Many people don’t consider dance to be a sport because of the frilly costumes and the artistic aspects. However, the definition of a sport according to Webster’s dictionary is “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.” Dance is in fact an
athletic activity, it requires skill, and is very competitive. The International Olympic Committee even recognizes dance as a sport, yet we don’t see it on TV at the Olympics. Despite opposition to giving dance the title of a sport, dancers are probably some of the most athletic people in the world.
Dance is very physically engaging. It requires hours of training, every day for weeks on end, for multiple years in order to achieve professional status. It takes a lot of hard work to take such strenuous movements and make them look graceful. Kinesiologist Dr. Jill McNitt-Gray has observed many dancers throughout the years and has noticed that they can move their feet up to fifteen miles per hour and turn over one hundred times per minute. They have extremely strong core muscles for turning, leg muscles for leaping and extensions, and arms muscles for lifting their partners, just to name a few examples. Dancers exert force in all parts of their body, which is contrary to how most athletes move. Many athletes who participate in other sports take dance classes to enhance flexibility and agility. Dance also requires a strong mental capacity in order to remember choreography and transition from movement to movement.
A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compares professional ballet dancers to other athletes in terms of their physical abilities. Dancers tended to have more aerobic capacity, higher muscular endurance because of their ability to jump very high, a higher endurance for spending longer periods of time working their muscles, higher flexibility, and better agility. Therefore, dancers are right up their ability-wise with football and baseball players, but much less attention.