9.26.2011

Dance Moms vs. MAIDs

MAID (n): Mother Addicted to Irish Dance

I am in a unique position in the Irish dance world. I am without a feis mom. I am about halfway between the parents and the dancers, and as such, I get a little insight on both ends.

As far as the actual dance moms go, there are more similarities between Irish dance and the show than one might think. In the show, the moms sit around and gossip while their children are practicing. They go out and drink at competitions. They've known each other their whole life, and watched their kids grow up together. They think they know everything about dance and what's best for their children. Mind you, it's not to the extent that these dance mom's drama is. Nor is actual life edited for television drama.

A lot of what the parents' cattiness is stemming from is their daughters' positions in the dance: will they be front and center? In the back? One of the lovely things about Irish dance is that there is really no front and center. In ceilis, dancers are frequently changing spots, and figure choreography asks for everyone to be everywhere on the stage. With these two group dances, there is really no room to spotlight a favorite dancer. Yes there can be some dancer who get preferential treatment for which spot they're performing (i.e. top couple), but you really need the collective group to pull off the choreography effectively.

However, taking into account positions while dancing, I have heard parents tell their children to fight for the front of the stage no matter what. And I have seen (and danced with) dancers who have done this almost seemingly ruthlessly. The key dancers need to learn is how to strike a balance between being aggressive and being malicious.

The decision the dance teacher makes about who's performing solos also gets the parents riled up. Luckily in the Irish dance world, it's not generally the TCs who deign who is performing solos at major competitions, it's up to the dancer. But there was a part about how the teacher will be backstage with one dancer while the other dancer performing a solo just get ignored. This I have seen in the Irish dance world. Favoritism is a booger, and while it may not be purposeful, you can tell who is valued more in the eyes of a teacher.

The dance teacher (Abby Lee) is the only one who I respect. She has a brain on her head. She is on to these catty moms. My only quip is why doesn't she do something about these problem parents? When my gymnastics center began having problems like this, the staff decided to limit observation hours to 15 minutes at the beginning and end of practice. I'm sure parents went to the local Starbucks to gossip more, but at least they could now be avoided by those who didn't want to hear the garbage coming out of their mouths. Abby may be a bit hard on the dancers. She's just trying to have the girls succeed and run a business.

Goals: Stamina
Days till Os: 67

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