My little Irish dancer came home from school sick with a fever yesterday, so I never got a chance to post Day 9 of 17 Days of Irish…however, it all works out – since a sick kid at home knocks my schedule into the trash I can sit here, drink a mug of coffee as big as my head, and do a combo Day 9 & 10 post! Miss A is recuperating in her pj’s and a tiara, playing Lego Star Wars on her DS, and Lil’ G is harassing me with a jack-in-the-box (well, actually it’s a bunny-in-the-box, but still…).
Now that you have a complete picture of the view from my world, let’s move on to the topic du jour: Irish dance shoes and costumes.
We’ll go from the ground up.
All dancers begin learning soft shoe dances first. Called “Ghillies” what makes Irish dance shoes different from a basic ballet shoe are the fact they are laced from toe to ankle, and do not use eyelets, but loops in the leather. Boys Irish dance soft shoes look a lot like your basic jazz shoe (in fact, Miss A often dances in a pair of jazz shoes to practice in so she doesn’t wear out her ghillies).
Oh…and here’s a dancer secret: to keep those poodle socks in place while dancing, the girls use something called sock glue:
Some dancers buy the fancy stuff, but Miss A has found that this works just as well:
Another tip…after over a year of struggling to help Miss A tie up her shoes before class, before a performance, etc; I took the advice of some other dance moms and bought elastic to re-lace her shoes…it has saved us a lot of time and energy!
For hard shoe dances, the shoe looks like a tap shoe – but bulkier (and, in my opinion, louder).
Hard shoe dances are so much fun to watch, and guarantee to get an audience going, especially as the dancer starts to move faster and faster (Miss A was in a show this past weekend, and I am always amazed at how fast some of those girls get their feet going!)Miss A hasn’t begun to learn hard shoe yet…maybe in another year. Oddly enough, the first hard shoe dance her troupe learns is called St. Patrick’s Day!
How many dances a dancer knows equates to what level she is dancing at – at the highest level, a dancer can qualify for a solo costume – those beautiful, gorgeous confections of velvet and lace and satin and silk and all sorts of glittery things. These costumes are hand made, unique, and – of course expensive. Many dancers will sell their costumes to another dancer once they grow out of it. To take a look at some of these incredible dresses (and to get an idea of why I need to start an extra savings account) visit Dance Again, a site where dancers can list dresses for sale.
Before they can get to that level though, first a dancer starts out with a basic costume. For Miss A’s dance school, it is a skirt and vest:
After progressing a bit, and performing in several shows – a dancer can qualify for a “class costume” which is a standard dress for that particular school of Irish dance.
Miss A is currently in one of the rental class costumes. If she continues to dance, I will probably buy her the fancier, more elegant version of the class costume (and, obviously, more expensive).
Speaking of expensive, while I dread how much one of those solo costumes are going to cost. If Miss A sticks with it and continues to progress, I look forward to helping her choose a dress she likes, and can’t wait to see her dance in it!
Those things are like eye candy, and one of my favorite parts of a show, it’s always fun to see the combination of colors and patterns a designer puts together!