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The Art (and Completely Legitimate Sport) of Dance
By: Meredith F., Teen Press Corps Member

As long as I’ve been dancing, I’ve gotten the same question over and over again: is dance even a sport? That’s 10 years of condescension from my peers regarding one of my greatest passions. That’s a 10-year state of perpetual eye rolling. I guess people have this image of dance as a frolicking free-for-all that involves nothing more than a tutu and some “spins”.  Dance is no joke. It’s a sport just like any other. I don’t sweat profusely 4-5 days a week for the fun of it. I don’t attend intensive conditioning because I want to feel like my abs are on fire. As a member of a competition dance team, I am one of 50 dancers devoting nearly all our free time to this sport. We start at the end of July by learning choreography for 3+ group routines, rehearse and train relentlessly throughout the fall and winter, compete them several times in the spring regionals, and then compete one final time at summer nationals. We then start all over again 2 weeks later with next season’s routines. Dancers know no “off season”. It’s a luxury we cannot afford. Our hard work and dedication keeps us in the studio year-round, always striving for a show stopping performance.

On a contrasting note, I also hear “how do you not get sick of dance?” pretty regularly. To be honest, I can’t imagine being in a sport that only runs part of the year. What would I do with my free time if I wasn’t always dancing? I would feel so empty without it. Sure, the physical aspect of it keeps me in shape and energized, but more than anything, I need dance as an outlet. I find so much comfort and sheer joy in turning on my music and letting my body just move. It’s a difficult sensation to explain and I might sound either half-crazy or completely corny, but I could lose myself in this art for hours on end. And I do. That’s what it’s all about for me, with any art. Being able to throw yourself- your love, passion, creativity, emotions- out there and forget about everything to simply be suspended in a moment of bliss doing what you love. These moments are what keep me going, what tell me I’m doing something right. Even if I know I’m looking like a total mess and the choreography is unreasonably difficult and my legs are aching and I can’t smile any wider, I can set all that aside. Because if I can feel like I’ve expressed something inside of me through dance on any given day, at any given performance, then I have accomplished my ultimate goal and I am once again reminded why I do what I do. It is so worth the laborious hours upon hours in the studio for just that one moment of me.

 And may I just add that ESPN features the UDA National Dance Team Championship every year? Psh. Is it even a sport?

*Meredith’s article is part of a multi-part series from Teen Press Corps Members.  Read more articles like this one here.

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