It is not uncommon for young dancers to explore a wide range of styles before settling for a speciality, as exposure to a multitude of techniques is a wonderful way to build their foundations. Jazz is one of the most important dance styles to learn as it helps you build a sense of coordination, rhythm, and sequence, all of which are pertinent in becoming a strong contemporary dancer.
If you signed up for your first jazz class, you might be at a loss of what to prepare to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the first day. Put the nervous jitters aside — here is everything you need to know, from picking out the perfect jazz shoes to warm up flexibility exercises.
Pick Out Jazz Shoes
There are plenty of jazz shoes on the market, but you may need to pick specific features to match your current level as with any other dance shoes. For instance, split soles are great for advanced-level jazz dancers, allowing you to do more complex movements. As the sole is only present in the front and heel of the shoe, this type is more flexible and advantageous for pirouettes and kicks but can be a little difficult for beginners to control.
Moreover, you will also find jazz shoes categorised into boots and sneakers. Generally, sneakers can be used for more dance styles, but most studios prefer that you start with a softer, classic pair of jazz boots. It is beneficial to start with a flat or small heel to avoid accidents while getting used to a dance style.
Apart from that, it is best to consult with your dance instructor before making a purchase, as most have strict preferences over the exact style of shoe that you must wear to class. The rest is up to you — choose one that makes your feet look good!
Prepare The Right Attire
Jazz involves plenty of footwork, so you want to prepare clothing that gives your feet enough room to move. Most students wear a leotard (so the instructor can check your posture and upper body) paired with jazz pants, which are loose and non-constricting. For your first few classes, the instructor may also require you to wear a pair of leggings or shorts instead, as it will allow them to monitor your feet and ensure that you are not over-twisting or hurting your ankles.
Warm-Up At Home
Before going to your first class, make sure that you warm up your body, so you can go straight to stretching once you get to the studio. Warming up is perhaps the most important pre-class preparations as cold muscles are less flexible and more prone to getting injured. You can walk, jog, jump rope, or do your preferred aerobic or cardiovascular exercises for a few minutes before hopping into the car to class — it makes all the difference!
Pack Your Dance Bag
You cannot go to class without taking a dance bag, which dancers often fill with various props, essentials, and emergency first-aid. Ideally, you want to carry the following items in your dance bag:
- Extra dance attire, such as a leotard, tights, pants, and warm-up clothing
- Hair accessories, including pins, elastics, and a brush and hair spray. Some classes have strict rules on hairstyles, so you have to be prepared.
- Hygiene kit, including a deodorant, towel, wipes, perfume, and other items you feel necessary.
- First-aid kit containing bandages, sanitisers, antibiotics, aspirin, and more.
Apart from the above, ensure that you stay in communication with the studio or instructor, so they can inform you of any requirements that you can prepare beforehand. Stepping into your first jazz class can be daunting, but you will have a wonderful time learning a new dance style with ample preparation. Eventually, you will be on your way to split leaping your way to future competitions.