To do jazz hands - Meaning

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James Brandon

Senior Member
English + French - UK
I came across the expression "to do jazz hands" some time ago and was wondering what the exact meaning might be.

On the web, I have found a sort of blog with an entry giving an explanation: http://yawpmona.blogspot.com/2005/09/poems-about-hands.html

I quote: "'Jazz hands' (that musical theatre thing, bring your open palms up out in front of you near your head and shake them back and forth ala Bob Fosse...jazzzzzzz!)."

Can someone versed in these things explain? I am not sure I understand fully the meaning, direct or implied.

Thanks
 
  • mplsray

    Senior Member
    Found it on Wikipedia a second after posting...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_Hands

    I can't see what's special about it and why it needs a special term, so to speak.
    Presumably so that a choreographer can instruct dancers to do it without saying "Let's do this" and then performing the action.

    I first encountered the term on an episode of The Simpsons when Homer Simpson was instructing Lisa on certain dance moves. A Google search for "Homer Simpson" "jazz hands" even turns up a clip of that part of the program on YouTube.
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    I can't back this up, but I suspect the term dates from the 1920's, when "jazz" was pretty much a synonym for modern music, and the gesture was common when dancing the Charleston.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Thanks and, yes, there are references to Homer S in connection with this expression, but I would go along with Palomnik's view that it must be much older than that and, perhaps, go back to the origins of jazz.
     

    TheAmzngTwinWndr

    Senior Member
    United States
    I think that "jazz hands" are used a lot in jazz dances and hence have acquired their own name(I was watching "So You Think You Can Dance" last night and to people were learning a jazz dance and they were told to do jazz hands"). I think Palomnik is right.
     
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