Lisa Plumb, owner of Plumb Performing Arts Center in Scottsdale, has plenty to share on the topic of Lifetime’s new “reality TV” series titled “Dance Moms,” which airs on Wednesday nights.
“Dance Moms” features a brash, bellicose dance teacher who has long owned and operated a dance studio in Pittsburgh. Also the dancers who train there — and their mothers. They like to watch. And snip.
Plumb says she runs “a tight ship,” but finds the “Dance Moms” studio “a bit extreme.” It’s rare in real life, for example, for girls to learn competition routines with as little time as they appear to be given in “Dance Moms.”
For Abby Lee Miller, owner of Abby Lee Dance Company, it’s all about winning. But Plumb says dance competitions offer plenty of benefits for those who don’t win. Gaining experience in performance and showmanship, setting and working toward goals, networking with professionals and peers — and more.
Plumb recognizes some moms do take dance competitions to an “extreme.” Still, she suggests a more balanced approach. It’s possible, reflects Plumb, to couple a “no-nonsense style” with a “loving and nurturing” environment.
It’s this approach, adds Plumb, that leads to “well-trained dancers that end up getting the most jobs,” because they’ve “learned to deal with not always winning and rejection — which can be applied to any other aspect of life.”
“The moms that keep it in perspective,” observes Plumb, “have the kids that ultimately in the long run do the best whether they are professional dancers or doctors.” Makes sense when you picture your surgeon struggling to operate in the absense of an overbearing “doc mom.”
I was amazed, during a recent episode of “Dance Moms,” that a dancer whose headpiece fell over her eyes continued to dance as if nothing had happened. I felt certain both studio owner/teacher and parent would applaud her for staying focused and keeping her cool.
Instead, the dance teacher tore into the dancer’s mom for letting such a thing happen. Plumb notes that there’s little benefit to parents and teachers talking negatively to or about one another when dancers are present. It’s tacky, and entirely unproductive.
Plumb insists that “a true winning team, whether they win the top trophy or not, is one that has a good, honest and open working relationship between student, parent and teacher.”
The young dancers on “Dance Moms” are trying, says Plumb, to please their parents and teachers. At times, they’re expected to choose between the two — something that makes Plumb feel “sorry and sad.”
In real life, observes Plumb, dance moms “support their children without being over the top.” And they “diversify” their children’s dance experiences — coupling dance competitions with non-competitive performance, summer intensives and such.
As the series unfolds, we’re all learning more about the dance moms featured on the show. The one who pushes her daughter to perform against medical advice. The one who insists her daughter stress the right syllable when saying “okay.” Were children not involved, all these grown-up neuroses might be somewhat amusing.
Plumb admits that “Dance Moms” has “its very funny and real life moments” but still finds it “a bit sad and disturbing.” And she cautions parents that about 95% of competition owners, for both pageants and dance, are only there to make money.
Do your homework. Trust your instincts. Listen to your child. But don’t believe everything you see on TV.
Note: All photos, by PRO PIX, are courtesy of Plumb Performing Arts Center. Dance group pictured above includes Angelina Lewallen, Katelynn Lewallen, Eliana Shephard, Madison Schultz, Jessica Rizor, Sierra Aungst, Brooke Rozelle and Gracie Timms.
Coming up: More dance experts on “Dance Moms,” Coffee meets comics, Way of the “Wolves,” Origami & beyond
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