Perception: To Each Their Own

by Colin O.

So, as you all probably expect me to, I will be talking about dance in the recreation and sport setting and how it impacts youth development – do not try to argue dance is not a sport because I will win.

Furthermore, I do not want to shove my love for dance down all your throats, but I do want to give you something interesting to read. What I have decided to do is reflect on the lecture where we discussed specialization and diversification within sport for youth. Johanna, Josh, and I were discussing the questions regarding early specialization and trying multiple sports, which made me realize the dance world can be classified as both even though it is all considered dance. What I am going to do with these thoughts is compare dance to other sports to help keep everything clear for you as a reader and then I will associate this with youth development.

Let’s cover the basics: there are many styles of dance such as jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, musical theatre, salsa, and more. For the sake of this discussion, each style of dance will be viewed as its own sport. The reason I say each is considered its own sport is because each style of dance, though they may compliment one another in some way, requires different demands of the body, similar to football and swimming. In terms of dance, let’s look at ballet and hip hop. Ballet requires complete body awareness and control along with grace and fluidity, therefore being much more difficult than it appears to be. For this example, ballet will be the equivalent of swimming as both of these sports possess similar qualities, but are generally framed in two separate worlds. As for hip hop, it requires power, stamina, being grounded, and a level of intensity that fuels a viewer’s excitement. For this example, hip hop will be the equivalent of football as both these sports possess similar qualities.

Are you starting to make the connection for yourself? Dance within itself shows many routes of specialization. The most popularly identified specialization within dance is ballet as many people who study ballet will do strictly ballet. What about others, such as many dancers found within the competitive world? Most dance competitions are laid out like any other sporting competition – by level, age group, and specific category, such as intermediate 12 and under jazz solo routine where there are people from multiple dance schools competing against one another for the gold standing. The reason I mention the competition aspect draws in on the sport diversity.

Some people will like different styles of dance more than others. For myself, I favour tap and ballet, but the styles I execute best are jazz and lyrical. Within this view, each style has its own qualities, which many dancers, especially in a recreational context, will explore to see which style(s) they enjoy the most. This still provides a sense of discovery, but it is still localized within one sport, so why mention any of this? This is where the course comes into play – everyone is subject to experience and, though there can be considered dance specialization in multiple styles for majority of competitive dancers, typically jazz, tap, hip hop, and contemporary performance, these styles also possess elements of diversification at the same time.

You may be thinking, “Colin, I’ve heard enough about your dance stories…where on earth are you taking this?” Like each person, each dance style has its own personality. The two styles already mentioned, ballet and hip hop, are two prime examples of what I am eluding to. Ballet has a sense of prestige, is often associated with being elite and/or higher class, and grace. On the other hand, hip hop possesses a sense of dominance, aggression, and is often associated with being part of a lower class. In some ways, it may be simply due to culture, such as in Guatemala, many people know how to dance Salsa due to learning it on the streets. Nonetheless, the point that can be drawn is there can be many features from any style of dance that can help draw out personality.

On the other hand, there are also cognitive benefits to dance. A study by Mircea and Dana (2013) attribute dance to “movement education, mental, psychological, cultural and social education” (p. 773). This point is important because, like any sport, there are benefits that are associated with the activity. One major benefit is performance, in groups and individually, that allow for one to grow as a person and possibly transfer this skill to other spheres of life, such as through a school presentation.

Okay, now that I have touched on what may seem to be random impacts of dance on development, let me tie it all together so you can see how it all relates. Specialization in any sport can tend to develop certain qualities, both physically and mentally, which tends to let people perceive athletes in different ways. For example, males who play hockey tend to be tough, bold, strength (both mentally and physically), and, of course, have passion for the sport. Another example is track and field, where runners are internally motivated, self-disciplined, and dedicated.

Do you see where this is going? Yes, you may be able to develop any quality throughout sport and recreation, but the main focus here is there tends to be there multiple associations with some sports more than others. People may choose to specialize in one sport and exhibit the characteristics that athletes in that sport possess where others may try multiple sports and draw qualities from each. Dance is definitely no exception as certain styles are associated with specific characteristics and being diverse in the dance world may develop a wide range of qualities in each dancer. There may be many ways to evaluate what specialization and diversity, but it is also interesting to think about what happens when both occur at the same time.


Personal Experience & Class Material

Mircea, N., & Dana, P. (2013, September). Dance contribution to the development of youth personality. Ovidius University Annals, Series Physical Education, 13(2), 772-779. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

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4 Responses to Perception: To Each Their Own

  1. Josh McInnis says:

    I agree with Colin that Dance most certainly is a sport because it has many of the qualities that are recognized in a sport such as competition, physical and mental performance. I wonder, however, with all the different styles of dance that there are, why not subcategorize them under the title of dance?

  2. Very interesting and eye-opening, Colin!

    First off, I would like to say that I agree with dance being a sport, and also that different types of dance can be considered as different sports from each other, although they are all a form of dance, with different historical backgrounds.

    Your article gave me more appreciation for sports individually. Only realizing now for the first time, I had always unconsciously categorized benefits of sports all into one, not seeing the different and unique potentials in each. I, personally, am not a dancer, but see how different aspects of it could be beneficial to a person, whereas they are not as dominant in other sports.

    Yes, I would agree that there is much diversification in what can be learned from each sport, but on the other hand, we must remember that there are many common benefits that can be earned by participating in many different sports. Such benefits that we have discussed in class and from my own opinion are positive social skills with peers and coaches, learning perseverance, dedication, new concepts, as well as mental skills like self-esteem and confidence.

    Very good read!

  3. phanley8 says:

    Great job Colin! First of all, I totally agree with you that dance is a sport.

    I really like how you split dance up from being a whole, into different types being different sports. I have no experience with dance, and am definitely guilty of lump summing it all together just as “dance” rather than viewing and respecting each style. I think it’s a great point to make that in itself there is specialization! With you saying you favour tap and ballet, that could be like someone else saying they favour hockey and golf. Each have their own unique set of skills required, while also having some commonalities that are built upon and further specialized.

    Like Tabitha’s comment above, I also realized that I often just attribute positive benefits to sport as a whole, rather than what qualities can be derived from which specific sport. Although I think that participating in sport as a whole can develop common benefits across the board, like we have talked about in class, such as developing a competitive nature, dedication, networking with peers and adults, competency, and self-confidence. There are definitely specific benefits that can come from specific sports, like you mentioned above with hockey players and track and field runners.
    I think it’s great to realize this and dive into it with a deeper understanding, like you have in your post!

    • colinougler says:

      I am sure I could have this conversation with you all day. This was a nice addition to read beyond what I had wrote. Thank you, Paige.

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