A sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment,” according to
Oxford Languages. Why then, is dance not considered a sport?
Despite the competitive nature of dance and the intense hours of training, dancers still continue to fight for other athletes to take them seriously. Dance may not involve the equipment or team that other sports do, but it requires just as much physical strength, skill and practice.
According to Pointe Magazine, students who wish to become professional dancers train anywhere from 15 to 30 hours a week. Many dancers are even homeschooled in order to prioritize their training. Young girls and boys who hope to join companies give up their lives to the art. Just as many other athletes, the lifespan of a professional dancer is short. Students must dedicate themselves fully to the art at a young age in order to make it in the professional world.
Dancers must also follow a strict exercise and nutrition routine in order to maintain their strength and figure. WorldWide Ballet states that the average American ballerina is anywhere from 5 foot 2 inches to 5 foot 8 inches and weighs 85 to 130 lbs. Despite a society of body positivity and acceptance, ballerinas are still forced into the standard of being thin. Professional dancers have to track their food and weight meticulously in order to maintain their physique.
There are many arguments against dance as a sport, but I’ve never understood why. Maybe one doesn’t understand the rigors of the art until they’ve tore a ligament from a misplacement of weight, or they’ve bandaged their bloody, broken feet. Maybe one will never understand until they’ve pushed themselves on stage to the point of tears but have kept a smile on their face.
I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. In high school, I would have practice with my dance team from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and then would immediately drive to my dance studio for class from 6-10 p.m. I have torn ligaments in both my hip and my knee but performed the next day anyways. I pushed myself physically and mentally for years, leaving by body stiff and sore permanently.
Dance is like any other sport. Some are cut out, and some are not. A dancer must have as much physical strength and dedication as any other athlete, but a dancer performs with grace and beauty. Dance may not look like a sport to the common eye, but if you saw what occurred in front of those floor length mirrors, I’m sure you would change your mind.
Sources: Oxford Languages, Point Magazine, WorldWide Ballet