Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dance Moms: Some Takeaways

Dance Moms is a fascinating show - and there are a few interesting takeaways from the first few episodes.

The show seems to want to play the moms against each others, but on several occasions, the moms call themselves a group, showing a sign of unity. That being said, it's often when Cathy is involved, and groups can bond strongly against a common enemy. In fact, Melissa was even criticized for trying to be friends with new people (followed by saying she can't keep friends).

Abby Lee Miller doesn't talk to moms if she can help it. She spoke directly to the kids in some cases where it was inappropriate. For example, she said something like, 'Your mom had a problem with the revealing costumes' to one of the kids. I'm pretty sure the mom was in the room, so the intent of the statement was clear, but it was spoken to a kid.

Cathy and Vivi-anne seem to have been 'planted' in the show to create controversy and drama. Even with the Christi / Melissa mini-dramas, there would be pretty much no conflict between the moms without Cathy's very strange presence. Plus, Abby openly bashes Vivi's dancing skills and dislikes Cathy, yet Vivi's included in competitions. And, Cathy's clearly a trouble starter - she wanted to talk to Melissa to get dirt on the others, and got dirt on Melissa from the others.

Competition studios like Abby Lee's are very different than studios that specialize in traditional dance. This was made evident (more than usual) in episode three, which featured an acrobatic dance routine. The dance at Abby's studio is good for stage performances, like in Vegas (which I think she said any of her graduates can do), but not for classical ballet or other dance. It's also way more expensive than many non-competitive studios, as I found out when I questioned a real life dance mom.

Abby Lee said that a 13 year old is not a kid. I'm kind of confused by this because as much as 13 year olds can think they're adults, they're kids. Teenagers, yes - and barely at that - but they're still kids.

The moms have said that Abby's missing a mom gene, and I agree. She's a tough teacher who produces great dancers, but she doesn't have compassion for the kids. It's almost like she has no fun in her life, so she has to make everyone else lose their fun as well.

Dance Moms is really the wrong name for this show. I guess the name was chosen because it would attract viewers more than "Bad Dance Teacher" or something, but the show is primarily focused on Abby Lee and her horrifying teaching methods, inappropriate dance outfits and cruel ranking of her students.

While cruel, Abby Lee seems to be addictive and effective. One of the moms was a student of Abby Lee as a child and still submits her children to Abby's teaching. And, I read that a graduate of Abby Lee's studio appeared on So You Think You Can Dance. (I can't find the source, so that may not be true, but I think it is.)

In the 6/27/11 episode of Dance Moms (the Starbound competition in Voorhees, NJ), Cathy switched Vivi's dance routine without Abby's permission. Abby flipped out and threatened to change the submission to 'independent entry' so it's not affiliated with the Abby Lee Dance Company. After seeing the dance, Abby relented and allowed the entry to remain under her name. However, when Vivi took seventh place in her solo competition (which I'm not even sure was any good, based on the number of entrants), Abby got mad when she said her dance studio was her mom's studio, Candy Apple Dance Studio, instead of Abby's. This confuses me because allowing Vivi to compete under Abby's name goes against all of the strict rules Abby has designed for her studio, especially because the dance wasn't that good or well executed. Even with the not so great dance, I can understand Abby's anger with Vivi naming her mom's studio instead of hers during the awards ceremony because she went against her judgment to allow Vivi to compete using her studio's name. (That being said, I bet Vivi was coached to say Candy Apple Dance studio because I firmly believe Cathy was planted on the show to cause drama.)

Not that other reality shows aren't, but Dance Moms has to be played up to create television drama in so many ways. First of all, Cathy and Vivi-anne were clearly planted to stir up problems and drama. Secondly, some of the mom arguments seem fake. Third, while I do believe Abby would dress up her students like prostitots, it seems a bit strange that she'd do it for a Pennsylvania pageant that wouldn't accept the costumes. Abby's been teaching for years. She's a professional dance instructor. She knows better.

I really hope that the whole Cathy and Vivi-anne thing is entirely fake. Cathy said she'd slit her wrists or something if Vivi wanted to play softball instead of dance in episode one, which is crazy. Secondly, if she owns another dance studio, how is she spending so much time at Abby Lee's? Also, how is it possible that Cathy wants Vivi-anne to be a dancer (and therefore sends her to Abby) but hardly pushes her to improve at all, like when she switched her dance routine to an easier one without Abby's permission. And, either Vivi's either a very convincing actress or she doesn't really enjoy dancing. I hope it's the first, but I doubt it. Oh yeah, and Cathy said that she can't keep Abby's dance for Starbound because she has to consider her daughter's mental capacity or something. Wow, way to insult your kid, mom!


booklover said...

I agree with most of what you said. I do have one correction, though. Abby was going to change Vivi's entry to independent, but she allowed it to stay under her name after watching Vivi perform the routine for her. That's why she got so mad when Vivi named her mother's studio. Abby's reaction, as usual, was over the top, but I can understand to some extent why she'd be upset.

Less Than Reality said...

Thanks, Booklover. I remember getting confused around that part of the episode. I'll make the correction, and I appreciate the feedback. :)