DT on Dance Moms: Losing

It’s almost time for Nationals and the stress is palpable on Dance Moms this week. But at least everyone looked good: The moms and girls are pretty in pink, Nia’s hair is Afro-tastic and Vivi-Anne is wearing way too much makeup. The moms are in a tizzy when the competition runs 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Melissa instructs her 8-year-old daughter to “be a grownup,” and Cathy is even more annoying than usual (we didn’t think it was possible!) Poor Nia fell behind the pack in the group routine, but kept up her positive attitude: “Abby pushes me really hard, but I don’t mind because it makes me a better dancer,” she says.


The rest of these girls, however, are very sore losers—an issue that has popped up countless times on Dance Moms. First, Maddie cries backstage over Nia’s mistakes, saying, “We were terrible, I’m really embarrassed.” Then, the moms are visibly upset when the girls place second instead of first. Most studios would kill for a trophy like that! Abby Lee tells them before they go on to be happy when they come offstage no matter what, but they just don’t seem to hear her. Here are DT’s tips for making sure your competition team has a winning attitude, no matter what goes down on stage or where they place:


Choose competitions that are in line with your studio’s philosophy. Doing research ahead of time can help you find the event that best suits the abilities and goals of your team—and provides an environment that both challenges and nurtures them.


Don’t apply pressure to live up to your own legacy. While winning streaks can be an amazing feather in your studio’s cap, they can also add the weight of too-high expectations. Whether your team is defending a national title or coming off a first-place finish, it’s important to remind dancers that every competition is a clean slate.


Befriend your competitors. Losing to another team can be a lot easier to swallow if your dancers are truly happy for the winners. Many events have friend exchanges and opportunities to socialize with the other teams—take advantage of them!


Instill strong sportsmanship values. Rather than cultivating a “first place is best” mentality, encourage your dancers to be appreciative and accept their award graciously.


Be honest about your team’s prospects. When dancers come off the floor at competition, many of them seek reassurance and feedback from their teacher. Though it’s important to be encouraging, fostering unrealistic expectations may lead to disappointment.


Look on the bright side. After missing out on first place, provide your dancers with a reality check. Remind them that many others would be thankful to be in their position right now.


(Tips based on “Winning Attitudes” by Jen Jones) 


And the quote of the week comes from Ms. Abby Lee Miller herself:

“That minister Dawn needs a bible refresher course—thou shall not lie, thou shall not steal, and thou shall not disrespect Abby.”


Teachers Trending
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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?

Keep reading... Show less
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."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.