Dancing - between high-performance sports and art

The term "dance art" unites the terms "dance" and "art". What is the overlap between dance as a sporty high performance and the performing arts? What makes a ballet dancer a high-performance athlete, what makes him feel at home in the magic of staging?

" For over 70 years, man has been running at his speed limits. In 1912, the American Donald Lippencolt set the first world record over 100 meters: 10.6 seconds. Calvin Smith, a graceful 22-year-old student from Alabama, ran the track in 9.93 seconds on July 3 of this year. "(Prieser, Die Zeit, July 29, 1983, cited in 1, p. 65).

Ballet dancers - artists or athletes?

The above quote makes it clear that the physical performance, that is the force in its many facets and other motor properties, can be detected by physical quantities. In the dance production, however, not only physical experiences are required, which can be determined only by physical or training scientific parameters, but also body experiences, which are strongly influenced by their own imagination and imagination. Only through this ability can sophisticated choreographies arise that revive art. The dancer gives the representation a symbolic-sensual value.

This fact alone makes it impossible to measure defined, systematically quantitative services as in sports. In a value forgiveness in dance therefore circumscribing adjectives are used, such as skillful, petite, polite, complacent, etc., which only partially accommodate an objectivity in itself. On the other hand, only clear guidelines can make it possible to quantify and thus enter the Olympic disciplines, as is the case with rhythmic gymnastics. (1)

In order to achieve the seemingly weightless Beauté, it is necessary to train one's body according to the classical dance technique or other dance styles so far that the danced feelings can be staged without any apparent effort. Because the competition in this art form is at least as big as in other sports and demands maximum physical performance and driving ambition.

Physical and mental conditions

The concrete physical and mental conditions for a successful dancer and thus the foundation for a high-performance athlete look like this:

En dehors

This is the turning ability of the leg from the hip. This very specific physical

Fig. 1: 5 foot positions in the en dehors in classical ballet

Characteristic of a classical ballet dancer is anatomically determined and can be influenced only to a certain extent by the training, because the thigh head is held by a bony and a rather closed ball socket of the hip. The maximum extension of the hip is 60 °. The remaining difference up to 90 ° is taken from the knee and ankle joint. The turning ability of the hip is reflected in different and firmly defined foot positions in classical ballet.

Physical stress

In addition to the necessary presence of the overly large en dehors, another requirement of daily dance training is to always work at its limit and thus to increase physical performance and to train the demanding coordination. The same efficiency can be found in a 100m runner, who often has to undergo physical pain to get better.

Mental stress

Professional dancers as well as other high-performance athletes must first and foremost constantly work on perfecting their technique in order to improve their level of performance or at least to keep their level of performance constant.

It is well known that in many sports, such as wrestling or artistic gymnastics, the athletes are differentiated in weight classes. Of course, this phenomenon is also encountered in the dance scene, especially in female classical dance. The dancers should weigh relatively little, but be able to perform the physical performance they demand.

In addition to the factors already mentioned, competition and performance pressures are considered as another psychological aspect. However, it depends on the character of each individual and the stress tolerance threshold to what extent competitive thinking is perceived as a performance-motivating or stress-inducing factor. In general, however, the athlete and the dancer should be able to handle the pressure to perform.

Artistic requirements

In contrast, the artistic prerequisites of a successful dancer are only acquired with age and are based on experience.

- The more movement experience a dancer has, the more different movement styles and movement qualities he can represent and thus adapt well to his role.

- The diversity of body language means the deliberate break through of a dance style and the giving of the individual note and thus embodies the dancer as an independent personality.

- The space crossing may not be considered from a physical point of view purely physical or mathematical. This is more of a psychological and emotional grid based on the physical movement experience and mental maturity. (2) So it's not just about coming from A to B, but imagining and then embodying the how and why before the inner eye,


In summary, it can be said that learning the dance profession is a lengthy process that begins as early as childhood (as it does with a professional footballer) and depends on the personal development of each individual. Not only the sole mastery of the dance technique, but an open personality with a strong self-esteem make the creative action possible. " The deliberate and reflective examination of the body and the movement creates an artistically creative dancer who not only feels better suited to the technical demands of professional life, but who is also more fully prepared for the process-oriented work of today's choreographers " (3, P. 51). The artistic personality should thus be able to radiate a mysterious aura and magically enchant the spectator already by doing so. Through the inner musicality, the passion and the love of vocation to use the body as a body of expression, not only the outsider, but also himself a pleasure of the highest degree is granted.

Marina Lewun


1. Fritsch, U. (1984). Equal opportunities in physical presence, thinking about dance in the sports age. In: Klein, M. (1984). Sport and body. Reinbeck near Hamburg: Rohwolt Verlag GmbH

2. Laban, R. (2003). Espace dynamique. Bruxelles: Contredanse

3. Schäfer-Jenk, G. (2004). Mediation of classical dance technique today. Unpublished exam, Postgraduate studies in Dance Culture, University of Bern

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