For years, many have wondered why dance is not yet an Olympic sport. Although petitions have been put forward and it will likely happen at some point in the near future, thus far, this is not yet the case. However, the introduction of the Inaugural dance challenge at the opening ceremony for this years Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, was a promising sign of what’s to come for the world of dance at future Olympic events.
On July 31, 2015 the Special Olympics World Summer Games opening ceremony (The largest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games), was kicked off by a special dance challenge for the very first time. Produced by SYTYCD creator Nigel Lythgoe, and covered for the first time on ESPN, this event is geared to bring more attention and awareness to the special Olympics, while increasing understanding for those with disabilities, and showcasing the talents of participating athletes. Participants will be judged on their athleticism, musicality, difficulty of choreography and overall presentation by judges from Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. Paula Abdul, Alison Holker, Apolo Ohno, Travis Wall and Lauren Potter, were some of the celebrity guests in attendance, along with other renown dancers and Olympians.
How it works is National teams nominated dancers to participate in one of three categories: Solo Freestyle (performing in any style they wish), Unified Ballroom Dancing and Unified Hip-Hop Crew. Each team could have up to ten competitors in each category, and up to ten crews in the group category. They were required to submit a video for online nomination and answer a series of questions about their backgrounds, involvement in dance and how dance has changed their lives.
Special coordinators were put in place to connect nominees with dance instructors who would provide special training and support one week prior, to prepare them for their minute long performance at the groundbreaking inaugural event.
Sample choreography was made available for viewing on the Just Dance link. And a facebook group called Special Olympics Dancing was created to foster support for participants and supporters, while nurturing the ever growing Olympic dance community.