How should one start learning Jazz Dance?
It is called Jazz dance lessons, but you won’t hear traditional Jazz music in them.
If you ask for an explanation of a Jazz dance phrase, you’ll probably be told it in French ballet terms.
So it’s a real mixture. Something you can’t quite define.
But in spite of all this, or maybe because of it, Jazz classes are some of the most enduringly popular dance lessons around.
They are absolutely superb for toning the whole body. They are a hard workout but are also incredibly rewarding. And they are huge fun.
If you have never danced in your life before, want to get a real taste of the dance world and pick up some moves along the way, you can’t get a better start than a Jazz dance lesson.
Unsurprisingly, there are very broad definitions of what a Jazz class should actually contain.
Some are absolutely frantic – jumping, bouncing, high kicks, high energy.
At the opposite end of the scale, others can be quite lyrical and very structured. Again, it is a real mix.
We’ve seen many Jazz classes that are billed as being suitable for beginners but which are actually far above what a true beginner would be capable of, so…
Choose your Jazz class carefully
Jazz teachers (male and female alike) are impressively flexible, strong dancers.
They can have ridiculously bendy bodies and perhaps sometimes forget that a beginner might not even be able to touch their toes.
To end up in a ‘beginners’ class and see the teacher flinging themselves around with their legs tucked up behind their ears can make you feel just a little self-conscious.
So choose your class carefully or you may end up in the hospital!
Don’t worry, we’ll guide you through what you need to know.
And as a treat, if you can, go to see a class of professional Jazz dancers being put through a limbering or stretching session.
The sheer physicality of these dancers is truly remarkable and their bodies are incredible.
It’ll spur you on.
Jazz Dancewear and Clothes
And Jazz teachers do seem to be very laid back about what their pupils wear.
So here are a few simple tips to help you decide what to wear to learn Jazz dance.
As with a lot of dances, Jazz clothes should be fairly close fitting but allow for a full range of movement.
Not so tight that they restrict your moves or need to be hauled around to keep you looking decent but not so baggy that they get in the way.
So a massively baggy, long sleeved tee-shirt might just end up annoying you.
A lot of Jazz involves turns and quick movements so your clothing shouldn’t distract you or be loose enough to get tangled around you (or anybody else for that matter).
Jogging pants with a t-shirt or vest are best.
Jazz classes are hard work – you are going to sweat a lot. So make sure that whatever you choose to wear will keep you covered but as cool as possible.
Best advice, as always, is to start off in layers.
Jazz Shoes and Sneakers
For a beginners class, it is best to wear something on your feet, just for a bit of protection.
And Jazz is one of the few dances (along with Hip Hop and Street dances) that wearing sneakers is OK for.
Now, this is a complete contrast to many other dances where you must not wear any shoes with a rubber sole (because you won’t get a really smooth turn if your routine involves a spin).
In Jazz classes, slowing down your spins (at least when you are completely new to it) is a good thing.
The rubber soles of sneakers will prevent you doing a spin that goes so fast you can’t control it and you end up face-first into the nearest wall.
Also, Jazz dancing involves a lot of stamping and jumping moves.
Your feet need support for that, so think protection for your arches.
Many people in Jazz classes will dance in bare feet. But there’s nothing worse for bare feet unaccustomed to dancing than to have to do a series of quick spins or turns on a wooden floor – it can be quite sore.
So until you know what you are doing, it’s best to have some foot covering.
There is such diversity of footwear in Jazz classes (bare feet, half socks, ordinary socks, running shoes and -even!- Jazz shoes) perhaps check ahead with the class teacher or studio what they prefer their Jazz students to wear on their feet.
But sneakers will probably be OK for your first few lessons, at least.
So you don’t have to buy any special kit to Jazz dance in.
Comfortable, casual workout wear will be absolutely fine.
OK, so now you know what to wear, what is going to happen in your first class?