The world’s dance community erupted in excitement in December 2020 when the International Olympics Committee confirmed Breakdancing to be part of the Olympics games in Paris 2024.  

Though the initial announcement of the possibility of the inclusion of Breakdancing in February 2019, met widespread scepticism and criticism as critics claim that dancing should not be regarded as a sport. This is rather ludicrous as dancing involves just as much physical exertion, competitiveness, training and risk of injuries as any other sport. Competitive dancing also has similarities to figure skating which became a part of the Winter Olympic Games in 1924 and ice dancing which became a Winter Olympic Games medal sport in 1976.

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) inclusion of Breakdancing into the 2024 games in Paris has set a huge precedence that cannot be ignored by other sport bodies like the International University Sport Federation (FISU) and National University Sport Federations in every continent. Breakdancing’s inclusion would raise conversations about dancesport inclusion in university games such as the Universiade and in games organised locally in every university.

Universities across the world boast of many young prolific dancers who eagerly seek for bigger platforms to showcase their skills, it is quite unfortunate they are excluded from university sport because dance isn’t considered as sport. Competitive dance inclusion in university sport would be an important step in improving the visibility of university games and more attractive for younger audiences who considered dancing exciting and amusing to watch.

“Competitive dance inclusion in university sport will improve the optics of dancing as a professional activity and a way to encourage grassroot dancers. It will also reduce the discrimination faced by student dancers who are denied access to sport facilities whenever they want to train.” Professional dance artist Esther Ajayi explained.

Esther Ajayi (Xterberry), Founder XBEM Academy and Professional Dance Artist

Competitive dancing also promotes teamwork and sportsmanship which are core sport values. There is no substantive reason why competitive dance should be categorised only as art when dance has fulfilled every requirement to be regarded as a sport. The onus is on university sport bodies to raise conversations about the inclusion of competitive dancing in their program to improve participation of students in sport activities.

The international Olympics committee will look to take a lead off the World Dancesport Federation(WDS) which  is the regulatory body in charge of the organisation of dance sport events such as The World Dancesport Games which had approximately 700 athletes and 100 officials participating in the inaugural edition in 2013. It had various dance style competitions such as HipHop, Salsa, Latin, Talke, Formation, Cheerleading and Wheelchair dance. It is crucial that the International University Sport Federation(FISU) and the  Federation of Africa University Sports (FASU) take a cue from the WDS in the organization of  dance sport events to improve inclusivity of student athletes who are passionate about dancing. This helps to promote indigenous dance styles across the world and to provide a platform for dancing as a university sport.

Photo Credit: Jeff Sabo

The 2024 summer games is one that brings a lot of excitement to the younger generation of sports men with the other sports included, which are; sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding. The IOC continues its bid to remain the ultimate sports experience for athletes.