DT on Dance Moms: Scared Stiff


Ok, now I understand why this show is called Dance Moms. They really made a spectacle of themselves this week, didn’t they? Especially Christi, whose screaming fit in front of the children brought some of the tiny dancers to tears. And this was all because her beautiful daughter’s solo placed fourth—an excellent (and fair) trophy, if you ask us. Bad form, Christi! That pre-performance bottle of wine was probably not the best decision.  But Abby Lee continued to handle these situations in the best way she could, begging Christy to step outside and away from the children. Abby Lee gained some serious points in our book—almost making up for the baseball bat she brought out during rehearsal.


On a happier note, probably the cutest moment of this episode was a shot of the whole team proudly skipping towards their moms, trophies in hands, after a successful competition awards ceremony (of course, this is before Christi’s cringe-worthy meltdown). Their smiles were contagious.


But one little girl was not a part of the happy skippers. Ten-year-old Paige performed a solo for the first time, and with less than a week to practice—most of the time without her music—stage fright got the best of her. She literally froze with terror halfway through her routine, completely blanking on the rest of her dance. We’ve all seen children perform flawlessly in rehearsal only to clam up on stage. So how can we be sure that our students never feel the mortification of forgotten choreography that poor Paige felt that day? Here are DT’s tips:


(Tips based on “Conquer Stage Fright” by Alyssa Roenigk)


1. Provide students with as many opportunities as possible to perform in front of a full audience prior to the event. The more they practice walking on and off stage, the less chance they will walk to the wrong spot or become overwhelmed by what they’re walking toward—lights, judges and an excited audience.


2. Once your dancers know their routine well enough to practice full out, take them out of their comfort zone. Spend the second half of class facing away from the mirror, switch rooms with another dance class or get out of the studio altogether.


3. Be sure that they’re not just following the girl in front of them. For larger production numbers, try having several dancers perform the combination while the rest of the students in the number watch.


4. As competition day draws near, schedule a dress rehearsal that simulates the competition as closely as possible. Try to book an auditorium or gymnasium that resembles the venue you’ll perform in and perform all numbers in full hair, makeup and costumes.


5. Prepare your dancers for the little things that could go wrong during their performance, like a shoe falling off, the music not starting on time or someone next to them missing a step. Teach them the important lesson, “Always keep dancing.” Try simulating performance mishaps and asking them to react as they would at a real competition. 


6. Instead of stressing the competition and the trophies, concentrate on small, individual goals such as improving a segment of a dance to take some of the pressure off.



And who’s on the top of DT’s pyramid this week? Six-year-old Mackenzie! Dressed in mouse attire from head to toe, with a long tail that “sometimes gets in the way” her solo was flawless and oh-so-cute. But, don’t get too comfortable with this little firecracker on stage. She’s got other plans: “I love dancing, but I don’t want to go on Broadway,” she says. “All I want to do is stay home and eat chips.”


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
Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.