Watching Dance Moms: 30 minutes of my life I can’t get back

My daughter and I are big Marvel Comics fans. We go to every movie (my son along with us, but he now lives in another part of the state), and on Tuesday nights, we become avid watchers of Agents of Shield and Agent Carter.

We found ourselves looking for a program to watch a half hour before Agent Carter came on. Among the choices? Dance Moms.

I’ve flipped through channels and watched it in bits and pieces. But Tuesday night was the first time I actually sat down and watched for an extended period of time.

I’m a recreational dancer, so any dance show would draw my attention. My daughter used to dance, and still watches dance shows and knows good dancing when she sees it, partly from going to see the company her dear old dad performs with from time to time.

I couldn’t believe what I saw.

I wasn’t shocked by dance moms acting like hicks from the sticks. Or by a dance teacher/”agent” who looks and somewhat acts like one of my old offensive line coaches from my brief high school football days.

The dancing. That is what shocked me the most.

It was downright horrible. Seriously, I could dance circles around those kids and I stumble around as a bottom dweller in the company-level classes I take.

Basically, the choreography and dancing amounted to this: Walking around and striking a pose, and occasionally doing some acrobatic stunt. I felt sorry for the girls to be honest. Showing how high you can get your leg and doing a back flip isn’t dance when you do very little steps in between.

It saddens me that a show like this is the only picture many people get of dance schools in America.

Pushy moms, yeah I guess that’s funny. Maybe the mean dance teacher, too, makes for compelling television for some.

But the dancing sucks.

It really does.

I’m not a huge fan of competition studios. But I’ve got to believe there are some really good dance schools among them out there.

If you’re going to give a dance school a nationally-televised show, you would at least think they would give it to a studio where you’d be wowed by the dancing.

But evidently moms and a teacher acting like jerks makes for compelling television, rather than quality dancing.

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4 responses to “Watching Dance Moms: 30 minutes of my life I can’t get back

  • beginningballet

    As someone who openly admits to being a dance moms ADDICT (years long addiction), I have to ask which season did you watch? In the first few seasons they’re pretty young but in the later seasons they improve a lot. Youtube “dance moms – stomp the yard” which is one of their more recent group dances. It’s obviously competition-y but that’s what they do and I think they danced very well and the choreography was on point (not to be confused with en pointe)!

    Also we can’t forget that Maddie Ziegler danced incredibly in Sia’s “Chandelier” music video! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • asher

    I’ll own watching a few episodes of Dance Moms here or there ๐Ÿ˜‰ I found myself thinking that a lot of the dance numbers look like gymastic floor exercise for people who can’t really do serious floor exercise stuff, or rhythmic gymnastics sans ribbons or balls. Kind of mystifying.

    It’s unfortunate, because some of the kids had real talent and seemed to want careers in dance, but I’m not sure where you go with that particular style. Like, I can’t even really see it working in musical theater without a lot of polishing (no dig at musical theater intended; it just tends to employ much less formal dance forms).

    The BBC did a nice three-part series on what it’s like to be a dancer with the Royal Ballet; they’ve also done a couple of good documentaries about serious ballet kids. It would really be nice to see something like that on American TV — but I kind of get the feeling that most of American culture, at this point, sees dance as a kids’ activity, like soccer/footie, and doesn’t grok why that should be compelling.

    • JustScott

      That was my point exactly. What they do is more acrobatic than dance. Maybe I watched it too much from a ballet lens, but the transition steps needed for a career in musical theater wasn’t there, not to mention if they want a career in what I see as a major dance company. There are no doubt talented kids on the show. Of course, I miss the point about the show I’m sure, which really isn’t about dancing at all, but about grown people making arses of themselves. And I agree America lacks serious documentaries about serious ballet kids, but like you’ve said, I’m not sure that’s what America really wants, and it’s sad.

      • asher

        I’m glad that my perceptions were in line with yours! I’m always kind of worried that I’m being too picky and negative. Alas for the days when “grown people making arses of themselves” involved pies-in-the-face and prat falls. That could be much more fun to watch!

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