A new documentary about the history of jazz dance features Associate Professor of Dance Karen Hubbard among its contributors. “Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance” has garnered awards and positive reviews since its premiere in July, including Best Musical Documentary in the Rhode Island International Film Festival and Best of Festival (Feature) in the Dance on Camera festival. The documentary will screen as part of the Charlotte Film Festival, underway through Sept. 27.
Hubbard, who has danced on Broadway, television and film (including the movie version of ‘The Wiz”), is a noted jazz dance scholar. Most recently, her article, “The Authentic Jazz Dance Legacy of Pepsi Bethel,” appeared in the book “Jazz Dance: The History of its Roots and Branches” (2014). At UNC Charlotte, she teaches the course “Vintage Jazz.”
“After my New York professional training/performing career, as a grad student at The Ohio State University, I began evolving curricula that focused on jazz dance primarily as a first-half of the 20th century entertainment form,” she said. “My goal as an educator has been to help students embody jazz styles and to understand jazz dance – what it was, what it is, and what it may become.”
In “Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance,” she lends her knowledge and perspective alongside other major figures in the dance world, including Chita Rivera, Debbie Allen, Susan Stroman, Camille Brown, George Faison, Brenda Bufalino and Robin Gee.
“’Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance’ shifts focus from the European aesthetic to a more inclusive and accurate version of jazz dance history, beginning with the dancing of enslaved Africans held captive in the U.S.,” Hubbard said. “I consider it an honor to have been asked to share my expertise along with jazz dance luminaries like Debbie Allen and Chita Rivera and to see visuals of my authentic jazz dance mentor Pepsi Bethel (Greensboro native, deceased artistic director of N.Y.-based Authentic Jazz Dance Theatre) in the final version.”
The film will be available for online streaming during the Charlotte Film Festival, which is being held virtually this year. Details and tickets are available here.