For Parents

Is Dance a Sport, or an Art? Tackling the Tricky Questions

11:11 AM

I cannot tell you how often this comes up. And boy, people love to argue about this one! There are some very strong opinions. Although personally, I have an opinion on the matter, I thought I'd break down my thoughts, define my terms, and maybe shed some light on the topic.

dance, art, sport

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First, we need to define our terms. 

Sport: Whether done as a team or individually, a participant has a clear win or lose at the end of their event based on their performance. Sometimes a score replaces the black-and-white win or lose, or a ranking is made clear. But the consistent aspect is competition.


Art: a work, expression, or creation designed with the pure purpose of creating emotion, feeling, expression, beauty, pain, or to be thought-provoking. Art is created by the artist with a clear emotional intention. Sometimes that intention is simply to be beautiful, while other times it's to make the viewers think or feel something. The consistent aspect is creating an expression for a purpose. 


There are, of course, aspects to both of these that are similar; performance, hard work, practice, repetition, perseverance, thoughtfulness, planning ahead, teamwork, research, etc. These aspects to not define whether something is an art or a sport. Math takes a lot of the same aspects, as does memorizing a poem. 

Dance is thrown around between these definitions, bounced back and forth from one side to another like a tennis ball. Is it one or the other? Is it both?

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I personally believe that some people perform and study dance as an art, while others perform and study it as a sport, and some have found the middle ground where they have both. The key is your intention

A great example of dance being a sport is a competition. Dancers perform artistically, still with the intention and desire to be thought-provoking, bring out emotion, and be beautiful, but there is a difference of intention. Some dancers go with the intention of winning a trophy, a scholarship, or an invitation. Others go for performance experience and opportunity. Some find a middle ground where these two intentions feed off of each other. 

An example of dance being an art is a production, such as a gala, a ballet, or a performance at a festival. There is no winning or losing, just working as hard as you can to create the vision that you, your director, choreographer, and the whole team are trying to create.  

Is one more valuable or important than the other? Of course not. We put our kids in dance, music, art, sports, and clubs for the same reason; to teach them lifelong skills, give them friendships, teach them to communicate and learn, give them exercise, and to teach an appreciation for things bigger than themselves. Dance fulfills these requirements in both the sport and art world. Soccer and chess club do as well!

Back to the question: is dance a sport or an art?

You decide what it is for you. Decide what you want out of it, where you want to go with it, what you take from it, what you give it, and how you use it. It can be one, the other, or both; and neither is the right or wrong answer. It's all about you

So next time someone asks, just say, "For me, it's a _______," and explain yourself. Let them explain themselves. That's the beautiful thing about it; You may both be doing the same steps for different reasons, and getting different things out of it. That's not bad, it's valuable, because now you have a deeper understanding of the steps themselves, and of your friend.

Stay strong, don't get hurt, and happy dancing!

This is the first article of a new series I'm working on called Tackling the Tricky Questions. Keep your eyes open for the rest of the series!

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