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Irish Dances and what they “say” timing wise


Soft shoe

Reel “polka”

Light Jig “jiggety-jig”

Single jig “humpty-dumpty”

Slip jig “Slippopotamus” 


Hard Shoe

Treble Jig “Apple pie” 

Hornpipe ”I love my mom”


Thank you to our teacher Heather Peterson for putting together these great drill tips! 

Softshoe Drills


Knee, knee, leap 23
Point hop back, switch switch

Light Jig
Hop, hop back, hop back 234
Knee heel down, knee hop back

Single Jig
Leap 23 step out step in
Point hop back, point hop back

Slip Jig
Spring cut 23, knee leap 23
Leap 23, leap 23, knee 23

Hardshoe Drills

Standing trebles
Treble hop
Treble whip treble hop back
Tip and down

Treble Jig
Down treble hop back treble hop back treble in front
Treble step toe hop down

Tip down tip down treble hop back
Treble in front treble hop back

St. Patrick’s Day
Treble bum X4
Hop, hop back tip and down tip and down, step brush whip heel step tip and down tip and down

What to focus on during drills:

First of all, work on one thing at a time. If you try to keep your posture while pointing and crossing and turning out and keeping your arms in and being high on your toes and smiling, you’re going to get overwhelmed. Yes, that is the ultimate goal, but remember that everything takes time to master and it’s much more productive to focus on one thing at a time. Pick ONE thing from the list below and have that your focus for a month (or two, or three) till you feel satisfied with your improvement. Then, while maintaining your progress, pick the next thing to work on for a time, and so forth. Eventually you’ll improve them all and realise how much of a better dancer you have become. Just remember that everything takes time; don’t get frustrated if you don’t have something perfect after a week of trying. Keep going. Whether you work hard or you don’t, the time will pass anyway. Improvement is only in YOUR control.

Posture– head level, neither tilting side to side nor up or down. Back of the neck elongated and lifted. Shoulders engaged in the back and held down. Arms straight and tucked tightly against sides of body with hands closed and palms towards the legs. Spine in neutral position with core engaged and lifted (core is your entire trunk of your body, not just your abs: front, back, and sides). Hips level with tailbone slightly tucked down and glutes engaged.

Face– Eyes straight forward or slightly elevated, about the same height as the top of your own head. Pleasant smile or facial expression. Everyone is different on this so practice in the mirror and ask a teacher what your best look is. It helps to think about how much you love dance or think of something extremely funny. Just make sure your smile isn’t a smirk. Or a grimace.

Crossing– front knee hiding the back knee, placing feet to the side of the other foot instead of in front, engaging the inside of the thigh.

Turnout– engaging the glutes and hips, turning the entire leg out from the hip down. Knees must point the same direction as the feet.

Pointing– engage all the muscles of the entire leg, ankle, and foot. Make sure the toes arch down without scrunching under. Ankle needs to point with the foot.

Toe height– engage all the muscles of the legs, glutes, and core. Squeeze your toes and push your ankles up and over your toes. Lift away from the ground with your glutes and torso.

Hardshoe sound (simple treble)– flex your foot, use your shin muscles to strike the middle of the hardshoe tip into the ground as you brush forward, flex your foot again, then use your shin muscles to strike into the ground to brush back. Sound in hardshoe is one of those things that takes a LOT of time to improve. When practicing, experiment with the forward angle of your foot and see where to strike on your shoe to make the loudest sound. Think of pushing your foot through the ground rather than over it. Make sure you stay crossed and turned out while you do this; getting that muscle memory in the beginning will help a lot later on. Also, don’t forget the back foot! The back foot is especially important in hardshoe for sound and rhythm. Dig into the ground with the back foot whenever you hop between trebles.

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