Getting Started / 101

Get Ready For Your First Time

Watch “Dirty Dancing”, surf Youtube for music videos and broadway show numbers, or listen to your favorite upbeat music to get you pumped up for class! Try on your outfit before class to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. It might be smart to wear your jazz shoes around the house ahead of time if they are new so you can avoid any blisters or discomfort. (See the apparel section for an exact description of what attire is expected.) Just make sure you are hydrated and that you are fueled with healthy food. Don’t eat a huge lunch or dinner and then run off to jazz class before your body has time to digest. Again, just relax and get excited to work hard, have fun, and learn a lot!

Preparation/Training

A key part to any dancers ability to perform is the flexibility of the joints and ligaments, especially in jazz class! Not a flexible person? Its ok! Flexibility takes time and patience, however if you make a goal to stretch every day you will see benefits in multiple aspects of your life. Stretching has been proven to alleviate aches and pains, improve circulation, decrease inflammation, and help prevent future injuries. You can also prepare by just working on your musicality and rhythm and connecting that with movement. There are many videos on youtube where you can work on basic combinations from your computer screen.

Here is a great instructional video for beginners to learn Jazz dance! This takes you through the basic jazz moves that also strengthen your legs at the same time. They start with basic front kicks from a lunge position.

If you don’t exercise on a consistent basis you might want to begin with some basic cardio and strength training a few times a week. You will definitely be sore after your first class! It’s a good thing and means your muscles are working and adapting to your new activity. A hot shower or bath, gentle stretching or massage, and even hot/cold treatment will help decrease some of your muscular tearing. Don’t worry you will be ready to go full out during a dance class in no time!

Basics/Tips

Relax! Everyone starts at the beginning so you should not feel intimidated or nervous about being lost in class. That’s why there are beginner classes! A beginner jazz class will be all about working on coordination, basic jazz steps and technique, stretching, and learning how to piece together choreography. Usually there will be a warm-up, some across the floor work, and then a choreography combination that will be taught center floor. If you are taking class at a well-known open class studio such as The Edge, Millennium, or Broadway Dance Center sometimes it will be up to you to warm up your body (as the choreographer will immediately go into a combination center floor).

At first, learning choreography might be frustrating since even beginner classes can seem fast paced at times. Just relax and pick up the dance as best as you can knowing that you will quickly improve in this area. Jazz can be a very broad category and classes will range from broadway theatre jazz to more of a contemporary, modern style. You might be in a class that heavily focuses on technique or one that is more about style and musicality. It simply depends on the teacher. If you ever have a question, ASK! Progress depends on your desire to learn, absorb, and ask questions about the style and technique of jazz.

There are some great videos on youtube that take you through the basic terms and movements if you feel inclined to study up a bit before you get there.

Beginner Check List

  • Jazz dance wear/outfit
  • Jazz shoes
  • Socks in case you prefer those over shoes (Be careful if the floor is slippery!)
  • Hair pulled back unless you have a certain cut that stays away from your face
  • Water bottle
  • Small sweat towel
  • Band Aids
  • Lock for studio lockers if you have valuables with you
  • Make sure to put your phone on silent if it’s in the room with you.
  • Small notebook to keep track of the songs played or the terms you learned.