Okay here's the thing. I know the Abby Lee Dance Company. I competed against them when I was in school. My students have competed against them. I've known those hardcore red coats for as long as I can remember. (Pittsburgh is only 2 hours from my studio and where we most often compete.) They are absolutely as beautiful and technically correct as they seem in the show. There are way more than 6 girls on Abby's team though, regardless of what Candy Apples Cathy says. Abby has a huge studio with lots of students and plenty of teachers.
That all being said...
I was FURIOUS at this week's episode. I know a lot of what they do on any reality show is for TV purposes, but oh my goodness. At an audition for the Joffrey Ballet School, a dancer should under no circumstances perform acrobatic tricks. Back handsprings? no. Chin stands, elbow stands, death drops? No. There's a time and a place for that type of dancing, and I am a huge fan of acro!, but it is not at the Joffrey Ballet. That is the place to show technique and classical dance styles. A contemporary piece or a jazz piece even would have been enough to set the girls apart. It was unnecessary and poor coaching on Abby's part to send them in their doing acro.
I also don't like the way the amount of ballet the girls take was portrayed. They obviously have lots of ballet training. Their technique is wonderful. That doesn't come by chance. It comes from hard work and lots of time at the ballet barre. They might not take as much as the Joffrey school would like but they clearly take a great amount from qualified teachers. You do NOT become the creme de la creme of competition studios without a strong ballet program. Lifetime TV, you just did the world of dance studios a huge disservice. If ONE of my students says to me "why do I have to take ballet? Maddie doesn't." I'm gonna lose my mind. It's like pulling teeth to get kids in ballet class as it is anyways. Ballet is the foundation of dance. Trying to dance without a strong ballet background is like building a house with a foundation. It won't last very long.
When Maddie forgot her solo and had a full blown panic attack, my heart shattered for that little girl. She is 9 years old and her biggest fear was her dance teacher hating her. I may or may not have cried a little. That fear of her teacher was so raw and exposed in that moment. Yes, Maddie, is obviously Abby's favorite but it doesn't spare Maddie from the fear they all experience. Every kid forgets their solo once and a while. It happens and it stinks. But it is not the end of the world, especially when you do 9 or 10 comps a year. It's a learning experience. It's no reason for a kid to go in to full on panic mode. Maddie needed a hug from Abby and an "it's all right, we'll do better next time." Instead her mom was short with her, Abby melted down and Maddie felt guilty on so many levels.
These poor babies. I just want to hug them all.
Mothers, take note. There are lots of great dance studios around the country where the teachers do NOT yell and humiliate their students, where students are built up not torn down, where students are valued and appreciated. Do your research. Find a healthy environment for your kids to train in. And above all else, do not be afraid to yank your kids right out of there if the teacher is a screamer. Kids need affection, not embarrassment.
Sidebar. Dance Moms Miami? Ehh. No thanks. PENNSYLVANIA DOES IT BETTER!!