One of my favorite forms of dance to perform is Irish dance. I was first introduced to Irish dancing in high school, when my theater teacher (a fellow redhead) added it to the curriculum. I was taken with the music, the precision…and maybe the amazing wigs that take up an entire zip code.
While I was in school we performed step dancing, in two styles – hard shoe and soft shoe. Hard shoe dancing is very similar to tap dance, in that is it performed wearing heeled shoes with a wooden box on the toe. Hard shoe dancing focuses on rhythms and patterns, and tends to be a bit more grounded. In the 1990’s step dancing became popular internationally, through performances like Riverdance. Soft shoe dancing has a bit less flash, but is my favorite. Soft shoe dances are performed in lace-up slippers, very similar in design to ballet slippers. A captivating soft shoe dancer looks like they’re floating – right when you think they’ll come down from a jump, they pause just one moment more, like they’re caught on a breeze.
I think what entices me most about Irish dance is the challenge of artistry in your feet, legs and expression while keeping your arms and torso still. Its not an easy feat to look relaxed while dancing with half of your body immobile.
While I don’t have video of my most recent Irish dancing escapades, I’d like you to enjoy this video I created on jibjab.com, which demonstrates hard shoe Irish dance. Click Here to view.
Thank you to BBC.com for ‘A Short History of Irish Dance’ – to learn more, you can Click Here