Forum: Irish / Irish

Irish Dancing Shoes
By Festivaldancer1
On Sun Sep 14, 2014 06:06 PM

Just a quick question regarding shoes - what does everyone think of boys wearing reel shoes and girls wearing ghillies as soft shoes? I.e. the distinction between them. Obviously coming from a Festival background, we all wear the same ballet pumps with the criss-crossed elastic, and so our steps have stayed the same for boys and girls, whereas obviously the boys steps in the feis style have changed (clicks and stamps etc) to make use of the reel shoes. Just out of curiosity, what would you think of boys wearing ghillies like they used to as recently as the 80s? (I've seen photos of John Cullinane wearing them - along with a kilt which I prefer by far to the trousers!)

3 Replies to Irish Dancing Shoes

re: Irish Dancing Shoes
By Festivaldancer1
On Sun Sep 14, 2014 06:35 PM
Picture of John Cullinane in ghillies and kilt
re: Irish Dancing Shoes
By StepdancerPremium member
On Sun Sep 14, 2014 07:45 PM
I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other regarding shoes, although I wouldn't be surprised if boys were happier with the oxford jazz style over the ghillies just as they're happier in pants than kilts. I do have a strong opinion regarding the effect of fiberglass heels on the current state of boys' "soft shoe" because I often find there's little "soft" about it; it's more a discordant mass of THWACKS! which make no discernible rhythm. The sheer number of clicks in boys' soft shoe dances has increased over the years to the point where many seem to be merely moving from one set of clicks to another much the way figure skaters move from one jump to another, with the clicks/jumps being the most important thing and anything in between mere connective tissue. Soft shoe is supposed to be a light dance, not a percussive dance. I realize they want boys' steps to be less balletic than girls', but it doesn't need to go percussive to achieve that; I watched boys dance strong, sharp, graceful soft shoe with no clicks for decades, and they always looked different than the girls.

So...as to your question of boys wearing ghillies now, I wouldn't like it if that turned them off dancing, but I might very much like the way it would affect choreography. No more thwacking. ;)
re: Irish Dancing Shoes
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Sep 15, 2014 02:52 AM
I'd struggle to see the point of a boy wearing "girls'" softshoes. They wear black trousers and black socks so the visual effect of the ghillie lacing would be lost (white laces notwithstanding, you can still see the shape of the lace loops). So if they wanted to wear a non-heeled shoe, it makes more sense for them to wear a jazz shoe. It looks better with trousers.

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