Irish Dancing 101 – it takes quite a number of years for dancers to perfect their toe hold technique. Keep in mind, these are not like toe shoes ballet dancers have, rather they are hard shoes. What are “hard shoes”? Well they are shoes that sound a lot like tap shoes, but instead of taps, they have fiberglass heels and toes. There is a very small (or wee) squared-off toe about an inch or so across the front. Amazingly enough, they manage to balance, jump, walk and leap landing on this small space with regularity. It boggles my mind that there are not more broken ankles. Because of the complexity, dancers are not permitted to do toe holds until they are at least 12 years old. The shoes also must be “broken in” or they are not flexible enough for a dancer to do a toe hold.