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Updated on October 17, 2014

The Great Debate!

For years and years, it has been widely debated if dancing should be considered a sport or an art. I outline in an article, "The Beautiful Art of Dance," that it is true that dance is definitely an inspiring form of art. However, many "sport enthusiasts" believe that dancing is not a sport as it is in no way like football, soccer, basketball and so on. The criteria that some critiques give, say that dancing is only an art and not at all a sport.

In this article, Lai Rupe's choreography will break down the four main parallels between dancing and more well known sports to show you, dancing is a sport and an art.

If you look up the definition of Sport, you will find:

Sport /spĂ´rt/: (noun) an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.

If you look up the definition of Dance, you will find:

Dance: (verb) Physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team moves rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps. This can be done as a hobby, professionally, or in competition settings.

By strict definition, it is clear,

Dance is a sport.

But a simple definition won't allow you to understand fully and appreciate the sport of dancing, so Lai Rupe's Choreography is going to break it down for you with the 4 Parallels of Sport and Dance:


1. MOVEMENT! ~ Exploring Parallels of Sport and Dance with Harry Shum Jr.

To the Non-Dancer,

Dancing still somehow tends to not appear as a true sport. Maybe because it is more artistic than any other "sport" some believe this makes dancing an art only. However, Harry Shum Jr., a dancer and director of "Exploring Parallels," outlines the art and sporty aspect that dancing truly has.


The first parallel that shows how dancing is a sport, is the movement involved. As we saw from the definitions of Sport and Dance, we learned that both involve physical exertion and skill with their body and movement to properly execute the needed tasks. Movement with dance is done by expression to try to overcome and be one with the music. In sports, athletes overcome their opponent through competition, with goal of winning.

Both sports and dance take timing, grace, rhythm, and control, and these movements show the parallels between two separated worlds.

2. Exploring Parallels: Grace


Whether you are a ballerina or a biker, there are some similarities that are unable to be overlooked. In both, being in harmony with your "machine" is necessary; this may be considered your bike or the football, the balance beam, or your body. Whatever you are using to complete your excellence is done by gracefully connecting to this center. In all events, the way that you move determines the outcome of your performance.

In sports and in dance, you need core strength to execute all things gracefully. Both can appreciate and complete movements with grace, though it may look a little different the quality of grace is still apparent.

3. Exploring Parallels: Rhythm

3. Rhythm

Dancers move rhythmically to beats, football quarterbacks through with perfect timing, Skateboarders flip with their boards. Rhythm is the ultimate force that combines art and athleticism. A tiny shift in balance and rhythm can drastically change the outcome of the entire move. Neither sports nor dancing would be successful without good rhythm and timing in movement.

You may be catching a beat, or catching the ball, either way, the rhythm is still there.

4. Exploring Parallels: Control


As an athlete, one of the most important qualities to have is control. Control over your mind and body, to ensure that you are able to reach your full potential and perform each movement with perfection.

If a football line-backer looses control in a football game, a flag will be thrown and the opposing team now has a chance for substantial game.

If a dancer loses control, the core movements of their body will fall apart and they will be unable to perform the movements they need to, in order to be good dancers.

Athletes require physical and mental control in order to reach their full potential. Though the type of control may differ, the need does not.

As you learn about these four parallels the idea of dance being a sport will begin to diminish as you realize the similarities are stronger than the differences.

Dance - The most artistic sport.


Have any dance questions, concerns, or topics to discuss? Don't hesitate to reach out to Lai Rupe's Choreography. I am here to spread the beauty of dance.

Also, feel free to check out the article, "The Beautiful ART of Dance," to hear a bit more about the other perspective of dance as both a sport, and an art.

Thanks for your LOVE and Support!

~Alaina (Lai) Rupe

Do YOU Think Dance is a Sport?

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    • abrodech profile image

      Anya Brodech 3 years ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

      First off, let me say great article! Really well written and enjoyable to read. I love all of the comparisons that you made between dancing and other sports and the parallels you drew between them! I think that it was really awesome that you did that and I think that it will start making nondancers take dance more seriously and recognize all of the hardwork and effort that goes into it!

      I feel that since skateboarding, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, and ice skating are all considered "sports" even though they don't fit the traditional notions such as football, soccer, tennis, etc., that dance should be considered a sport as well.

      As a ballroom dancer and teacher, I do agree with Marisa that there are a lot more intangibles that go into dancing than other athletic activities, but since dance competitions with rules and standards have been established to capture these intangibles, then I think it goes to say that dance has already been effectively established as a sport in its own right. Now all we need to do is to get the rest of the world on board with us!


      Anya (Anna Marie) Brodech

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 3 years ago from Sydney

      I don't think dance is a sport, and I think categorising it as such is dangerous. That's because calling it a sport places all the emphasis on the physical movements of dance, and therefore on technique. What about musicality, expression, characterisation?

      I prefer George Balanchine's definition of dance - "dance is music made visible". Using that definition, sport and dance are worlds apart.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 3 years ago from Andalusia

      Interesting comparisons. Is water ballet art? What about ice skating? Verbal language cannot describe the overlapping nature of physical cultural activities. As shown in your excellent videos, body language on the other hand, sums up all lengthy verbal analysis.

      Keep dancing/sporting/making art.