Jazz Classes

Jazz dancer

Looking for information on Jazz classes? Great! You've arrived at the right place.

Jazz is a catch-all phrase for a great deal of stage- style and popular dancing, and Jazz dance classes are usually just labeled 'Jazz'.

But since the beauty and appeal of Jazz lies in its expression and interpretation, there are many different styles within Jazz...

Lyrical, Old School, LA Style, Street Jazz, Jazz Fusion Technique, Soul Jazz, Musical Theatre and Commercial Jazz to name but a few.

However, as a beginner, you are most likely to attend straightforward Jazz classes so you can familiarize yourself with the techniques and rhythm of Jazz.

The other specific styles can be explored in more detail once you are comfortable with your Jazz dancing.

That said, every Jazz instructor teaches their own variation of the dance, rather than a strict syllabus.

Classes labeled 'Beginners Jazz' will be different depending on who teaches them.

So, it is well worth trying to watch a few Jazz dance classes – and different Jazz teachers – before you sign up for lessons, to make sure you go to a class that you'll enjoy.

Warm Up

While you are observing beginners Jazz classes, this is the time to take that peak at the advanced or professional classes.

It really is absolutely breath-taking to see a Jazz dancer being put through their paces in an advanced level warm up.

But, even at the beginner level, expect to spend at least half of your Jazz class warming up.

Jazz has one of the longest dance warm-ups.

There are Jazz classes you could go to that will feel like just a warm up and not much else.

Perhaps there will be a quick routine fitted in towards the end, but you do find classes that put their main energy into the warm up.

Also, expect to spend a large part of the warm up doing floor exercises rather than standing.

The warm up is mainly a series of deep stretches, and Ballet and Yoga positions will feature, with the moves quite often being referred to by their proper names. You'll learn more when you come to our Jazz Moves and Steps section later.

The tempo of this warm up could be anything from fast and furious to very sedate and measured.

If you do end up in the fast and furious version (which is not ideal for beginners) do not attempt to do the splits or any high kicks (as if we need to tell you...).

There are many Jazz teachers who are extremely ambitious for their students but who demonstrate this by encouraging some eye-watering moves. Don't go there.

Not if you value your ability to walk without assistance.

So look for a class that has a thorough but not terrifying warm up.

One that is stretching rather than Olympic standard limbering.

And don't be surprised if it takes up 40 minutes of your 60 minute class.

Jazz Stretch

In most Jazz dance classes the warm up will be to music.

Sometimes it's a relaxing, calm tempo which suits deep and careful stretching, and sometimes a blaring club track which demands a lot of sweat.

It could be anything, in fact. Apart from Jazz itself – which is rarely played in Jazz dance classes. Go figure.

Once the warm up ends (if it ever does…) dancing a Jazz routine, no matter how short, is such brilliant fun it is usually worth the wait.

Even simple Jazz moves can make you feel like a true dancer.

And don't worry too much about your fitness or flexibility at this stage.

A good beginners class should be able to show you plenty of routines that don't call for high kicks in high heels…

It is likely that your teacher will set something to either club music or, if you are lucky, to stage musical tunes – think 'Chicago' or 'Fame'.

Of course, the fun of dancing a routine to music like this is it makes you forget just how hard you are working.

And such strong music will help to punctuate your moves and keep you in rhythm.

Jazz Floor Stretch

Express Yourself

Expect to add a lot of expression to your routines – even if the steps themselves are simple.

A shoulder shimmy, a flick of the hand or tilt of the head will add some real panache to your dancing, even at the beginner stage.

The routine could involve bounces, turns, kicks, jumps and spins.

Of course, the more complex of these (a pirouette, for example) will (or should) be taken at a very slow pace.

With this move in particular, good teachers often teach a static pirouette (everything – the arms and leg positions etc.) and don't add in the turn until you are balanced.

This is great for the beginner and gives you bags of confidence.

So there will be plenty of variation in your dancing, right from the very first class.

Let yourself go a little and express yourself – it's what Jazz dancing is all about.

Just don't be too hopeful for a cool down as thorough as the warm up.

Most Jazz classes we've been in don't cool down at all and you are left very hot and sweaty to make your way home.

Not great – so perhaps try a few gentle stretches before you change out of your dancing gear – you’ll be glad you did the next day.

Find exactly what you need to do from our great Cool Down routines.

Jazz isn't just dancing. It's show business!

So what you will get at the end of a Jazz class is a huge round of applause and a smile on your face that'll last all day.

Next up, our guide to Jazz teachers...

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