Courtney Williams

“Dancing is an activity, not a sport.”

Every time I hear someone say that, I want to punch them in the face, gracefully. With my daintily pointed toe. Yes, I practice three days a week. Yes, I leap and jump around on a stage. Yes, I wear a tutu on occasion because I’m a dancer.

I’ve been dancing since I was three. I’ve studied tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, pointe, lyrical and character. My dance bag is filled with eight pairs of shoes, Therabands, a foam roller, tights, legwarmers and a whole mess of BandAids. I’ve broken all 10 toes multiple times, torn my hamstrings and busted my knees, and I come home from practice with bruises I didn’t know I had. Because I’m a dancer.

For me, dancing is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle. I walk like a dancer. I have hands like a dancer. I even dress like a dancer. Leggings are my jeans, scarves are my accessories, and ballet flats are my high heels. Because I’m a dancer.

I might not have a rock solid body like other athletes; in fact I know I don’t. I’m curvy with hips. I do not have the ever-coveted thigh gap, and I definitely don’t have six pack abs. But I’m just as strong as other female athletes. I work hard to have the muscle I do, and I’m comfortable with my body. I have a dancer’s body.

So why don’t people think dancing is a sport? I’ve heard it’s an art form, that it doesn’t have a ball, even that there are no real uniforms, just frilly costumes. Each time I put on my “frilly costume,” I’m dressed exactly the same as the girls I’m dancing with. That is our uniform.

Yes, it is an art, but each day I put so much strain on my body that I don’t need to throw or kick a ball around. My body is my weight.

Still don’t think it’s a sport? Try putting on a pair of toe shoes and leaping and turning on the top of your toes for an hour. I come home with bloody feet each time I dance. I have permanent blisters and callous on my feet.

Fun fact: unless I’m dancing to a song that has been choreographed, I can’t dance. I just kind of jump around like a fish out of water. I’m a lot of fun to watch at an Augie dance.

Another fun fact: I’m the clumsiest person you’ll ever meet. My boyfriend always says, “You are this beautifully graceful dancer, but silly lovably clumsy.” My theory is that I’m only graceful when I have to be.

So the next time you watch So You Think You Can Dance, or even the Augustana Vikettes perform at a football game, just think about what we do to our bodies on a daily basis so that we can do all those leaps, kicks and turns. You’ll never see it in a performance, but we sweat, we cry, we bleed, we tear muscles.

And when we perform, it looks like the easiest thing in the world. That’s because we’re dancers. And I’m proud to be one of them.