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primaballerina13

Is ballet a sport?

96 posts in this topic

The pictures of Nureyev leaping (Life Magazine) is the thing that started my interest. I asked my mother if he used a trampoline to jump

like he did? :beg: She said, "No dummy, he really leaps like that on his own. That's the guy I was trying to get you to see last year! I went to see him in "Sleeping Beauty" at the Met with the Canadians, in 1974. I

have been a ballet/dance fan ever since!!

It was the physical aspects, esp. the jumps, that 1st attracted me to ballet. The realization and appreciation of the artistry that is the main element of ballet gradually came to me as I began to understand the details and preparation that dance demands of its practitioneers.

There have been studies that have concluded that ballet dancing has as many serious injuries as American Football, if not more!

Many American football teams, along with basketball teams, have used ballet to improve their players' footwork, balance and flexibility!

So, in my case, ballet was a different type of sport to me. The physicality of ballet, esp. the lifting and jumping, does make the men and women "athletic artists".

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I agree, omshanti. I was merely reporting the study's findings, although as I read it such a long time ago, I cannot be very specific. Perhaps someone else can? :beg:

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First of all, I think ballet is a sport in that it requires athleticism, stamina, and risk of injury. That being said, I also think the injuries that dancers face, while substantial, or not necessarily "greater" than the injuries of football/basketball/baseball players. They're just different. For instance, in baseball, the constant run/stop nature of the game leads to a lot of pulled tendons and sprained ankles. For pitchers, shoulder problems and chronic arm pain are very common. For basketball, knee and back injuries are common, as is arthritis. All of these sports require discipline, skill, stamina, and they all come with a risk of injury.

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There have been studies that have concluded that ballet dancing has as many serious injuries as American Football, if not more!

I'd be interested if you've got some links to these, as I would have assumed that football (and obviously boxing) would have the most irreparably serious injuries, because of the brain damage that I think must surely be less common in ballet, basketball and baseball.

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I think this whole discussion is going nowhere because it is absolutely missing the basic points. I mean here we are talking about two activities (dancing and sport) and an element (art) which is perceived between a person who is doing an activity and an observer . Art is not an activity. It is a comunication between a giver and a receiver (even if the giver and the receiver are one person). So in this respect art is something that can be found in both dancing and sports or many other activities regardless of its degree.

Whether ballet is dancing or sport ? I think it is obvious that it is a danceform. Or is it not obvious?

Dancing and sport are both ancient activities of mankind, but they are completely different activities. Maybe some modern societies who have lost touch with the culture in which dancing is deeply connected to daily life are having difficulty distinguishing between dancing and sport.

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I don't think ballet is a sport. True, as a teenager, as I have mentioned in the past, I was drawn to it from the leaps I saw. But, ballet is not just about the physical, or just about technique. It is about

artistry.

The major differences bet. sport and ballet are both simple, and yet complex. In sport, the effort shown is not frown upon. Ballet's illusion of effortlessness is a vital element of this artform. The interpretive abilities of: choreographers, set designers, costume designers, artistic staffs and the dancers also plays a part in ballet's being an artform, as opposed to a sport.

A question: In dance competitions, is technique the only standard that is judged?

The problem might be the growing emphasis on technique. I saw "Plietieskia Dances" at a theater in NYC, and was shocked that she did not do the fouette turns during her Black Swan!!!!! I was then told that it was considered optional back then. Is it still considred optional?

I hate the fact that I sometimes try to count the # of turns, instead of just enjoying it! I also hate it when someone comes to me and say that the Black Swan did not do that magical number: 32 fouettes :speechless-smiley-003: !!

I realize that an artform evovles over time. But, is it for the better?? Is something inadvertently lost or lessened in importance to the detriment of the ballet???????

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I think there are several fine underlying issues that have been discussed here:

1. Does the fact that ballet dancers are as well-trained and physically fit as athletes make them athletes?

2. What are the other criteria that would distinguish ballet from sport or establish the similarities?

3. What are the similarities between the greatest dancers and the greatest athletes?

4. On what basis should the question of this thread be answered?

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1. Does the fact that ballet dancers are as well-trained and physically fit as athletes make them athletes?

Yes. An athlete is a human who has a well trained body enabling him/her to due physical feats impossible without such training and practise. If that too sweeping.....then how about using the word "athletic" instead of "athlete".

2. What are the other criteria that would distinguish ballet from sport or establish the similarities?

This question results from the underlying theme of this entire thread: ballet vs sport. Frankly, I think the underlying theme of this thread is meaningless. The operative question is: Are ballet dancers athletes? "Sport" brings in too many false comparisons (such as the distinction "art"). The question as posed in this thread is like asking whether the songs of birds are music.

3. What are the similarities between the greatest dancers and the greatest athletes?

I like this question. There are many ideas already in this thread of course. My favorite?.....let's see.....how about: commitment.

4. On what basis should the question of this thread be answered?

Once again, on the basis of dancers being athletes......forget "sport".

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This question results from the underlying theme of this entire thread: ballet vs sport. Frankly, I think the underlying theme of this thread is meaningless. The operative question is: Are ballet dancers athletes? "Sport" brings in too many false comparisons (such as the distinction "art"). The question as posed in this thread is like asking whether the songs of birds are music.
What about ballet competitions, which often reward out-of-context virtuosity, especially in the junior divisions?

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What about ballet competitions....

I'd just let them be "ballet competitions". Doesn't change my perception that the question: "Is ballet a sport" is essentially meanless.

I think you, and I, and many others would be surprised to see "Ballet" listed in a college brochure as one of the "sports" they offer -- listed right there with "Baseball, swimming, and badmitton" -- be the ballet offered competitive or not. I'd be surprised to see "music" on such a list too (or "dance" for that matter even though dance requires considerable athlete ability). No, I think the word "sport" has just too many misleading connotations such that comparing sport to ballet is pointless.

One more example out of my own life. I do a lot of mountain backpacking. It takes athleticism of a certain kind (endurance for example). Altho there are no organized competitions, there are definite competitive aspects to it (I **will** make it to the top of Mt Rainier, and do so before you!). But I thnk it misleading to call backpacking a "sport". Ballet is even further removed with its artistic qualities.

I guess my stripes are now showing. As long as one does ask the question "Is ballet a sport?" (pointless or not), it seems I clearly come down on the side that says: NO. It is a highly skilled athletic activity, but not a sport. I'd rather call a competitive chess match a sport than a ballet competition. Humans can compete over anything including playing Monopoly.

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I think you, and I, and many others would be surprised to see "Ballet" listed in a college brochure as one of the "sports" they offer -- listed right there with "Baseball, swimming, and badmitton" -- be the ballet offered competitive or not.
I'm not, because these designations in college usually mean "phys ed," or anything that gets a student out from behind a desk. I certainly remember modules of folk dancing, for example, in my phys ed classes in public schools. I don't think they mean anything more by it.

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Hmmmmmm......interesting that you wouldn't be surprised to see Ballet listed as a SPORT offered by a college.

Out of curiousity I just looked at the University of Washington webpage to see what was there. Nope, no ballet (and no music either :speechless-smiley-003:). I know the UW has an excellent dance program, so they certainly could have listed it.

Here's the URL and the list of "sports" the UW lists (they use the heading "Sports"):

http://gohuskies.cstv.com/s-finder/wash-s-finder.html

-----------------------

MEN

Baseball

Basketball

Crew

Cross Country

Football

Golf

Soccer

Swimming

Tennis

Track

WOMEN

Basketball

Crew

Cross Country

Golf

Gymnastics

Soccer

Softball

Swimming

Tennis

Track

Volleyball

---------------------

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It is because UW has a dance department that takes itself seriously, as opposed to schools that might have dance as a sub-category of the Theater Department, that ballet is not listed as a sport :)

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OK, I'll bite.....

Here is the list from the Bellevue Community College (BCC) website. I don't believe this large community college has a serious dance program.

------------------------

Volleyball (Aug.-Nov.)

Fastpitch Softball (Feb.-May)

Tennis (Mar.-May)

Cross Country (Aug.-Nov.)

Soccer (Aug.-Nov.)

Basketball (Oct.-Mar.)

Baseball (Feb.-May)

-------------------------

Frankly I, for one, would very likely laugh out loud if I saw "Ballet" on ANY such list. But the spice of life is that we all see things differently :)

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This is my last post in this thread.

Athletic is a quality meaning pysically strong and agile. So of course any activity that requires physical movements needs certain athleticism. I guess trained soldiers in wars are athletic too. But athleticism is not the point. Ballet is a dance and dancing is dancing. Dancers are dancers, whether athletic or not.

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This study , posted by drb on a thread in "Anything Goes," compares the psychology of dancers vs. athletes. Since we've ascertained here that ballet dancers are indeed athletes, let's call the other breed jocks and jockettes.

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I think the underlying concern here is that athletes and sports people get general respect and ballet dancers do not, particularly the men. This is manifested in male ballet students being ridiculed and beaten (much like male figure skaters) as boys, and adult male dancers being considered, in the terms of Hans and Franz, "girlie men." If ballet can be categorized as a sport, then the respect factor should go up. Perhaps if they can be categorized as the equivalents of athletes in their fitness levels, the physical demands of their profession, and the toll dancing takes on their bodies, that will do the trick.

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Just a quick, light observation on this topic. Last year I saw a Yankees game and noticed Alex Rodriguez using the rail on the dugout as if it were a ballet bar. He had his foot on the rail with his leg extended and was stretching his arms to his toes. No one would dispute that he is a very fine athelete - but from watching him "at the bar," no one would mistake him as a dancer either. Athletic grace is amazing, but a dancer's grace is on another level. (Though I have seen some 4-6-3 double plays that were so graceful they almost seemed to be choreographed.)

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As someone who loves both baseball and ballet, I very much appreciated your observation, Kanawha. Thanks.

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Probably pound-for-pound the greatest boxer of all time, the late great Sugar Ray Robinson was described as an artist in the ring. In part for his graceful (and lethal) style of boxing.

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This is manifested in male ballet students being ridiculed and beaten (much like male figure skaters) as boys, and adult male dancers being considered, in the terms of Hans and Franz, "girlie men." If ballet can be categorized as a sport, then the respect factor should go up. Perhaps if they can be categorized as the equivalents of athletes in their fitness levels, the physical demands of their profession, and the toll dancing takes on their bodies, that will do the trick.

I've no interest in anyone getting beaten, but there's a certain amount of the 'girlie men' configuration that is, in fact, an integral part of ballet, and no pretending it can or should really be any other way. Ballet is essentially feminine, no matter how much butch-macho you get going in it, and no matter how many heterosexual Baryshnikovs and Peter Martinses and Balanchines you have to (slightly) counterbalance the profusion of homosexual men in it (I never have heard much about Lesbians in ballet, but I'm sure it's been researched by some Kinsey sort.) Anybody serious already knows about the 'fitness levels, the physical demands..the toll dancing takes...' Knowing this has no effect whatsoever on bigots--they see rococo flourishes (without calling it 'rococo', of course, rather more often 'sissy') and are not interested in the reasons tights have to be worn; dirty Enquiring minds want to pretend they are incensed by what secretly excites them instead. Actually, it is exciting anyway, but perfectly healthy--I had nothing against Peter Schaufuss doing Franz in 'Coppelia' (with Karen Kain) but obviously I then had to go back to see Pat McBride do it in another production, because she did it better than anybody---and I don't even remember who her Franz was.

Didn't Schwarzenegger hugely disseminate the use of the term 'girlie men?' Well, I'm not going to worry to much about what he thinks about anything esthetic.

Frankly, I think 'Pumping Iron' was all 'girlie man.' So is 'Terminator.' His father was played by Bill Smith, B-Movie great, and that's where you find the real macho (he had been Falconetti and did 'Run, Angel Run,' etc.), not some studied-pose slab of hubris.

There's a payoff in having to deal with hostile reaction from enemies in everything. But I don't think you can take what is meant by the malodorous term 'girlie man' out of ballet and still have ballet. It's not flamenco or Polynesian tamures, etc.

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What about ballet competitions....

I'd just let them be "ballet competitions". Doesn't change my perception that the question: "Is ballet a sport" is essentially meanless.

I think you, and I, and many others would be surprised to see "Ballet" listed in a college brochure as one of the "sports" they offer -- listed right there with "Baseball, swimming, and badmitton" -- be the ballet offered competitive or not.

Without making a claim one way or the other, there are several colleges that include ballet as one of the recreational activities (listed under sport) that they offer.

And there are still colleges and universities whose dance programs are housed in physical education programs. The PE teachers were often the first members of a college to embrace dance training and to host dance performances.

You can discuss the athletic aspects of ballet (there's a story in the Seattle Times today about physical training for athletes that includes a Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist) without "reducing" ballet to sport.

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Probably pound-for-pound the greatest boxer of all time, the late great Sugar Ray Robinson was described as an artist in the ring. In part for his graceful (and lethal) style of boxing.

Thank you for the example -- there is artistry in many human endeavors, from the physical to the mental, as well as the more technical underpinnings -- in this, dance is equivalent to cooking and logic and carpentry and, though the hitting part makes me queasy, boxing.

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OK, I'll bite.....

Here is the list from the Bellevue Community College (BCC) website. I don't believe this large community college has a serious dance program.

------------------------

Volleyball (Aug.-Nov.)

Fastpitch Softball (Feb.-May)

Tennis (Mar.-May)

Cross Country (Aug.-Nov.)

Soccer (Aug.-Nov.)

Basketball (Oct.-Mar.)

Baseball (Feb.-May)

-------------------------

Frankly I, for one, would very likely laugh out loud if I saw "Ballet" on ANY such list. But the spice of life is that we all see things differently :flowers:

I don't want to be argumentative, but because I've taught at the University of Washington, and because the history of dance in Seattle is something I've been working on for a number of years, the pedant in me is clamoring to speak.

Dance was first taught at the UW in the Physical Education department, and continued there until the 1960s until a parallel program was started in the School of Drama. The PE department, which transmogrified in the a Kinesiology program (and which did a number of studies on dancers until they were closed due to budget cuts in the 1980s) continued to include dance, primarily modern and ocassionally folk forms. Dance remained as a "program" in the School of Drama until the 1980s, when it was transferred to the School of Music, and was later shifted back to Drama, where it is today.

Bellevue Community College has had an active dance program for over 25 years, lead originally by Carolyn Darrough who I think came to them from the UW -- their performance group, the Eastside Moving Company stages an annual show on campus and has done outreach performances in the past. The emphasis right now is primarily on jazz and hip hop (they have a tendency to support the dance forms that students arrive having already studied), but in the past they were more focused on modern/contemporary dance. Many local choreographers have set work on them.

Thanks for letting me go on a bit -- please return to the previous discussion!

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I don't think there's any reason to attach a gender to an art form except to irritate and divide. Ballet isn't feminine any more than it is masculine, and it's the same with music, drama, and the visual arts. To state otherwise is, to me, unenlightened and offensive, and it serves only to further alienate those who already think of ballet as outmoded and irrelevant.

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