I remember the good old days, when you could tell someone you were a dance mom and they wouldn’t roll their eyes. But then Abby Lee Miller came along with Dance Moms and everyone’s opinion seemed to change. What I don’t think people realize it the show isn’t really like our world. And, while I can’t deny that there are over the top stage moms, outrageously expensive costumes and heavy competition at some studios, it’s not at ours. Here are my top 12 reasons why the real dance world is different from that of Dance Moms
1. There is no pyramid- Hope that one doesn’t shock you. At a normal studio, girls are placed in dances by age and ability at the start of the season and that’s the way it stays. They don’t get reevaluated at the end of every competition and the solos are not doled out by the prior week’s results. Could you imagine the chaos (and anarchy) if you actually pitted your team against each other on a weekly basis? And for the record, if we don’t place first, we’re fine with it as long as our kids did their best.
2. The majority of studios do not compete every week- Another shocker I’m sure since you watch the Dance Moms girls hop on a bus every week to drive hours away. Competition season usually starts at the top of the year and ends with Nationals over the summer. Most studios do 4-6 local competitions and leave the rest as optional for their dancers. There’s really no need to travel (except for Nationals). If you live near a major market, there are a variety of different competitions offered and the studio can pick and choose the ones that work for them.
3. Competition dances take more than a week to perfect- Yes, I know those girls are talented, but do you really think they learn a new dance every week ? They don’t. All you have to do is go to the ALDC site and look at their competition results. We start our dances in August and are refining them the week before our first competition. It takes hours to perfect a dance whether that be a solo or production number.
4. Real studios are filled with kids- Ever notice how the only kids at Abby’s studio just happen to be her team? It’s staged. Our studio is bustling with kids and parents all the time. In fact, on Saturdays and Sundays when our company kids all rehearse, you have to dodge bodies to enter the door. Guess what? We also let Dads in our studio too. And siblings. It’s a family atmosphere.
5. Parents don’t get to watch classes and rehearsals- We get to peek in the last five minutes of class when the doors open, but never get to see an entire class unless it’s a watch week (and to be honest, who would want to sit through 15 or more hours of dance a week). Guess what? They don’t get to at Abby’s studio either. It’s just for the show.
6. Dance moms don’t dress to go to the studio- We spend a lot of time carpooling and sitting in the lobby stoning costumes. We’re not in designer duds (and some of us may not own any). We’re in yoga pants and sweats. As competition nears, we’re lucky to get showers. At competitions, you will never find us in a dress and heels with full make-up and jewels. We’re in spirit wear screaming our lungs out.
7. We don’t dis each other’s kids- Ever notice how the Dance Moms trash each other’s kids in earshot of each other? Not tolerated at any professional studio. At any given time there are 20 parents sitting in our lobby. We strive to make the effort to compliment and support each other. Face it, we have to spend a lot of time together and there are 74 girls. That would be a lot of cat fights. And for the record, we don’t dis each other as well.
8. Our costumes don’t just magically appear- Yes, all of our costumes are custom-made, but we still have to do some of the work (and it’s a lot more than you see on the show). All the alterations are up to us (and many of us have the needle marks in our fingers to prove it). And, the rhinestones? They don’t just jump on that costume. We sit for hours and apply each one with a toothpick and some E6000. Same thing with our accessories. You have to be dedicated as a dance mom or have a kid that’s old enough to stone their own costume and do a good job.
9. Those private dressing rooms at competitions, don’t exist- Our kids wind up changing in cramped quarters and they don’t have a lot of time between numbers. There are no vanity tables with large mirrors for their makeup. It has to be perfect before they walk in the door and touched up throughout the day. And, rehersing in the dressing room doesn’t happen. We’re in hallways and backstage.
10. We don’t get front row seats and the auditoriums are always packed- Ever notice how the Moms are always seated just behind the judges and no one seems to be around? Well, we’re lucky if we get to squeak in the back and see our kids on stage sometimes because it’s so crowded. And, sometimes we don’t get to watch at all because we miss it trying to run from the dressing room.
11. We don’t have a Candy Apples- In the dance world, there are a ton of good studios and dancers. Our studio doesn’t have a local rival, in fact our director has great relationships with many of the local and regional studios. When we see someone awesome dance, we appreciate it because we know it takes a lot of hard work. And, if we’re secretly jealous, then that’s another thing. Oh and BTW, we don’t turn around and tell the other moms that their teams suck. Ever.
12. Yelling at and belittling kids doesn’t happen– While Abby Lee Miller is nasty 95% of the time, our studio is run with a professional, yet lighthearted approach. Our entire faculty wants to see results, but they really love our kids and it’s not just one- it’s all of them. Our dancers work hard, but they also play hard as well and we have lots of time for team-building activities. And, guess what? It’s also organized. There are no surprises or changes. It’s consistent.
Moms, what else did I miss?