Irish dancers wear different types of shoes for Modern, Sean Nós, and Country Set Dancing, which are explained below, along with our preferences. Used shoes are available in September and October. Clean sneakers may be substituted for the first few classes. All shoes used in the studio must be clean and dry, so please bring the shoes you will use for dancing in a bag.
Modern Irish dancers wear two different types of shoes, soft shoes and hard shoes. Rochester Irish dancers are fortunate to have a world class shoe vendor right here in town. Rutherford Products is located in Hilton (392-7707) and offers a wide variety of styles and sizes for you to try on in their showroom. Please note the following:
Soft Shoes: Girls and women wear lace-up slippers (also called "ghillies" or "reel pumps") for the soft shoe style. There are many different brands of soft shoes. Rince Na Saor recommends a soft shoe with a leather sole such as the Rutherford Products Ghille. Leather-soled soft shoes provide the best combination of support, traction, durability, and affordability. Soft shoes with fuzzy black soles are slipperier, do not provide the same level of support, and wear out more quickly.
Boys and men wear a black, lace-up jazz shoe like the Rutherford Products Split Sole Jazz Shoe. These are also available from area dancewear stores such as Dancewear Express and Bailey Slipper Shop.
Hard Shoes: Shoes with fiberglass tips and heels are worn for the percussive hard shoe style. Men and women wear the same type of shoes. Rince Na Saor recommends a hard shoe with a firm leather sole such as the Rutherford Products Inishfree Jig Shoe. Hard shoes with black soles do not offer the same level of support, durability, and affordability.
Skid Pads: Skid pads are handy little pieces of rubber applied to the soles of hard shoes to make them less slippery. Hard shoes don't come with skid pads, so they need to be applied after you buy them. If you find you need them, any shoe repair shop should be able to apply skid pads for approximately $20.
Sean Nós and Country Sets work best with smooth-soled shoes (leather or synthetic) which can glide across floors. Tap shoes with a low flat heel also work. Clean sneakers will work for beginner level steps.
The Capezio Overture Character Shoe is a good choice, and is available in the US. This is a lightweight, leather-soled shoe with a low heel. It comes in men's sizes, but starts at a size 5 and comes in Medium and Wide widths, so it will work for many women.
Capezio Overture Character Shoe from Dance Outfitters
Capezio Overture Character Shoe from Dance Fashions
Capezio Overture Character Shoe from Discount Dance
Other options are available from Ireland. The Clancy is a very nice Sean Nós shoe that only comes in whole sizes.
Clancy Sean Nós shoe from Hallmore Dance Products
There is also the low-heeled set dance shoe, another good choice available in whole and half sizes.
Low Heeled Set Dance Shoe from Hallmore Dance Products
Sadly, our favorite shoes for Sean Nós, the Dance Class clogging shoes, are being phased out. The Full Sole shoe offers a stiffer, more supportive sole, while the Split Sole shoe is lighter and more flexible. Dancers who want more support in their shoes would likely prefer the Full Sole shoe. I'll leave these links here in case you can locate a pair in your size.
Full-Sole Dance Class Clogging Shoe
Split Sole Dance Class Clogging Shoe