When sitting makes it a sport

When sitting makes it a sport

When we first think of sports, we think of athletes, competing, sweating and fighting it out on the field of battle.  Those that watch come not as mere spectators, but as allies, dressed and painted in the team colors to spur the team to action.  For the well heeled, they enjoy the luxurious accommodations and fare offered in the corporate Sky Boxes.  I believe the development of both sports’ arenas and dance venues will show that they are evolving and may offer another argument that dance has arrived as an American sport.

The natural expectation of a sport is sweat, winning, losing, arenas of play, and practice.  The Olympic committee has recognized Dancesport as a sport, as has the Amateur Athletic Union which includes it in its Junior Olympic Events.  Dance aficionados may continue the debate as to whether dance should be considered a sport or an art.  The natural expectation of art is beauty, refinement, maybe even elegance, and certainly an emotional response.  To that end, Frank Regan, a noted ballroom choreographer has produced a Waltz based ballet and other pieces for the Miami Ballet Company; certainly not a sport’s venue by anybody’s description.

It is true that there is certainly some cross over, but essentially art and sport are recognized as different.  Saying that, you speak to any ardent football fan and they will tell you there is true beauty in running a football back 95 yards for a touchdown.  Watching the results of a Christie’s auction will confirm there is competition in art.  Investors, devotees, and the like all watch with anticipation, and later glee or despondency, when the final price paid for a given piece of art is announced.  It has been said that dancing can’t be a sport since it was so associated with nightclubs, lounges and all the places associated with smoking and alcohol.  It has also been stated that it can’t be an art since the pictures are so fleeting and a lot of the emotional experience is felt by the participants and not the audience.

In earlier times one thing seemed to tip the answer.  That was the glamour, dress and surroundings associated with dance events.  I myself have an entire warehouse of elaborate decorations, centerpieces, statuary, lights and more from years of competition organization and productions.  From morning until night the audience would experience the event as a glamorous dressy affair to coincide with the costumes and dresses worn by the participants.  Evening wear or the uniform of the day was expected at evening functions, and dining was always a semi-formal or formal affair.

Then things started changing, and at first not with the dance events.  The proliferation of luxurious sky boxes may well have started the change.  Without having been invited to any of the sky boxes to watch the Superbowl, it may be hard to compare, so I am waiting for the invitation to any big party event to make sure, but expect and have heard that these sky-boxes have their own dress code, preferred uniform or color, either the favored team’s colors or the local definition of dressy casual, dressy or formal.  The costs of these boxes or probably the implied business costs of being invited for admission would make front row seats at even the best Dancesport competitions cheap by comparison.

All the recent and new stadium construction and renovations include more and bigger and better sky boxes.  It seems more and more stadiums for all sports are looking to separate the wheat from the chafe and provide a better, more glamorous and distinct experience for the well healed.  The result is that the all American sporting event that used to be shared somewhat equally by the rich and poor alike with a hot dog and beer is now shared in a class system that would make old trans-Atlantic cruise ship operators proud with separate entrances, elevators, security and gourmet appetizers and food.

What truly changes the picture however, are the bleacher seats you can now find at Dancesport competitions.  Obviously the old or left over bleacher seats from the previously mentioned renovations were snatched up by enterprising Dancesport organizers.  The result is that events that were previously limited to hundreds of spectators can now handle thousands.  Another advantage is that stadium seating is better suited to elevated risers enabling more people to see more of the feet that are still such an important part of the technique.  And since all spectators of any sport want to be officials themselves or at least knowledgeable enough to argue about the official’s call, seeing the feet helps confirm our opinion.

According to its competition director, Wayne Eng, the United States Dancesport Championships have been using bleacher seating for four or five years now since moving to Hollywood Florida.  This being the most prestigious Dancesport event in the country, leads the way in standards expected at other events, accommodations for spectators and yes even supporting the sky box class with designated and roped off seating, special care and private lounges and parties.  If this doesn’t prove that dancing has arrived as an all American Sport, I doubt anything will.

Michael Reichenbach


Dance Week

November 10, 2006


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *