You may have already stumbled or ball changed across this quote, credited to Albert Einstein. Any serious dancer understands this quote from their very core, in a nearly impossible verbal translation. How do you explain this knowing, understanding, being, to others who have not had the experience to live a dancer’s existence? To a dancer it is inherent, but it is also so broad and deep in the knowledge and wisdom it has to offer.
It may seem boastful, egotistical, bold, highbrow, and even sacrilegious, but it is also beautiful, deep, resounding, spiritual, and wise. It is one of my favourite quotes, for its many meanings and philosophies. And, yes, dancers are indeed the athletes of God.
At a foundational level, this quote highlights dance as underpinning athleticism. In the physical sense, dance training requires the use, development, and maintenance, of every muscle and bone in the body. From posture, to walking, to foot placement, to hip alignment, to flexibility, to strength and conditioning, to contortion, to shoulder movement, to arm and hand functionality, to head placement… The cardiovascular system is developed to a very high level. All of this development provides overall high fitness levels, strength and power, agility, flexibility, speed, focus, determination, spatial awareness, coordination, and stamina, not to mention the competitive drive required to succeed within the industry.
At the next level, dancers as athletes of god must draw on and deliver through an inner knowing, an inner feeling, an unspoken body language, an ability, desire, and inherent understanding of how to write, perform, embody, and deliver narrative, meaning, nuance, and emotion, through non verbal body performance. To see without eyes, hear without ears, feel without touch, taste without substance, smell without scent, communicate without sound…to sense.
Through the refinement of both inner and outer skills, a dancer’s artistry and athleticism are both physical and spiritual. By having such finely tuned physical and spiritual know how, dancers can become elite artistic athletes in any or all sporting, performance, and fitness areas. Every dancer I know is kick-arse at other sports and can take on a new challenge willingly, martial arts, swimming, rock-climbing… I do not see this same agility from other sports towards dance. There aren’t too many footballers who can pick up dance easily, but there are plenty of dancers who can easily adapt to football…and swimming, martial arts, CrossFit, acrobatics, tennis, skiing…
Looking to develop calves and legs, dance. Flexibility, dance. Stamina, focus, grit, determination, dance. Strength and power, dance. Agility and adaptability, dance. Mindset, dance. Flow, light and shade, dance. Muscular tone and development, dance. High pain threshold, dance. Performative ownership and delivery, dance. Intricate skills of hands and feet, dance. Balance, core strength, dance. Self awareness, dance. Inner dialogue, dance. Memory, dance. High level thinking, dance. Musicality, dance. Rhythm, dance. Discipline, tenacity, confidence, dance…
The cross skilling required in the training and development of dance, primes the body to easily adapt to any and all physical movement. Some sports target strength, others stamina, others flexibility, others hand eye coordination, others patience, some only certain muscles, some dynamic power, some paced endurance… Dance covers the lot, and some. Another sports code’s daily training is more often than not the equivalent of a dancer’s warm up.
If you’re looking to develop your overall fitness and physical skills, start dancing. If you’re a dancer, get out there and throw yourself into any other sport and increase your adaptable skill set. More dance, more fitness. More fitness, more dance. Dancers are the athletes of god, in person, in spirit, inherently.