My colleague Lisa Siegfried recently spoke with Abby Lee Miller of Lifetime's Dance Moms, which just aired its finale last night. The show follows Abby Lee, several of her dancers, and of course, their parents - which is sometimes a recipe for difficulty.
Here are some of Abby's thoughts on the high-pressure world of youth dance.
What, in your opinion, makes the perfect “Dance Mom”? How involved is she, what kind of demeanor does she have, what are the most important traits she needs to possess?
The perfect dance mom would be respectful, thoughtful, doesn’t offer suggestions but is there if I need them to help out with something. Keep opinions to themselves but is always there and ready to help a kid. And pays their bills on time. Sometimes people forget it’s a business.
Your bio on the show’s website mentions that you hope your students walk away from your classes having learned that “everyone is replaceable and everything is possible!” How do you manage to teach a child that everyone is replaceable while keeping alive the dream that everything is possible?
I want them to know that with hard work and dedication and determination that they can make their dreams come true. Some children were blessed with a perfect body and two gorgeous feet and a great turnout and impressive flexibility. And other kids have to work for it. I’m never going to tell a kid you’re going to be on Broadway [or] you’re not. Who knows? That’s up to them.
Anything is possible but a child can never think that they are worth more than the child next to them because everybody is replaceable. That’s a good lesson. Never get too big for your britches. They have to work for it. There is always someone behind you who wants it more, who will work harder, and who can take it away from you. And it can be your best friend!
What about Dance Moms makes Lisa think the show might be a good thing? What makes reality television that's constructive, instead of simply entertainment? You can read Lisa's commentary on Dance Moms and reality TV here.