Why Dance is an Art AND a Sport
September 13th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
It’s Physical Exertion
Before we can go ahead and say that dance is an art and a sport, let’s clarify the definitions of “art” and “sport”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “sport” is defined as “An activity involving physical exertion and skill, one regulated by set rules or customs in which an individual or team competes against another or others.” The same dictionary defines art as: “Any of various pursuits or occupations in which creative or imaginative skill is applied according to aesthetic principles…” It’s clearly fair to say that dance fits this definition of art, but it’s also safe to say it fits with this definition of sport. Let’s start with the part about “physical exertion.”
Dance is full of the athleticism of sports. For example, did you know that the amount of energy needed to perform a full ballet routine is around the same as the amount of energy needed to play two full football games or run eighteen miles? If that’s not “physical exertion,” I don’t know what is! A dancer needs to be strong, and they need to be strong in every single one of their muscle groups. Dance is a workout, and not an easy one! Dance involves many of the same things that other sports do. This includes (but is not limited to) activities like: stretching, jumping, and running. It takes a lot of strength and skill as a dancer to make what you do look effortless!
…And Takes Skills
Moving on to the “skill” portion of the definition of sport, it’s hard to claim that dance doesn’t take skill in the same way that other sports do. Dancers can do things that some other athletes couldn’t even dream of doing! Just like any sport, dance takes plenty of practice to hone your skills. If someone has put in years and years to dance, it’s fair to say they have as much legitimacy as anyone who’s put the same amount of years into a sport like football.
In fact, the kinds of skills that are needed for a dance form like ballet are very popular with many football players. Many football players have been required to practice ballet as a way to hone their balance, speed, and strength. Steve McLendon, a nose tackle for the New York Jets who has taken dance classes since his senior year of college, claims that dance is “harder than anything else I do.” Those dance skills make all the difference for him on the football field!
So What Do You Mean It’s Not A Sport?
Then of course, there’s the competitive nature of sports. Dance can certainly have aspects of healthy competition here and there. There are dance competitions happening every single day. Audiences often view dance competitions with the same kind of awe and enthusiasm as they do any other sport. If ice dancing can be a category in the Olympics, then any other form of dance might as well apply. Dancing has actually been considered as a category for the Olympics in the past, but it hasn’t made the cut yet. But there’s still speculation that dance could make its premier as an Olympic category in the future, so here’s to hoping!
To be a great dancer, it takes many of the same ingredients as any other sport. Dedication, practice, and athleticism are key. If anyone ever tries to put you down as a dancer by discrediting it as a sport, remember that you can dance circles around them! Remember who you are as a dancer, a fantastic artist AND athletic. Every athlete should take a shot at dancing at least once, and it may be to the benefit of a dancer to try out a new sport as well. There have always been overlaps between these two worlds, so why not try something new? Every dancer should bring the strength of an athlete and the creativity of an artist into each performance.
Aran Abilock is a writer for StarQuest. He loves mac and cheese, theatre, and all things Pokémon!