What is Irish dance?
Popularized in 1994 by the world-famous show Riverdance, is notable for its rapid leg and foot movements, body and arms being kept largely stationary.
The solo stepdance is generally characterized by a controlled and rigid upper body, straight arms and back, and quick, precise movements of feet and legs. The solo dances can either be in “soft shoes” or “hard shoes”.
Soft shoes are often called ghillies or pumps. They are constructed of very soft kid leather – similar to ballet shoes in texture. Their laces crisscross across the top of the feet and are tied up either around the ankle or under the arch of the foot.
Hard shoes are often called heavy shoes or jig shoes. They are used to create the beautiful rhythmical percussions. They are made of black leather with fiberglass heels and taps on the tips of the shoes with a leather strap across the top of the foot.
Irish dancers perform in modern Irish dancing costumes, wearing makeup and ringleted wigs. Each Irish dance school has its own distinctive full skirted dress, often featuring lace or an embroidered pattern copied from the medieval Irish Book of Kells.
What you will see
At the Festival, you will want to see the many performances occurring over the weekend of Irish dancers in their colourful outfits. The covered dance stages located on the grass fields provide a great photo opportunity.
Besides the Irish dance performances held throughout the festival, a Irish dance competition, known as a feis, will be held at the Festival on May 21, 2022. Some of the dancers will be there for the first time and others will be at the world and national level on the championship stage. Dancers range in age from 4 years to adults. Dancers compete by age and level. A 2022 registration form will be put on this website closer to the event.