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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Television: "Dancemoms" on Lifetime

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LauraR, I understand what you are saying. People have different interests and tastes in tv shows. But most of the drama in Toddlers and Tiaras are children who are spoiled, tired, uncomfortable or uninterested. Still not great television in my view, but generally no harm done.


Here we have girls age 8 and up being nothing less than exploited for a tv show! This must be where the line is drawn. It is 110% wrong to have these girls thrown in front of the camera being yelled at, crying, hurting in front of the cameras. Isn't anything off limits?!

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I admit to watching it, thinking that it might be more ballet-oriented than it is. One of the aspects that bothered me most was the studio owner's "pyramid" display with her "star" on top. Yes, most studios do operate with some type of unofficial hierarchy which isn't hard to figure out after even one day, but must there be a visual display to make it completely hurtful to the lower pyramid members? Then, she even asked the 8-year-old star at the top of the pyramid if she felt that she could be free of mistakes in order to remain at the top, and asked her if she could handle the pressure.

The one interesting thing was that the studio owner claimed that she yells and is tough so that her girls can go out into the job world and be ready for that kind of treatment, implying that other studios take a kinder approach which does not prepare their students for the real world of employment in dance.

Maybe this would be food for a different thread, but, to those of you who are working in real dance jobs, or to your parents on this board: Is the real world like that treatment? If so, in what ways? I think we all deserve to know, if it is.

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I think the sign on the studio wall for Abby Lee says it all " Winning isn't everything, It's the only thing!" So thankful to have stumbled on wonderful dance instruction where kindness and respect are the norm.

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Pointeprovider--there are tyrants in all forms of work, even the type jobs you or I might do. But while a thick skin might be needed for many a dance jobs, a concrete exterior or hollowed out interior are counterproductive for having a job you find a passion for and enjoying that passion. Do you need to be able to muddle through, work sometimes when you don't feel up to it, block out behind the scenes drama, and work for a few unforgiving choreographers or over the top types? Probably yes. Do you need to be beaten down while as a child to make the ability to do that a reality? Absolutely not.


It's also important to remember that in the professional environment, people can be fired. You can't be fired when it's your own studio.

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I didn't catch the original show but will probably see a repeat showing. Ironically, it is a studio like that led us to ballet. My girls were in a good competition school, but I noticed that there was quite a lot of yelling and pressure, even down to the 5-8 yo girls. My oldest was getting into ballet technique and wanted to quit. My youngest wanted to just take ballet, so her teacher (who was awesome and trained at the local pre-pro school) told me to take her to the same pre-pro school. During watch week one time, I asked another mom if she had an issue with the way the teacher was yelling at the girls and demeaning them. The response was, "That's the way dance is and you just have to get used to it." That studio has produced some fine students who have gone on to dance on Broadway and with the Rockettes, etc. I just didn't think it was worth the sacrifice to my girls' character and confidence to subject them to that sort of treatment. Everyone thinks ballet studios are tough, but ours has been very pleasant.

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There are ways to discipline, and yes, even be "tough" sometimes, without yelling or distroying their confidence. Dancers need confidence to do well, and that will not happen by being "tough" in a negative way.

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Having been a dance mom, running across Abby many years ago at several dance competitions and because (sorry to admit it) I actually like Toddlers and Tiaras, I decided to watch last night. Yikes! I don't think I can watch that one again.


Not all of my exerpiences in the competition dance world were positive, and to tell you the truth it was usually because of the dance moms...not my dd's teacher. I think the Dance Moms are over magnified but I have seen similar types of behavior on a smaller scale. But who hasn't seen in it in sports parents too?


I have seen Abby at competitions and she definitely was a presence to be reckoned with. I remember one time in particular waiting in line to check in and Abby, obviously familiar with the competition staff, pushed herself right up to the front. The word among the studio parents was that she was a little nuts, and this is ten years ago! But her dancers always did very well at the competitions. I don't know how technically trained they were (not my knowledge base) but they were always enjoyable to watch and memorable. And they seemed no less happy than the other competition kids.


The one thing that did not ring true for me was the dance teacher mom who brought her daughter to Abby. I know that teacher and she owns her own studio which has competed for years, and has also done very well in competitions. I also found it hard to believe when Abby pretended that she didn't know who she was. Their studios have competed against each other for years...if I know who they are they sure know each other! The only reason I can think that the visiting teacher brought her dd there was because she wanted to be on the show. I don't believe that story line for one minute.


My dd was a competition dancer for most of her dancing career and I have no regrets about it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I think she is where she is today in part because of her "dolly dinkle" teachers who took great interest in her, the competition aspect (sorry, I think the ballet world is as competitive as competition dancing) and the opportunity to perform and be evaluated by people who don't know or care about her. Were there downsides? Sure--some of the dance mom's. But overall well worth it. (And I didn't spend 16,000 a year... But this is for another thread....what does it cost to train a ballet dancer? Summer intensives, ballet competitions and residency programs are not inexpensive. Someone had posted that to attend a New York SI they had paid almost $6,000 with food and accomoodations and this was several years ago)

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Wow, I saw trailers for this show but didn't actually see it. Someone told me this morning that it is a dance school in OUR CITY!! So glad my girls dodged that bullet! I agree with those above who scorned this show for it's exploitation of children. As for dance moms, it seems like there is always a bad apple or two in every bunch. I have been trucking my kids to various dance classes for the better part of 20 years, but although I have definitely met some SERIOUSLY over the top parents, it was never more at dance than I saw taking my kids to soccer, wrestling, basketball, cheerleading, academic games, brownies... the list goes on... you get my drift.

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LOVED it! So much rang true. Not of my DD's former school, which competed (and won!) and was fantastic, kind, focused on classical ballet and clean jazz and tap and good sportsmanship, but true of some of the competition. Brought back those early dance mom years....

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As a parent of a child who was not a competition dancer but was part of a reality TV show (is that worse) DD now loves watching these kinds of shows because she watches for and picks out the re-shoots, the forced situations, the performances that have been spliced together from multiple shoots and the contrived dialogue/scenes. When she is home I watch them with her but when she is away I don't. DD learned early on when she was in a reality show that there is a fine line between being complaint enough to be kept on the show (and paid) versus being written out and not paid. DD was 17 when she did the reality show and had the benefit of being in the second season and seeing the first one filmed and edited, so she knew how to play the game to some extent. I am sure many ofthe families on this feel they must "perform" as demanded by the production crew or they will be cut out. Unfortunately for the kids all they are learning is that exploitation happens in many, many ways.


One of the things that was interesting in the contract that DD signed for the reality show was the clause that says the producers have the right to edit material together into portrails that migt be considered unflattering or humilating (or some such wording) and you are signing to agree to this. These families may have no idea what they were going to end up looking like when the showed aired. DD and the others in the show were given a DVD of the show at noon the day before it aired so they could watch it and decide if they wanted to go to school the next day. Fortunately for DD she was determined to be uninteresting so ended up being a rather expensive filler character, lots of other kids ended up with more air time but had no contract, hence no money.

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I watched part of it, saw the part about rehearsing the girls, yelling at the tall skinny blonde girl, the crazy Mom going off on her...and then I changed the channel.


1. What is it with these "flash and trash" competition schools? If I wanted my kid looking like a hooker, I'd buy her a pole. One piece, two pieces...I don't care...these costumes look trashy. I train with a good ballet teacher that happens to work at a competition school and I will NOT be sending my kid there to participate in his toddler program because they too dress their "competition" girls like prostitutes.


2. Technique? What technique??? Only one of those kids looked like she'd had training, the rest were slopping through the motions.


3. While I appreciate the instructor is far from sane, most good schools do require respect and a certain amount of "sucking it up."


4. The one dance mom that came in with a kid that allegedly trained in her studio. Please tell me, where on earth is that other studio...I want to know so I can stay, far, far away...if that was the "quality" training she gave her own kid, the rest of the students must be a joke.


5. It is very sad when kids with some talent are put into such bad training situations...hard, cold facts when they actually go somewhere WITH good technique and are ripped to shreds.


Bottom line, do your homework before you pay money for a stranger to "teach" your kid anything, that especially goes for dance and gymnastics.

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Guest coupe66
1. What is it with these "flash and trash" competition schools? If I wanted my kid looking like a hooker, I'd buy her a pole.



I know that this is a serious topic, but I just had to laugh when I read the wording of your comment here, because I have so often felt the same way about some of the costumes I have seen! Thankfully, we have not had this problem at our studio, but it is very common in the competition schools in our area.

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I'm just a little bit cheeky. :) And that is really what I think when I walk into dress rehearsal and there is a group of 14-year-olds dressed like vampire hookers. What person in their right minds would allow their kid to do this? And we wonder why girls have such messed up heads in the real world.

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But as some as mentioned, the studio shown in the show is an extreme version of competition dance; bottom line is that extremity sells! It's probably a good idea that we remember not to apply what we see on the show to all competition dancers and studios. Let's not forget that Tiler Peck was once a competition dancer.


For example, one of my cousins trains at a studio that attends several competitions (not talking about ballet competitions here, although they go to those too), and does very well. No flashy costumes. Excellent technique; they take ballet and pointework from experienced instructors 6 days a week in addition to jazz, modern, rehearsals, etc. Alumni have gone on to many companies including ABT and many girls have trained there until going onto SAB, Ellison, Kirov for a finishing year or two.


Not trying to change the subject to competition schools in general! But as I read this, I had to remind myself to keep an open mind and thought maybe some others would appreciate a reminder as well.

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Guest coupe66
But as some as mentioned, the studio shown in the show is an extreme version of competition dance; bottom line is that extremity sells! It's probably a good idea that we remember not to apply what we see on the show to all competition dancers and studios.



True enough. I have even seen the kinds of costumes described in our county's recreational dance program as well, on really little girls :D

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