Last year, I started watching the television show “Dance Moms” with my teenage daughter.
For those of you who have never watched the show, the gist of it is this: Abby Lee Miller is the owner and instructor at the very successful “Abby Lee Dance Company” in Pennsylvania. Now, Abby is not what you would call the loving-nurturing type. She is more the “suck it up and don’t cry when I berate you” type. Whatever. I know some people that watch the show can’t imagine that instructors like Abby exist. Well,I am here to tell you that they do, at least in the world of soccer. So, Abby doesn’t really surprise me too much, unfortunately.
Now, I know nothing about the world of dance, but from what I have seen, Abby gets results! Many probably do not agree with her teaching style, but Abby prides herself on creating ‘employable’ dancers. (Broadway employable that is…) So, even though the moms on the show whine constantly about how Abby makes their daughters cry, they go back for more week after week, most likely with the hopes that their daughter will become a professional (Broadway) dancer.
Again, I have seen some pretty horrible, ego-maniacal coaches through the years, and many parents take their kids back to the same coach even though their kids are miserable. So, the fact these parents complain incessantly yet still keep going back for more does not surprise me. What does surprise me is what these families go through for dance.
No Competition Is Too Far Away When It Comes To Dance!
Each week, it seems this competitive dance team is headed to a new destination, many of which require traveling by plane. Last season, the girls had all flown to some far away state to compete. At the end of the competition, Abby surprised them all with the announcement that she had scheduled them to compete in California the next week. (AND there would be a special surprise!) I was dumbfounded. I can’t imagine how much it must cost to arrange last minute flights like that at the whim of a dance teacher. There isn’t any choice in the matter either, you must go.
Then, this season, the dance team was all set to compete in New York to compete when guess what? The competition was canceled at the last minute. Instead of taking the week off, Abby got on the horn and arranged for the girls to compete in Texas. Time to hop on a plane and fly across the country on a moment’s notice so you can dance on…a gym floor. (If I am going to upend my life and spend a bunch of money to travel to a competition, I at least would want my child to dance on a safe surface.)
How Do These Families Do It?
There is no way my family could accommodate this level of competition. Not only would it be a huge money drain, but what do you do with the other kids in the house? I just learned during an episode last week that one of the moms has a 2 year old at home. I have no idea who watches this kid because this mom is always at the dance studio because it is expected that moms sit and watch each practice. As a matter of fact, one mom is often the subject of scrutiny because she is not always at the studio because she has a job.
Keep in mind, I am not judging these families at all, to each his own. I am just curious if any readers out there have had similar experiences as what is depicted in “Dance Moms”. If you were ever a serious dancer/gymnast/etc as a kid, was it worth the time, effort, and money? Are you glad you did it?