The Rhetoric of DanceSport By Kue Thao


In December of 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the addition of "DanceSport" or more specifically Breakin/Bboyin into the 2018 Youth Olympics in Bueno Aries. DanceSport is a relatively new term that was branded by the World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF). DanceSport is the name competitive ballroom dancing took in the 1980's to try to gain acceptance into the Olympics, but after decades of being rejected, they were finally able to get their foot in the door by claiming breakin/bboyin as one of their "disciplines". This caused a huge uproar within the bboyin community as none of the leaders within the bboy community were approached prior to the addition of breakin/bboyin into the Youth Olympics.

This decision was met with mixed criticism. With some bboys from the community praising this as the next step forward for the dance, although some are skeptical of how the judging system will be handled. As well as some bboys saying that this will ruin the breakin culture and that dance is an art form and not a sport so it should not be treated as such.

I will be analyzing the original DanceSport proposal by the World Dance Sport Federation, as well as using stasis theory to define what exactly DanceSport is and what it means in terms of the future of bboying. Consequently, the intended audience will be the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the bboy community, who have voiced their concern about the direction and handling of the subject. Although they have already accepted Dance Sport into the Olympics, they will have rules and regulations of their own that will most likely rival those of the bboying community.

There will be two rhetorical tools at my disposal. The first tool being Aristotle's three basic appeals, pathos, logos and ethos to analyze and critique the proposal. The second tool I plan to use is stasis theory. Stasis theory will help me define what DanceSport is and its objective and how to deal with it moving forward. From my analysis, I hope that the IOC will hopefully acknowledge the input of the breakin community and will be more inclusive of the community as the 2018 Youth Olympic approaches.

Analysis of DanceSport Proposal

Below is a link to the 23 page long proposal that also includes the proposals for Karate and Sport Climbing, but we will only be focusing on the DanceSport portion.

Now in order for us to understand the propositions made by the WDSF, we must first obtain an understanding of IOC's goals and objectives for the 2018 Youth Olympics. Since its launch on August 14th 2010, the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) has always been geared towards youth athletes. IOC President Jacques Rogge says, "We are not only building an event for the world’s most talented young athletes, we are creating a platform to communicate to young people worldwide to interact through sport, culture and education, all of which is underpinned by YOG-DNA, the Spirit of the Youth Olympic Games”. This mission is the groundwork for YOG-DNA, which is, "targeted at young people as a label. It represents the attitudes and freedom of young people" (IOC). YOG-DNA is the underlining goal of the Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 Youth Olympics is looking to expand upon it.


The pathos appeal is the first appeal that is utilized in the first portion of the proposal. The corresponding answers to the "Value Added" section embody largely pathos appeals. Off the bat, we are persuaded with, "Breakdance is perfectly in line with youth expectations and interest; as such, Breakdance is part of the YOG DNA". Immediately the proposal addresses that "breakdance" is the perfect fit for YOG DNA.

Next, we see an appeal to pathos in regards to values, specifically the same values as that of the Olympic games, "DanceSport also strongly aligns with the Olympic values of Friendship, Respect and Excellence. In addition, DanceSport links music to sport which brings the additional values of Harmony and Beauty". They are not only appealing to YOG values, but also addressing that DanceSport is also in tuned with Olympic values as well.

Pathos appeal in the very first paragrah


The logos appeal is the most abundant and appears in the mid-section of the proposal, under the "Popularity" section. This section lays out statistics on the popularity of the DanceSport and the World Dance Sport Federation. It displays the average number of website visits, as well as the number of fans and social media followers. As well as going to show the number of television viewers and the number of ticket sales among previous events. WDSF tries to establish the popularity and success of DanceSport by bringing in hard facts related to website visits, social media followers, media coverage and ticket sales.

Ticket Sales

Logos also appears in the very last section, titled "Institutional Matters". This section details the number of participants worldwide who have participated in a DanceSport event.

Number of Participants


The ethos appeal is used sparingly here and appears in the "Institutional Matters" section. They simply just indicate when the World Dance Sport Federation is established and when it was recognized by the International Olympics Committee. This details is important as it legitimizes the organization.

Year of establishment & recognition

Stasis Theory

Stasis Theory will help us investigate and conduct critical analysis of what DanceSport is and what we can do about it in the long run. I will be utilizing OWL's online resource on stasis theory to help facilitate in this analysis. Below is the direct link to the resource.

Fact - Does "DanceSport" Exist?

The WDSF has been trying for decades to get the IOC to recognize ballroom dancing as a viable event for the Olympics, but they have been rejected every year. December 6th 2016, was when WDSF finally caught a break when the IOC executives approves the WDSF’s proposal to include DanceSport, specifically “Breakdance”, into the Bueno Aires 2018 YOG. WDSF was able to do this by claiming “Breakdance” as one of its disciplines. The proposal came about without the knowledge of not one prominent figure in the breakin community. This caused a lot of concern among bboys and bgirls, because they feel as if their culture is being infringed upon. Being that the decision will most likely not be reverted, the issue at hand is how the IOC will handle the event, especially the judging system in particular.

Definition - What is "DanceSport"

The concerning issue at hand is how DanceSport will be governed, presented and judged at the YOG. There has been much conversation about whether dancing is considered an art form or a sport. This will be the center of the issue in determining how DanceSport will be presented and judged. Being that it is branded as sport and that all the Olympic events are sports events, the IOC will most likely treat this event as a sport and will judge it as such. This means that the competition will likely be judged on an objective level and not subjectively. This is where it gets problematic, because brreakin has always been judged subjectively. And being that no one from the community was brought in to the whole process is what concerns many people in the breakin community.

Quality - Is "DanceSport" Good or Bad?

The inclusion of DanceSport in the 2018 YOG has produced mixed criticism from with the breakin community. Some are praising the move and saying that this is the next big step for breakin as it will create exposure for the dance. Chaz Bonnar, a videographer and dancer from Scotland, tweets, "Big uproar at the moment about having #Breaking as part of the Youth Olympic Games!" (Ellis). Some are disapproving the decision and have even set up a petition to remove the WDSF from the Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (Petition is available in a link below). Regardless of one's position, the decision will still stand and the WDSF will remain and foresee all operations. This will be worrisome because people in the community are afraid that their culture will be exploited by the IOC & WDSF just like how it was in the 1980s. Serouj Midus Aprahamian a bboy from San-Jose, California states on a post on Facebook, "This isn’t the first case of hip-hop being exploited by outside powers for their own agenda" (Aprahamian). This is serious because the direction/vision of bboying in the Olympics is totally beyond their grasp. This will affect the bboy community and how people on the outside view the community. If they don’t do anything then the IOC and WDSF will dictate the direction of “DanceSport”.

Policy - What Do We Do About "DanceSport"

The only thing left to do in this case is for people in the breakin community to take action towards the WDSF. Whether that be to get a petition to take breakin out of the YOG or to be apart of the WDSF and ensure that breakin culture be accurately represented. The WDSF could use judging systems that are already in place and that work or co-operate with the community to come to an agreed judging system that meets both the needs of both parties. Lastly, the bboying community needs to establish a governing body and the IOC and WDSF needs to be inclusive of this governing body in order for this to be resolved.

Audience Analysis

The intended audience of this artefact is the International Olympic Committee. The artefact used pathos to target the committee's core values and appealed to their label, the YOG DNA. They also employed hard statistics to support their credibility as an organization that is capable of being successful in terms of expanding upon the YOG DNA. Due to these tactics, the WDSF was able to get DanceSport added onto the 2018 YOG.

The secondary or more accurately, the unintended audience, is the breakin community. The artefact was not addressed to the breakin audience, but somehow it was effective in creating a response to the proposal. This can be explored through stasis theory of DanceSport. DanceSport is an umbrella term that was used to claim breakin as one of its many disciplines. It was a term that came from outside of the community and culture, not from within. The reason it prompted a response was because many breakers from the breakin community saw this as an opportunity for an outside organization to exploit their culture and way of life.

Moving Forward

What needs to be accomplished before we can start moving forward? How can we resolve the problem peacefully and on terms that everyone can agree with? Moving forward, it is crucial that the breakin community establish some sort of governing body to represent the values and vision of the breakin community. Once this is established, the breakin community will have a better platform to voice their concern and opinions. But in order for this to work, the cooperation of the WDSF and IOC is necessary. There must be dialogue between the organizations to minimize confusion among the audiences. It might have started off on the wrong foot, but there is still time before the 2018 YOG to make sure that the introduction of breakin into the Olympics is successful.

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