Author: alexa lawlor | staff writer
Art form, athletic pursuit, or a combination of both?
It is often debated whether dance is an art form or a sport. As a result, the answer to the debate is often unclear. Artistry is certainly one of the main aspects of dance, and it often leads to people only classifying dance as an art. However, artistry should not, in any way, eliminate dance from being a sport, since it certainly satisfies the requirements of the classification.
An art form usually applies to the creative aspect of the brain. Dance certainly achieves that definition by all the creativity that is required to create choreography, as well as the story behind the choreography. Without this aspect, dance would not be what it is. However, that does not mean that dance should only classify as an art, since that does not incorporate the physical aspect.
A sport is generally defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment” (Oxford English Dictionary). Obviously, dance is a slight exception to the definition, since not every dancer competes in the general sense of the term. Some dancers compete in set competitions, some in auditions for professional schools, and others compete with themselves in order to better their technique. However, looking back at the definition of a sport, every dancer needs tremendous amounts of skill.
In ballet specifically, the style requires a lot of strength and discipline, since certainly not everyone can stand on their toes for hours on end, let alone execute turns, balances, and jumps perfectly at the same time. In order to stand on her toes, a ballerina puts on a special shoe, called a pointe shoe, with only a small platform to stand on which is supporting all of her weight. A ballet dancer requires many years of training in order to build the strength of the ankles up just to be able to wear these shoes. After they get to that point, it takes many more years to perfect more difficult steps while on their toes. As for other styles of dance, although the dancers are not putting all of their weight onto two toes, they still require many years of training and a lot of skill.
For all styles of dance, there is a large amount of physical exertion. Occasionally, when working hard for long periods of time, the physical exertion can be enough to not be able to get up off the floor at the end of the day. This definitely fits in with the definition of a sport, possibly even going beyond that definition. A dancer can also sustain many different injuries due to the large amount of physical exertion required, but most dancers will go on stage and fight through the pain, while still making the dance look effortless, especially if they have a performance coming up.
Overall, the end of the debate is actually quite clear. Why classify dance as either art or sport? Dance is certainly both a physical art form and a sport with very high levels of physical exertion.