Dance Moms on Lifetime: Why the Outrage?

This little girl has just been hit with tear gas
by her government, in her home, in Bahrain.

One of the most interesting things about people, at least from my perspective, it what they find to be outrageous. The definition of outrage has to do with violating one’s sense of decency.  Decency is essentially defined by one’s cultural and religious beliefs or lack thereof. Outrage flies in the face of what we hold to be true and right. In American culture, we hold our freedoms and liberties near and dear to our hearts. Recently, there was a lot of outrage in the Internet community over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). People who really didn’t even understand the intent of the act were outraged because they their Internet activities might be regulated by the government. We love our Internet freedom. The mere thought of the government messing with that right is outrageous!  Meanwhile, halfway around the world in countries like Bahrain and Syria, thousands of people are being murdered by their own governments. Our government is selling weapons to the government of Bahrain and turning a blind eye.  We’re not outraged about that, mostly because it is not covered in the US media.
Nope, we have more important things to be outraged about. Like Dance Moms on Lifetime .

This little boy is about to try to knock a ball off a stick.
He can have all the tries he wants. It’s America.

We’ve become a nation whose kids play T-Ball. T-ball is sort of like baseball only there is no pitcher, no keeping score, no outs, it’s just, well, it’s just an opportunity to wear fancy uniforms, expensive cleats, and a batting helmet. Nevermind the fact that there is no pitcher, so kids don’t need a batting helmet, because, well, we can’t be too safe when it comes to our kids. Kids can’t play tag, dodgeball or climb monkeybars at schools anymore because they might get hurt. So basically, T-Ball is what concerned parents do to get their kids out from under video games and off their i-phones for an hour or so on the weekends. The shoes and the gear is how they get them there.  Which  is why Dance Moms scares the holy bejeezus of American parents. So if you are reading along, wondering where the snarky reality TV stuff is, I promise to deliver, right after the jump.

The critical eye of Abby Lee watching a performance.

Abby Lee Miller is a dance coach in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was introduced to America last year by the Lifetime Network on a reality show called Dance Moms.  The show centers on a group of young dancers aged 7 to 13 who attend professional dance classes and (here is the oh so terrible part…) COMPETE in COMPETITIONS!  The horror!  I know. I know. Everybody knows that if you have a competition, there are losers. Lots and lots of little teary-eyed losers.  Not only are there little losers on this show, Abby Lee is not kind and gentle.  She works with CHILDREN!  But she is not kind and gentle!  No, she is big and fat and strict! She holds the girls to strenuous standards. There are lots of practices where they have to work hard in order to do well in the competitions. She tells them when they are slacking and is very sparing with praise! This quote pretty much sums up Abby Lee’s teaching philosophy, “I wasn’t put on this earth to make her feel special. I was put on this earth to make her dance.”  She’s also quick to point out that her dancers are middle-class American princesses whose mother’s devote their lives to dragging them around the country so that they can grow up to work on Broadway. There is a reason that it’s hard to win a Broadway audition, it takes a lot of talent and a lot of hard work. In a recent episode Abby told a dancer who was in the midst of a meltdown, “Are you crying? No tears. You save those tears for your pillow, in your room, alone. You’re going to humiliate yourself in front of everyone in this dressing room. Do not cry. Suck it up, kid. You are here, you’re healthy, you are one lucky little girl. Act like it.” And for that I would like to say, “Can I get an Amen?”

These American girls travel the country dancing and being
 filmed for their TV show. They hope to be on Broadway.

Instead of an Amen!, pretty much all I hear is outraged parents whining about the terrible mistreatment of these poor little girls. There are boycott pages, Facebook hate pages and all manner of mommy blogs including Katherine Heigl  caterwauling about the mistreatment these young dancers with their own TV show are facing. Many of these people of apparently don’t watch the show.  Because while the girls do cry,  it’s not frequent.  The dancers are in fact the most well-adjusted people on the show. They are focused, determined and extremely supportive of their teammates.  They are in fact a shining example of a group of young girls who support each other.  While some viewers are outraged that Abby Lee ranks their performance on a weekly pyramid system with some girls at the top and others at the bottom, the girls themselves take the critique well and support and praise those ranked above and below them. When Maddie, who is usually at the top of the pyramid, falls to the middle she tells the camera that it’s nice that her friends get to experience the top.  Girls on the bottom talk about working harder to improve and how their goal is to reach their personal best.

Dance Moms. They fight among themselves over the pyramid ranking, who should get the solo spot, and which kid messed up the performance. They argue with Abby over the decisions they pay for on credit cards. They isolate and gossip about new moms in the group. They do whatever it takes for their pretty little princess to get ahead. Make no mistake this is a high stakes business. They have come through hell and high water to get their kid in Abby Lee’s company knowing full well that Abby is bold and brash and strict. Abby Lee makes stars. And isn’t that the American dream? 

Despite the widespread panic, concern and outrage for these girls, the ratings for Dance Moms are stellar. I love the show and seeing all the hard work these young female athletes put into working toward their goals. I’m more outraged at the viewer outrage than the show. Excelling at any athletic endeavor takes work. Speaking of athletics, Bahrain’s soccer team just moved forward a round in their attempt to qualify for the London Olympics. 

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Filed under Abby Lee Miller, Dance Moms, Lifetime

19 responses to “Dance Moms on Lifetime: Why the Outrage?

  1. I love this show but I'm so out of the loop I didn't know there was backlash against it. However, if Kathrine Heigl hates it than I like it even more. Someone should tell her the spelling of her daughter's name is abuse. How do you pronounce that – Molly with an N? give me a breakkp

  2. Well, I can't seem to stop watching this show even though I find Abby pretty outrageous. I'd give her a new set of brains if she talked to my kids the way she speaks to her students. She actually told one girl that she'd cut her head off if she didn't perform up to standard. That was a tad much in my opinion. And I believe she said it to the youngest girl. She's just a big bully. I understand the quest for excellence and that you sometimes need to be tough to get the very best out of very talented children, however it has always been my experience that children respond better to kindness and civility better than abuse.I find abuse of all kinds, especially towards children, criminal.karen

  3. I agree with you that Abby takes little pampered princesses and through unrelenting work and incredibly tough tactics makes them into superb dancers. She flies in the face of all the people who believe 'there are no losers' and the whole bench should get into the game.However, one thing she did this week pissed me right the fuck off, even though I think the mothers deserve her utter distain. She had no right to lean over and whisper to that child sotto voce " your mother is destroying you".Jeez Abby, way to go.

  4. Tamera at long last, someone who understands the concept of elite athlete. For this purpose I will call these girls athletes because they work as a team and individually. They each have special skills and work to improve and expand. I have tweeted to Abby Lee that perhaps she should ban the Mom's from being able to watch and hear the rehearsals, lol. These moms are nuts, they want their kids to be elite athletes which means hard work, repetitive training, laser focus usually on a single activity, much demand on their time, energies and attention. The payoff is that they will be better students (time mgmt goes a long way), will be self disciplined, secure, self confident, resilient and most importantly able to pick them selves up and move forward. It is silly to pay top dollar to support an elite sport and then not expect your kid to perform at an elite level. If you only want your child or what they want is to have fun, then stay away from the competitive level.I raised an elite athlete who is incredibly mature and so self reliant and resliant in the face of adversity, he makes me a proud Mom and all the years we spent traveling to competions while his dad and I drove all night sometimes to make sure he got to school on time (always had a car big enough for him to sleep comfortably lying down strapped in the back seat). Love Abby Lee Miller, she trains champions and champions need a teacher who demands the max and doesn't coddle them.

  5. I have three daughters who have taken/taking dance at a competitive level. IMO, it's a little over the top. There are a lot of Abby's, however those parents are crazy. My girls enjoyed winning and til this day they tell stories about their dance teachers. It taught my kids discipline and how to carry themselves. It's also afforded us with travel to some nice places. My kids never played T -ball, thankfully! Parents coddle kids too much. They think they are protecting them, but in actuality making them sniveling little people. Abby talks to those parents because they let her and they try to run her business. If I'm unhappy or my kid, t can easily go elsewhere.

  6. I love this show and see the hard work that Abby and the girls put into training and performing. I do feel that Abby puts to much of her emotions into her business and by that I mean she let's the parents get her upset and she's always yelling or arguing with them (in front of the children) when her main focus should be the children and their performance. This became very apparent to me on the episode when the oldest dancer Brooke wanted to try out for cheerleading and was going to miss a competition and Abby was so upset that she did not want to go with her dancers and was going to send another dance instructor in her place because she believed that the routine was going to turn out wrong and then was surprise in the end when the girls won. I thought her attitude was poor and she showed immature behavior when putting down Brooke in front of the other girls. But, I can see why the show is such a hit.

  7. I really do love that some of my favorite followers have posted to support my appreciationg for Abby Lee. I am not saying she is perfect in everyway just like none of us would be if filmed. I was really hoping to get slammed this time though. I wanted someone to ask me how I could trivialize a little girl with milk all over her face after her she was tear gassed in her home.I do love Dance Moms and have been meaning to post about it. But the point is, that we worry about our kids falling off the monkey bars or getting hurt in a game of tag in this country while so many other places worry if their kids will get tear gassed in their own homes. There was a picture of a little girl in agony from tear gas and no one mentions it. No one clicks the link to find out that our government not only condones it but wants to sell weapons to that same country.Not one person even mentioned her in comments.Meanwhile, my greatest number of hits is still an article I wrote months ago about a ginormous mound of dirt that Sheree Whitfield, who doesn't have a pot to piss in calls "Chateau Sheree". I get it and added two posts above for your reading pleasure.

    • Paula

      Tamara, I only discovered this site a few days ago as a result of being a Big Brother fan, think your Danielle Murphree Autobiography is by far the single best piece I’ve read the entire season anywhere regarding that show, but I have to tell you that I could not disagree with you more regarding Miss Abby Lee Miller. Your thoughts on the Moms? Absolutely agree with, but Abby Lee herself makes just about every red flag living in my already-distressed head go up. I’m not a mom, unfortunately, but if I were, and I really wanted my child to excel in competetitive dance (and she or he wanted this as well), I think I’d go to a studio where the owners and instructors all were retired professional dancers, had successful careers, and whose choreography was both original and advanced enough to have learning a new routine in two days impossible. Abby Lee Miller, I suspect, was forced into the dance world by her mother, and there she stayed. She never survived it, lives at home with her mother, she’s never been married, she’s actually reacted strangely when a dance mom or two has called her a ‘virgin’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that… until you think about the psychology of it), I haven’t Googled it, but I pretty much suspect that Abby Lee’s professional resume is pretty much non-existant, not sure what her past students’ resume’s are like, either, suspect the same. I suspect that because if there were amazing past credits to talk about, I’d have seen them referenced on her show by now.

      Sorry, but this is the last woman I’d want around to teach my child about dance, and the dance world. TLC didn’t create a show about her because she was an amazing teacher. TLC, known for their amazingly morally sound reality programming, created this show because she was the absolutely most f’d up successful dance instructor on the planet who needed the money and ego boost enough to agree to be on t.v., bottom line, in my opinion;)

      Then again, I could be wrong;)

      • I love Abby. She crosses the line a few times, but she gets results. I won’t convince you to like her. I generally only adamantly argue my opinion when I think someone is a fan of a complere lunatic. :)

        Which is not me in this case!!! What? It isn’t! She’s lovely! /lalalalalalala

        Glad you found this site.

      • Paula

        And I won’t try to convince you to hate her… you complete lunatic;)

      • WOW! Way to nail my mental state in your second post. :) Lunatics are the most interesting people. That’s why I liked watching Danielle so much.

  8. Probably no one remarked on the pic because, like me, they thought if was just another sniveling kid with a snotty nose.Do you think Abby has thought of tear gas? For the mothers, I mean.

    • Paula

      I thought that was a picture of Mackenzie and Maddie’s lesser known 4 year old sister, MacGruber, freaking out because her picture was at the bottom of the pyramid.

  9. I was going to post a comment regarding the little girl, but not too sure about the source that you linked. Not knocking it, I just have not read anything from Al Jazeera. You are right, we don't get outraged enough about the stuff that is going on in the world. Much of my outrage got sucked up by that coward, Josh Powell…. who blew his house up with his two kids in it yesterday. So much horror to choose from these days…it is exhausting.

  10. I have a lot of confidence in the reporting Al Jazeera does. I strongly suggest you seek out a media source from somewhere overseas, and preferably in Africa and/or the middle east. The US and even British media do not report a lot of things it would be benefical for you to know. Multiple sources are always a good thing. :) Thanks for reading!

  11. Pam

    As TRho said, the picture at first glance just looks like a kid pitching a fit covered in milk or something. Since I don't watch Dance Moms I didn't comment earlier. And just for punishment for dissing Tball, you have to come over this spring and watch Caleb play. ;)

  12. I read the report on Bahrain, wow that is messed up and you wonder why the rest of the world don't like us. I like Abby Lee, I just don't like that the parents fight in front of the kids.

  13. I have to say it once why do people had to make a huge fuss of nothing if you don't like something change the channel instead trying to mess it up for everyone who enjoys it.Dont watch it if it's not your cup of tea.Anything that becomes popular we find something wrong with if don't enjoy it don't watch it.

  14. JEEZ THEY'RE JUST ACTING!!!! gosh darn it

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