It is often thought that dancers are just artists, overlooking the fact that in order to perform well, a lot of time must be devoted to the psycho-physical preparation of the body, which in this case is the very instrument of artistic transmission. The training takes place in the dance studio, in the form of lessons and rehearsals, and in the gym through specific exercises aimed at the athletic preparation of the dancer. Just think of the great dancers of history, without going too far back, Roberto Bolle: his physical form is reminiscent of the ideals of Greek statues. The body, in the Hellenic statuesque ideal, is characterised by the highlighting of muscles and tendons at the moment of maximum explosion of movement.
The idea of the dancer-athlete requires a considerable awareness of the body and the human anatomy in order to achieve the objectives of the artistic performance more optimally.
But going back to the question we asked at the beginning... can the dancer also be defined as an athlete?
With the evolution of the discipline of dance, the dancer is required a high physical performance with the necessary consequence of a knowledge and awareness of the human body such as to be able to work it not only for the purpose of the movement itself but for a constant search for an expressive and personal language (and not for a single competition as a sports athlete).
The type of musculature is not always so well developed to the eye, in fact the aesthetic-structural objective of dance makes dancers appear long and light but at the same time strong. The dancer and the athlete in general is not only required to use the muscles to move and train, but once the necessary awareness of one's own body is obtained, the deep musculature is sought out, drawing the greatest yield from it. This method of working allows you to achieve wide movements, with less effort from the superficial musculature, which is only involved after the deep muscles have been activated.
It is important to say, however, that dance differs from sport for several reasons, the most important of which is that the dancer cannot and must not reveal his or her fatigue, on the contrary, he or she must make everything simple for the audience, who attends the performance without perceiving the effort that takes place on stage. This is one of the fundamental concepts that is taught to young aspiring dancers: the physical effort is conceived and aimed at the story and the gesture becoming the motor of the movement.
In summary, therefore, while giving importance to the artistic nature of the dancer, it is essential to recognise that the type of physical involvement is the same as that of an athlete, as the physical structures used and the way in which they are trained is almost the same. Let us not forget, in fact, that today's dancer is almost always required to associate his activity with supporting gymnastics that can help and increase his physical performance and efficiency.
It is no coincidence that Albert Einstein described Rudolf Nureyev as "God's athletic dancer".
The "gymnastics" of the dancer is aimed at a message, it is a non-verbal language that makes its way in the world through the use of a prepared and athletic body subjected to a stress not unlike that of athletes in the most common sense of the term.