On her new show, "Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition," Abby Lee Miller has made it clear what she’s looking for: “flawless technique,” she says. Miller told the boy contestant, Zach, he either needed to keep his knees straight or cover them up; she told another dancer she’d had the chance to steal the show by inhabiting her character but had failed to achieve that; she coached girls on what she liked about their hair and makeup and what wasn’t working for her. It was constructive, blunt, but never shouting criticism. She even told one crying dancer that the stage could be “her home, her safe place.” Aww!
The moms, however, are another story. In case you’re not up to speed, the dancers’ mothers are on-site with them the whole time, watching rehearsals and even performances from the sidelines and constantly offering their advice to the dancers and guest choreographers (notables from last night included Bobby Newberry, Gina Starbuck and Joyce Chittick, and they were all so patient!) One tightly wound mom, Maria, actually told her daughter, Lexine, that they were going to leave and go home after Abby Lee called out Lexine on flubbing a tumbling skill during her performance. Maria and two other moms proceeded to get into a shouting match over what was right for whose daughter and who could talk to whose child like what until at least one of the girls was in tears and all were distraught. (As it turned out, they didn't leave after all, and Lexine advanced to the next round. Take a chill pill, Ma.)
If it wasn’t for the horribly distracting, poor examples of dance moms shouting from the wings, this show might offer some valuable tips to young dancers aspiring to make it in the commercial world. For now the only thing I’ve learned, though, is that there’s a really good reason most studios don’t allow parents to watch class. “Distracting” doesn’t even begin to cover the damage they do to the rehearsal and performance process. You gotta go, moms. Get ‘em out! Then get down to business. But then I guess it wouldn't be "reality" television, would it?
If you missed Monday's "Abby's Ultimate" premiere, you can watch it online here, and read up on tips from our experts for dealing with "peeping parents" here.