My daughter Lizabeth alerted me Tuesday morning to a new show on the Lifetime channel called “Dance Moms.” Think “Toddlers and Tiaras” with dance competitions instead of beauty/talent pageants.
Wednesday night we stumbled on a rerun of a previous episode, sitting on the living room couch watching it together. Then, after Lizabeth went to sleep later that evening, I watched the most recent episode.
In between, I shot off e-mails to a diverse assortment of dance teachers and experts, inviting them to share it with young dancers and dance parents. I asked whether they’d seen the show, and what they thought of it.
The first reply came from a Valley dance teacher who recently stumbled on the show herself and shot back an e-mail right away. “I was horrified,” she wrote. “I only saw about ten minutes but that was more than enough.”
The first episode I watched included moms directing from the audience, a studio owner yelling at a parent volunteer and a young dancer noting that she wins every dance competition she enters.
“I had a hard time believing those moms were for real,” wrote the first dance teacher I heard back from. “I saw a few who were supposed to be highly educated professionals.” But she had other words for them — “shrieking, demanding, heartless and cruel.”
“I know so many dance professionals who are dedicated and caring,” she shared. “I have never even heard of such ridiculous behavior and I prefer to believe it doesn’t exist.”
She even wondered why any mom “would allow herself to be filmed behaving like a lunatic.” My husband had a similar reaction. Being a “stage mom” in the worst sense of the word is one thing. Inviting a television crew to tape it is a whole other brand of bizarre.
I was most amused by the final quip this Valley dance teacher shared with me — “I think someone is trying to trump wrestling for fraud and sick entertainment.”
Since receiving that first e-mail, more comments started rolling in. Many quite thoughtful and insightful. I’ll be sharing more thoughts on “Dance Mom” — and the world of competitive dance for youth — in a future post.
If you’ve seen the show and have thoughts to share, I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up: Dance performance on Valley stages, What would Robin Hood do?, Disney alert!