|Dance: In Defense of a True Sport
“Dance for yourself. If someone else understands, well. If not, no matter.
Go right on doing what interests you, and do it until it stops interesting you.” -Louis Horst.
According to the dictionary, to dance is “to move rhythmically, usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.” A dancer is “one who dances or who practices dancing.” Anyone who can move his feet is considered a dancer by this definition, but really it’s a lot different than that. I am a dancer who takes lessons, and I know what it’s like to be a real dancer. Dancers practice anywhere from two to ten times a week, and for hours at a time. Besides just practicing at the studio, dancers have to practice at home to perfect their movements and make them precise. Along with all that dancing, dancers have to workout daily in order to keep in shape. We run and do push-ups and crunches, just like any other athlete would do to stay fit.
Did you know that dancing is also competitive? There are many girls at IHS who belong to one of the dance teams in town. And it is a team in every sense of the word. They practice together year-round every week, compete against other teams, have positions to play, get injured, need substitutions, and so on. What’s the difference between this and any other sport?
In addition to the competitive teams, there are hundreds of girls (and some boys) that start dancing at an early age. I have been dancing for 10 years with Karen Gorsky, the owner and teacher of Armstrong School of Dance, as well as with my fellow dancers including Steff Barken, Katie Norton, Rosie Taam, Katie Lane, Romana Blissard, and so many others. The dance classes offered are jazz, tap, ballet, pointe, lyrical, precision, and hip-hop. We also have a dance team of 18, who go to competitions, and are excellent dancers. There are many dance schools here in town. They include Armstrong School of Dance (ASD), Ithaca Academy of Dance (IAD), Ithaca Ballet, and the newest arrival, New England Ballet Company.
The studio that I am most familiar with is ASD, because I happen to dance there. Our team goes to competition twice or three times a year, along with our annual studio recital, held in the first week of June. I attended the Tremaine competition this past summer, and it was a lot of hard work. Before all the competitions, we have six-to-eight-hour workshops covering every aspect of dance. Although it seems like a lot of work, it’s all fun if you really like to dance. Shirley Maclaine, a dancer, describes the sensation of getting on stage like this: “Then come the lights shining on you from above. You are a performer. You forget all you learned, the process of technique, the fear, the pain, you even forget who you are you become one with the music, the lights, indeed one with the dance.”
One of the world’s authorities on the subject of sports is the Olympic committee. In 2002, that group decided that dance is one of 10 sports that will be considered for inclusion in future Olympics. I hope it will happen so that more people will recognize dance, and most will consider it a sport. Dance is a sport and a dancer is an athlete. Only those that are dedicated to practice and working out will ever have the chance to join a team or compete for their country. “Dance isn’t just about fancy footwork. It requires grace, discipline, and major muscles.”