Irish Dance Info

Connolly Irish Dance offers classes in Sioux Falls, SD and the Denver Metro Area, CO.

Classes are available for ages 4 years and older.  Dancing is an accumulation of soft shoe and hard shoe (tap) in both solo performances and eventually group dances.  Learn for fun, or learn to compete at the regional, national and even world level.  Reference our Calendar Pages for our class schedule in CO and SD.  Contact us to schedule your first "Intro Level" lesson today!



Most competitive dances are solo dances, though many also perform and compete using céilí/figure dances with 2 to 16 people. The solo irish dance is generally characterized by a controlled upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. Solo Irish dances fall into two broad categories based on the shoes worn: hard shoe (or heavy shoe) and soft shoe (or light shoe) dances.  There are four soft shoe dances: the reel, slip jig, light jig and single jig.  Hard shoe dances include the hornpipe, the heavy jig, the treble reel and traditional sets, which are a group of dances with set music and steps.

Shoes and costume
There are two types of shoes; soft shoes (also known as ghillies or pomps) and hard shoes. The hard shoe is similar to tap shoes, except that the tips and heels are made of fiberglass instead of metal, and are significantly bulkier. The soft shoes, or ghillies, are black lace-up shoes. They are only worn by girls, while boys wear black leather shoes called "reel shoes", which resemble black jazz shoe with a hard heel. Irish Dance schools generally have school dresses (class costumes), worn by lower-level competitors and in public performances. As dancers advance in competition or are given starring roles in public performances, they may get a solo dress of their own design and colors. In the 1970s and 1980s, ornately embroidered dresses became popular. Today even more ornamentation is used on girls' dresses and are unique to each dancer. Today most girls wear a curly wig or hairpiece for a competition. Most men wear a shirt, vest and tie paired with black trousers.

Competition Structure
An organized Irish dance competition is referred to as a feis (pronounced "fesh"). The word feis means "festival" in Irish.  These dance competitions which are held throughout the year all across the U.S. are divided by age and level of expertise. Dancers are scored based on technique (placement of the feet, turn out, off of their heels, etc.), style (grace, power, etc.) and other items such as timing, rhythm, and sounds in their hard shoe dances.  There are also annual regional Championship competitions, which are known as an Oireachtas. The Largest North American Irish Dance Federation competition is called the Nationals.  By scoring well at the Nationals or at the Oireachtas, dancers can then qualify to compete at the World Championships.  The World Championships first took place in Dublin in 1970.  In 2009 the United States, for the first time, hosted the World Championships in Philadelphia.

Connolly Irish Dance Handbook

North American Feis Schedule          Irish Dance Region Map          Feis Worx