Dance Masters of America is publically disassociating itself from Abby Lee Miller, the infamous dance teacher from the Lifetime series Dance Moms, a reality show known for its trophy-obsessed teachers and scheming stage mothers.
In the 2012 spring newsletter emailed to DMA members this week, Phyllis R. Guy, DMA national president, makes the following statement:
“To date, Dance Masters of America has not taken a public stand on the Dance Moms reality show. We had hoped the show would just fade away. As many of you know, the Lifetime video crew appeared at our Orlando National Convention and were immediately turned away and refused any filming of our convention workshops or competitions. Parents and students attending the convention were immediately notified and were discouraged from any participation with this program. DMA feels this is a total misrepresentation of our dance educators and their students and is detrimental to the dance profession.
“Abby Lee Miller is no longer a member of Dance Members of America. Her membership was terminated through her chapter. Quality dance education is very important to each of us and our students and our goal is to provide the best dance education in the most loving atmosphere.”
The buzz was immediate for Dance Moms, the reality-TV show on Lifetime featuring Pennsylvania studio owner Abby Lee Miller—but it wasn’t the good kind. On July 15, Dance Studio Life publisher Rhee Gold posted this on the magazine’s Facebook page:
Abby Lee Miller has sold out herself and the dance profession. Her reality is not the reality for 99 percent of dance school owners (or the parents). Shame on all the people who created this farce—you are doing harm to the dance field and community. The moms look like fools sacrificing everything to make their children winners and allowing their children and themselves to be abused. This show is a perfect example of what not to be as a teacher, school owner, or parent.
And here’s a sampling of what people in the dance community said in response. (Some responses have been edited for length.)
- I was shaking because I was so angry. Dance should be fun; it doesn’t mean you’re compromising your talent or technique. We need this off TV!
- I somewhat disagree that she doesn’t represent the majority of studios. It’s harder and harder to find studios at competitions that act like dance is the most important part and not the tricks/costumes.
- I was appalled. I don’t know who was worse, the coach or the moms. I pray that people who are not in the dance field don’t think this is what being a dance teacher is. It’s offensive to educators who work hard to provide quality dance education. My heart was breaking for those sobbing 8- and 9-year-olds. No one, especially children, should be treated like they were. Lifetime should be ashamed to air a show like this.
- Learn a dance in a week and then compete? Interesting to watch only because I feel so much better about the way I run my dance studio. It’s not all about winning; it’s learning the art form of dance. Why does she have to be harsh to get the dancers to produce wonderful routines? She says she loves her career, but [she] looks miserable.
- I came away with gratitude that the teachers and parents I associate with understand that teaching dance isn’t all about perfecting athletic steps and pasting on a performance face. It is developing respect for yourself, your peers, and your art form. Thank you to all the wonderful teachers whose [students] shine brighter because you lit a passion in their souls!
- I cannot imagine that any parents who see that show will decide that is the studio for their daughter. She may produce winners, but at what price?
- Funny, after 21 years of owning a studio, I don’t recall having to go to a bar and reprimand any dance parents.
- I’m so disappointed that any dance instructor would agree to show the dance profession in such a bad light. And that parents would put their children and themselves through that kind of torture—for what? Big plastic trophies! It’s just sad.
- Parents and students complaining about a studio and the instructors but staying there because they are winning is something we see in our area. Either stop complaining or change studios.
- As a competition coordinator and dance mom, I am absolutely disgusted. This is not my reality at all! I have never seen anyone treat people or kids that way! I am horrified!
- If I ever become that type of teacher, just shoot me.
And Rhee responds: All of you make me proud to be part of the dance community that is not featured on national TV. Many posts say that the show is scripted, as though that would make it right. Dance Moms probably is scripted, but that doesn’t mean being part of it is acceptable. Once you know that your actions will hurt others, you jump ship. Dance is a soul thing first and foremost, an art form that must be respected. As a teacher/mentor, your priority has to be about what is right for your dancers (mentally and physically) and the dance community in general. Your reputation is a reflection on every other teacher in the field. That’s what you call responsibility for the greater good.