DT on Dance Moms: From PGH to ATL—Next Stop Hollywood

This week, the girls from the Burgh travel to Atlanta for Starbound competition. But before they go, drama ensues. Chloe chooses to attend a school camping trip, missing rehearsal. Mom Kelly has a 41st birthday party and after a battle with guest mom Leslie, something glass gets hurled past Christi. But most excitingly, the girls audition for a role on the TV show "Drop Dead Diva." We'll have to see those results next week!


At Starbound, ALDC (spoiler alert!) wins first place for the large group number; the trio wins fifth place; Maddie's solo gets first and Chloe wins fourth. This is not unusual—Abby's little dancers are great, and they usually place in the top positions at each competition. 


I have to remember we're watching a TV show—because so much emphasis is placed on winning, beating the opponents and squashing the other teams. Obviously a huge part of competiton is about winning—if you're not there to win, why go? But on the flip side, it's important to remember that all this training, all the hours, sweat and tears in a dance studio can be useful for more than winning this week's competition. And how you help dancers transition from the competition world to professional life is key.


Dancers often get bogged down in  winning or losing—and that won't help in the professional world. "Once you’re in a company, it’s not about placing third anymore," says Dwight Rhoden of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. "You do a run-through and get feedback and put it in practice right away. It’s all about knowing how to process the information being given to you and use it in your overall track to becoming better artists.” And  Kim DelGrosso stresses that finding employment for your dancers early on can help them recognize where dance training can take them.  Click here to read "Into the Great Wide Open" for more ways to help dancers prepare for their next steps.




Photo: Paige auditions for "Drop Dead Diva." She says: "I really hope I get this part because I think it would be fun to be on a TV show." Should someone tell her she already is?



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Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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