(Written in 2005, recently found when looking for something else.)
How long do you gaze at a tangible art piece?
How long do you look at art?
Dance is not ephemeral if looked at in relation to a larger scale than it is usually viewed. When people watch a dance they spend more time watching it than they usually spend looking at a painting or sculpture in a museum. But the dance can be considered ephemeral if what is important are the details of it. Those fleeting movements/moments, but the structure of the piece will hopefully throughout the piece and that will be at least 5 minutes, much longer than most people spend looking at the Mona Lisa or a Picasso.
Those paintings are just as ephemeral unless you own it or live in the same city as the painting. But then do you measure ephemerality(?) in in terms of a work’s self or in relation to the viewer. Yes, the dance comes and goes, but so do the viewers. And a painting does not go, only the viewer. But what is a sculpture if not viewed? Nothing. it is merely the possibility of something to be viewed. But any dance piece, once conceptualized and rehearsed(known) becomes the possibility of something to be viewed.
Dance is considered to be ephemeral because the reason for most dances existences, the minute details of the choreography, are ephemeral, they do not last past the duration of the viewing. But what could last for the duration of the viewing and beyond is the conceptual construct of the piece, of the performance elements. The more definite they are, the more definite the zusammenhang, the more tangible the performance.
To summarize – All arts are equally ephemeral. It depends upon how long the viewer is looking at them.