Posted by Rebecca King on 08.01.2012
OK, I admit it, I am completely addicted to the Olympics. Watching hard-working athletes receive the world’s most sought-after trophy is inspiring to everyone. I was completely overwhelmed last night watching our USA women win gold in team gymnastics. These young women and their families have worked so hard and given up so much. To see them reach their goal in such a dramatic way brought tears to my eyes. Their performances last night were breathtaking! Each one left people across the world wondering, “how do they do that?”
Watching the Olympics got me wondering, what would it be like if ballet were in the Olympics? I mean, we are no Shawn Johnson, but we pull off some pretty amazing feats too! Would it be possible to place ballet on the world stage and allow the best of the best to compete against each other? We are competitive, we are athletes, and we would wear fabulous dance wear! So why does dance not have a place in the Olympics?
Sports like swimming and track compare athletes by the clock. Volleyball games and soccer games compare teams by score. For these events, the winners are chosen in completely mathematical ways. But what do you do for a sport that cannot be measured in a numerical way? Gymnastics and diving both appear in the summer Olympics. Like ballet, they are art forms in and of themselves. A complex scoring system has been put in place to attempt to ensure accurate and unbiased results. In the past years, the gymnastics scoring system has been completely overhauled eliminating the possibility of the elusive “perfect 10.” But how effective is it really?
Take for example the men’s team gymnastics finals. After scores had been posted, Great Britain fans were cheering for what appeared to be a silver medal. The judges huddled to discuss the last score given to the Japanese, who were to receive the bronze medal. After a long discussion, Japan moved up to the second spot, pushing team Great Britain to bronze. Still a wonderful moment for all the athletes, but it made we wonder, how subjective are these scores?
I don’t mean to create a discussion on the scoring system as it is obviously complicated and well thought out, but I do wish to point out that sports like gymnastics, and art forms like ballet, are very subjective. Each viewer will interpret what they are seeing in a different way. Not every audience member leaves the theater feeling the same way. Art is determined by the viewer.
Perhaps judges could score the technical elements of ballet, but so much more goes into really good dancing. There are emotions behind the movement: a purpose defined by the dancer and a performance quality that is immeasurable. Often, it is not easy to define what it is that makes a dancer great. What is great is elements coming together to form something special, something that will touch the audience. The Olympics certainly gives us something to cheer about, but ballet takes us on a journey that cannot be defined by numbers.
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