Beginners’ Info

Thinking of joining us?  Here is some information we hope you will find useful:

How do I join?

Get in touch with us using the ‘contact us’ page or the email button at the bottom of the page to discuss which class would be most suitable for your potential dancer and arrange for them to come along and try out a class.  We welcome new starters throughout the year, as every dancer works at their own pace within the class whilst being challenged to improve and develop their dancing skills. Beginners classes are suitable for age 4+.

What is Irish dancing?

It is the traditional dance form of Ireland, focused primarily on footwork, and can be either individual (solo/step dancing) or as part of a team (céilí dancing).

In solo dancing, arms are held by the sides and the upper body remains still while the legs and feet perform intricate steps and rhythms. Céilí dancing does involve the arms, as dancers take hands with each other to move around the floor, dancing with many different people.  Both types are performed to traditional Irish music played on instruments such as the accordion, fiddle, piano, flute and banjo.

The Irish solo dancing that we know today has its origins in the steps that were taught by the travelling dance masters of Ireland hundreds of years ago; educated professionals who would continually travel their regions teaching steps to the villagers and townspeople.

Irish dancing is a constantly evolving art form, and now involves and captivates millions of people worldwide, regardless of whether or not they have Irish heritage.

What are the benefits of Irish dancing?

Irish dancing is great exercise, and also provides numerous other benefits.  Dancers will develop strength and improve coordination, flexibility, balance, rhythm and timing.

In addition to the physical benefits, Irish dancing develops concentration, builds confidence and encourages friendship, support and teamwork.  These are aspects that we especially value at the Solas School of Irish Dancing.

Is it expensive? What equipment do I need?

Aside from the cost of classes, which work out at £4-£5 an hour (contact us for up to date prices), the only equipment needed to start Irish dancing is comfortable clothing that is easy to move in, and socks or pumps.

After a few classes many people decide to purchase Irish dancing light shoes (also called soft shoes or Irish dancing pumps) which are around £25 new or can be picked up much more cheaply secondhand.  After learning the first four light dances, which takes a few month to a year, dancers can progress onto the heavy dances for which they will need heavy shoes (also called hard shoes). These start from around £50 new, but are very well made and will often have numerous owners in their lifetime, so there is a very good secondhand market for both buying and selling.

When starting to perform or compete dancers can get a Solas class costume, and as they progress through the grades they may decide to go for an individual solo costume, for which you can pay as little or as much as you like!

Do I have to compete?

No.  Competition is an aspect of Irish dancing that many of our dancers find very enjoyable, but we understand that it is not for everyone.  We offer CLRG grade exams and numerous display opportunities as an alternative to competition, but are happy if dancers simply want to come along to class and improve from week to week for their own personal enjoyment.  All dancers receive the same levels of attention and focus in classes regardless of their dancing goals.