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Styles and shoes

Two types of shoes are worn in step dancing: hard shoes and soft shoes.

Irish Dance Heavy Shoe

Hard shoes

(Also called ‘heavies’ or ‘jig’ shoes)

Hard shoes are worn when dancers wish to use their feet like instruments to beat out rhythms. Hard shoes are unlike tap shoes, in that the tips and heels are larger and are made of fibreglass, instead of metal.

  Irish Dance Soft Shoe

Soft shoes

(Also called ‘lights’ or ‘ghillies’)

Soft shoes allow dancers to perform graceful lifts, high jumps and swift crossover steps. Soft shoes are only worn by girls while boys wear a black leather shoe which resembles a black jazz shoe with a hard heel.