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Learning to Dance

August 2nd, 2011 by Beth Feldman Founder, Role Mommy

I just got through watching the latest episode of the can’t look away new Lifetime reality series “Dance Moms” and all I can say is, thank goodness my daughter plays softball and has no interest in becoming a professional dancer! Abby Miller is by far one of the scariest dance teachers I’ve ever seen in my life — yelling at 6-year-olds, reprimanding moms at every turn, and chasing a minister mom out of her dance studio just because her daughter wore socks to class. Yikes!

As a former kid who once had aspirations to make it on Broadway (and instead now gives private concerts in her shower), I have to say I can understand why Abby is so tough … but on kids who still haven’t lost all their baby teeth? I remember as a child having a really strict voice coach who definitely was hard on me, but she never, ever made me cry. In fact, after that first year, when I had to learn to breathe by using my diaphragm and sing Billie Holiday songs (did I mention I was only 9?), my coach told my parents I had to take dance lessons so that I’d have some rhythm and poise during my performances. And so I enrolled in Miss Phyllis’ dance studio, where I learned how to sashay and plié with the best of ‘em. Since I never was a star pupil in dance, I didn’t get the chance to learn from Phyllis herself — one of the strictest teachers at the school, who many decades later, became the tough-as-nails choreographer of my dad’s senior citizen musical extravaganza in Boynton Beach, Florida. But that’s a whole other story we can get to some other time. Back when I was a tween (and before that word was even invented), you could hear Miss Phyllis barking orders through the wall as we repeatedly practiced a Rick Springfield or Lionel Richie number. Boy, do I miss the ’80s!

What I can tell you is that Miss Phyllis’ students were some of the best I’ve ever seen and some even went professional. But here’s the big difference from Phyllis and Abby from “Dance Moms.” When I used to take voice and dance lessons, my mom was nowhere in sight. Phyllis never let the moms watch. Instead, she instructed that our parents drop us off and pick us up once the lesson was over. My mom never gazed at me through a plate glass window while I repeatedly screwed up my pas de bourrées. She, of course, saw that happen on stage during numerous recitals, but since I never had aspirations to become a Radio City Rockette, it all worked out just fine.

Check out this latest clip from “Dance Moms” and then if you’ve got some time on your side, kick back and watch this new Lifetime reality show. I’m telling you, once you get sucked in, there’s no turning back!