DT on Dance Moms: Invasion of the “Prosti-tots”

“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.


Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.