Is Dance a Sport? (Yes…And Here’s Why!)

Dance is obviously a form of art which is both beautiful and entertaining for all who observe and participate in it.  However, the question always arises as to whether dance is a sport or not.  I believe that some of the reasons people have for not classifying dance as a sport are because of its graceful nature.  It’s true that a lot of dance is focused on the artistic aspect.  Many artists create choreography so they can have dancers perform pieces in front of audiences.  Most of the time, choreographers want their pieces to look beautiful and appealing.  Their work can even be interpreted differently depending on the viewer.  All of these are elements that make dance an art form. 

Dance is most often recognized as an art, but can also be considered a sport; it is even a sport that requires rigorous training.  Hear are some reasons why dance can be can be so much more than art and why dancers are dedicated athletes:


It’s Competitive

Dance doesn’t always have to be competitive, but there are competitions that take place all over the world!  Dancers compete everywhere and anywhere in a variety of different styles, including ballroom.  In fact, Dancesport is another name for competitive ballroom dancing.  Dancesport events are regulated by national and international organizations such as the World Dancesport Federation (WDSF) and The National Dance Council of America (NDCA).  Much like gymnastics or figure skating, dancers who compete are scored on multiple elements such as technique and execution.  Ballroom dancers are even given a set of approved figures that they can do in their competition routines.  There are also penalties, meaning dancers can risk losing points for doing moves that are not approved.  And of course, no sport would be complete without fans and a cheering section!  You will always find supporters and fans of dancers excitedly rooting for their favorites at competitions.  Shouting and rooting for dancers may not be something you would do at a ballet, but it is highly encouraged at these competitions!


It’s Athletic and Requires Practice

Soccer players have to train before games to be able to run on the field for long periods of time.  Swimmers have to be prepared to do multiple laps without getting too winded.  Similarly, dancers have to condition themselves to dance for long periods of time.  The best way for them to do this is by training and conditioning consistently.  There are certain exercises dancers can do to prepare themselves for times when they will be dancing non-stop (like performances or competitions), but the best way is through constant practice and rehearsal.  Many dancers will be in the studio 5 or 7 hours per day, working on routines and certain techniques.  Some may even spend more time practicing if they are highly competitive or working on important performances.

An athlete is a person trained or gifted in contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength.  Dancers are athletes according to this definition because they meet all of the criteria.  A professional or competitive dancer must have some amount of agility and strength in order to excel in their craft.  While in rehearsal, dancers end up working out many different muscle groups which helps build their overall strength and stamina.  In fact, dance can be considered a full-body workout since dancers are constantly on their feet, moving around all different parts of their bodies.  All the conditioning and practicing that dancers do ultimately helps prepare them to perform their best when they are on stage. 


It Involves Technique

 ­­There are certain ways to effectively shoot a free-throw in basketball.  There is a certain way you should hold a hockey stick in order to ensure you make a goal.  Likewise, dance has multiple techniques you need to use in order to execute certain steps correctly.  You may have observed some dancers performing intense movements such as turns, leaps, or kicks (maybe even the occasional split, too).  Not every person can go out and try these moves without a foundation or proper instruction first.  This is why it’s important for most dancers to have a trained professional show them how to execute certain figures.  Dance instructors are like coaches that train you and fix your technique so that you look your best and dance as smoothly as possible.  These techniques are also important if you want to avoid getting hurt.  And speaking of such…


You Have to Stretch and Be Cautious of Injuries

 If you get injured while playing a sport, it can be a big inconvenience.  Players who hurt themselves could be out for weeks or even months.  Dance can have similar repercussions when it comes to injuries.  If a dancer gets hurt, they could risk not being able to dance for a while, which can stop their progress or even halt their careers.  They could end up not competing or performing in important events.  In order to prevent injuries that stop you from participating in your sport, you have to make sure you’re stretching out the appropriate muscles that you use while you are engaged in that activity.  Hamstring, quad, and other types of leg injuries are common in the dance community, so dancers will often do leg stretches to warm up before doing high-intensity work.  In addition to stretching, dancers can also do conditioning or strength exercises that can reduce the chance of injury.  For instance – ankle-strengthening exercises are good for dancers since they generally need strong or stable ankles in order to do certain movements.

If an athlete does end up getting hurt, they have to carefully treat their injuries so that they can heal as quickly as possible.  Most have a trainer or physical therapist to help with their recovery.  Dancers also have to take special care when they get injured and some even have to seek out physical therapy.  As with any sport, they have to gradually ease themselves back into their normal routines and schedules.  Jumping right back into rehearsal too soon after an injury can completely reverse the healing that a dancer as gone thorough.


Overall, a sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”  Based on the points provided earlier, dance certainly can be categorized as a sport, but it is also so much more than that.  Many other sports have social aspects to them.  People join sports groups just to have fun and make friends without prioritizing the competitive or athletic aspect.  There is definitely a large community of dancers that enjoy dancing socially and just for fun.  This aspect of dance is just as important as the competitive.

Dance is also unique from other sports because at the end of the day, it can still be a beautiful art form.  Even at a competition, you can still observe the artistry of dancers.  By now, there is no doubt that it requires a great amount of physical exertion, but it’s also capable of tapping into an audience’s emotions to make them feel a specific way.  There is also some amount of creativity that has to go into the creation of a dance, and choreographers usually focus on movements and visuals that are aesthetically pleasing.  All in all, when thinking about dance, it’s best to consider that it is special.  It is both an art and a sport.

Happy Dancing! ^_^