Photo credit: Bobby Quillard
If you’ve even watched one minute of Dance Moms on Lifetime, you know it’s a complicated situation. The show has brought some beautiful dancers into the public eye like Maddie Ziegler, Nia Sioux, Chloe Lukasiak and Kalani Hilliker.
The show has also drawn tons of criticism because of the warring moms and the divisive teaching methods of Abby Lee Miller. This week alone has brought enough drama to the forefront with Miller quitting the show and Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke being brought on to finish the Season 7 filming.
I spoke with an A&E network representative [A&E owns Lifetime] to clarify what is going on. As of Wednesday afternoon, Burke is considered a guest choreographer. This is the title they have used for every dance professional who has come on the show from Debbie Allen to Nakul Dev Mahajan. As of right now, she is temporarily filling in.
We all know there is a lot going on with Miller, both on and off the show. Her sentencing is due to begin on May 8 and she’s also having creative differences with producers. Until those issues are settled, any choreographer who comes in will be considered a guest star.
Photo credit: Richard Knapp
Here’s where Lifetime has an opportunity to turn things around. With Miller facing up to five years in prison, it might be time to reinvent the franchise. The show has proven to be a moneymaker for all of those involved, but let’s make it a positive example of what the dance community is about.
The dance profession still has a lot of teachers with old-school methods that are strict and can sometimes border on abuse, but the tide has turned. You can run a disciplined class and still nurture and develop professional dancers.
Dance Network recently spoke with Dance Moms guest choreographer Kristin McQuaid, who talked about how the show emphasized winning too much on the competition circuit. The young teams need to learn to lose as a part of their process and growth as dancers.
“Winning, winning, winning has been such a drawback the community of dance for the kids. When I was growing up in the competition world, that was never a thing,” McQuaid says. “I hear those words so much more now. I feel like that is coming from the show.”
McQuaid thinks the show could still be entertaining and teach better lessons to the cast and the dance community at large.
“I was never a first-place winner — I was sixth or seventh, but look where I am today,” she explains. “That’s what people need to understand. When you get into the real world, they are not going to care that you got a triple-platinum-titanium-plus award. If you grew as a dancer, if you grew as a person, if the performance was the best it could be for you as a dancer… that is the direction Dance Moms needs to go.”
Miller’s fate will be sealed in about five weeks time and Lifetime will have to make decisions about the cast as they move into Season 8. It really is the right time for a renaissance.