There are athletes everywhere. You see the young ones bounding across the school yard playing chase, the habitual ones running the health club track and the weekend warriors doing their weekend thing on bikes and trails around the city. There are athletes of all ages and sizes happily demonstrating their prowess and most of us see them through a common lens.
Albert Einstein happened to see athletes a little differently, especially those who are also dancers. Dancers thought Einstein, are not just athletes. “Dancers are the athletes of God.” Einstein knew that there is a spiritual essence to dance that launches this sport like genre into a category all its own.
Ask ten people to define what sports are and you are likely to get ten different answers. The conventional athlete might conjure up visions of familiar ball games, while the creative sports enthusiast may refer to the very real competition of cheese rolling or the ever popular wife carrying world championships. While the games are played differently, the goal remains the same, winning.
While we’ve certainly witnessed competition in dance through prime time TV events such as So You Think You Can You Dance, if you are a dancer, chances are you know what Einstein meant when he called you out as God’s athletes. Maybe, it’s not as much about defining dance or sports as it is about defining art. The Oxford Dictionary definition of art goes something like this: “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
While the similarities between dance and sports are apparent, it’s the differences that matter most. Dance shares the physical and mental precision required by sports athletes, but also pushes into the spiritual realm as the audience and the dancer share sacred space through the passion of performance; unrestrained by boundaries, seasons, wins or losses.
In the end the questions remains; if dancers are athletes and athletes play sports, does that mean dance should be classified as a sport? Just maybe it means that dance deserves it’s own unique space, falling somewhere along the spectrum as the living and breathing art of God’s athletes.
Polli Ring is a freelance blog writer with a passion for dance, writing, Colorado and beyond.