Dancing is everywhere. At some point in our lives, we have seen someone dance or have even danced ourselves. Dancing is also showcased in talent shows and, usually, we see dancers become renowned worldwide because of their skill. But why is it that dancing is mostly regarded as an artistic expression rather than an athletic activity worthy of being a sport?
While the common consensus is that competitive dancing lacks enough objective rules for it to be considered a sport, international sports festivals such as the Olympics already include sports like figure skating in their Winter Games. However, there was contention once again when breakdancing was considered to be a sport for the upcoming Paris Olympics. This pillar-to-post view on dancing shows that it’s not yet seen as a legitimate sport.
More than reinforcing the stigma on dancing, this view holds dancers back from getting their due recognition for the effort they put into their craft.
In an interview with Sean Balocating, a member of the school’s dance troupe Marist High Impact who has competed in multiple dance competitions, it was revealed how the stigma on dancing affects those who pursue it competitively.
In not seeing dancing as a sport, Sean asserts that it undermines the athleticism required to pursue it.
“Let’s not see dancing as a ‘kendeng-kendeng lang naman ‘yan’ kind of thing.” (Balocating)
As a competitive dancer, how can you counter the statement, “Dancing is not a sport”?
“If we are to ask about the definition of a sport, it is an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess, and often of a competitive nature. Just like other sports such as basketball, volleyball, and swimming, dancing can also be a strenuous activity that requires skill. Dancers also invest time and money for coaches, uniforms, and rehearsal studios, just like what other companies do to other athletes. Dancing also requires a lot of dedication, muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility. In the end, we cannot really say that dancing is not a sport or dancers are not athletes because we also do what other athletes do and have.”
What other stigma surrounding dancing do you want to see dismantled in the future?
“Well, first, let’s not see dancing as a ‘kendeng-kendeng lang naman ‘yan’ kind of thing. Truth be told, a lot of dancers cannot move their hips properly. Dancing is not bound to the idea of just wiggling your hips, there are a lot of techniques, genres, and styles that [are] more than that. If you were to ask me, flexibility is not what’s important in dancing, it is actually endurance. What really matters on the stage is how long you can dance properly and execute your piece like you’re just warming up.
“We have to stop thinking that being a dancer means you are the best in every style. Sometimes, a dancer only focuses on one certain style and that’s completely normal to every dancer. I can’t deny the fact that we have our strengths and weaknesses in some genres.”
How do you manage your time as a dancer and as a student?
“During our face-to-face classes, I can’t really manage my time being a dancer and a student. I have to choose between my passion, studies, and sleep. As a dancer who wants to maintain good grades, I had to give up some hours of sleep. However, dancing and competing are the main reasons why I am motivated to report to school and maintain my grades. So, I guess, losing some of my sleep is worth it.”
How do you think dancing can be influential to your audience and to others?
“Some dancing pieces are a movement. Others use dancing to express their political views and opinions, or sometimes it is used to gain awareness of mental health. Dancing is not only a sport, or an art form, but it can also be a movement and a medium for awareness and such.”
Dancing means multiple things to different people. And ultimately, the duality of dancing is what makes breaking free from its stigma challenging. We cannot contest both the influence and impact of dancing as an artistic medium, but we also can’t deny its potential to be a sport and athletic activity. But more than dancing being destigmatized, dancers deserve praise for honing the duality of dancing itself. Angel Zafra, Arden Anagap, and Uno Sta. Ana // File Photos from Alex Teruel and Audny Bermas