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Can I Wear Ballet Shoes In A Jazz Dance Class?

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Written and Edited By: Lesley Mealor, BPA Dance Performance

If you are a new dance mom, or a new dancer yourself, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of supplies you need to buy for dance classes! You will need leotards, tights, hair accessories, and of course, the proper shoes! Is there any way to use the same pair of shoes for different styles of dance, so you don’t have to buy so many things?

As a beginner, it is sometimes acceptable to wear ballet shoes in jazz class. In general, though, you should wear the style of shoe that is required for the style of dance you’re taking.

Jazz dancer in jazz shoes on one side and ballet students in ballet shoes on the other

Just like with other activities such as soccer or basketball, there are specific shoes that are made especially for dance.

Read on to find out more about dance shoes, when it’s acceptable to wear ballet shoes in jazz class, and why you simply cannot wear tap shoes to ballet class! (Just kidding on that last one – hopefully, that’s a given!)

Are Jazz Shoes the Same As Ballet Shoes?

Tan jazz shoes next to pink leather ballet shoes

No jazz shoes are not the same as ballet shoes.

They certainly have some similarities such as

  • Jazz and ballet shoes are made of soft materials like leather and canvas
  • Both jazz and ballet shoes allow the feet to articulate and stretch easily
  • Ballet and jazz shoes fit very snug to the feet

However, jazz shoes are not the same as ballet shoes, and here’s why!

Jazz shoes have a rubber sole that provides more traction than suede, which is what the soles of ballet shoes are made of.

Jazz dance steps often require the ability to stop and pivot quickly. A suede soled ballet shoe would be too slippery for these movements.

Ballet steps sometimes include gliding and sliding, and the suede sole is perfect for those steps.

Ballet shoes do not have heels of any sort, while jazz shoes have a very small rubber heel for shock absorption. Some steps in ballet are difficult to perform with a heel in the way, while jazz steps aren’t affected.

When thinking about the kinds of shoes you need for ballet or jazz class, keep this chart in mind!

Ballet ShoesJazz Shoes
Made of Soft Materials**
Snug Fit**
Ability To Articulate the Foot**
Have a HeelX*
Suede Bottom*X
Rubber BottomX*

Can I Wear Ballet Shoes To Jazz Class?

On a few occasions, it’s acceptable to wear ballet shoes to jazz class.

If you or your child is hesitant to commit to jazz class, and you don’t want to purchase jazz shoes, it’s ok to try a class or two in ballet shoes.

Ballet shoes will allow the feet to move freely, and for beginner classes, the suede sole won’t be too slippery.

Once you’ve decided to stick with jazz class, however, it’s time to buy some proper jazz shoes!

Find out how to select the best dance shoe for you or your child by heading over to our article How To Choose The Right Dance Shoes For Jazz Class!

Can I Wear Socks To Jazz Dance Class?

Dancers in flesh tone outfits wearing white socks

In many jazz dance classes these days, you will see dancers wearing socks instead of shoes.

There is some debate among dance educators about the benefits and detriments of wearing socks in jazz class, but it is definitely something that happens!

The best socks to wear to jazz dance class are socks that are made for dance, such as Apolla Shocks or Blochsox.

These socks have built in compression and support, as well as traction to prevent slipping.

If you choose to wear socks that aren’t made for dance, you risk slipping in certain movements due to the lack of traction, so be careful!

Are Jazz Shoes Ok To Wear In Ballet Class?

You might think that because sometimes you can wear ballet shoes in jazz class, that you could wear jazz shoes to ballet class. This is not the case!

Unfortunately, jazz shoes don’t work very well in a ballet class because of the small heel, and the rubber sole.

If you are in a pinch and have nothing else to wear, one ballet class in jazz shoes won’t hurt you, but you shouldn’t make it a habit.

Why Do Dancers Need To Wear Specific Dance Shoes?

Dancers wear dance shoes for many different reasons!

Some styles of dance like tap wouldn’t be possible without the proper shoes. Dance shoes are designed specifically for the purpose of whatever style of dance they are made for.

Ballet shoes are designed to be flexible and have a smooth sole so that the steps can be executed properly.

Jazz shoes have more traction and support throughout the shoe to protect the feet from slipping when performing quick weight changes and shifts.

Not only are dance shoes worn simply because they are made for a certain style of dance, but they also protect dancers’ feet from injury.

Dance styles like contemporary and modern are usually done barefoot, but jazz and tap, for example, could be dangerous without shoes on.

Dance shoes also help protect the feet from diseases like ringworm, which can be a problem if the studio floor isn’t cleaned properly.

Are You Supposed To Wear Socks With Jazz Shoes?

Jazz shoes are meant to be worn with tights or bare feet, but thin socks can be worn at the dancers’ preference. Some dancers like to wear socks to protect the inside of the shoes from becoming damaged from sweat and wear.

Another reason dancers might want to wear socks is to provide a little extra padding in spots where blisters might occur.

Younger dancers with growing feet can be fit for jazz shoes by wearing socks to allow for a little growing room.

Your child can start the dance season with socks, and when their feet grow, ditch the socks and get a few more months of wear out of the jazz shoes!

Parent Tip – If you choose to have your child wear socks with jazz shoes, stay away from thick athletic socks, as these won’t fit well into tight jazz shoes.

The following are some thin socks on that you might like to try out if you are not sure what socks are best!

Why Do Ballet Teachers Wear Jazz Shoes?

You may have seen some ballet teachers in jazz shoes or shoes that have a slight heel. Those are called pedinis, or teacher shoes.

Because most ballet teachers are on their feet for hours at a time, demonstrating steps for their students, naturally their feet get tired.

Jazz shoes and pedinis offer a little bit of support and shock absorption for long days and tired feet.

Since ballet teachers often don’t dance full out (and presumably already have good technique!) they don’t need to wear traditional ballet shoes to help develop their technique.

Pedini Jazz Shoes that many ballet teachers wear in class
Pedini Jazz Shoes that many ballet teachers wear in class

Dance shoes are an important part of learning how to dance, and dancing well! By wearing the proper shoes for the style of dance you’re taking, you are both respecting the art form and helping yourself succeed in class!

If you are interested in learning more about the shoes that are required for other dance styles, find out all that info and more by visiting our Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Dance Shoes For Dance Lessons!

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