Why Dance Isn't A Sport

Why Dance Isn't A Sport

Sports and dance both require a huge degree of endurance, athleticism, and strength. However once delving deeper in understanding different representations of dance, we realize that sports and dance are far different from one another. This brings to light the question of if dance is a sport?

I remember going to see a ballet or dance performance as a young child and being so inspired that the second I got home I wanted to try to mimic the dance moves I saw. I saw the dancers execute turns and leaps so gracefully on stage. I remember struggling very hard as I attempted to lift my leg to the side. How could it be so difficult when the dancers made it look so easy and effortless?

This brings me to my first example, dance requires performance and acting. Yes, one could say that basketball players perform on the court. But they do not have to smile while doing it. Often times dancers have blisters all over their feet from point shoes or a pulled muscle, but the show must go on and their job is to perform their role. If a ballerina falls down, she gets back up pretending like nothing happened with a smile on her face even if it really hurt or possibly caused an injury. When is the last time you saw a soccer player, football player, or tennis player hurt themselves and get up quickly with a smile? Dancers in many ballets or performances require much more than just smiling. Arguably one of the most emotionally difficult lead ballet roles is the role of Giselle in the ballet Giselle. Giselle is a beautiful white ballet in which a young girl falls in love with a prince, only to find out he is engaged to be married. She as she weeps pulls out her hair from her ballet bun and falls down, dying of a broken heart. Storytelling is a big part of being a dancer.  

Which brings me to my next point of artistry. Art is the creation of something in reflection of emotions or ideas. In dance, artistry is many things. Artistry can be the emotional connection a dancer is making with the movements that is translated to the audience. Artistry can also be reflected in the innovation of choreography; something so creative or a new way of approaching movement. 

Next is the historical representations of dance. Ballet started with court dances, a social pastime that then formed into entertainment for the wealthy and the aristocrats. But as dance traveled through time it morphed into reflections of culture not only for the rich. As music progressed into different styles so did dance. When music wasn't available dancers created their own by use of their feet for example tap dance or classical east indian dance. 

In recent years there has been a shift into making dance quantifiable through judges scoring creating a ranking system. Giving points based on technical skill, difficulty of choreography, and performance just to name a few. This has molded dance into seeming like a sport because many sports are scored by judges rather than watched over by referees. However, there is no universal scoring procedure for dance, unlike gymnastics or diving. Rather dance ranks and scores differ greatly depending on the television show or competition.

In many ways dance will always be compared to sports due to its physical nature, but will always be set apart by its performance, emotional connection to the movement and audience, artistry, and its history through time.