Sports vs. Dance

Since I have had many athletes in my Dance 6 classes over the past few semesters, I keep come back to the recurring idea that athletics and dance share quite a few similarities. First, the human body is the main instrument by which feats of strength, flexibility, dexterity and control are demonstrated. Secondly, for those who move, there are amazing benefits that come from practicing and mastering the various physical skills inherent in athletics/dance – increased health, physically & mentally, and the “flow” or endorphin high that comes from pushing your body and going to your “edge” (as we like to say in yoga). For the viewer, there are benefits as well – the kinesthetic empathy that comes from watching someone push themselves, or the thrill of seeing a complex series of movements executed well. But, if athletics & dance share so much, why isn’t there more crossover in terms of appreciation of athletics & dance? Ask almost anyone on the street, and I’ll bet they’ve heard of Peyton Manning, but Mark Morris is not even a blip on their radar screen. Is it that most people have attended some kind of sporting event in their lifetime, but so few have the opportunity to go to a dance concert? What is it?
Well, let me give you the reason via one of my trusteed colleagues:
A sporting event is easy to understand – after all, there is a clear cut winner at the end, even if there is some kind of disputed call or questionable play – the final score is the end of the story. Watch the last 10 minutes of any sporting event (or 10 seconds if it’s some kind of race) – the outcome is clear.  I look forward to your reactions to this post…

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17 thoughts on “Sports vs. Dance

  1. As a dancer and someone who is generally athletic this is a concept that I have struggled with. I feel like overall it has more to do with the lack of understanding and acceptance about ones own sexuality and even ones desire to understand. Rarely do I use the word the hate for just the sheer power of the word but I do hate classifications or boxes that society forces us into. Dance is feminem so any man who participates must be confused or gay. With the lack of understanding about homosexuality it is no surprise why one would just categorize dance as such, want nothing to do with it, and move on. I refuse to believe that with the thousands of professional athletes out there none of them are gay, don’t ask don’t tell. Until we are ready to deal with fears and misunderstandings about sexuality there will always be a division of those who are “men and do manly things” and the rest of us weirdos.
    peace and love

  2. To me it just boils down to society accepts and looks higher to sports then it does to the arts. From when were little, sports are shoved down our throats. How many characters on a kids television show are auditioning for a dance recital. I’ve definitely seen more tv shows with the main character being involved in some kind of sport. With that, we grow up not really knowing what “art” is.I know I never learned about music until 7th grade, and dance until 10th grade, since it was never really the focus in society. As kids were only aware of whats out there, by what were taught. So men, were introduced more to sports because thats what we need to participate in to be accepted into society. Women seem to be pushed more towards cheerleading, or a sport along the lines of swim,softball,soccer etc. Those are the roles that are even produced on television shows. Once dance starts being introduced at a younger age, i think names like Martha Graham, and Mark Morris will be more familiar because we will just have more knowledge about this art form.

  3. I think that there is more focus on sports than dance because of the gender roles which exists in the family. At an early age, young girls are exposed to dance while young boys are exposed to sports (little league play for basketball, football and baseball). Young boys are encouraged to become athletes with hopes of obtaining sport scholarships to attend college. The ultimate goal would be to become a professional athlete. Young girls are encouraged to become independent by learning how to take care of a family. At the same time, young girls are encouraged to get an education so that they can contribute to the household. So, even though they were initially exposed to dance (or some other form of art), this exposure appears to have been limited to childhood and may not be fostered throughout their teenage years as are sports.

    • Kevin & Luis & Iliana – Thank you SO MUCH for your comments! I think this topic is fascinating – athletes and athletics are raised to such heights by so many people – players, fans, alumni (if you are talking high school and college athletics) and let’s not forget those who make money of the athletic pursuits of others (coaches, owners, merchandisers and of course legal and illegal gambling!) So – does it all come down to money? As Kevin pointed out, because a scholarship is possible, is athletics is more attractive than the inevitable lack of income if you pursue the arts?

      • I think it is about out how our society is looking at it. Sports, for example, most of every house watch sports game such as base ball, soccer, foot ball etc. Also it is easier to be exposed to people who are not talented in that. However, for me dance is very artistic field that you have to know and understand the concept of artistic movements. I also heard that it is hard to be the top in the dance field. So probably that is also one of the reason why people do not choose to dance than sports. Moreover, we know more athletes than dancers. This means we can feel that athletes are easier(?) to be famous and earn more money than dancers. As you said sports and dance might be similar in moving their body but for me sports is using your body with energy and to win the competition but dance is to show the beautiful movement to people in their performance. I know both is hard, and I am very proud of athletes and dancers in the world.

      • Ha Min – I think you bring up a good point – because there is an artistic expectation of dancers knowing, understanding and responding to the aesthetic values of art, dancers/artists have more at stake when creating work. With sports, the expectation is to win. Period. Thanks for your comments!

  4. I think dance is not famous as sport. I mean that many sports are closed to us. For instance, we watch TV or play some sports, but for dance it doesn’t have many opportunities to do or feel unlike sports. If dance appear on TV more often and know people that it is easy to approach, it would be easy to remember a choreographers’ name.

  5. I agree with Luis Arteaga. I think it’s because of the society. I’ve been learning about various sports, which was martial arts, swim, tennis, etc,. since 7 years old. However, I only had a chance to learn dance as ballet. Even in school curriculum, there was physics class. In the class, all the students had to go outside and experience various kinds of sports. Nonetheless, an art class I had was only about memorizing all the dancer’s names and title on desk for exams. I think we had few chances to learn about dance and art than sports, so people are more familiar to sports and arts. If i had more chance to know about art, I would be more into art than sports.

  6. I agree with, “A sporting event is easy to understand – after all, there is a clear cut winner at the end, even if there is some kind of disputed call or questionable play – the final score is the end of the story.” Most sporting events, the sport just comes naturally to them like they grew up watching it. Maybe if the person(s) in question also watched a dance concert or some form of a performing art growing up they would be interested in the dance concert more than the sports event. I believe it has to do with how the person grew up. If they were involved in a Performing Art, such as I was, then they’re more likely to be interested in that field. However, if they grew up in a sports environment, then they are more likely to be interested in the sports, and what comes naturally to them.

  7. (A.J. Golez)
    Personally speaking, I have been on both sides of these two spectrums at an unprofessional level of experience. I also agree with the shared reasoning by your colleagues. I believe, they share many similar aspect in physical and mental requirements, as well as, discipline (i.e.: training, practices, exercise, etc.) in training the body to function for the demanded activity. For society, they are both a form of entertainment for the spectator and an option for activity or profession for any individual to engage in. But, where they greatly defer from each other is in the style of one’s performance. I think that in dance, there is an added mental factor of control to the body and form when performing; in order to create the smooth and graceful movements. Where as, in sports, the objective is to accumulate points as quickly as possible by demanding one’s body by virtue of the mind to exert more physical and learned abilities of the sport than the opponent or challenging team. As humans, we take pleasure to sports in seeing both a winner and a loser. In dance or a performance, we look at it as a created art and take pleasure in seeing perfection in very controlled movement. These varying points allow them to be polar opposite to one another but yet, drawn together in the physical demand and talent of each owns respected activity. I enjoy them equally in different degrees, as a spectator and a participator in one form or another.

  8. Me personally being a athlete and still pursueing to reach a high level in my performance, I can finally understand how dance can sports have so much in common. But I believe dance is equal to the attention sports recieve. When you say the name Micheal, all that comes to mind is Micheal Jackson and not Micheal Jordan. But also as time change the music and dance culture is going to change. But for everyone to remember the history and the orgin, thats where we start to lose our youth and they become more involved with sports. And as for sports which is always changing with new records, new team unforms, new gear, and all other things that athletes recieve when they have a chance to play a high level of competition. But it is important to show the youth how to dance at a classical level. I’ve learned how to square dance in the fourth grade and never forgot that lesson.

    • Kendall – you bring up an excellent point. Sports statistics ARE constantly changing, even though not much changes conceptually – i.e., someone/team wins, the other person/team loses. With dance (and the arts as a whole) there is no consensus on the end product. Success and beauty are in the eye of the beholder – no clear-cut winners or losers!

  9. Well I think that dance is better in some places than sports but here in America sports are value so much I can see how it’s hard to compete. Well in terms of speculation. I have to agree to disagree with you on the Peyton Manning remark though simply becuase there are girl and guys in this world who has never watched a sporting event. I guess it all matters on your background and how you grew up. If a child grows up only hearing about the great things that happen in the world they wouldn’t even knw about the wars and sicknesses that go on today, same goes for the other way around. I do agree that they have alot of the same similarities though the responsibility of a dancer is very much the same as the responsibilities of an athlete

  10. i strongly agree with the topic only because i am an athlete myself and i find the art of dance to be just as demanding and competative as any sport. dancers along with athletes share a passion for what they do and desire to be the best at it.

  11. toward the post of claire park, i actually found that some dances are in some ways more important than sports . now im not saying people would rather watch a dance than a football game, im just saying each crowd has its own liking, some people enjoy dance more because it inspires them , more than a sporting event would.

  12. I agree with Jessica that “A sporting event is easy to understand – after all, there is a clear cut winner at the end’ sport is around us everywhere we can be for example in most house in the front or back yard you’ll find a place to play basketball or a swimming pool perhaps; moreover, you’ll never find a dance studio in people houses that often. Also sport is repetitive like in soccer there is two team with eleven players and goal keeper and the whole game will be about the respecting the rules with one winner and one loser for whichever soccer game you can watch or play it will always be like that, but when it comes to dance it’s all different, there is no rules. Dance is more about self-esteem and there is no right or wrong dance or no winners unless it’s a battle. Dance it’s a variation of creativity each person got his/her own way to create, dance understand the performers. In sports you don’t need to be involved in order to be interested in it as much as you need to be in dance. Sport you can find it even if you didn’t look for it for example on tv, on the street, on the internet, but dance you need to look for it in order to find it.

    • Virginie –
      I love your statement about no rules – even though there are conventions in every genre and style, they are more like “historical suggestions” – follow them if you wish, but if you don’t, that’s OK, too. I appreciate your comments!

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