Ever wonder what that jazz step you saw in a competition is called? Want to see it broken down by counts? Previously, your main options were to ask a local teacher for help or go down a YouTube hole to try and find an instructional video about it. Enter the Jazz Roots Bank.
The Jazz Roots Bank is a project to "compile examples and references on vernacular jazz steps to make a reliable source of knowledge, accessible to everyone." It's a fledgling effort by JazzConnexion, a solo jazz team out of Montreal, Canada, but that we think shows a lot of promise.
Basically it's an alphabetical listing of currently 90-ish jazz steps, including a video demonstrating the move, references, historic videos, and any "didactic" or instructional videos. Basically everything you would need to try and master the Black Bottom, the Hangman, or the Shish Ka Boom Ba II.
There's also, interestingly enough, a GIF version of all the videos, which I found kind of mesmerizing. All you kids love those GIFs!
The organizers are humble about their site, noting that they aren't professional dancers and that they are looking to others for help to flesh out their listings. You can submit your own videos and references here.
Other notable efforts to catalog and share our collection of historical jazz and charleston moves include Stuart Collin's video of "Alphabetical Jazz Steps" and the expanded Part II. Of course, we're all in love with Chester Whitmore's inimitable take on Alphabetical Jazz Steps that we covered previously on Yehoodi.
There are many other examples of tutorial videos focused on particular jazz steps that you can find online. But this is the best compilation of solo jazz steps that we've seen, including simple video breakdowns, historic footage, and other instructional videos. (And I find the counting in French to be tres mignon.)
We'd love to see more historical information about the step, perhaps where it's name comes from, if a notable dancer created or popularized it, or the larger context where that step might have been performed. (Someone kick Peter Loggins for us.) But as a resource for dancers trying to master different jazz steps or just looking for inspiration, the Bank is pretty damn great.
Honestly, I'm a little shocked this hasn't been done before. The closest we could find is on Lindyhopmoves.com. But that list seems very incomplete and the individual listings are not very detailed or helpful. Are there others we don't know about? Let us know.
Have fun checking out the Jazz Roots Bank!