Irish Symbol - Irish Jig

Irish Jig

Did you know that the word 'Jig' comes from the French word 'giguer' which means to jump? Discover a selection of interesting facts and useful information about the Irish Jig!

What is the difference between single, Light, Double and Treble Jigs?

What shoes are worn by Irish jig dancers? There are two types of Irish dance shoes, soft shoes also known as ghillies and hard shoes which are also referred to as Hardies. Find out which shoes are worn for different types of jig.

What is Irish Jig?
The word jig is taken from the French word 'giguer' which means 'to jump'. It was developed in England in the 16th century as a lively folk dance. The Shakespearean actor Will Kemps pictured below was a famous Elizabethan clown. He is famous for dancing a jig from Norwich to London in 1600! Will Kempe 'was greatly applauded for his buffoonery, his extemporal wit and his performance of the Jig' (Extract from the book 'Kemps Nine Daies Wonder' - Published 1839).

The jig was introduced to Ireland in the 17th century by travelling dance masters who were paid to travel the country and teach dancing to the native Irish country folk. Nowadays the jig is commonly associated with Irish dance and music.

Types of Irish Jig
There are several types of jig including:

  • Single Jigs

  • Light Jigs

  • Slip Jigs

  • Double Jigs

  • Treble Jigs

The light jig is the fastest of all the jigs and is performed in soft shoes. The slip jig is very graceful and is known as the 'ballet of Irish dance' as it is performed mostly on the toes, similar to ballet. Single jigs and are also performed in soft shoes. Treble jigs are performed in hard shoes and the speed the treble jig is performed depends on the experience of the dancer.

Irish Dance Shoes - Jig
Different types of jig require the dancer to wear either soft or hard shoes. There are two types of dance shoes used by solo step dancers when dancing the Irish jig, these are soft shoes (also referred to as ghillies) and hard shoes (often referred to as Hardies), pictures of both types of shoes can be viewed on our desktop site.

Irish Jig - Facts

  • The word 'Jig' comes from the French word 'giguer' which means to jump

  • A light jig is the fastest of all the jigs, danced in ghillies (soft shoes). It is performed in 6/8 time

  • Slip jigs (performed in 9/8 time) are sometimes referred to as the 'Ballet of Irish Dance' as it is danced in soft shoes and dancers are mainly on their toes like they are in ballet

  • Single jigs are the least commonly performed jig and are usually in 6/8 but occasionally in 12/8 time

  • The reel is the most popular Irish dance followed in second place by the jig

  • The jig was developed in Ireland in the 17th Century

  • Treble Jigs are performed in hard or heavy shoes and are famous for the stomps and clicks made by the hard shoes

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