By Abby Kent
Everyone has a slightly different definition of sport. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines sport as a physical activity that is done for enjoyment. Most people don’t consider dance a sport because it’s not always competitive and therefore is just an art. However, dance is both a sport and an art for many reasons. It places lots of physical and mental demands on the body, dancers suffer from many injuries, and professional dance is a highly-esteemed career.
Dance is very demanding on the body. For dance even to just be possible, dancers need to have strength, agility, and stamina. Nearly all professional dancers train five or six days a week.
“A dancer in a professional company will usually start the day early with a class to warm up and refine technique,” according to an article on Careerigniter.com. “That would be followed by 4 to 6 hours of rehearsal, a couple hours break, then either a performance or evening class.”
Even young dancers train many hours per week in order to constantly be improving their technique and skills. Most pre-professional ballet dancers practice nine to 12 hours per week. Many dancers choose to get massages or go to physical therapy to recover from the intense work they do. The physical demands placed on a dancer’s body makes dance a sport because other sports have the same amount of demands placed on the athlete’s body.
Dance takes mental strength as well as physical strength. There’s loads of pressure that comes along with dancing, which can be hard to handle, especially in a performance setting. Dancers are taught to look in the mirror everyday and correct themselves; to give themselves notes about their physical appearance. It gets to them, and dancers often develop eating disorders and self-confidence issues. It takes a lot of mental strength to move past that.
While dancing, dancers also have to be thinking about what seems like a thousand things at once. They have to focus on their technique, remember the dance, know where they are in a position and where others are, listen to the music, and count at the same time. Just as football players have to remember plays and focus on what’s actually happening in the game, dancers have to think about many things at one time, too. Football is considered a sport, and football players and dancers both have to have strong mental health, which is why dance should be considered a sport, too.
Dancers get injured a lot. Stopsportsinjuries.org says that dancers are just as susceptible to injuries as football players. For starters, dancers usually begin dancing when they’re about five or six, which makes them prime candidates for overuse injuries. Also contributing to overuse injuries are the extreme flexibility, strength, and endurance that’s needed.
Part of a dancer’s daily routine most likely includes nursing either new or nagging injuries. The worst part is that dancers are expected to dance through those injuries. When they take time off for injuries, their technique and skills are jeopardized. They don’t know if they’ll be at the same level when they return that they were at when they left. On the other hand, dancing through injuries can make them worse and possibly end a dancer’s career forever. All athletes who play sports suffer injuries. Dance should be considered a sport as it causes dancers many injuries.
Being a professional dancer is a highly-esteemed career. It’s very hard to make it in the dance world. For example, in a ballet company the highest level that can be achieved is principal dancer. The lowest level while still being considered an official member of the company is the corps de ballet. In a common ballet, 20 corps de ballet dancers are needed, and only 2 principal dancers. The corps de ballet members want to achieve the highest spot, yet the chances are low.
Dance is also practiced very widely, as is other sports like football. There are major companies in America, Britain, Russia, and Italy, but many, many, others elsewhere in the world. The combination of how hard it is to make it big in the dance world and how widely dance is practiced across the globe makes dance a highly-esteemed career.
Dance is simply a physical activity that’s done for enjoyment. It takes the same amount of blood, sweat, and tears as any other sport, so why isn’t it considered one itself?