The Real Debate: Is Dance a Sport?
by Amber Chang
Dance isn’t a sport. It’s a form of art. A fine art so to speak. A performance of some sort that is mainly based around opinions of the audience. It’s not considered a contact sport. There’s no strategy to it; it’s all freelance. It’s just a bunch of people rolling on the ground. People who tap their feet to the beat of the music or sway their bodies to the rhythm of the melody. When you think of dancing, you think pretty pink tutus; a stage lit up with little girls who have their hair in high buns, following a routine to the Swan Lake soundtrack. It’s a competition, not a sport. “Anyone can dance, there isn’t a special talent needed.”
Truth is, you can do almost any sport when you learn and understand the rule of the game or sport. All kinds of sports require both perfection and competition—it’s athletic. The definition of a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Dance is lucky to be both an art form and a sport. It incorporates the training mentality of a sport, but it interprets itself on stage or during practice as a type of art form with the body.
When you compete, that makes dance a sport. When you train long nights and practice the choreography over and over again, it’s a sport. When you perform on stage in front of a huge, cheering audience, you’ve done a sport.
Dancers face tons of obstacles mentally, physically and emotionally. They create the beauty. They practice the sport. It’s a sport because it’s something one can gain muscle from and requires one think and physically move at the same time. Compared to ball sports, a dancing requires actually twice the amount of endurance, stability, and memory. Just like any other sports like soccer or football, dance incorporates repetitive practices, techniques, stretching, muscle training and sometimes a diet plan. There’s no reason for it to not be considered a sport. Take the Olympics for example, many gymnastics moves are incorporated in dance, from kicks to acro moves in Jazz dance. Many people argue that dance isn’t a sport due to the lack of rules. It’s funny that most people don’t consider dance to be a sport, but both fast-walking and figure skating are also in the Olympics. Figure skating is considered a sport because of it’s need of skill, but it also has the element of dance in it. It is also a form of art with your body and competitions in figure skating also require judges to judge skaters’ skill levels. So in conclusion, if figure skating is considered a sport by being in the Olympics, why shouldn’t dance be?
While it’s true that dance allows one to express their bodies freely and deliver a message, it also comes with many syllabus rules and floor etiquette, or general competition rules. Dancers work hours on end perfecting a choreographed dance. Not only do they have to remember the steps, but their technique throughout their entire dance career. Many people can argue that dance is not a sport because dancers need a judge to prove how talented or skilled they are whereas in, say, soccer, you depend on yourself and teammates to win the match without the presence of a judge. But if you think about it, both soccer and dance incorporate team effort, training and, in the end, there is a scoreboard for either competition. For soccer, the scoreboard determines the points and the games won or lost. It is equivalent to that of a judge. A judge for dance determines how many “points” a dancer deserves based on their performance. Therefore, it is safe to say that all one can find a sport in anything.
A dancer can break a bone just as easily as one can in any other sport. With their intense hourly training and the stretches they have to do, it’s almost guaranteed that it will be easy to break or fracture a part of the body. To those who say “There’s no physical contact in dance,” there are many lifts that include two or more dancers. Although lifts, jumps, and leaps can be done alone, sometimes there is need of assistance from other dancers. In fact, in certain routines, tricks are completely impossible to perform alone. For example, one can not perform a Lindy flip, Frankie snatch, or around-the-world as a solo move. It involves teamwork which many might believe dance to not have. Dance may be visualized as some sort of art alone, but it fits the definition of what a sport is. It goes beyond what a sport can be and how it is performed. Dance is a sport because it is physically demanding and requires coordination, practice, and determination just like any other “sport.”