Dance - a sport?
Whether dance should remain in the performing arts or be truly considered a sport has been the subject of debate for a lot of dancers and organizations for a while now.
In my opinion and based on my experience, dance is an art form but it should definitely not be excluded from being considered a sport in international sports organizations. Dancers can be considered athletes too. When I was competing full time, I trained hard similar to other athletes in other sports. I talked about My Training with the Terminator in a previous post which showed my daily routine as a dance athlete.
Dancing requires so much physical and mental training. Aside from spending hours in the studio, I needed to support my dancing with cross-training such as Gymnastics, Plyometrics, Gyrotonic, Pilates and Yoga. It requires a lot of discipline with having a strict diet (no carbs, no alcohol) a month before the competition. And on the day of the competition, you have a whole day of elimination rounds which culminates in the Finals which usually ends at midnight.
According to an article in the Boston Globe: “There's no doubt it can be physically taxing. The muscle exertion and breathing rates of competitors in a two-minute ballroom dance were equal to those of cyclists, swimmers, and an Olympic 800 meter runner over the same period of time, according to a 1986 study at the University of Freiburg, Germany.”
Before I turned professional and moved to Singapore, I was actually part of the Philippine Team (under the Philippine Sports Commission) and was receiving support from the government as an elite athlete after being a medalist in the South East Asian Games (SEA Games). Check out My Journey to the SEA Games Medal in a previous post.
It would be beneficial too for the dancers themselves if DanceSport does get to the Olympics. Not only will dancers get more business due to the added recognition of the craft, professional dance athletes can finally have a shot at getting sponsorship from big sports brands and others.
Road to the Olympics
So there’s no doubt dance is a sport. In fact, the General Association of International Sports Federations (SportAccord) and the International Olympic Committee thinks so. Both organizations have accredited World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) as a member organization and therefore eligible to the Olympic programme.
Because of this, DanceSport has been included in numerous sporting events which will hopefully pave the way for its inclusion in the Olympics. I have been very fortunate to take part of these events during my days as a Philippine athlete.
Asian Indoor Games 2007 in Macau
Asian Games 2010 in Guangzhou, China
Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2005 in Cebu, Philippines
And now, WDSF has already submitted an application for DanceSport to be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Exciting news for everyone in the dance world and definitely one I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, the application was not successful which left me wondering if this had something to do with DanceSport's judging/scoring system still not being completely objective. After all, the Olympics is supposed to be "Fastest, highest, strongest". And without an objective, clear cut scoring system, might this have made the application unsuccessful?
The WDSF has promised to improve the scoring system and still keep pushing forward with achieving the goal of DanceSport becoming an established Olympic medal sport having their eyes set on the Olympics in 2024.
Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure. If DanceSport does get into the Olympics, it’ll be the only sport where athletes dress to kill. ;)