In this week’s episode of Dance Moms, I am happy to report, Abby Lee Miller seemed to be on her best behavior. The outbursts were minimal, the routine was age-appropriate, and even when Vivi’s mom, Cathy, changed her daughter’s routine on her, she stayed (relatively) calm. This week’s conflict came mostly between Brooke and her mother. Now a teenager, and more passionate about a day at the mall than a day in class, Brooke puts up a fight about attending this week’s competition. Not to mention that she’s injured and dancing on a team who’s average age is about 8. Abby Lee and her mother don’t really do all that much to address the problem—they just keep pushing her to come back to dance class. As Abby Lee says, “It’s very hard to say to them, ‘You have this gift. Don’t throw it away.’” So what would you do with a student who’s on the verge of retiring her leotards? Here are DT’s tips:
When a student is feeling family pressure:
Parents may start steering a child away from a career in dance as the child gets older. So try to educate both parents and students about the real world of dance—encourage parents to take their kids to professional auditions, and bring in professional dancers to share firsthand stories about the business. When parents and students have an understanding of the world of dance outside the studio, including the availability of dance scholarships, they are more likely to consider it a viable option.
When a student is type A:
Often, dancers are overachievers in other areas of their lives, including athletics and academics, and are eventually forced to choose between dance and another activity. Sometimes it helps to sit down with both student and parent and discuss what she thinks she can handle within her busy schedule. You might also try offering your student a job as a teaching assistant or asking her to mentor a young dancer. By expanding her role in the studio, she may deepen her commitment to dance.
When a student is experiencing burnout:
After winning trophies and dancing leading roles at a young age, star students may feel that there’s nothing more to strive for once they hit their teens. And it’s also tempting for teachers to overschedule their talented dancers with competitions, classes and recitals.
If a student feels burnt out, you can suggest that she cut down the number of classes she’s taking each week for a few months. That allows her a chance to rest without leaving the studio behind, and it gives the student time to reevaluate her future in dance.
This Quote of the Week brought to you by Brooke and Chloe’s dance moms as they discuss Brooke’s injured hip:
“She’s falling apart. It’s that old age.”
“I was just gonna say, you turn 13 and you’re no good anymore.”