Irish Step Dancing - Hard Shoes for Dancing
The heavy or hard shoes worn by Irish step dancers hard shoes are very similar to tap shoes. They are however much bulkier and the toes and heels are made of fibreglass to increase the sound level. Hard shoes are used when dancing traditional step dances such as the Hornpipes or Treble jig. The click made by the shoes is an important part of the dance.
Irish Step Dancing - Soft Shoes for Dancing
Soft shoes are worn by female Irish solo step dancers. The shoes are know by a variety of different names including ghillies, light shoes and pumps. The shoes are very similar in design to ballet pumps but tie with laces instead of elastic. Many young step dancers use ballet shoes when they first start Irish dancing lessons, this allows the parents to see if their child is keen to continue with lessons as ballet pumps are much cheaper than soft shoes. It is generally a good idea to check with your child's dance teacher to see if they keep a stock of second hand ghillies.
Children's feet grow so quickly, it can be very expensive to buy new dance shoes every few months. Ghillies are also worn by women in Scottish Highland dance and men in Scottish Country dancing! Soft shoes are made in leather with long laces that criss-cross across the front of the shoe, often wrapped around the sole of the foot before being tied like a sneaker or trainer in a bow. Unlike other lace up shoes the laces are fed through slots in the leather and not eyelets.