dance moms: commentary from an ex-dancer. let’s be real…

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.

Finally, we arrive at Cathy and her daughter, Vivi, whom she stole adopted from India. Or something like that. Cathy is the craziest mother of them all. She is Satan, according to Abby. She and her daughter were at Abby’s briefly, until Cathy decided that Abby didn’t see her daughter’s lack of talent potential. Vivi is not good and clearly only dances because her insane mother makes her. Did I mention that woman has a dance studio? Oh, but she does. And now all her time is spent trying to beat the Abby Lee Dance Company. She is a snake. She steals routines, music, and costume ideas because she has no originality or creativity. Her dance studio is called “Candy Apples.” Let’s be real. No serious dance studio should ever have the word “candy” or “apples” in it, let alone both. By the way, her weird as boyfriend’s jerky store is adjacent to it. So naturally, they did a jerky commercial together and made poor Chole wear a unitard covered in dry meat (bad parenting call, Christi). But the jokes on her because none of her students got a scholarship to the Joffrey. Or won any award except that one that shall not be named in the team competition of the season finale.
If you are a Dance Moms fan, you probably realized I’ve left out the season’s two newest crazies: Kendall and whatever her mother’s name is. That mother is one crazy lady, only upstaged by aforementioned Cathy. This blog can’t handle that much crazy. I’m too tired for that. In the near future, probably when I know them better, I’ll give my commentary on Dance Moms: Miami, or as I like to call it, Dance Moms: Latina/o.

26 thoughts on “dance moms: commentary from an ex-dancer. let’s be real…

  1. Love! First, not sure what part made me laugh the most – the “candy apples” part (neither “candy” nor “apples” should EVER be in an an esteemed dance studio’s name…nevermind a jerky store next door), the mention of Brooke’s acro routine for the Joffrey audition (and, as a side bar, Nia performing a death drop during the solo audition? Bless her heart.), or the “Ramona crazy eyes” part (seriously, Ramona has the craziest eyes! And, while I’m on a slight tangent, why does she call her husband “Mare-io”??)… Laughed. Out. Loud.

    I, too, adore Chloe and want to hug her in both an “atta girl!” and an “it’ll all be okay” way every show. She’s also my fave. She is as graceful and eloquent off stage as she is on. I hope she always maintains those qualities, but has a strong enough sense of self to be confident while being humble. I pray for her continued innocence and longterm happiness.

    And to follow my positive wishes, I would just like to add that Cathy (Candy Apples) is a complete mess – I cannot believe she was eating pizza and loudly insulting all of the moms during the Joffrey audition. Gasp! This is the Joffrey Ballet, people. And poor Vivi-Anne. Well, let’s just agree that the sweet girl should be playing softball, as she wishes. ;)

  2. I freaking love this review. Dance Moms is currently my second-favorite guilty pleasure (after Make It Or Break It, of course!), and I was laughing out loud straight through your review. The Joffrey audition was TRAGIC–did you notice half the girls were wearing jazz shoes (as they seem to do for every single genre of dance)?

    I love Chloe, too. And I definitely agree about the ED risk. Hopefully she’ll be fine…and hopefully the Joffrey intensive can guide her toward a real ballet studio next year.

  3. I love the show for the dancing and that IS ALL!!! As an ex-ballerina and figure skater I am absolutely disgusted with this show. (also a child psychologist)………NO BODY makes winners by berating them constantly by a sociopathic narcissistic coach. I even coached figures AND NEVER disrespected the children. This show is also SCRIPTED as i am in the entertainment industry…I find it to be an abomination to use children to produce drama for the adult world of entertainment. I can only hope that the real people do not find this to be normal practice in a studio or skating rink with a coach. Do you think Kristie Yamaguchi was treated this way? Hell no!!!!!
    Shame on the television networks….these kids better know it’s for show or they will need lots of therapy later………..

  4. I have to admit, I’d never heard of this show until I was at a clients house and this was on. My initial thoughts were shame on these mothers who are trying to live their childhood through their kids. I may have jumped the gun. My second thought you can teach without hateful words. Those kind of words usually stick with a kid. My third thought was at least one mother has some class and watches her mouth and temper for the important things. The others with their potty mouths, that those girls hear at the studio and possibly at home. Shame on them and kudos for Holly for being the adult. My last thought was to shake my head and reaffirm there is mostly crap on tv these days. Turn off the idiot box and pick up a book, spend time with your kids, your spouse, your dog, anything more constructive

  5. Just so you know, Vivi-Anne is not Indian, she doesn’t look Indian at all (I am Indian, so I can tell this pretty easily). She’s actually from Guatemala. I actually think all the mothers are crazy, except holly, who presents herself in a more dignified manner. Entertaining post!

  6. I have watched “Dance Moms” on and off for the last few years. I was in dancing from the time I was 3 to 15, I enjoy the students performances, but I have never anyone dance en pointe. When I was 10 I was dancing in toe shoes. I think both Abby Lee and the so-called teacher Kathy need to teach the art of classical ballet to their students.

  7. “Vivo whom she (stole) adopted from India…” LMAO! I thought she was Indian and destined for a career in a call center somewhere in New Delhi, or wherever those call centers are located, but she Guatemalan. At least Cathy is open to racial diversity and inclusion and didnt settle for a Wonder Bread baby.

    In all seriousness, I love Chloe. Her long, lean and graceful build makes her a beautiful Dancer, but her humble and unassuming personality is what really makes her a star.

  8. Hi from England if a dance teacher spoke to her pupils here like Abbey does she would be arrested, or struck off from the professional dance bidies! In our small town we have a great teacher Liz who has had as many professional successes with her ex pupils as Abbey and does it all with love and kindness most go on to a professional ballet company before branching off to musical theatre if that is what they want to do. Does Abbey never watch the programmes herself and see how biased she is.
    We love Chloe too she is always so kind to the other children when Makenzie fell it was Chloe she went to when Maddie forgot her dance it was Chloe she went to that says more about the lovely person Chloe is than anything.
    We also love Brooke she is like Mrs Incredible, so bendy and really beautiful in a non ‘stage schooly’ way.
    I think the reason we all love it is because it makes us grateful we are not in a web like these poor mothers!


  9. I can not stand Abby Lee!! Who does she think she is to talk to these kids like this!! Number one; maddies not that good of a dancer, number two Chloe out shines Maddie on her worse day. How lifetime allows this kind of behavior to be filmed I don’t understand it. To see the look on these kids face when Abby yells at them breaks my heart;to see the evil on abbeys face is scary at best!! Abby needs a wake up call to treat this kids with respect because they have more than earned it!!!! Carol

  10. A good review! The children are terrific but the mother’s need to protect them from Abby Lee. She is a monster and should be arrested for child abuse. If an employer spoke to an employee like that they would be in court. Wake up Mom’s and get your beautiful children away from that monster!

  11. I think whoever put this post up about
    Dance Moms was pretty much on point.
    I do watch the show for the dance however
    I must admit I don’t mind some of the drama. Besides what’s a reality show without it. I have to say Maddie is no where near as good as Abby claims she is. Chloe could beat Maddie every time if she had some confidence. She buys into what Abby says about her and Maddie which causes her not to b confident that she can beat her! I can’t stand the fact that Abby shows favoritism because for me, favoritism and racism are cousins and if U will do one there’s a chance you will do the other! The reason Maddie acts like such a brat especially when she loses is because she’s buying into the BS Abby is feeding her about her talent and so is her stupid mother!!

  12. so my husband is out of town and I am binge-watching dance moms and found your post– I have no ballet experience but am fascinated reading about actual dancers’ opinions online! I started out loving Maddie but now Chloe is really growing on me, I just feel so sad for her lack of confidence. She’s a gorgeous dancer and I keep Googling the girls to see what they’re up to!

  13. I watch this show faithfully, not that I can stand the mothers. I think any parent who would send their child to someone like Abby Lee is as guilty as she is. They stay to be on tv and for the money. I do enjoy the dances. I find the kids very entertaining and talented. My favorite is also Chloe. I do think Maddie is equally talented but has a snobby attitude. By us watching the show, we’re enabling the abuse to go on with the good ratings. so why are we watching it? I do think we can do without the mothers and Abby Lee and let Gianna run teach the dancers.

  14. Honestly I enjoy watching Maddie perform more than Chloe. No she is not a classical ballerina but if you see her work in the later seasons rather than the first two she has grown tremendously and is very very talented! Chloe is also super talented but I prefer Maddie. Watch Sia’s music video Chandelier it showcases Maddie tremendously!

  15. I love your review. Like you, I too think Chloe is the most talented little girl, but also the one most likely to suffer from an eating disorder. Having danced myself, had a daughter who danced, and now with a grand-daughter who dances, I am so happy that we did not have to endure a teacher like Abby. Our teachers were professional , qualified ballet teachers, not egotists.

  16. I realize this page is from a while back, but this is a REALITY show — which means, it isn’t real! Without the controversy, no one would watch. Abby Miller and the moms are crying all the way to the bank. Abby Miller and Cathy from Candy Apples are actually good friends. Like you, I watch for the dancing, not the moms.

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