Dancing is certainly an art form, nobody questions this fact. Now, when it comes to it being a sport there are a lot of arguments for and against the proposition.
There are so many types of sport today that it gets hard to keep up with the details (even gaming/e-sports is in the Olympics). We can watch and practice just about any sport anywhere, with a few exceptions. Is dance a sports (Yes or No)?
Yes, dance is a sport if you follow the definitions of sport being a physical activity with element of skill and competitions with formal rules. Furthermore, breakdancing is an official Olympics sports as of December 2020 and will be awarding medals in Paris Olympics 2024. Dancing clearly meets all our criteria for a sport.
As of 2022, breakdancing is also an official Olympics sports for Paris 2024 after being part of Youth Olympics. This was a surprisingly addition to many given breakdancing does not have major support from association and are made of many small clubs or individuals.
"In my opinion, this is great. People who previously only danced underground can now prove themselves," says Beatz Marco Greawert, founder of Crew Street.
Pole dancing is also being part of consideration in the 2024 Olympics with support from the Global Association of International Sports Federation and International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF).
There are concerns and negative arguments whereby Pole Dancing is an Olympics sport such as:-
- Suitability of Pole Dancing as Youth Sport; and
- The commercialization of Pole Dancing
The media questioned pole dancing can be a professional sport, especially for youth athletes given a negative connotation. We feel the industry and people mindset will change and really view pole dancing positively rather than focused on the usage in some shady entertainment business. This is a similar argument that the Internet is a neutral technology, which good or bad is based on the usage.
Some pole dancers are also concerned that the IPSF's efforts and professionalization will promote pole sports over other forms of pole dance, for example making poling more athletic, standardized, and trick heavy to the neglect of artists (i.e. commercialised). Again, we feel that nothing can stop a true artist from practicing deviant forms of pole dancing. That is a lifestyle choice.
Regardless of the status of pole dancing in the Olympics, let’s go right ahead and share our definitions.
What is a sport
A sport can be defined by four main characteristics. The specifics may change, but all sports are supposed to have these features in common. Let us see what those are.
- Physical Activity
A sport by definition is a physical activity. Perhaps not in the sense that it is a demanding physical activity, although most sports are. More in the sense that you have to use your motor skills, your body to engage in a sport. If we get very specific we could start to get a very broad definition of physical activity. Is a videogame a sport? You move the muscles in your hands, head, and eyes a lot. We do not have an answer in this article for you about this particular question. We are just using it as an example.
- Sports Involve Skills
This is the second part of what defines a sport according to the common use of the word. We can leave our first consideration behind for a moment and focus on this. No matter how much physical activity you engage in while practicing your sport it should involve skill. This is also not a great filter, and here is why. If you think about it you will notice that everything that we do takes skill. Opening a door takes skill. If you wish to go deep into something you can probably do it with anything. Some things are harder to master than others, of course. It is still the case that most things can be done in a skillful way. Defining what skill is in a particular field is no easy task either.
This is a big detail. There is no sport without competition. There has to be a winner and a loser for there to be a sport of any kind. That does not mean direct engagement with the adversary. Many sports have competitors that never even meet. In some of them, you are just competing against the records that they set in a previous time.
None of that matters. The format of the sport is of no consequence. What is important is that there is a clear way to compare performances and choose a clear winner. That brings us to the last point.
Sports have rules. It is the rules that define a sport. There can be no sport without them. They limit the amount and kinds of actions that you can perform in a way that makes it easy for someone that is watching to judge performance and determine a clear winner.
How this definition applies to Dance
We have defined clearly what a sport is in these four different aspects. Now let us see if our definition fits the discipline of dancing.
Dancing is a very demanding physical activity
Very little to analyze here. It is pretty obvious that even the slightest form of dancing involves the body in a demanding way. We have all seen people that claim to be dancing with minimal movement at parties and such. No one would deny that they are moving, even if it is very little. The only way we have to show that we are following a beat other than singing or playing an instrument is by moving our bodies.
Dancing takes a lot of skill
We all know that dancing in a nice way takes practice, coordination, a decent ear, and a few other attributes. Nobody would dare to say that dancing does not take skill, even if they would not venture a definition of skill, we all have this intuition.
There are dancing competitions. That does not mean that dancing is a competition. It actually is not in most cases. Competing in dance is a very specific aspect of dance, it is not always there. We would not say that competition is a foundational aspect of dance, but since it is possible to compete and define clear winners in the discipline we could state that this aspect of our definition is met.
There are a lot of rules for dancing. The basic general ones are shared by all types of dancing, while some more specific ones define a particular style. If you want to dance salsa then there is a very specific set of rules you need to follow. This is the case with any style.
We would not say that dance is just a sport because it is not. Dance is not primarily a sport, but it can be a sporting event. An interesting question we could ask is if we would want or not to define dancing as a sport. We are sure that many dancers would not be interested in such a definition. Dancing is a social activity, an art form, a fitness tool, a sport, and many other things. We do not need to limit it to one of these aspects. Thanks for reading.