Ok, as I’ve admitted, I am addicted to the reality tv show Dance Moms. A lot of times it’s like a train wreck– but I just can’t look away. Really, I don’t watch it for the crazy moms. I watch it for the talented little children (some more talented than others). In my prime, I couldn’t do what some of the girls do at age 9, and they just blow me away, some of them anyway. Some of them aren’t so great, and I have to remind myself that they’re only tiny children; they’re not supposed to be that great. If you watch the show, you might find this entry interesting. If you don’t, you’ll want to.
Meet Abby. She’s the founder of the Abby Lee Dance Company, which supposedly she started at age 14 due to her God given talent and ability to choreograph. If God really did give her that talent, he must not have been really paying attention when he instilled it. Her choreography is repetitive and it seems as if every solo or duet is just a mashup of a previous one. I have to give her credit though– some of her girls ARE really good. So all her talk about producing the best dancers in the industry isn’t complete bullshit.
Abby conducts rehearsal like a drill sergeant. She’s like a mean Texas drill team instructor, which about the same amount of class. I can’t for the life of me understand how her students can pick up her choreography when she never actually dances herself. Kudos to the little angels. She’s pretty verbally abusive, and every time I watch the show I want to scream into the TV GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN OR BEHOLD YOUR FUTURE! I see intensive therapy in these girls’ futures, except for maybe Maddie, her star student who can do no wrong. Actually, I take that back. I was H. Taylor’s star student (verbatim) and look where I ended up. Ha. Abby puts pressure on her girls and emphasizes the importance of winning; even second place is for losers. She’s a proponent of dualistic (black and white) thinking, and does not hesitate to make the wee ones cry, following it up with a “save the tears for your pillow!” Dancers don’t cry. Ten yr-olds shouldn’t either. Right.
Meet Maddie. She is Abby’s little princess and can scarcely do wrong the the drill sergeant’s eyes. She’s actually a pretty good dancer. She knows how to perform and to work the stage with a cheesy I’m-a-competition-dancer smile. She can do more pirouettes than I ever could, and is featured in every dance, plus always is in a trio or has a solo. I was a Maddie fan in the beginning, until her tiny head was overtaken by her huge ego. She has good self-esteem but is also a perfectionist. She freaked out the first time she fell onstage, and ran off the stage like a little cry baby in the season finale when she forgot her solo. Ms. Abby of course was in tears, despite the fact that when other dancers forgot their solos, she ripped them a new one. Abby devotes all her time and attention to this little one, and Maddie knows it. She was a bratty, poor sport when she didn’t get the scholarship to the Joffrey, stating, “I think I deserved.” Sorry, honey, you are a competition dancer, not a ballerina. Let’s be honest. She could probably kick my ass in every other form of dance, but I still maintain that my ballet skills could crush her– and I’m not even at my peak.
Next up, Mackenzie and Melissa, Maddie’s younger sister and mother, respectively. Kenzie is 7, cute, missing front teeth, and doesn’t really do much dancing. She just does a tumbling pass every-now-and-then in the group numbers. In the audition for the Joffrey ballet, one of the instructors told her, “You’re very cute and a good dancer, but whoever told you to shake your bum bum is a dumb dumb.” Enough said. Then there’s Melissa. She kisses up to Abby and works at the studio to get her girls private lessons at minimal cost. She claims Abby doesn’t have any favorites, but it’s pretty obvious that once her kid isn’t at the top of the pyramid (Abby’s ranking system), she is PISSED. She also has some mysterious boyfriend/fiance named Greg, along with some lawyers who sent cease and desist letters to all the other dance moms, forbidding them to talk about Melissa’s personal life. Is that even legal? What a great lawyer. I’m sure he thinks his law degree is being put to good use. Maybe I should’ve sent Rosie a cease and desist letter when she was telling the world about my eating disorder behind my back.
Meet Chloe and her mother, Christi. Chole is an angel and is my absolute favorite. She’s graceful, talented, and fierce. Unfortunately, she is often Ms. Abby’s sloppy seconds and rarely ever gets the recognition she deserves. I was appalled when she one first overall for her solo at Nationals, and Abby didn’t even blink an eye, much less tell her congratulations– she was too busy sulking in the dressing room over Maddie’s faux pas and her supposedly destroyed reputation.
Chloe and her dancing make my heart smile and break at the same time. She has so many risk factors for an eating disorder. If you could see her face when Abby talks negatively to her, you’d cry, too. She’s a perfectionist. She’s shy, quiet, intelligent, and probably the sweetest little girl ever. Abby likes to invalidate her feelings and tell her how she should feel and how she should behave. Sometimes, I feel like Chloe longs for Abby’s love and attention and works hard to earn it, when really, this little girl deserves to be loved just for being Chloe, as her mom so aptly once said.
I couldn’t have been happier when her mother got the call from the Joffrey, saying that she’d been given a full scholarship to their summer intensive. Not only is she a beautiful little ballerina, but she was also the only one who performed a ballet-appropriate solo in the audition, but more on that later. Her mother, Christi, is relatively sane and isn’t afraid to call other people on their bullshit. Sure, sometimes she seems crazy but only when provoked by an even crazier dance mom, and usually, Christi is in the right. She is as fed up as I am with Abby’s treatment of Chloe. Why she keeps her at that studio, I will never know. I love her, but I think Chloe wins the “most likely to have an eating disorder” award. Really, it’s a blessing in disguise award, assuming that she comes out stronger on the other end. I don’t predict her ED in a mean way, not at all. I just worry that she will fall victim to one because I see so much of my former self in her.
Meet Nia and her mother Holly. Not much to say about these two because they’re relatively normal. Abby likes to use Nia as the token black dancer and gives her ethnic solos. Nia is probably the weak link of the group, excluding Kenzie. Bless her heart, though, because she tries. Holly is the most normal of the dance moms. Never do you see her in a moment of cray cray. She is also the most educated– “Dr. Holly” as the other moms sometimes refer to her. She’s the principal of a school. Like I said, they’re pretty normal, which makes me question why they’re even on this show, aside from being Abby’s token black child… which needs to stop.
Meet Paige and her mother, Kelly. There’s really nothing to say about Paige, other than she always does trios with Chloe and Maddie, except for that one time when she was booted out, and Abby decided to “give Nia a chance” (which was really a setup to fail). Like Chloe, she’s a cute little blonde, but not quite as talented. This season, she’s been a back-up dancer and hasn’t had much camera time, other than that one episode where she went to have her planters warts lasered off. She is going to regret having that aired on national TV. How embarrassing. And how embarrassing that her mother found a podiatrist who agreed to be on TV with her. When I see treatment professionals on reality TV, I can’t help but imagine how unprofessional. But that’s just my insignificant opinion. Kelly is relatively normal, too. And, like Christi, only gets Ramona crazy eyes when provoked by another crazy dance mom, usually Melissa or crazy-ass Cathy, who has yet to be introduced. Her older daughter, Brooke, also dances at the Abby Lee Dance Studio.
This brings us to Brooke. Yes, that is a golden James Bond 007 gun she’s holding because what else would a group of kids do a dance about?! She’s 13. Why exactly is she grouped in with all the other girls? She’s clearly a head taller and a few years older. You can’t help but wonder if she knows that she’s dancing with babies. Oh wait, she probably does know– her sister is one of them. Brooke is an acro girl. She’s crazy flexible and wants to be in Cirque de Soleil when she grows up. One time, she quit dance for two weeks to be a cheerleader. Major dramz. Then she had lunch with Abby to ask if she could be back in the company. Of course, Abby said yes. Who else is going to do the acrobatics required in a serious dance competition? Watching her in the Joffrey audition was probably the most mortifying thing of all. Why didn’t anyone tell her it’s not appropriate to do acro in a BALLET audition?! Seriously, I felt bad for the poor girl. It was like she was being sent off to slaughter.
Kids, don’t do anything like this in a ballet audition. You WILL be automatically cut.