Is dance a sport & should dancers be considered athletes?
Dance as a sport....
Is dance a sport? Ask any dancer & you will get a resounding YES!!! Others argue that dance is an art & therefore should not be considered a sport. In order to fully answer this question we must first look at the definitions of both sports & dance.
Sport - an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.
Dance - to move rhythmically usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps & gestures.
At first glance one seems to have nothing to do with the other but lets dig deeper into the lives of dancers & athletes & compare the two.
Sports involve competition. Whether it be individuals competing against each other (as in tennis or gymnastics) or teams there is always a winner or loser in any sporting event. Well...what about the world of competitive dance? Ballroom dance competitions are HUGE!! They have been around forever. Couples compete in waltz, foxtrot, tango, & swing (to name a few). They are scored on poise, body alignment, expression, musicality, & posture by a panel of experts. Also - dance competitions are big among children's dance schools as well as high school & colleges. Again - individuals as well as teams compete against each other for the top medals in jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, musical theater etc. Dance = Sport....I think so!!
Now lets compare an athlete training for a "sport" & a dancer training for "dance". How different are they? Being a BIG Yankees fan I'll compare a baseball player's practice schedule to that of a dancer. Obviously baseball players work very hard. Training officially begins in January with the start of spring training. Although I think you will find most players continue their work out routines all year. To be the best you can't afford to slack off!! Besides the obvious batting & fielding practice they are in the gym working to keep their bodies in top shape.
The same goes for dancers. When I was dancing professionally I was training 5-7 days a week. Besides taking dance classes to keep up my technique I was in the gym working to build up my stamina, muscle tone & strength. A typical jazz or contemporary class involve stretching & conditioning exercises. Sit-ups & push-ups are a mandatory part of class! Not just your average 1-2 minute a workout.. We are talking a good 10-15 minutes of abs & arms. Then you still have another hour and fifteen minutes to go. Now multiple that by 2 sometimes 3 classes a day. Add in gym time & rehearsals & most of your day is spent working out. Your body is your tool & you need to keep it in top shape for a long career. Just like any athlete.
The toll dance takes on your body is a hard one. Most professional dancers will sustain some sort of injury during their career that will require therapy & possibly surgery. Many dancers have knee & hip replacement surgery in their future. To say that what they do is not athletic is unfair. On top of all the physicality involved a dancer must make the steps look easy & perform them with a smile on their face. Dance is a beautiful sport & the dancers are beautiful, inspiring athletes!
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