Column: Give dance the respect it deserves

Written by on September 4, 2023

By Lily Roberts / Staff Writer

In a world where sports like soccer, basketball and tennis dominate the spotlight, the art of dance often finds itself on the sidelines, fighting for recognition as a legitimate sport. However, to dismiss dance as anything less than a sport is to underestimate the incredible physical and mental demands it places on its practitioners. I believe dance deserves a place in the world of sports.  

One of the key criteria that define a sport is the physical exertion it demands from athletes, and dance certainly fits the bill. Dancers undergo training to develop strength, flexibility and endurance. From ballet’s graceful leaps to hip-hop’s explosive moves, dancers push their bodies to the limit, often for hours on end. This level of physical conditioning rivals that of many traditional sports.  

Sports typically involve competition, and dance is no exception. Dance competitions, from local events to international championships, are a testament to the competitive nature of the art form. Dancers train intensely to perfect their routines and aim for the highest scores from judges, just like athletes in other sports aim to win games and matches.  

Sports require mental focus and discipline, and dance is no different. Dancers must memorize complex choreography, synchronize with music, and maintain precise timing. The mental fortitude required to execute these elements flawlessly is akin to the concentration needed to sink a crucial free throw or make a split-second decision in a soccer match.  

The risk of injury is another common factor in sports, and dance is no exception. Dancers face a significant risk of sprains, strains, and more serious injuries like stress fractures. They also must cope with the wear and tear on their bodies from constant practice and performances, like athletes in sports like gymnastics or figure skating.  

While many sports are team-oriented, dance often involves teamwork and collaboration on a profound level. Dancers must work seamlessly with their fellow performers to create a unified and visually captivating performance. The level of trust, communication, and coordination required mirrors the teamwork found in sports like synchronized swimming or rowing. 

In sports, performances are often evaluated through judging and scoring systems, and dance is no different. Dance competitions rely on trained judges who assess dancers based on criteria like technique, creativity, and expression. Just as in sports like diving or figure skating, these scores determine the winners.  

Dancers are undoubtedly some of the fittest individuals. They have strong cardiovascular systems, remarkable muscular strength, and superb endurance. To maintain their bodies at peak performance, they often follow strict diet and exercise regimens, similar to athletes in other sports.  

It’s worth noting that certain dance styles, such as ballroom and breakdancing (recently added to the Olympic program), have gained recognition as Olympic sports. This acknowledgment underscores the athletic nature of dance and its place alongside traditional sports on the global stage.  

While dance may not fit the traditional mold of a sport, it undeniably shares many characteristics with athletic endeavors. It demands rigorous physical conditioning, mental discipline, and a competitive spirit. Dancers push their bodies to the limit, train tirelessly, and face injury risks, all in the pursuit of excellence. It’s time we acknowledged dance as more than just an art form; it’s a sport deserving of the recognition and respect that other athletic disciplines receive. 

Lily Roberts is a San Francisco sophomore majoring in Communications and is a member of the KWU Dance team. 


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