I wait for my turn behind the curtains with my heart beating fast, doing last minute stretches and trying to warm up. The announcer announces my name and solo title; I go out onto stage thinking, “This is what I have been practicing for months now. This had better be perfect.”
Everything is going smoothly until I go into my pirouette. I try to gracefully fall so that no one notices, then I pretend nothing happened and everything was flawless as I hit my pose, But I know in the back of my mind, it was not. Dancers are taught to practice to make steps perfect.
Unlike many sports such as football, baseball or basketball, if one of the player’s falls, the audience gasps and stands up in the stands worried about the player’s condition. In dance, however, you may not even realize that a dancer tripped or fell out of a turn because they are trained to pretend that nothing happened. In ballet, jazz, lyrical or tap, you have to constantly practice so that dancers can be flawless for the few moments the dancer is on stage.
Many of my friends who are athletes participate in soccer, basketball and track. They tell me that dancing is not a sport. I asked why they think that it is not considered a sport, and they reply, “Dancing is not hard. All that you do is turn around in circles.”
But dancing is more than that; dancers have to make sure that everything is perfect. Dancing takes up countless hours in the week, so much that a student may have trouble balancing other after-school activities, all the things you want to do but cannot because they have rehearsal for the showcase tomorrow.
Just like any other sport, you can get easily injured, especially in dance. You risk a sprained foot, leg or hamstring, a broken leg, toe or foot, a dislocated knee or a twisted ankle. Eighty percent of dancers incur at least one injury a year that affects their ability to perform, compared to a 20-percent injury rate for rugby or football players. With a sprained toe in basketball, you just put some athletic tape on it and go back into the game. With dance, you could be out for more than three weeks because it is impossible to dance on point with a broken toe.
Risks are part of being a ballerina. Dancing takes a lot of effort, not just twirling around in circles, as some people think. Even if you are sore from yesterday’s practice and your feet throb, you push through the pain. But in the end, after practice, missing afterschool activities, it is something that you love to do and would never miss it for the world.