Should Dance Be in the Olympics?

On Sunday, with the London Olympics in full swing, we posed a question on our Facebook page: “Do you think dance should be added to the Olympics as a sport?” We were overwhelmed not only by the number of responses (for the record: about 55 of you said “yes,” while about 25 said “no”), but also by the amount of time and thought many of you put into your comments. (There was a pretty lively discussion about the subject on Twitter, too.)

Pretty much everyone agreed that dancers are athletes. But is dance a sport? On the “yes” side, several of you argued that dancers in many styles already compete—they’re already judged on theoretically objective criteria. Often, they’re even awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. And top dancers definitely work as hard as Olympians.

On the “no” side, there was a lot of discussion about the subjectivity of artistry. How can you compare a brilliant ballet dancer’s performance to a brilliant street dancer’s performance, for example? They’re artistic and expressive in completely different ways. And  if, in the interest of objectivity, a bunch of “required” dance elements are established, what will that do to dance?

I’ve pasted a few of our favorite comments here. Check out the whole conversation on Facebook (don’t forget to “like” DS!). Then chime in with your own thoughts. We love that you’re all so passionate about dance, and about this subject in particular—we want to hear what you have to say.

Yes, dance should be added to the Olympics:
“Most definitely. Dance is as athletic and requires as much training as other Olympic sports. Dancers are some of the toughest (emotionally and physically) athletes I’ve ever met…and among the must dedicated and hardworking.” —Shannon Hayward

“Some people say that it’s too subjective, but so is gymnastics! Ballet has a technique just like gymnastics. There’s a right and wrong (your feet have to be pointed, your knees have to be locked unless you’re hyperextended, etc.) If competitions like Starpower can judge dance routines, then they should be able to create some kind of a rubric for an Olympic competition.” —Grace Hamilton

“Rhythmic gymnastics is also very artistic, and it is an Olympic sport. I think it is unfair that dancing is not considered a sport by many people. Dance requires as much physical, mental, and emotional discipline as any other sport.” —Taylor Ryne Jackson

“Dancers train their whole lives for their ‘sport.’ It requires crazy talent, commitment , focus and determination to succeed in dance….just like any other Olympic sport.” —Terri Dysart

No, dance shouldn’t be added to the Olympics:
“Yes, dance requires hard work, years of dedication, self discipline, and an understanding of your body that surpasses that of most athletes. But just because you have exceptional technique doesn’t mean you are an amazing dancer. Without passion, love, fearlessness, and a willingness to leave your soul exposed on a stage, dance is empty, void of the most important part of the art form: what the individual brings to it. That is not something you can score or judge based on a point system.” —Eldon L. Johnson

“Dance is an art form. Although dancers must be as strong as athletes, they should never substitute tricks for art. We see far too much of that at various competitions—how many fouettés can you pull off, instead of what story you can tell us through your dance. Skating and gymnastics can be beautiful to watch, but are hamstrung by having to do all those tricks. A dancer can and should be above all, an artist.” —Joan Robinson Borchers

“No. Ballet is extremely athletic, yes, but it requires an artistry that goes beyond objective judging. Also, I like the fact that the lines between athleticism and artistry are blurred in ballet. Ballet should be given the same support and exposure as any other sport, but shouldn’t be judged in the same manner because it is so versatile and loved by people for so many varying reasons.” —Robyn Tye

“I love dance and would love to watch it, but if all of a sudden there were numerous required moves to be able to judge dancers equally, the creative choreography we all love to watch would suffer. I love watching ice skating the most when they can do the moves they want and just let loose, for example.” —Koty Zelinka Cole

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