Train-Wreck TV

Falyn Katzman, Assistant Editor

“There is no such thing as bad dancers. Only bad teachers.” ~George Balanchine

I’m sure Abby Lee Miller of the Lifetime show Dance Moms would beg to differ. Dance Moms follows eight dancers and their moms through the highs and lows of being a competition dancer. But with Miller as a teacher, there are only lows. She sees nothing wrong with screaming at her dancers, who are between the ages of six and thirteen, if they make a small mistake, putting them on stage half naked, or hitting them with a foam baseball bat. On top of all that, she ranks her dancers from worst to best. This order changes every week based on their performance at the previous competition. The best dancer for that week gets featured in every dance and is guaranteed a solo at the next competition.

This show gives dance schools a bad name. It is important to know that not all dance schools and dance teachers treat their students with such disrespect. It is possible to teach students to dance through constructive criticism instead of screaming at them until they run out crying. Also, not all dance schools believe in putting pre-teens on stage wearing nothing but a bra and underwear. The March 6th episode titled “Topless Showgirls” actually got pulled off the air and will never appear on Lifetime, or online, ever again. In this episode, the girls were covering their bodies with fans to give the appearance that they were naked. Although the moms of these children were not happy, they did nothing to stop the dance from happening. Basically, the theme of this episode is that it is okay to appear naked on stage if it receives high scores. Is this the message kids should be receiving?

Abby Lee Miller claims to create stars. She once said, “There are children who work on Broadway because of me. I have kids at Tokyo Disney, I have kids that have made a lot of money and own a lot of property and are doing really well because of me- even out here in LA. And I know if it wasn’t for me, those kids would’ve never left Pittsburgh.” So, the only way to produce stars is to yell, scream, and belittle children? Derek Hough and Mark Ballas, two pros on the hit ABC show Dancing With the Stars were true child dance prodigies. But unlike Miller’s teaching techniques, Corky and Shirley Ballas, Ballas and Hough’s instructors, were actually kind and considerate teachers. Ballas and Hough have both watched Dance Moms, were not happy, and felt compelled to go public with their criticisms. “I’m sorry, but this Dance Mom show is straight up abusive. Kids run! It ain’t right. Child abuse isn’t right. I’m livid right now. I believe in discipline and a strong work ethic. But there is nothing productive about screaming and making little girls cry over being on the wrong foot,” said Derek Hough. Mark Ballas said, “This lady is crazy. Completely wrong attitude towards the kids, it embarrassing. Horrific tactics. Correct teaching is patience, discipline, confidence building and love. She needs a reality check.” Hough put it best, it’s child abuse, and it needs to be stopped. The bad news is, ratings remain high and a spinoff is already set to air in April.