A Comprehensive Guide to Irish Step Dancing for Beginners

Introduction to Irish Step Dancing

Irish step dancing is a unique and complex form of dance that originated in Ireland. Known for its distinct style, rhythm, and discipline, it has gained significant popularity worldwide.

History of Irish Step Dancing

The traditional stories emphasize the inception of Irish step dancing during the Celtic era, making it not merely a form of dance but a homage to the rich cultural heritage of Ireland.

Understanding the Styles in Irish Step Dancing

Irish step dancing is distinguished into two broad styles: soft shoe and hard shoe. Both styles require unique dance techniques, footwork, and style.

Soft Shoe Dancing

Soft shoe dancing often involves light, graceful movements, similar to ballet. The women usually perform it wearing soft shoes called ghillies. The routines include a myriad of dance forms like reels, slip jigs, and light jigs.

Hard Shoe Dancing

Contrarily, the Hard Shoe Dancing tends to be rhythmic and dynamic. The dances include hornpipes, treble jigs, and traditional sets. The hard shoe used for these dances bears a resemblance to tap shoes, thus creating an audible rhythm during the performances.

Basic Irish Dancing Steps

Showcasing the basics of Irish step dancing without diving into the assorted techniques would be only half the art. It’s time we walk through some conventional yet essential steps that facilitate such a captivating performance.

The Point Point Back Step

This step includes pointing your right foot twice, then moving it back and tapping. Repeat the same movement with your left foot.

The Side Step aka “Cut”

This move incorporates quickly lifting one foot up to the opposite leg’s ankle, switching feet, often with a small hop in-between.

The Skip 2-3

Skip, hop, and hop back. As simple as that! This is the Skip 2-3 – an often recurring step that adds an extra zing to the performance.


Leaps and jumps hold the charm of generating excitement in the performance. Mastery above these two elements certifies every beginner as a skilled dancer.

The Sevens Step

Walk forward for four steps, then backward for three. “Sevens” step gives a playful bounce and zest to the performer.

Essential Tips for Beginners

Before we wrap up, here are few beneficial tips for Irish Step Dancing beginners.

Practice Makes Perfect

The backbone to mastering any art form lies in the practice. Regular practice can enhance your performance greatly.

Invest in Good Quality Dance Shoes

A good pair of dancing shoes makes a world of difference. Do not compromise on their comfort and quality.

Understand the Music

Understanding the music is crucial. It’s the music that drives the dance; pay attention to its rhythm and melody.

Find a Good Teacher

Finding a competent teacher who can guide and correct your techniques is equally important.

Stay Patient and Don’t Rush

It’s essential to remember that learning any art form takes time. So, stay patient, do not rush.

The Art of Irish Step Dancing

Irish step dancing is an art form that is as entrancing to perform as it is to watch. Its quick, light, and rhythmic steps will fill every beginner with delight. The thrill of mastering it, especially when danced to the melodious Irish tunes, paints the real essence of this dance form in its truest colors.

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