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What do jazz dancers wear?

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jazz shoe
Jazz shoes are designed specifically for jazz dancing
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Need to know what do jazz dancers wear in shoes and clothing for dance class?

Jazz dancing has its origin in the African-American community, which inspired this form of dance. Many jazz dancers were ballet dancers first. As a ballerina, they learned skill, control, and gracefulness and how to keep their bodies conditioned for dancing.

Before you take classes or lessons, you need to know the answer to what do jazz dancers wear so that you look the part and feel comfortable.

The dancers wear very specific clothing and shoes that allow them to execute their moves effortlessly.


The outfits or costumes are usually form-fitting because this enables the dancer to move freely and easily while providing comfort to the dancer. A dancer has to be able to move without restraint, which requires flexibility not only on her part but also in her clothing. Clothing should also highlight the movements of the dancer, without restricting the view of positions, stances and fluidity.

The dancer can wear tights and leotards -- but most opt to wear jazz dance pants that are flared or boot-cut. Pants that are tight on the bottom restrict ankle movement and the dancer doesnít want that. Baggy clothing should not be worn because the lines of the dancerís body can not be seen when obscured by loose clothing.

Other options include wearing dance shorts or capris. The primary objective is that the clothing worn by the dancer is form-fitting but non restrictive. The dancer normally wears a form-fitting top such as a t-shirt or tank top.

There is a type of jazz dance called flash. The costumes worn by these dancers are brightly colored and often feature sequins because, obviously, the dancer and her routine are intended to be flashy. Black dance pants often accompany an ornate top.

Bottom line, the costume is to complement and put emphasis on the dancer and her moves and not detract from them.


Of particular importance is the kind of shoe that the dancer wears. Jazz dancers specifically wear shoes that support their feet and allow them to do the type of moves that are required in this style of dancing.

Just as ballet dancers wear ballet and Pointe shoes when they are toe dancing and tap dancers wear tap shoes, the jazz dancer wears a shoe that is designed to give him lots of flexibility and is usually made of leather or canvas.

Leather jazz shoes are more expensive than canvas but they wear better and last longer.

When a dancer has her shoes on, although they should fit snugly, she should be able to flex and bend her foot easily and comfortable. The toes should not be jammed into the end of the shoe. On the other hand, if the shoe feels too loose you need a smaller size.

A hard-soled shoe is not recommended because this type of dancer needs to be flexible. Thatís why shoes with soft sides and soles are worn. Some dancers prefer split sole shoes because of their elasticity.

Generally, the sole of the shoe is made of leather although some shoes feature a hardened toe because some jazz dancers do raise en Pointe. Some shoes have rubber pads on the heel and toe.

Customary shoes feature shoe laces that can be pulled tightly for a very close and secure fit. However, other types of shoes are lace-less and can be pulled on. Some may feature a small heel.

A flexible panel is built into the sides of some jazz shoes which affords even better litheness for the dancer.

Through trial and error the dancer discovers which type of shoe she likes best. She can choose from the jazz boot, sandal and the sneaker as well as from various other versions. The shoe is usually black or tan.

Of extreme importance is the fit of the shoe which should provide ample arch support while feeling supple and nimble on the foot. While trying on new shoes pick them up and try to bend them to see how flexible they are.

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