Is Dance A Sport? We Think So.


Is Dance A Sport? We Think So.

Raoul Suarez
January 23, 2024
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Dance is often seen as simply a form of entertainment and a way to get in shape, but it is more than that. Did you know that dancing is also an art form?

You can trace it back to ancient civilizations when people used dance as a form of communication and storytelling.

It has the power to entertain and educate. It is also a physical activity that requires skill, precision, and stamina.

Dance has come a long way since its early beginnings. It is currently a popular form of entertainment and self-expression. But the question now is, can dance be considered a sport?

Let's discuss it in this article.

It’s time to put your dancing shoes on and learn more about dance.

What is Dance?

Dance is a form of art that expresses emotions, thoughts, and messages through body movement. It is a physical activity that requires coordination, discipline, and practice.

Dance can be performed solo or in groups, and it has a long history as a form of expression and communication. It is a powerful way to express emotions, tell stories, and connect with others.

Although it is often associated with entertainment and recreation, dance can also be used for ceremonial, religious, or therapeutic purposes.

Waltzing Back to Memory Lane: A History of Dance

Dance has been here for a long, looooong time; so long that its origins of dance date back to the dawn of human civilization.

Archaeological evidence suggests that early humans danced for both practical and spiritual reasons.

The existence of dancing can be traced back to the 9000-year-old cave paintings discovered in India, which depict a variety of hunting, childbirth, religious ceremonies, interments, and most significantly, communal drinking and merry-making.

Egyptian tomb dance painting


Since dancing can't leave any obvious archeological remains, researchers looked for additional hints in written language, stone carvings, paintings, and other comparable artifacts.

As early as the third millennium B.C., the Egyptians have already started in incorporating dance into their religious ceremonies. According to the many tomb paintings that have survived the ages, Egyptian priests used music and dancers to imitate significant occurrences like the tales of gods and the cosmic movement of moving stars and sun to teach their people.

In ancient Greece, the dancing tradition continued as it was done frequently and openly by the general public, and then led to the creation of the famous Greek theater in the 6th century B.C. 

Ancient Greek paintings from the first millennia reveal a wealth of dance activities, most notably those that preceded each Olympian Games. 

Not all of those ancient dance rituals were intended for religious purposes though. Dance was also used for celebration, enjoyment, seduction, and to put individuals in a frenzied state of euphoria by the common people.

The Greeks celebrate Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, and later Roman god Bacchus, dancing and drinking for many days.

Painting of Dionysus - Greek god of wine and ecstasy


The painting from 1400 BC shows a group of ladies with revealing clothing who danced for the wealthy male crowd, with the assistance of numerous musicians.

From medieval times until the birth of the Renaissance, when ballet became a part of the wealthy class, the art of dancing was perfected.

The pre-Renaissance European dance as we now know it did not exist until the beginning of the Renaissance. Spanish, French, and Italian renaissance dances were quickly outdone by Baroque dance, which became immensely popular in French and English courts.

Following the conclusion of the French Revolution, a variety of new dancing types emerged that focused on less restrictive female apparel and encouraged skipping and jumping.

Around 1844, the first international polka craze began, and it soon became even more exuberant. This fad brought us the first sightings of the famous waltz and other similar dances.

After the short period when great ballroom dancers threw up a slew of complex dances, famous ballroom dancers Vernon and Irene Castle came to prominence during the modern-day era of 2-person dance.

Many contemporary dances like Foxtrot, One-Step, Tango, Charleston, Swing, and Postmodern choreography were developed after those early years, and the development of musical culture brought them worldwide appeal.

Dance as an Art Form

Dancing is a unique art form that combines many of the same characteristics as other arts. 

Dancing can exist without music, and it's an art form in its own right.

Here's a closer look at why dancing qualifies as an art form because of its recreational, cultural, and narrative elements.

1. It expresses emotion and mood to tell a story

Dance is often considered an extension of the human body and can be seen as a form of self-expression. The mission of dance is to express a mood and feeling, much like the purpose of art.

Dancing is an excellent method to unwind and be yourself. This is why dancers and choreographers have been noted for their incredible emotions and stage presence.

While the technical aspects of dance control how movements are carried out, the emotional qualities - revealed through facial expressions, steps, and gestures - usually tell stories. 

For example, take a look at this video from the Fitzrovia Youth in Action. The video takes you through different human emotions through body movements.

Emotions expressed through dance

2. Dance is associated with music

Dancing does not have to be accompanied by music, which is, as you know, another form of art. 

However, it is a widespread custom to dance to the beat and melody of living or recorded music.

People who dance can free their minds from getting locked into one favorite genre by exploring dance steps to various other types of music.

Learning ballet, tap, or a wide variety of contemporary dance styles can expand every dancer’s taste beyond art, giving a broader sense of culture and recreation. 

3. Body movement and rhythm connection

Dancing entails moving the body in time with the music. 

This implies learning how to match the rhythms of notes, chords, accented beats, and other noises in a song.

It's critical to understand the dancing fundamentals of timing, such as tempo or beats per minute, time signature, beats per measure, and note value. Music can influence the body's movements and in order to get the flow, you have to have an ear for beats in music.

For example, here is a fun follow along video  from Steezy that can help you find the beat and sound of rhythm. Yes, you don’t need to study in a music conservatory to do this!

How To Find the Beat and Dance on Rhythm (Follow Along!)

It’s like being one with the music, and when this happens, the performance becomes a work of art.

4. Reflection on language, culture, and tradition

Dance is more than just a performance. It can also reflect culture.

Dance can be used in to interpret cultural messages. Today, there are even professional dance classes teaching the intended meaning of ancient dance motions.

For example, here is the Korean Cultural Centre Canada teaching online Ganggangsullae classes.

K-Academy: Online Korean Traditional Dance Class #1 – Ganggangsullae

Ganggangsullae is an ancient Korean dance that combines dancing, singing, and playing. It was used to draw bountiful harvest and was exclusively done by women in ancient times. It’s an important cultural dance in Korea.

Now, even if the audience members cannot interpret these symbolic messages, the dance performance can still be an aesthetic show. This means that dance, like art, doesn't need to be understood to be enjoyed.

Dance as a Sport

When you look a little closer at what dancing entails, you will realize that it meets the broader definition of sports. Dancing is an activity that combines the best of both worlds: the artistic expression of traditional dance with the excitement and competition of a sport.

Here are some of the reasons why dancing is also a sport:

1. Dance needs regular practice

The majority of world-class athletes didn't achieve tremendous overnight success. They generally had to spend a lot of time practicing and doing it very consistently AND frequently. This lesson on consistency in practice applies to dance as well.

Depending on the sort of dance you're practicing, and for what goal, you may need days or weeks to memorize and learn the choreography. These exercises aren't always simple. Professional dance performances can be lengthy and rigorous. It will demand a significant amount of commitment.

Your dancing ability and competence develop with time, thanks to years of practice. Thankfully, it’s not too late to learn if you want to. Dancing can be fun if you have the right mentors and learning environment. 

2. It requires endurance

Dancing, like most sports, requires an extreme amount of endurance. One of the most essential qualities that distinguish great dancers from beginners is endurance. 

Basketball players must play for lengthy periods, and they frequently cover great distances. Players must repeatedly run and swing their rackets during tennis matches. Dancers move around a lot too and they tend to repeat steps and choreographies to perfection.

To perform well on stage, dancing will demand you to practice and execute difficult moves regularly as part of your preparation. If you don’t have stamina to endure this, you’ll end always end up slumping on the floor and gasping for breath.

You don’t call it dance a “routine” for nothing.

3. Dancers need to have the discipline

Want to excel in sports?

Most athletes will tell you that you must invest the following:

✓ Time

✓ Effort

✓ Self-discipline

It’s the same with dancing.

Dancers who want to master their craft and those who wish to enhance their routines must practice regularly and stay intent for quite a long time. Most dancers are engaged in a never-ending battle to maintain and improve what they currently know.

Maintaining this level of excellence for any length of time is remarkable. This is why strong self-discipline is required.

4. Dancing is physically challenging

Most professional routines are challenging.

Maintaining specific postures and performing the dance moves can take a high degree of physical ability and effort.

But hey, some people make dancing look easy, right? Well, the truth is that the easier it looks, the more difficult it is to execute. While it may appear that way to every audience, the amount of physical strain necessary to execute complicated moves is incredible.

Take a quick look at the Rose Adage performance of Marianela Nunez in this video by the Royal Opera House. From 00:36 Marianela Nunez performs the iconic moment when Princess Aurora meets her four suitors. The balance required to pull this off is notoriously difficult!

The Sleeping Beauty – Rose Adage (Marianela Nuñez, The Royal Ballet)

Types of dances you can easily learn

Now that you know more about why it can be considered as a sport, are you ready for the real deal? What I really mean is, are you READY to learn how to dance?

There are all sorts of dances, from traditional ballroom to more modern hip-hop, so there's something for everyone - even for beginners!

Here are some dance types that you can have fun learning:

1. Salsa

Want to imbibe the Latin vibe? Learn Salsa.

The steps are relatively simple, and there is much room for creativity. 

You'll love learning the basics of Salsa dance like posture, turns, combos, arm placements, and of course, the hip movements.

  • Get inspired to learn Salsa and be blown away at the same time. This performance is the right combination of intensity and gracefulness.  Salsa to the tune of “Conga”.
  • Proper counting, bending of knees, shifting of weight, hip shake between mambos. All of these basics to know the real flavor of Salsa dancing. 

Learn Escucha Mi Salsa - Son Habana, Choreography by Aubrey Ares

  • Salsa dance routine with sass, attitude, and beautiful choreography. What a stunner!

2. Contemporary

This type of dance is characterized by its expressive, fluid movements and focus on the dancer’s interpretation of the music.

Contemporary dancers often use techniques from other styles of dance, such as ballet and modern dance.

  • This video will serve you with some good concept, performance, and interpretation. Their dynamic movement is everything. 
  • Creativity. Strength. Grace. Learn how to execute that precise and clean movement without losing passion and emotion in every step.

Learn I Love You - Billie Eilish Choreography by Will Johnstone

  • Power! No other way to describe this routine. You can feel all the emotions and feelings throughout the whole dance. Were you emotional after watching? Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

3. Whacking

It is known for the fast, sharp movements of the arms and legs and often includes various spins and turns.

Whacking can be performed to any type of music but is most commonly associated with funk and hip-hop.

This is a fun and energetic dance that anyone can enjoy.

  • So much talent and stage presence going on in this performance. You will love the variety in their steps, which, by the way, are NOT impossible to learn. 
  • Sync, snap, energy. That’s all you need. Watch and learn their technique, keep practicing, and don’t forget to have fun. 

Learn Missy Elliott's Cool Off choreography by Lorena Valenzuela

  • Undeniable precision and control. This solo Whacking performance is one of the classiest and cleanest you’ll see. 

4. Dancehall

It is a style of Jamaican dance that evolved out of traditional folk dances.

The term "dancehall" refers to the outdoor parties where the dancers would perform.

This new dance style is often characterized by fast movements, suggestive gestures, and close physical contact.

While some people view dancehall as a form of exploitation, others see it as a positive expression of Jamaican culture. 

  • The energy of this dance is so contagious that you would want to dance with her all day. You must love the dance steps and the music mix, too
  • Nothing but feel-good moves and grooves from this dance video. Get ready for a lot of hops and celebratory moves. Don’t forget to invite your friends to dance and party with you.

Learn Pon De River choreography by Jason Facey

  • They nailed it. Their facial expressions and energy are just something else. I bet you’ll search for Jamaican dance mixes after watching this. 

5. Jazz 

Jazz dance is known for its expressive and dynamic movements and its improvisational nature. It is known by high energy and fast-paced movements, but you can also perform it in a more relaxed and smooth way.

  • Short but sweet. You’ll be obsessed with the on-point choreography of this one. Try seeing this, and you’ll be hitting that replay button over and over. 
  • Smooth? Yes. Catchy? Yes. There’s no better way to start your Jazz dancing journey than this one. Check this out now. You’ll thank me later. 

. Learn Jessie J's Domino choreography by Kayla Brenda

  • What a way to display artistry! This is the kind of mastery you’ll want as a dancer. All hail to these dancing queens. 

6. Breakdancing

This type of dance is known for its flashy, acrobatic moves and its fusion of various dance styles such as hip hop, popping, and locking. Breakdancers often perform in public spaces such as parks or streets. They usually show their mind-bending moves, which is an impressive display of their athleticism and artistry.

  • Crazy display of floor works and freezes. These guys will take to another level of breakdancing. 
  • You’re up for some innovative style of breakdancing and a fresh take on choreography. It will take some of your extra time to master, but it will be worth it. Trust us. 

Learn Post Malone's Motley Crew choreography by Villn Lor

  • You gotta give it to both crews for showing so much strength and flexibility. Really good stuff.

7. K-Pop

K-Pop dance is often performed to upbeat Pop Music, and it usually includes elements of Hip Hop and Southeast Asian dance. It is characterized by its use of intricate choreography, synchronized dancing, and flashy costumes. While it may be challenging to learn, K-Pop dance is an enjoyable way to exercise and express yourself.

  • This dance routine is just too cute for words. Full of life, rhythm, and beats. Boom!
  • If this dance video doesn’t convince you to learn K-Pop dance, I don’t know what else will. Time to put out your best dancing shoes and get into the groove.

Learn TWICE' The Feels choreography by Linda Wang

  • The location, the costume, the dance steps, the music. I am guilty of playing this more than once!

Now, learn a dance!

Dance is a sport, an art form, and a way to let loose and have fun. It is a form of human expression used for storytelling, celebration, and worship.

There are many different types of dance that you can easily learn from dance lessons online or even at home, each with its unique history and purpose. Now that you know more about dancing, why not try it yourself?