Del BeneFifty sit-ups. Triple pirouettes. The biggest leap of your life. Performing in front of hundreds of people and professional judges. Intense feet and leg drills. Walking out of practice after five hours, coming home to endless amounts of homework.

This is the life of a competitive dancer. I have been one for six years, training in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, lyrical, pointe, tap and tumbling. Being a competitive dancer involves dedication, passion, flexibility, extraordinary technique, good comprehension for picking up choreography, courage to perform onstage and time.

When you hear the word dance, what do you think? Maybe you picture ballerinas spinning and leaping. Do you also think of a sport that requires long hours of perfecting a number of leaps and turns, all of which include an extreme amount of flexibility and challenging moves.

There are many controversies on whether dance is a sport or not. The Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.” Experiencing a dance class, depending on the style, involves core training, technique strengthening in the feet and arms, balancing exercises, deep stretching of the legs and back and drills for leap and turning sequences.

Being part of a dance team includes traveling to different competitions to compete against hundreds or thousands of dancers all around the world who all have the same goal: to win. In sports — a softball tournament, for example — you compete to win first, second or third place. This is the same setup as a dance competition. However, there are different categories the competitive dance can be placed in, unlike other sports.

So, a sport is something that involves physical exertion in which an individual or team competes against another or others. Softball and dance both involve either a team or individual against others; so why are people so certain that dance is not a sport, but rather an art? I strongly disagree with that statement.

Webster’s Dictionary defines art as “quality, production, expression or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance.”

I definitely agree that dance is without a doubt both an art and a sport; it fits the definition of both. Yet the definition of art does not include the use of physical activity. It is understandable that a person may think dance isn’t a sport because there is no running or throwing involved, as in most other sports.

Any sport, including dance, requires the participant to be dedicated and motivated to improve. So when people say that dance, or even pingpong, is not a sport, aren’t they implying that participants are not dedicated to their activity, not competing against others and not challenged by the physical activity involved?

My intention isn’t to convince you that dance is a sport, or that it’s the best sport to participate in. Rather, I urge you to really take into account what really goes into the end result, instead of making judgments on something just by the looks of it or any previous knowledge you may have. I really hope you consider the facts from this article and agree that dance is most definitely both a sport and an art.

Jacqueline Del Bene is a sophomore at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.

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