DT on Dance Moms: Prepared for the Worst
October 6, 2011

I have good news and bad news. This season of Dance Moms has come to an end, and a second season is already in the works! (It’s up to you which is the good and which is the bad.) At Dance Teacher, we’re a little sad to see our favorite troupe of talented comp kids leave the silver screen—after all, they were pretty darn cute, and we learned some valuable lessons along the way.


As is Abby Lee’s way, this season ends with a bang.  The girls audition for and make it into a real live music video! Though their role on a TV show might have helped them land these roles, and we’d never actually heard of this so-called “pop star,” it is still awesome to see these little dancers in the spotlight. And (spoiler alert), Chloe snags the lead role! Gotta love seeing this consistent second placer come out on top.


Other highlights: Abby Lee abolishes the dreaded pyramid, the moms get drunk, and we get to see Abby Lee herself doing hip hop! Ok, only the first thing was actually a highlight.  Plus, we see first-hand how hard it can be to break into the world of commercial dance. Six-year-old Mackenzie has it the roughest, breaking down multiple times during rehearsals. But as she says, “I just cry sometimes. It’s no big deal.” Here are DT’s tips for breaking your dancers into the commercial world, hopefully avoiding any tears:


* First, generate awareness. Schedule a meeting for interested students and their parents, and outline what commercial dance includes and what it could mean for them. Highlight the fact that dancers who have a lot of personality, theatrical skills or a special talent for hip hop can thrive in this industry.


* Now your students need an agent. If you don’t live near NYC or L.A., look to local big cities and search online for nearby agents, agencies and auditions. Remember, that anyone who asks you for money upfront is not legitimate. The only way agencies make money is by getting a percentage of what their clients make. And conventions are also a great place to look, as agencies frequently send representatives to network with studio owners. You might even take a page out of Abby Lee’s book and put on a free showcase at the studio, inviting casting directors and agents to scout your kids.


* Once you’ve found representation for your students, they will need headshots, a resumé and a firm grasp of what to expect and how to behave at an audition. Hold a resumé-writing seminar, and call local professional photographers to inquire about group rates. Then, hold mock auditions or add an extra class to your schedule that focuses on real-world training for auditions, including dancing, acting and singing. Focus on picking up choreography quickly. Don’t know the first thing about acting? Look to local community theaters or a nearby performing arts high school for possible guest instructors.


* When a student does land an audition, make sure you know what the casting directors are looking for. Less is usually more—stay away from red lipstick and rhinestones unless they’re specifically asked for. And remember, much more comes into play than just talent—casting directors may be looking for a specific height, race or hair color. So even if your students are having trouble at first, don’t throw in the towel.



And we say farewell to Dance Moms Season 1 with a few phenomenal quotes from the final two episodes:


“Abby told me that I have the potential to be on Broadway. And what she says to me and what she thinks matters, because she’s my dance teacher.” —Chloe, reminding us of the motivational power of educators


“I worked the cat walk!” —Maddie, modest as always


“Sometimes, I don’t think Abby knows what she’s talking about.” —our favorite forever, Mackenzie


(Tips based on “Navigating the Commercial World” by Jennifer Anderson)



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