Okay you had to know this one was coming.
Did anyone else watch the new show on Lifetime last night, "Dance Moms?" You better believe I did and my phone was blowing up with texts from students and dance parents about it.
In case you didn't watch...It's a docu-series following the Abby Lee Dance Company from Pittsburgh. It follows the junior level team (think like 8-11 years old) as they travel to competitions all over the country and ultimately head to Nationals. Abby Lee is the director and choreographer.
On the show she comes across as crazy. Like completely crazy and overdemanding and nasty. The dance moms are portrayed as overbearing, over involved, oft times alcoholic and just as nasty as Abby.
I've competed against Abby Lee many times, with my own studio and as a dancer when I was younger. She is crazy. Yep, she is. She is brash, extremely hard core, sets insane expectations and knows exactly what she wants. If you get in her way, watch out.
People keep going there. They bring their children to her and Abby produces stars. Is it really that bad if people keep going there? Are the moms that insistent on turning their children in to stars? Do the girls respond to the constant criticism? I don't know. The dancers are AMAZING but at what cost? Their self esteem? Their sense of security and enjoyment of dancing?
On the episode last night, one mom said they pay $16,000 a year for competition. As a teacher, I'm going to guess that's for fees, trips, costumes, everything not just classes. I hope so anyways. Because, Abby Lee, that's ridiculous. Now, I teach in a super small town that's been really hard hit by the economic down turn so my fees are as low as possible. I don't add anything on for competition classes at all. They are merely responsible for entrance fees, hotel, food, etc for the competition. That's enough for them to afford on top of their normal tuition here in North West Pennsylvania. Amazing how different things are two hours south...
It's always been my philosophy to never yell or humiliate my child. I don't care how great it makes them, it's not appropriate. There's better ways to get a point across. A dancer needs to be built up from the inside out. Yes, Abby Lee. They will be facing hard criticism and nastiness when they enter "the business." But let's be honest. How many of your students have actually ever pursued a dance career? How many just gave up after high school because they couldn't take it anymore? Let's get real. I know my students want other things. I don't have the luxury of requiring 25 hours of class a week. I'm lucky if I can get my kids to commit to dance two weeks before the recital or competition.
All this being said...I'm so glad I'm not like Abby Lee. All I have to do is look at Rory's face and I know for a fact I'll never speak to my students like that. Yikes.