

With specific reference to bebop, one of the new styles of improvised jazz dancing that developed in Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this essay explores the improvisatory practices associated with the dance challenges, or battles, which were an integral feature of the club scenes within which this dancing emerged. Drawing on the authors’ different perspectives—Irven Lewis’s firsthand experiences of dancing and teaching this style together with Jane Carr’s analysis of the embodied experiences of dance—allows for reflection on the improvisatory practices and their significance. The pan-African cultural influence on the development of jazz dancing is recognized alongside consideration of how this particular style of dancing embodied resistance to a binary division of Western/Africanist culture. Further, the improvised dancing is shown to be reciprocally related to the specific contexts within which it is practised, by virtue of the complex interrelationships between those participating.

Keywords: bebop, dance improvisation, UK jazz dancing, embodiment, pan-African, Brothers in Jazz

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