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

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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?!

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