Athletes are much admired and celebrated in our sports-steeped American culture, but one group of athletes is much less widely adored. This film explores the question of whether dancers are indeed athletes and examines the reasons for the larger public’s disconnect with these performers. Long years of training, discipline, and focused effort are required of both dancers and sports competitors, but the rewards, and renown, are very different. A collection of participants and observers from the worlds of dance and sports discuss the similarities and differences between the two realms and raise the question of whether athletes should be considered artists. See what conclusion you reach.
Fay Mitchell grew up in rural eastern North Carolina and attended UNC–Chapel Hill, where her interest in sports was fueled by the Carolina/Duke/N.C. State rivalries. Her subsequent experience of the arts in an academic setting, and later the arrival of the American Dance Festival in Durham, made her keenly aware of the differences, in terms of composition and intensity, between sports and dance audiences. In her work as a radio reporter, she discovered that seemingly disparate groups are often quite similar, though they cling to ideas of the “other.” This project’s exploration of the commonalities between notionally distinct individuals and groups reflects her role as a “synthesizer.” She came to CDS in 2010 to expand her reporting to the world of film.
This was the final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. See more Fall 2014 final projects at cdsporch.org/archives/23603.