Rhythm in Shoes History

Rhythm in Shoes (RIS) was a music and dance company based in Dayton, Ohio from 1987 to 2010. Artistic directors Sharon Leahy (choreographer) and Rick Good (musical director) co-created concert dance repertoire with live musical accompaniment, and led the company for twenty-three years. RIS fulfilled its mission “to engage the world in music and dance” primarily through American dance genres of rhythm tap, Appalachian social and percussive dance, and other American musical traditions including oldtime, folk, blues, jazz and swing. Leahy and Good’s creative symbiosis was foundational to the scope and breadth of the company’s work.


Leahy’s choreography showcases the union of social dance and dynamic foot and body percussion with contemporary through lines, set to both traditional music and Good’s original compositions. RIS performed on theater and festival stages; taught workshops and residencies in schools from pre-K to college, and for community-based organizations around the Midwest. The company established a significant presence in the performing arts community at home in the Miami Valley of southwestern Ohio, while also touring regularly throughout forty-eight states and abroad in Canada, Ireland and Japan.

Collaborations were at the heart of the RIS repertory, beginning in 1992 with the band, the Horseflies (NY). A host of others followed: with body percussionist, Keith Terry and Crosspulse (CA), a national touring production with the Red Clay Ramblers (NC), and recurring projects with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Major commissions from Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival (MA), the Flynn Center for Performing Arts (VT) and Cityfolk (OH) resulted in a multi-state, venue-specific collaboration.

Local collaborations with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) include a commission in memory of DCDC founder, Jeraldyne Blunden (2000), and another choreographed to the songs of Hoagy Carmichael (2001). Additional projects of note include those with Dayton, Ohio sculptor, Michael Bashaw (1997); the University of Akron and Wright State University, with music arranged by Jay Ungar (2000); and the National Aviation Heritage Foundation, for Dayton’s Centennial of Flight celebration (2003, 2004).

Rhythm In Shoes held their final performance at Dayton’s Cityfolk Festival in 2010. It featured past and present company members in a program of the company’s most beloved repertoire.


1992, 1994
Rhythm In Shoes with the Horseflies (NY)
Streets of the Capitol, commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (VT), Flynn Center for Performing Arts (VT) and Cityfolk of Dayton (OH)
do you remember this? with sculptor, Michael Bashaw, Cityfolk of Dayton and more than 30 dancers from the community
Time Shifts, with Keith Terry and Crosspulse (CA)
Novatown(musical), script and score by Rick Good, choreography by Sharon Leahy; in collaboration with five professional actors from the Dayton community
Walk with Me with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC)
Hoagland with DCDC
Rambleshoe, with the Red Clay Ramblers (national tour 2003, 2005, with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts)
RIS Suite, William Tell Overture, Stars and Stripes with Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
2003, 2004
Doctor Goodfellows Traveling Vaudeville Entertainment, a re-creation of vaudeville acts from the early 1900s, commissioned by the National Aviation Heritage Foundation for Dayton, Ohio’s Centennial of Flight celebration
Gershwin Dances, Take Brubeck, Gould’s Tap Dance Concerto, with Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
Banjo Dance: A Celebration of the American Spirit, a piece in-the-making over the course of the company’s entire history
Harvest Home, The Wild Party, Ragtime Dances, with Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
Bolero, Mon Amis with Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
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