Thursday, January 02, 2014

Those Crazy Dance Moms

Aliza has got me watching Dance Moms with her the past couple of days.  Mostly she likes watching for the dance competitions the kids perform in - because she's been in dance competitions so she knows what those kids are feeling up there on stage, and the excitement and tension of waiting to see if you win any awards.  It's fun for me to watch too; those dance competitions are the same all over.

But the show Dance Moms, now, make no mistake - it's about the moms.  It's not about the dancing or the kids or even Abby, the dance instructor.  It's about the moms and the drama and catfighting and competitiveness between them.  The little dancers are all doe-eyed, tiny little creatures, and their moms are all overly processed and made up clowns.

At a typical dance rehearsal, the moms, the dancers, and Abby all meet in the studio and then when class starts, the moms all go into a viewing room.  And they sit in there like all those busybody ladies in The Music Man, who "pick-a-little, talk-a-little, pick-a-little, talk-a-little, cheep! Cheep!  Cheep!  Talk-a-lot, pick-a-little-more."

And I'm thinking, don't they have something to do?  Other than sit and watch the entire class, nitpicking over the attention each particular child gets or doesn't get?  Get a life!

I used to think it was just the moms I couldn't stand, but after last night's season premiere, I don't like Abby, either.  I've never liked how harsh she is with the kids, but now she seems to have gotten wind of how popular and famous she is, and this group of dancers isn't good enough for her anymore - she's holding auditions to get the very best of the best dancers, so that they can win competitions.  Because in last night's episode, the group dance only came in 3rd.  And that's failure, as far as she's concerned.

From what I can see, winning a dance competition means only that an arbitrary group of "judges" decided you were the best among a small group.  It's based on the opinion of five or six or seven people, who were chosen to be judges because of their dance experience.  It's a little random.  Sure, the kids who dance the best usually win - but often there are many good dancers and multiple possible winners.

So in Dance Moms this season, it's even less about the kids.  It's about what to change in order for Abby's dancers to come in first.  The girls are learning that winning is the only thing that matters - that if you can't come in first, you shouldn't even try - and if you aren't the best, even if you tried your hardest, nothing matters and you won't make it.

She isn't being a teacher - she isn't supporting and encouraging the kids - she's a coach.  She's showing those kids that they have to earn a spot on the dance team, and if they aren't good enough, they will be cut.

And that's fine, once you are talking about grown ups and professional sports.  It's not fine to treat little kids that way.  Shame on Abby, for treating the kids this way.  And shame on every one of their mothers for putting them in this situation in the first place.

I don't stop Aliza from watching it, but I make sure she knows the message this show sends is wrong and damaging, and I would never let her participate in a class like that.

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