Is Dance a Sport? Probably worth discussing…

Posted by legacyballet Posted in Studio News and Events

I was recently asked again, “So, Miss Heather, do you think dance is a sport?” When I answer, I quickly end up having to list my reasons why I answer the way I do to someone who is quite offended and shocked at my response. So, I thought it might be worth posting my thoughts about this, hopefully without offending anyone.

Here is why: I believe dance is an art form, that has been a part of human culture, ceremony, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since before anyone can remember.  Look it up, there are even prehistoric archeologists finding traces of dance in Egyptian tomb paintings as far back as c. 3300 BC.  Yep, I said it.  I believe dancers are artists with athletic bodies that use their athletic bodies as their medium for their art form. Just because they are committing hours upon hours of work to their art form which then develops the beautiful athletic bodies we see of dancers today, does not make it a sport. In fact, I question why is calling it an art versus a sport so offensive? Why are we trying to argue to make it a sport, when it should be just as glorious as an art? Do we really put sports culturally that much “above” art?

Now, here come the arguments back to me, “My dancer participates in dance competitions, and is on dance team at school, I see how hard she works, she is more fit than a football player, it IS a sport.” Yes, I know many dancers today participate in dance in a competitive form, even the dancers at Legacy Ballet do, and I believe they deserve an insane amount of applause for their intense level of commitment, to their art. My thought is, yes your dancer is on a team…a team of artists, who take their art to competition. Another argument I’ve heard is, “Well, it can’t be a competition unless it is a sport.” I’m sure photographers, chefs, pastry chefs, painters, singers, (my list could go on) disagree as they compete in their arts.  Their mediums (the material used by an artist) is just different than a dancers, it is not their own physical body, it is photography, food, desserts, canvas paintings, their voice. Ask yourself, do you consider any of those a sport?

I hope you are not offended. Remember, my intention was as a dancer, dance instructor, and dance studio owner share how I feel about calling dance a sport. If you are, my question to you is why? Do you ever wonder how professional dancers with their defined athletic bodies, who spend hours upon hours perfecting their method of expressing themselves entirely to an audience in a theater feel about you calling it a sport versus an art? I do.  In fact, I think we need to question why our society thinks less of something as an art, versus a sport.



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  1. Tiffany

    August 3, 2017 - Reply

    ABSOLUTELY!!!!! It is judged and points are scored just like amy other sport. Let’s not get going on the amount of training that these dancers put themselves through for a few mimutes on stage at a time. It is all about control of your body, every single last part of it. It takes time and a whole lot of dedication to do what these dancers do on a daily basis. To be an athlete is not just playing a sport that involves a bat or ball, it means putting the time and dedication, love, blood, sweat, and tears. The definition of an athlete is someone who is trained or skilled in excercises sports or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina. That, to me at least, defines a dancer to the “T”!

    • legacyballet

      August 4, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Tiffany! I understand in certain situations that dance is judged and points are scored, but this is only in certain situations. There are many other times dance is not scored. I guess the point I’m trying to make is why are some dancers limiting what they put into their art by defining it only as a sport? Is it due to society’s way of making sports so acceptable to participate in, but not other things? A friend said it really well, “Dance, to me, ought to be revered. It should be studied and parsed out as fully as possible. Dance ought to be as inclusive of a venture as nothing before it, and it ought to drive people to work towards achieving something greater than themselves. Athletics, sports, arts–dance transcends them all.” – Samuel Hobbs
      Remember, colleges offer educational programs leading to degrees in Dance, usually leaning into the Theater and Performing Arts departments, while the same colleges offering different programs and degrees in Exercise and Sports Science. I want our dancers to see a bigger picture of dance, more of its history, and more of its possibilities. – Heather

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