By Sabrina McGettigan
It’s such a shocker, but for once a reality television show is real, at least I think so! I danced competitively for five years at a much smaller and less prominent dance studio, but let me tell you, “Dance Moms” is not exaggerating.
My interest in this show stems from my personal ties to the premise: learning new routines, practicing after school forever, wearing goofy costumes, and dealing with terrible dance teachers. (Really cool little fun fact: I’ve competed in Starbound competitions multiple times, which are featured in the show!)
My experience wasn’t nearly as hardcore as the main characters’: Maddie, Chloe, Nia, Mackenzie, Brooke, and Paige. I never wore midriff-baring costumes (although the teachers tried, but a few mothers including mine refused such inappropriate clothing for young children), I never learned multiple, new routines in a week, and I did not pay an obscene amount of money on tuition and costumes either.
Unlike the girls on “Dance Moms” I danced for fun, but many of my other group members were dead set on becoming a professional dancer. Those big dreamers were also the kids with the scary dance moms. Fights amongst each other and with the teacher were common, but never in front of other kids like on “Dance Moms.” The moms were vicious and can anybody say snobby? They thought their daughters were better than everyone else and they did everything in their power to make that known.
Let’s put it this way: some dancers were invited to be on competition teams and others were forced on the team by relentless mothers. With my fun seeking intentions you can guess how I got a spot on the competition team.
The scary dance teacher is definitely not an urban myth. Don’t get me wrong- I had some really wonderful dance teachers who were really nice, but the good teachers (the teachers who taught great choreography) were beasts. Let me provide an anecdote:
One day during jazz class, my teacher shouted that we stop practicing. She made us stand in a circle around her and she demanded whoever was wearing the god-awful perfume to go in the bathroom and wash it off. No one moved. She just got more adamant and angrier. She said, “Come on! I don’t care who it is, but just go and wash it off and we can begin practice again.” Needless to say, no one ever claimed to be the pungent perfume wearer.
Watching the show reminds me of my own dancing days. Whenever I get nostalgic and miss wearing the leotard and ballet shoes, I watch “Dance Moms” and remember why I quit: because it wasn’t fun anymore. The traveling to distant competitions on weekends (which was a total time suck), the multiple costume and makeup changes, the time crunch between numbers, and the stress of remembering your routine in front of the panel of judges became exhausting.
During a costume and make-up change back stage, my cousin who was much older than me asked my mother, “is this really the best environment for Sabrina?” My mother answered, “No, but she wants to do it and the day she doesn’t want to anymore, she’ll quit.” And that’s exactly what happened.
""Dance Moms" Is Scarily Real" by Sabrina McGettigan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.