As usual, this Wednesday’s episode had its ups and downs. The girls went from Vegas to Hollywood—and these wild cities certainly brought out the crazy in them. Here’s this week’s best and worst moments:

 

THE BEST

 

“They call me Laquifa!” The real Laquifa (drag queen Shangela) makes a surprise visit to the girls and showers some much-needed special attention on Nia. To top it off, she teaches her the death drop, a move that gives Nia a chance to stand out in a dance instead of ruining it. Work, Nia.

 

Maddie wins second, and takes it in stride. We question her sincerity a little bit, but when the constant first place winner is beaten, her reaction is pure awesome: “Everybody gets the chance to win, so I feel happy for the other girl.”

 

Chloe’s moment in the spotlight. This beautiful dancer finally got her chance to shine this week. In a different category than Maddie and unfazed by Cathy’s lame attempts to throw her off, she was this week’s star.

 

THE WORST

 

Paige and Brooke are punished for their mom's mistakes—a constant theme in this show that has got to stop! Abby Lee needs to take these moms out of the equation and praise the girls for their hard work.

 

Cathy’s revenge. It was like a car wreck—we just couldn’t look away. But seeing her Candy Apples dancers perform at a level ridiculously below Abby Lee’s girls didn’t leave much room for suspense when the winners were announced. As Maddie predicts, “My sister’s going to take those apples down!” Congratulations Cathy, you managed to embarrass yourself, your studio and your dancers all at once—not to mention that you freaked poor little Chloe out by stealing her music (below the belt) and barely fazed your target, Abby Lee. Fail. 

 

THE LESSONS WE LEARN

 

Clearly, parent/teacher catfights should stay on reality TV. Instead, you can use your studio parents as effective partners without starting epic battles or letting them run your studio. Here are DT’s tips:

 

Promote a Positive Atmosphere. Maintain a friendly, approachable demeanor in your interactions with parents and kids. Even a simple smile can go a long way. As documented on this show, yelling and swearing instead of smiling will get you nowhere. Parents will choose your studio if they know you are an accessible point person who genuinely likes them and their children.

 

Send Out an S.O.S. In addition to making them feel useful and included, asking parents to volunteer at the studio is a great way to ease the burden on you and your staff. Designate a few small sub-groups to handle each tasks like ticket sales, costumes and transportation, and be sure to keep a running list of who is helping with what.

 

Hear What They Have to Say. Form a parents' club to help plan events and discuss any studio issues. Or, send out anonymous questionnaires or make use of a suggestion box. Have your staff keep their ears perked for comments and concerns. Every business encounters problems; the first step to solving them is opening the lines of communication.

 

Show Your Gratitude. Don’t forget to recognize parents who become your partners. The Dance Moms might be a little more pleasant if they heard “Thank you” from time to time.

 

 

And the biggest lesson we can take from the show: Don’t use your children/students in a plot to get back at Abby Lee Miller. She will win.

 

“Great, now I have two traitors. First it was Kelly and her new choreographer. Then it was Cathy and her rotten little apples,” says Abby Lee. “I can’t believe that’s a grown adult who teaches children. And they think I’m bad?”

 

(Tips based on “Parents as Partners” by Debbie Strong)

 

 

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