Staged Athletes: Dancers are Overlooked in the Sports World

A mile in a dancer’s shoes would keep any athlete on their toes, so why don’t they get the same respect?


Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons License

Star of the ballet world Misty Copeland trains as long and hard as more “respected” athletes but doesn’t get the same respect because people don’t understand dance.

Allison Fleming, Reporter

Misty Copeland, a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, hit the nail on the head when she said, “The hardest thing to hear as a ballerina is, ‘Oh that’s so cute,’ and I’m like ‘If you only knew what it took to look cute.’” 

Many people overlook the hard work that goes into dance because they only see what happens on stage and not behind the scenes.

In some people’s minds, dancers are not athletes. 

Dancers are athletes, train just as hard as any other athlete, and deserve equal respect. 

One reason? They train as long and as hard as other sports.

Most high school sports have two hour practices after school every day and sometimes on the weekends. 

While dance schedules may vary, and some dancers may practice more or less, the hours invested in training are similar.  

Most school sports have these practices for a couple of months during their season unless the player decides to play a club sport.

Dance, however,  is a year-round sport. 

Another reason? Dance is clearly an athletic activity.

An hour of dancing burns about 200 fewer calories than an hour of playing football. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a half-hour of weight lifting burns about 150 fewer calories than a half an hour of cardio. 

Despite the number of calories burned people still consider weight lifting incredibly challenging and consider weight lifters to be athletes in some cases. 

One of the most challenging things about dancing is looking pretty and graceful while performing these athletic activities.

If a football player sticks out his tongue or makes a goofy face while scoring a touchdown it’s completely acceptable, but if a dancer distorts her or his face in any way while doing a difficult turn sequence it would be the talk of the show. 

A dancer’s job is to make what they are doing appear effortless.

People do not see what happens behind the curtain, so more often than not people believe that dance is easy and dancers are not athletes. 

Once people see what the behind-the-scenes looks like they often appreciate dancers and their craft more. People should take a deeper look to see how much work goes into a performance or even just a practice. 

The effortlessness and beauty you see on stage is truly just an act and it’s a very challenging act to keep up.