The highest value is reconciliation and generosity, to be at ease, to settle quarrels. Tranquility of mind. To be cool, wet, and silent. When you hear 'chill,' you're in the black aesthetic of the cool. - Dr. Robert Farris Thompson
A great drummer dances sitting down. A great tap-dancer drums standing up.
The infancy of jazz
Historians generally agree that jazz as a musical form was born in the early 20th century, most likely New Orleans. Around 1902, African American folk and vernacular music began to swing through what is often called triple-based rhythm described as "hot" and "bluesy" with jagged rhythms and vocal humanlike sounds emitting from instruments. Shortly thereafter, dance done to this new music would also be called "jazz".
By the time Thomas Dartmouth Rice made his appearance as Jim Crow in 1828, the racist American public had been well prepared to accept him. The first reference to a Negro performing a dance did not come until 1808, and then was billed as an "exotic". Generally, in most cases, the performing forerunners of Rice had been whites in blackface. The stereotypes which were to be fully developed by minstrelsy were begun long before. In April, 1767, the New York journal announced Mr. Bayly and Mr. Tea presented a dancing interlude "A Negro Dance, in Character", which was the first found that specifies dance. The second reference in 1796 included the word "comic": "A Comic Dance, In Character of a Female Negro" (again performer was white impersonating a Negro). According to Loften Mitchell, a play "The Triumph of Love" (1795) introduced a shuffling, cackling, allegedly comic Negro servant. Thus, the course was therefore established - that was to lead the black man to be represented on the American stage as something to be ridiculed and a creature to be denied human status, that was only enhanced by characters of Jim Crow and Zip Coon popular in American culture of that times.
To talk about cultural blending that became one of the underpinnings of jazz and blues we have to dig a question about actualization of African consciousness in the conditions it was brought to the American continent. The first essential point is the SYNCRETISM African mind deeply possessed. Two most powerful forms of art in Africa were so dissolved in the reality of its people that even some African languages lack these two key words, "music" and "dance", in their vocabulary (as Jackie Malone states). Second essential issue is the POWER of Africa's key art - dance that was the most difficult of all art forms to erase from the slave's memory, in part because the syncretic unity "the body is mind" very nearly made the body to be memory and helped the mind recall the form of dance to come.
Jazz is a physical and aural expression of the complexity and exuberance of American culture and history,
We the people of the 21st century can imagine different things when hearing the word "Jazz". Both jazz music and dance through the evolution from its deep roots from 16th century up to the contemporary times has become such a complex subject that it is hardly possible to describe it in one sentence. Regarding this, I like the term elaborated by Patricia Cohen towards jazz dance which she calls "the CONTINUUM" that is established by historical, cultural, social and kinetic continuity of African-American dance form.