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Competitive Dance: Over-the-top or an Outlet for Young Girls to Shine?

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  • Posted: July 25th, 2011

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    By: Amy Franzwa

    The Lifetime Network’s Dance Moms gives a glimpse into the world of competitive dance. One, among many words that come to mind after seeing the show: WOW. The show follows the lives of the parents and children, mostly girls as young as 7-years-old, who are enrolled at Abby Lee Dance Company. Abby Lee Miller, the owner and operator of the school, is deemed passionate and has an in-your-face approach. The show may make “good” TV, but to me it is just disturbing. 

    As part of their dance training, these young girls are dressed in risqué costumes with full hair and make-up.  Their routines are set to “dance” music that is totally inappropriate for 7 year olds.  When the girls started to dance, my jaw honestly dropped.  Young girls showing racy moves that would make a stripper blush. 

    What the heck are these parents thinking? Most argue they’re trying to encourage and support their children in their aspirations to be the next big dance star. That’s great! But wake-up and realize that supporting them doesn’t require you to put them into a program that forces them to grow up much too soon.

    I get that Abby Lee’s studio is a case of extremes, but even today’s average studio has some pretty over-the-top costumes (with high fees to match) and expectations of full hair and make-up for girls participating in recitals and competitions.  How is a young girl’s dance ability enhanced by her wearing less clothing, 20 lbs of make-up and having curly cue hair?

    I just don’t understand. I don’t see the benefit of condoning such adult behavior in girls that are at such a young age. We should capitalize on the opportunity to instill a sense of self-respect and dignity before it’s too late. If there are truly some significant positives to the extreme hair, make-up and outfits I will back down, but I just don’t see them. Maybe some dance moms can enlighten me?!

    Comments & Discussions(5)
    • Karol Word

      July 28th, 2011

      Disturbing would be an understatement! In a world where we are striving to distance our girls from becoming sex objects, hopefully, along comes these obscene excuses to exploit our girls from within! As a mother to a girl and grandmother to another girl, I am appalled!I cannot stop others from such disgusting displays of exploitation but not in my family! We value our granddaughter and not for dancing in a provacative, inappropriate manner! Disgusting!

    • Angie

      July 30th, 2011

      I agree with you on all counts. My neice is a competitive dancer but her studio believes in keeping kids kids. She is almost 14 and still does not do those provocative things on stage. She would not want to either! Now, as for makeup, most of what they do on that show is way over the top. However, they do need some makeup on stage to be seen well in those bright lights. The girls who do not wear enough look washed out unless they are blessed with dark skin! Competitive dance is a great self-esteem builder if the parents and studio work together to make it that way. The sad thing is, those talented little girls on that show are being torn down by their studio and thier parents. My heart goes out to them.

    • Pola

      August 25th, 2011

      I agree. I have 8 years old daughter that wants to dance and dilemma what dance school in Westfield area would be best. I want her to learn how to dance and have fun, not to preparing the whole year for a ridicules spectacle. If someone would recommend good dance studio I'd be very grateful.

    • Sarah

      November 8th, 2011

      So True!!!!!

    • Milah

      January 4th, 2012

      I will agree with you about the show being over the top but at the same time, me being a dance studio owner myself, competition is their to boost students self esteem and to prepare them for the real world of dance. For example, if a child wanted to work towards becoming a back up dancer for music videos or broadway and all they learned was technical side of ballet, jazz and hip hop and not learn how to be a performer, they probably wouldn't stand a chance at an audition. To me dance is an art (an expression of who you are, which is something that can't be taught) regardless what style it is and sometimes that might include stage makeup (which is completely different then make up you would buy in a store), 2 piece costumes that show tummy (which is safer than a child wearing a 2 piece swimsuit at a public pool or beach). The best dancers are the ones who are well rounded and can perform anything without hesitation or insecurity. The girls in the Abby Lee Dance Company are well rounded and prepared for anything because they're being trained not just in the art of dance but how to be a working professional. Most dance students don't get trained in how to be a professional dancer and then when they go to audition (music videos, dance companies, or college) they don't understand why they didn't get chosen or their feelings get hurt because a choreographer told them that they were plain, they dance stiffly or worse, the student says "I never showed skin before on stage and I'm a little self conscious" or they don't know how to properly apply stage make up...90% of the time, the student will just get dismissed because choreographers want dancers who are ready and already know what they are doing. They don't want to deal with a beginner because they expect a child to already been trained or taught through the years before they show up to an audition.

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