Courtesy of Zoey Phillips
When junior Zoey Phillips takes the stage, her hours of hard work, training and rehearsal are shown in her performance. Everything about her performance is perfect, from her movements to how her fingers are pointed. The spotlight shines, the music plays and she begins her dance.
The argument of what qualifies as a sport has been going on for years, whether it be for cheerleading or golf, but many people often neglect to call dance a sport. For many dancers, dancing can be considered a form of art that requires work ethic, technique and skill. Each performance requires numerous hours of long, hard practices to prepare shows that look flawless.
“Dance is an art form that requires skill and brain power,” said Phillips, a ballerina of 12 years. “Dancers have to activate almost every muscle just go stand, we have to put our body into positions that go against our nature, memorize choreography, wear your uncomfortable outfits and look graceful and effortless to our audience.”
However, before they can perform, an extreme amount of training and rehearsal must take place to prepare them for their show. This can range from physical training to countless hours in the dance studio practicing the same numbers over and over again.
“I train like any other hard-core athlete,” Phillips said. “At my studio, we have a private trainer with TRX, [total body resistance exercise] but in addition to strength and endurance training, we also have to focus on flexibility.”
Dance is a sport that is based on years of experience. Most dancers start at a young age, learning the basics and discovering their passion, but it only escalates from there.
“I started at a very beginner level doing ballet at ages 4 and 5, but my ballet education didn’t increase that much further after that,” said junior, tap dancer Sophie Ille. “I started jazz when I was 6, which I did until I was about 13. When I was 10, my jazz teacher suggested that I start another kind of dance just because she saw progress in me. Then, I started tap.”
Like other sports, dance requires muscle and cardio conditioning. For a dancer, a short two-minute performance can be just like running a sprint like a football player might do. Some even believe that dance is more difficult than other sports.
“I usually don’t get involved in the arguments because you cannot truly understand the complexity of ballet if you are not a ballerina,” said Phillips. “It is not even worth explaining. Let’s say a super athletic, I don’t know, maybe football player, tried to take one of my classes; I doubt they would be able to get through it.”
Others agree that dance is both a form of art and a sport because of its intense need for athleticism.
“I know that to be a dancer, you have to have a certain amount of strength and really just have to practice,” said junior Emilia Gustafson. “Personally, I view something as a sport if it takes practice to get good at. It is an art too, but I also think it’s a sport. It’s a form of art because you’re using your body to move and express yourself in some way but I still think it is still physically a sport.”
While other sports may have uniforms, dancers have costumes. While other sports have cleats, dancers have pointe shoes. While other sports have games, dancers have recitals.
“Personally, I think that dance relates to sports more than other people would’ve realized. It’s just a different way of doing things,” said Gustafson. “Instead of a game, a dancer has a performance and just like on sports teams, they’re constantly preparing and practicing for this great ending event.”
Dance is commonly misunderstood. Many people believe that anyone can do it just by attempting to imitate the continuous gesture made on stage and neglecting the hours of dedication put into each individual performance.
“People tend to say that anyone can dance and it’s downplayed a lot,” Phillips said. “They don’t really understand the work ethic that went into it.”
However, others tend to disagree, arguing that dance isn’t a sport, rather an art form.
“I wouldn’t consider dance a sport, personally, because I’m not a competitive dancer, but it does take an incredible amount of strength and technique,” said Ille. “It’s something that I’d view more as an art.”
While some may believe agree with Ille, others still argue dance is a sport.
“I think dance is definitely a sport because it requires skill, hard work, practice, and physical activity. Every sport that I can think of requires those things, even curling and speed-walking,” said junior Andre Myette. “I also think it is important to recognize dance as a sport because it does require those things and it is also very cultural, fun, and popular. There are tons of different styles of dance and different countries and ethnic groups have a variety of beautiful unique dances.”
This story was originally published on Nexus on February 26, 2020.