I was recently asked by a new Irish set dancer what shoes I would recommend for dancing. I hesitated in replying, not sure why. I realised that to answer this question, I had to ask a question in return. You have to decide if you want:
1. Dance shoes or 2. Shoes for dance They are not necessarily one and the same thing.
For dancers, your feet are the most important part of your body to look after.I have been largely ignorant of this and realise only now how lucky I was to grow up in the Pacific, barefeet most of the time, and have avoided many problems that come for most people from wearing poorly-fitting shoes. READ MORE HERE
Staying healthy takes more and more of my time, and it seems obvious to try to enhance the benefits of dance by paying attention to a few basics. This is not an exhaustive list: I have already written about some of these tips but ’tis always good to have a reminder.
1. Dance floor– seems an odd kind of thing to put top of the list but flooring is critical to reducing knee, hip and ankle injuries and sore backs, ideally, sprung floor is the best or at least something with some bounce or give in it. You should be able to see the floor moving when someone walks or dances on it. The floor also needs to be very clean- swept first then a very hot, dry-damp squeezed-out mop over the top to get all the grease and dirt off.
Irish dance shoes:7 tips on how to avoid sore feet, ongoing knee problems, hip problems and a plethora of other ailments that can come with Irish dancing, despite that it should be good for you! I have some suggestions for you that I have worked out over a long period of dancing. I also used to sell shoes and boots for hiking, and there are many similarities with dancing, including getting lots of mileage!
1. Supportive shoes
Supportive shoes are those that have stiffness under the arch of your foot, and that move the right way when you dance. Shoes that offer the best support for your feet are torsionally strong, which means they don’t have much twist. What you DO want is the shoe to bend forward at the ball of your foot to allow your heel to go up and down. New shoes often take a while to soften in this part of the sole. So, if the shoe doesn’t bend and give, your foot still wants to go up and this creates friction and rubbing inside the shoe, creating the potential for blisters. Something’s gotta give! Continue reading →
It was ten years ago now in 2004 that I went to my very first Irish dance workshop to learn the sean nós or old-style of Irish dancingfrom Kathleen McGlynn. Kathleen has an inclusive and encouraging approach to teaching and she put everyone at their ease – as much as you could have with about 50 of us keen learners crammed into the smallest space imaginable at the venue An Grianán in Co.Louth (the workshops have since been moved to bigger venues).
Now that I am able to wear shoes again, I was looking at all my footwear for dancing and thinking about the progression of how they came to me and why I love them all.
The oldest in my collection by a country mile are my very traditional Australian RM Williams horse riding boots. Beautifully made with leather soles and elastic sides, they are the most comfortable boots you’ll find anywhere. I bought these off a friend (second-hand/ foot) for $20 when I was 13 years old and they are well over 30 years old (so am I!). Extremely well-travelled boots, coming to Ireland with me and back again, they have been re-soled and repaired many times since then and I gave them an outing in my first film “Sean-nOZ”. Continue reading →