“Girls, you’re wearing two piece costumes. Either sit down and do a hundred sit ups, or paint the abs on. One or the other. Let’s go… They need to look older. They need to look sophisticated.” —Abby Lee Miller
Week two of Dance Mom’s brought us an epic battle between the moms and studio owner Abby Lee Miller. Abby insisted that the only way to dominate at competition was to sex things up. Nothing says “these nine-year-old girls are winners” better than thigh-high stockings, ruffled booty shorts, and teeny tiny, electric blue bras. Right? These girls were smoking! And, naturally, the parents were fuming…
Though the girls danced impeccably—every slap of their behinds and spread eagle split was in perfect unison—the judges were not having it, and the girls didn’t even place. Gotta love karma: a triumph for the moms! But Abby still seems to think that barely-there outfits and gyrations were the smartest choices… and we’re confused. Basically, the only losers in this struggle were the little girls—they worked so hard and were left with nothing. As cute 9-year-old Nia so eloquently puts it: “Maybe it was a little inappropriate.”
This week’s issue: Age-appropriateness
Not all bad decisions are as obvious as Abby Lee’s “Electricity” routine. Here are DT’s tips on keeping your dancers in good taste at every competition:
(Tips based on “All in Good Taste” by Jennifer Anderson)
MUSIC: Screening your music content is important. First, don’t pick a song that’s too mature. Be aware of the message you’re sending with your song choices. Listen closely to the lyrics—and always nix a song with lots of profanity. Chloe’s solo on this week’s show had these lyrics: “I’ve got a guy and he’s so fine. When it comes to lovin’ he takes his time… he’s my baby, my favorite toy. My sweet baby, my personal joy.” Don’t let that wedding dress and cutesy routine fool you—this dance was about sex. And she’s ten.
CHOREOGRAPHY: Be careful with hip-hop choreography. True hip hop is fun and entertaining without being raunchy. Shaking your butt doesn’t take much talent—but true dynamic choreography will show off your students’ skills. The same goes for other styles, like Abby Lee’s jazz number—we don’t need to see that score sheet to know that those girls would have placed a lot higher if they’d stuck with flips and fouettes and gone easy on the butt slaps and body rolls. Sometimes a simple modification can transform an inappropriate movement—instead of having little ones run their hands up their legs, try running their hands down their arms.
COSTUMES: When choosing costumes, consider body type. Sometimes an outfit can be more revealing on some dancers than on others. And, try to keep bare skin at a minimum. The key is to be tasteful with how much skin you show. Would it really ruin the look if those girls were wearing tights? Nude mesh can often be added to provide almost invisible coverage: Use it to mask midriffs in a two-piece, or hide cleavage in a top that fits too low. Choosing a more modest costume will ensure the judges notice the dancing, not the exposed skin. And always pay attention to location. If you’re competing in Lancaster, PA, for example, (like on this week's episode) realize that the Amish community doesn’t appreciate your 7-year-old dancer’s six-pack as much as you do.
To close, here are some words of wisdom from the smartest people on this crazy show, the little dancers:
Maddie (age 8): “Abby’s always yelling at the bus driver because she thinks that he doesn’t know where he’s going, but I know he does, cause we always get there.”
Chloe (age 10): “A lot of times I feel compared to Maddie. But I think it’s unfair because we’re different people, so we shouldn’t be compared. When I’m dancing it should be about me. And when Maddie’s dancing, it should be about Maddie.”
What did you think of this week's episode? Let's start a conversation on Dance Teacher's Facebook page.