Jazz Dance Clothing

All That Jazz
Prayitno/Flickr

Question: What should I wear to a jazz dance class?

I am starting a jazz class and I'm not sure about dancewear. Is it okay to wear ballet clothes, like tights and leotards, to a jazz dance class? Or do I need to wear something different?

Answer: Jazz dancewear varies among jazz dancers. Before you attend your first jazz class, call the studio and inquire about a dress code. The jazz instructor may require students to wear certain dancewear.

If no dress code is enforced, you have many options. A visit to a dance shop (or find one online) will give you an idea of the latest styles.

Many jazz dancers prefer to wear tights and a leotard, as wearing something tight tends to help with technique. If you are not comfortable wearing tight clothes, try a pair of jazz pants. Jazz pants are similar to sweatpants but are usually lighter and a little tighter. Jazz pants are available in several lengths, including full-length, ankle-length and capris.

Some dancers choose to simply wear a camisole over a leotard with a pair of soft shorts. If the choice is yours, dress in whatever feels comfortable and allows you to move freely.

Most jazz teachers require students to wear jazz shoes. Jazz shoes are similar to ballet slippers, only they have a small heel. Available in both full and split-soles, jazz shoes are traditionally black or tan in color.

They are available with shoelaces or without, as many companies offer slip-on styles with elastics. Some people prefer to dance in jazz sneakers, which have a split-sole and a hardened toe area for brief rises onto pointe. Another option is the jazz boot. Jazz boots are great for dancers with weak arches, as they provide much-needed ankle support.