Show rife with misconceptions of dancers, their parents

Column by Sarah O’Rourke

Sarah O'Rourke-w2000-h2000One of the many things that fascinate me about reality shows is how unrealistic they actually are.

I’m talking about “Dance Moms.”

“Dance Moms” is basically a show where little children get screamed at all day by their coach, Abby Lee Miller.

These kids eat, breathe and live dance.

They don’t have time for friends or fun, and I honestly have no clue how they even have time to do their homework.

Some of the girls (Maddie and Mackenzie) are even homeschooled so that they can spend more time in dance class.

The real problem I have with the show is how involved the mothers get in their children’s dance careers.

But I guess that’s the entire point of the show. I have had plenty of dance experience and what this show portrays is not realistic at all.

I started taking dance lessons when I was four years old, I was in a dance company for five years and I was on my high school dance team for four years.

In all that experience I have never witnessed a scene as terrifying as what is seen on “Dance Moms.”

When I was little, I was lucky and was never yelled at as much as the children of “Dance Moms.”

None of the parents ever sat in a “viewing room” and watched the entirety of each dance practice.

They never got into arguments over which child was the best dancer and who deserved a solo in each competition.

The parents never interrupted dance practice to say that something was not fair. And after a competition, they never blamed one child for the entire team getting the forbidden second place trophy.

In my experience, the parents dropped us off in the parking lot and picked us up when class was over.

They attended competitions, supported everyone on the team and that was it. Parents did not attend practice, they did not place the blame on one child and they were generally positive (there’s always a few rare exceptions here).

It is true that as you get older, dance coaches get a bit tougher and yell more, but by the time that came I was at least 15 years old.

These kids on “Dance Moms” are as young as nine years old and cannot handle all the criticism from their coach, who they look up to and strive for their approval and admiration.

There are lots of tears on the show, and the coach frequently responds by saying, “Save those tears for your pillow.”

Clearly they make this show overly dramatic to get viewers since very few dance coaches would say that to a child.

Honestly, if someone said that to me and I was nine years old, I wouldn’t want to go to dance practice ever again.

I mean, who wants to get yelled at all the time?

I just hope that people don’t prevent their children from taking dance classes because of what they see on “Dance Moms.”

Dance is a wonderful sport and art all combined in one.

It allows you to express yourself, gain confidence, enjoy yourself and get in shape.

There is truly no other activity like it.

And I bet that if you or one day your children decide to take dance class, you will not have an experience similar to what you see on “Dance Moms.”

O’Rourke is a first-year pharmacy major and can be reached at


One Comment

  1. Thank you for this post! Most “dance moms” aren’t crazy or helicopter-y. We have jobs, other kids & life to attend to. I’m so glad your experience was “normal”. Thanks again!