Highland Dance Guide: How to Break in Ghillies
Breaking in Highland dance shoes can be a slightly painful process, but it doesn’t have to be complicated!
Catch up with Kate on our Youtube channel this week as we see her process breaking in a brand new pair of ghillies ahead of the first championship of the year! Kate’s journey to the stage is accompanied by her tips and tricks for any dancers looking for help breaking in their new shoes.
Check out Kate’s video!
Why Break Them in?
Highland dance ghillies are made of soft leather – surely they’re comfortable and don’t need to be broken in?
Ghillies are made of soft leather, but competitive dancers typically buy shoes so tight they just barely fit over the heel. Having a form-fitting shoe allows dancers to show off pointed toes and, in the eyes of some dancers, make movements like pas de basques easier to execute.
So, dancers purchase very small shoes and stretch them to fit to their feet.
Over time, ghillies stretch further and can develop holes and other wear-and-tear damages. Then, it’s time to start the process over again!
In Kate’s video, she mentions four tips for making the breaking in process smoother. Let’s review them together!
1. Use moisture
The soft leather of ghillies responds well to moisture for stretching. Make use of this by wearing wet socks as you stretch them or submerging the shoes in water while wearing them.
2. Use socks
If your shoes are barely fitting on your foot upon first attempt, build up from wearing thin socks to thicker socks on your way to wearing them with kilt hose. Don’t forget to try them on with hose (Kate did in this video and regretted it on competition day).
3. Build up activity
Start by wearing your shoes while chilling around the house, then gradually build up to wearing them while dancing. Try wearing them during a dance class warm up before doing the whole class!
4. Find what works for you!
Different brands of shoes may stretch more or less than others, and different dancers want their shoes to have different levels of give. It requires a bit of trial and error, but be sure to figure out what works for you, specifically.