Complementary Yet Unique

Irish Dance traditionally encompasses two shoe styles: light shoe and heavy shoe (also called soft shoe and hard shoe). Each style is complementary, yet unique. At OIDA, we offer light shoe and heavy shoe as separate classes when dancers start out, as there is so much to learn! Dancers can take just one shoe type at a time or take class twice per week so they learn both shoes simultaneously. 


Light Shoe and Heavy Shoe

Light Shoe is an elegant but energetic style of Irish dance with big lifts, kicks, and jumps that require strength and control. It is often compared to ballet as it makes no sound and trains similar technique such as turn out, crossing, extension, and pointing. A dancer will learn four dances in their light shoe class: Reel, Single Jig, Light Jig, and Slip Jig. Each dance has its own tempo and rhythm and a different set of moves and patterns. Light shoe will build strength and control while also teaching elegance and flow. Light shoe class will get your dancer jumping, moving, spinning, kicking, and learning how to control their body's movement.

Heavy Shoe is a powerful, percussive style of Irish dance made up of intricate rhythm and explosive, athletic movements. Often compared to tap dance, it makes sound with the shoe's tip and heel and has much of the same technique. A dancer learns 4 dances in their heavy shoe class: Treble Reel, Hornpipe, Heavy Jig, and a Traditional Set. Each dance has its own tempo and rhythm and a different set of moves and patterns. Heavy shoe builds speed, power, precision, and control which explains why Michael Flatley, the most famous Irish dancer of all time, held the Guinness World Record for taps at 35 taps per second!

Our beginner classes follow a fundamental lesson model

This means that both our light shoe and heavy shoe classes provide each dancer with an equally beneficial start to Irish dancing. We actually highly recommend taking one class of each at the same time. Attending twice a week will give the dancer valuable repetition, and taking one heavy shoe class and one light shoe class will be very exciting, as they'll get to learn and work on something new and different in each class!