Dance sport is set to become an Olympic event. Personally I am not in favor of this. Not for a moment would I dispute the fact that dancers have considerable athletic prowess. Nonetheless, I feel that all Olympic events should be decided on technical and verifiable rules and regulations. In my personal opinion no Olympic event should have an aesthetic and therefore subjective element.

That said, I love dance sport. Like millions of other people I avidly watch the TV shows, such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" in which it features.

Dance sport views dance as a sporting activity. A man and a woman participate as a couple. There are also team events. Judging is based on technique, use of floor space and artistic interpretation of the music. Originally this dance form developed from competitive International Style. The remit has been widened to include any internationally recognized dance style which is sport orientated.
International Style Dance sport comprises:a Standard Section, a Latin American section,a Ten Dance section consisting of 5 standard and 5 Latin dances, and a Rock 'n' Roll Section.

Dance sport is performed at both professional and amateur levels. Amateur competition levels are designated by the letters ABCDE, E being the lowest with A the highest. Some countries have an international class S. Class C dancers are only allowed to perform dance steps from the syllabus.

Dancers are liable to problems such as stress fractures for example. Ballroom dancers cannot avoid putting great strain on the second metatarsal bone.This is the bone in the middle of the foot next to the big toe. The rise and fall of slower dances such as the foxtrot and waltz puts great strain on this bone.

Putting thins right may involve a cast and rest will almost certainly be necessary. It may be three months or so before competition and flat out dancing is possible.

Training is intense.Often dancers will practice five times a week for hours on end. The emphasis on appearance by some teachers has had dire effects on certain sensitive dancers. There are accounts of girls being told that they are overweight and then losing as much as 42 lbs in weight, developing anorexia with it's attendant hair loss, depression, cessation of periods and sleep disruption. But some of these girls have nonetheless been able to continue dancing and have used this activity as a means of self-expression and escape from depression.

Dance as a means of overcoming physical and mental health problems is well documented. I have heard the story of a man with Scoliosis. This is a condition where the spine is curved and twisted. It leads to the rib cage affecting the heart and lungs. Some of the symptoms of the condition are backache, shortness of breath, digestive and mobility problems. In spite of the pain this man loved dance sport.His wife was also his dancing partner.

Many other dancers did not understand this man's physical problems and were annoyed when he got in their way, bumped into them or when he and his partner tripped and fell. Teachers were also not necessarily understanding and sympathetic. It was very difficult for the man to assume certain positions. Both he and his wife often ended up with sprained ankles and grazed knees. Despite all of these difficulties he found that dancing helped to maintain his posture and reduce his symptoms.

After twenty years this enormously courageous man went to the United States to undergo a treatment new at that time. As a resullt of not being able to take part in dance sport both the man and his wife became extremely depressed. He was made even unhappier by the knowledge that dancing was not only his wife's form of exercise but was also her principal hobby.

Two years after the treatment they were able to start dancing again. Gradually they improved with practice. They even found that some things, such as the promenade steps had become easier due to improved posture and the rotational correction of his spine brought about by the treatment.

After four months of lessons this man and his wife entered their very first Senior Competition and gained 7th place: a tremendous achievement. They now intend to go on dancing as long as they can.

There is also a report written by a woman injured in the Bosnian War. She was wounded in the upper left leg and some nerves were irreparably damaged. She is now unable to tense her left foot, in fact she has no feeling at all in the foot. But she is working very hard and is determined to be a great dancer and find a way around her difficulties.
Those people who are relying on exercise as a protection against heart attack should think again. People have been known to have heart attacks while dancing. Good health and lessening the risk of heart attack and stroke has a second factor: diet. The diet must be balanced - not too much of any one food group. We have all heard this a thousand times. We may understand on one level the essential value of exercise, and diet to good health. Nevertheless, food habits are amongst the most difficult to alter. Perseverance really does bring rewards.

There is no doubt that dance sport is a healthy means of exercise, self-expression and the competitive spirit. Like any form of sport or exercise it is important not to over stress the body. Over stressing the body leads to the exact opposite of what one if trying to achieve.

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