The performance company -- an eclectic, 10-member cast whose ages range from mid-teens to middle age -- mixes tap, clogging and step dancing with juggling, comedy skits and old-time music provided by a live string band.
"It's almost like a circus," said Sharon Leahy, the group's director.
Leahy and her troupe have spent a weeklong dance residency at UNC. Arriving Monday, Rhythm in Shoes performed for several elementary schools and the Durham School of the Arts, gave swing dance lessons at the Chapel Hill Senior Center and taught a master class for the University's tap dance group, Carolina Style.
After a series of performances and educational activities, the troupe will cap off the week's activities with a performance at 8 p.m. today in Memorial Hall.
Leahy choreographs most of the dance routines herself, while her husband, Rick Good, provides guitar and vocals and composes much of the band's music.
Leahy and Good founded the Dayton, Ohio-based company in 1987, with performers who were steeped in traditional American music and dance forms.
But as the group added dancers and musicians, the performances incorporated the members' new influences, Leahy said. "I direct the energies of the company," she said. "I try to extract the best from each of them."
And that includes silly children's songs penned by band members and juggling routines that include pyrotechnics.
But the troupe always returns to its roots at the end of each show, closing with a high-energy clogging routine, Leahy said. "There's nothing more cheerful, nothing that makes people smile more than clogging," she said.