Both jazz shoes and dance sneakers are highly versatile styles of dance shoe though they each serve a different purpose. Jazz shoes are designed primarily for jazz dancing though they are suitable for many other styles such as rock ‘n’ roll and modern amongst others. Dance sneakers are also very flexible but are designed to provide more support to the foot. They’re also used for many styles but are particularly popular for break dancing, hip hop and street dance.
The most striking difference between a jazz shoe and a dance sneaker is the appearance of the upper. A jazz shoe upper is usually made from very supple leather very similar to the type used to make soft ballet shoes. This allows the shoe to fit the foot almost like a second skin enabling great freedom of movement for the foot. Dance sneakers have a far more rigid upper which has a similar appearance to a sports trainer making them particularly popular for urban and street dance.
The sole of a jazz shoe has many differences but also shares some similarities with the sole of a dance sneaker. Most jazz shoes are available with either a full sole or split sole whereas dance sneakers always have a split sole. This is in order to offer the foot more freedom of movement whilst still offering adequate support. Dance sneakers also often feature smooth spots on the soles to make spinning easier, or notches in the heel to make it easier for a dancer to lift their partner. On the other hand, the soles of both types of dance shoes offer shock absorption and are non-marking.
There is a wide range of jazz shoes and dance sneakers available on the market from many major dance brands such as Capezio, Bloch, and Dance Gear. Some of the most popular jazz shoes include varieties of the leather split sole, and some of the most popular dance sneakers include the Capezio Web Dansneaker and Bloch Boost Dansneaker.