Dancing Towards Graduation: Should Dance Classes Count Towards PE Credits?


Shira Preis

Prepping for Perfection: Dancers in dance 3 work to warm up before they start the main part of class for the day.

There has been a long-standing argument as to whether dance should be counted as a sport or a fine art. With both elements of artistic visions and athletic ability, the middle ground has come to agree that dance is a mixed activity. However, North Atlanta has diverged from this common consensus and has labeled dance strictly as a fine art.

When dance is stuck in strictly the fine art category, the athletic ability needed to participate goes unnoticed. This means that dancers are often patronized and mocked for participating in what is considered by society to be a “girly” sport. While North Atlanta’s categorization of dance as a fine art is not technically wrong, it continues to perpetuate stereotypes associated with dance, when in actuality dance at North Atlanta often requires more physical activity than PE classes. Students in dance classes are expected to train in multiple styles of dance each class. Additionally, they are required to learn anatomy to discuss the best ways to stretch and train without injuries. In comparison, PE classes have less physical activity and do not teach students about how human bodies work. Sophomore Keelin Lahiff, who has done PE and is currently in dance 2, said, “I wish dance counted as a PE credit because we learn and do more in the dance class, and it’s just more interesting.”

Another helpful aspect of counting dance as a PE credit, other than the useful knowledge, would be more students being able to fully complete the dance pathway. Because there are a certain number of PE requirements a person must complete, students often have to use one of their elective spots to fulfill this requirement. This means their open spots for electives become more narrow and they’re forced to pick certain electives over others. Sophomore Christa Jenkins has experienced this as she was forced to hold off on starting dance at North Atlanta until her second year here. “My schedule freshmen year would have for sure been different if dance counted towards my PE credits because I could have been in dance 2 now,” Jenkins said.

While North Atlanta is unlikely to change their credit system anytime soon because of district requirements, it is still nice to consider the possibility of dance being recognized as a PE credit. It could help bring more recognition to all of the effort and work dancers have to put in to create a look that is effortless and graceful. Dance perfectly combines beauty and grace with athleticism and strength, even if the latter parts of the activity often go ignored and unrecognized.