As Sophmore ballet dancer Cate Graney glides across the Marley floor, all she can think about is ballet: she has finally escaped from the stress of her everyday life. For dancers like Graney, a technique-focused sport such as dance can serve as a distraction from the worries she experiences outside of the studio.
However, unlike many athletes, most dancers are not offered commitment offers from colleges in America. Instead, many continue their dance careers through audition-based college dance teams and programs with their own initiative. Nevertheless, like many recognized sports, dance serves as an outlet for creativity and expression for dancers of all genres.
For senior and dance team captain Theresa Hart, dance is an outlet for self-expression that requires consistent commitment. Hart also said she continues to dance because it’s a source of happiness for her.
“For me, it’s great exercise and a way to express myself,” Hart said. “I also really like dance because I’ve done it my whole life.”
Dance also provides Hart a fun intersection between artistry and athleticism.
“It’s really beautiful to watch and so fun to learn and experiment with,” Hart said. “It’s like doing art and a sport all in one.”
For some like senior and hip-hop dancer Zachary Scott, dancing can also be fun because of its welcoming community.
“At our studio, we really work to make sure that everyone feels accepted,” Scott said. “When I am dancing, I feel that there is no judgment, so I can truly be myself.”
As a former musician, Scott also said dance is an amazing way to connect with the rhythm of the music.
“After I stopped (playing piano and violin), I still felt a really strong connection to music, and so I decided to start dancing,” Scott said. “Dance gives me a way to connect with the music, and it feels natural to me.”
And Scott is committed to dancing for years to come.
“I haven’t decided whether or not it is something I want to pursue as a career, but I will definitely keep dancing whether that be a dance team or taking classes for fun,” Scott said.
Although dancers sacrifice endless time and effort, Hart said many remain unsure of their futures in dance. Hart said her future will depend on the college she ends up attending.
“If the college I end up in has a dance team that I think I could possibly get on, I will audition for the team, or maybe try a club,” Hart said. “I would not actually major in it.”
However, dancers’ inability to be considered for college recruitment is something that Hart said is rooted in how people view dance.
“I think it comes from dance not being considered a sport,” Hart said. “Some schools have amazing dance programs, like the University of Minnesota or Ohio State, and dancers should be able to be recruited for a sport that they win competitions in.”
Graney said that she is disappointed colleges don’t recognize dance as a sport, and she hopes that in the future, colleges will acknowledge the commitment that dancers put into their craft.
“I think it’s such a bummer because people commit to dance for their whole life and because of that they don’t have any time for other sports that they may have wanted to do,” Graney said. “I think colleges should recognize their commitment.”
Consequently, the future of many dancers is often not as rooted in competition and joining college teams as more conventional sports tend to be.
“I definitely want to continue dancing but just for fun,” Graney said. “I don’t really know what I’ll do with dance in the future, but it depends on where I go.”
Hart said that even though she is disappointed by dance program’s relationship with college acceptances, she has come to terms with the fact that her competitive dancing is unlikely to continue.
“It’s kind of sad that my dancing won’t go anywhere in the long run,” Hart said. “Personally that’s just a choice I’m making, and it’s something I’ve come to terms with.”