Irish Dancing Shoes
There are two types of dancing shoes used by solo step dancers, these are soft shoes (also referred to as ghillies) and hard shoes (often referred to as Hardies), both types of shoe are pictured below:
Irish Dancing - Soft Shoes
Irish Dancing - Hard Shoes
Irish Dancing Schools
The popularity of dancing is increasing! Dancing teachers all over the world teach second, third and fourth generation Irish girls and boys traditional jigs and reels. The outstanding success of productions such as Riverdance has encouraged even more children to learn to dance just like their ancestors. Irish dancers compete in competitions regularly, all hoping to qualify for the world championships which brings together competitors form all over the world to be recognised as the best! Find out what the characteristics of Irish Dancing are. Why do dancers perform with straight arms, held by their sides? Their upper body movements are limited yet the speed of the foot movements is extremely fast and precise, is there a reason for this?
Costumes like the one shown below are worn by solo step dancers when performing in a public dancing performance. The image below is just an example of the type of costume worn. Dancing costumes come in a huge range of colors and fabrics from silk to velvet. Specialist designers produce costumes to order, these costumes are not cheap! A large market exists for second hand dancing dresses as most costumes are worn for a handful of times before their owner grows out of them.
Picture of an Irish Dancing Costume
Irish Dancing History - Diaspora
What is diaspora? Diaspora is defined as 'the movement or settlement of people away from their ancestral homeland'. The Irish Diaspora are descendants of the native Irish immigrants forced to move away from their homeland for a variety of reasons including conflict and more recently in the 19th century due to the great Famine, known in Gaelic as 'An Gorta Mor'.
The Irish diaspora are spread all over the world and it is estimated that globally there are more than 80 million Irish Diaspora! Some are second or third generation Irish whilst others are fifth and sixth generation Irish! The Diaspora have kept their culture, heritage and traditions alive through music and dance. St Patrick's day is a celebration of Irish culture and traditional Irish music and dancing form a huge part of this now globally celebrated event. Other events are held for those of Irish heritage including 'The Gathering', an event held in 2013, the aim of the gathering was to encourage anyone with Irish heritage to return to Ireland and trace their families heritage, a gathering of the clans!
Singing, performing and dancing is a huge part of Irish and Celtic culture, it is the land of music and dance! Irish dancers twist and turn at amazing speed beautifully in time with the music. Riverdance and Lord of The Dance are examples of the way that traditional Irish dancing has been brought into the 21st century. Both are world famous shows enjoyed by the Irish diaspora and those who wish they were!