Jazz shoes are one of the most common types of dance shoes. However, with so many options to pick from, the choice can be overwhelming. In this guide, dance expert Susan Swanson points out the top four characteristics to look for in a Jazz shoe. Whether you do jazz and hip-hop or rock’n’roll and dance aerobics, after reading this article you should be confident that your jazz shoes are assisting you to be the best dancer you can be.
Without further ado, here are the four characteristics to consider when buying a pair of jazz shoes
1. Jazz shoes should made from breathable materials
Let’s face it, when you’re dancing you get hot. So, choosing a shoe made from a breathable material is a must. The top option is a durable leather. It’s breathable, long lasting and gives that “glove” fit after broken in becoming soft and form fitting. There are many Jazz shoes available in leather, including the dance boots and some slip on dance shoes.
For those looking for something inexpensive, canvas Jazz shoes are another great option. Canvas is a breathable fabric, so it will keep you cool. Also look for shoes with breathable mesh panels, which are a common feature in Jazz shoes and serve to ventilate the foot during an intense dance session.
These Capezio’s are easy to find on sites such as Amazon and are extremely affordable. Notice the elastic/lycra mesh side panels that give these shoes a added breathable feature.
2. Choose a sole that meets our specific needs and experience level
The sole of most Jazz shoes are made from rubber. Rubber soles are sturdy, durable and comfortable during the spins, piroettes & jumps that are part of many jazz routines.
Beginners should generally stick with a flat or small heel rubber sole. In these shoes, the traction is evenly distributed throughout the sole. More advanced dancers may consider a split-sole version that offers more flexibilty for the dancers foot. Split sole shoes have front and rear panels, but no sole in the middle of the foot. The two panels often are rough bottomed to give that needed grip to stay steady on the dance floor. Split soles are advantageous for the spins and high kicks of the more common dance steps such as when doing your battements as having that grip bottom helps steady your steps as you execute the steps and steadies your step as you prepare and execute your high steps. These Bloch Split Sole trainers below have split soles. Notice that the front and bottom parts of the shoe touch the ground, but the middle does not.
Dancing takes a toll on your feet. It’s therefore essential that your Jazz shoes have an optimal fit in order to maximize your comfort. One important aspect to consider is whether the shoe material will stretch. For example, canvas generally does not stretch. Therefore any fit you feel at the time of purchase will stay there throughout the life of the shoe. On the other hand, be mindful that leather does stretch. This means you may want to pick a leather shoe that is on the snug side, as after some use it will stretch and become looser. Another option is to choose a shoe with elastic gore. Elastic gore refers to stretch panels inserted into the sides of the shoe that allows it to stretch according to your foot. This slip-on Sansha found at Amazon.com, shown below, has stretch panels for an optimal fit.
4. Choose a Jazz shoe that looks good!
While your foremost consideration should be on choosing a jazz shoe that is breathable, has an appropriate sole and fits well, you also want to look good in the process!
There are various designs and colors in Jazz shoe styles to keep you looking stylish and to fit your personality. There are low rise, one of the most common. These shoes can have buckles, resemble a Mary Jane or tap type of shoe. There are high rise choose too that are more supportive to the tiring ankles. Some of these do sport buckles or straps too. Although black and tan are the most common colors, there are others too choose from as well or sometimes just a splash of color here and there. Even if you prefer the more recognized simple styles, you can find some options there too, such as this sleek version from Bloch found at Zappos.com
Now that you know what to look for when purchasing Jazz shoe, here is our list of the top 5 Jazz shoe brands:
1. Capezio Jazz shoes
If you want a brand that is has a reputation in the dance world, Capezio is it. They makes dance shoes for many styles of dance, including ballet, tap, jazz along with dancer wear such as leotards, tights and other dance related accessories. They are one of the top dependable and hugely popular brands for many, many years. You can not go wrong with any of the Capezio Jazz shoe options. There are a number of options for Jazz shoe styles, whether lace-up, slip-on, high-top etc, and Capezio also have some cute buckle versions, such as this version in light tan. One of the best value and most popular are the Carpezio Economy Jazz Slip On, which you can find on Zappos, here.
2. Bloch Jazz shoes
If you want edgy, up to-date style shoes and more variety of colors, Block is what you’re looking for. This brand is well known and very popular within the hip hop based jazz scene. Also, some of Bloch styles can be used for boys and men, a group that unfortunately still does not have as many options as the girls and women. Bloch jazz shoes come in many popular styles, including the split-sole, lace-up and high top over the ankle versions. These Bloch jazz shoes for men are made of supple leather for a snug ballet fit, along with laces for a secure feeling.
Bloch’s dance sneakers are also very popular for Jazz, and they come in a great range of styles & colors, are made of durable canvas material and are still very affordable. Check them out here.
Check out Bloch’s Neo-Flex, a great beginner unisex Jazz shoe for boys and girls alike.
Sansha Jazz shoes
Sansha’s makes great over-the-ankle-top boots, some with buckles or straps. They carry both suede and canvas dance sneaker’s that are incredibly light and flexible. Features include lace-up front’s, turn spot on sole, split-soles, and some with shock absorbers in the heel of the shoe and an inner padded sole and toe area for additional comfort. Sansha makes both low and high profile Jazz shoes. Their styles have fantastic bright colors , but they do make more traditional, black, tan or white colors in their Jazz dance boot and Jazz sneakers. You can check their various models out here.
4. Saucony Jazz shoes
Our fourth choice for a great Jazz dance sneaker is Saucony: This lace-up is stylish and is super comfortable. Available in a wide range of cool colors, the Jazz Lo Pro is very light weight. It also features inside padding in the tongue, heal and arch area adding to more shock absorption. This shoe is just so comfortable and stylish it can be worn for a variety of other activities too. Check out the great range of Saucony Jazz Shoes, here.
Next question you may ask is where to purchase your new Jazz shoes?
There are many options for purchasing Jazz shoes online. Zappos is a favorite for their famous customer service, including free returns! For discount Jazz shoes, consider payless.com, which has jazz shoes starting from as little as 26.99. Amazon and ebay are also great places to find quality and inexpensive jazz shoes. For example, have a look at these great pair of tan Capezio lace ups from Amazon for only 19.40!
Just remember to take your time and find a shoe that is breathable, has a sole that is both durable & flexible, fits correctly, and also looks good! Then get out there and enjoy your spins, leaps, pirouettes, all the while dancing yourself into a physically, mentally and healthier you!