Nia Dance Moms, black girl on dance moms

So You Bunheads Think You Can Dance Moms?

As a dancer, dance lover and self-proclaimed reality television enthusiast, to say I’ve been excited about the smorgasbord of dance shows on primetime would be an understatement. I’ve been following Dance Moms, Bunheads, and So You Think You Can Dance (to name a few) religiously, even getting my mom and grandma hooked, too! Although I think they’re all great in their own respective lights, in the words of Peter Griffin, some things just “grind my gears” about these shows.

After the top 20 were presented on SYTYCD last week, I told Maika who I felt should and shouldn’t have gone onto the show. Of course I think everyone chosen is talented and what not, but I couldn’t help but think of Vegas week where I picked my personal favorites. One dancer in particular, Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, (besides being awesome) is one of the top 10 males of the season. After having to dance for his life during Vegas week, I noticed something.

Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, So You Think You Can Dance

Some of the most interesting dancers of the season were quitting or giving up on themselves, not even trying to make it to the next round or attempting to dance for their lives. I don’t think it’s because they were unmotivated or less talented than some of the other dancers, but because of their limited training. I’m not saying SYTYCD should make its choreography easier, but I think it’s important to note that not everyone can afford to be trained in ballet, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, etc. and as a result, people will leave. Food for thought: Four of the people who bowed out of the competition were black guys. Coincidence?

As for ABC Family’s new show Bunheads, I think it’s… Interesting. I didn’t really watch Gilmore Girls growing up, so I didn’t understand the big deal of Amy Sherman-Palladino creating a new show but apparently this woman creates magic. The premise is cute enough; a former Las Vegas showgirl moves to Paradise, California with her husband that she married on a drunken whim. I think that Shonda Rhimes, the creator, writer, and executive producer of ABC hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, tweeted my thoughts after watching the series premiere a few weeks ago.

Shonda Rhimes Tweet, Shonda Rhimes Twitter, Shonda Rhimes Bunheads tweet

Granted, I don’t have any kids but she’s right. The lack of diversity on television alone is pretty evident, so why did I expect a show about dance to be any different? Silly me.  After the premiere, I did notice three or four characters of color added to the show in a matter of two episodes but they don’t have any speaking lines.

Now to my family’s favorite: Dance Moms (not to be confused with Dance Moms: Miami which we also love but is on a mid-season hiatus). Aggressive perfectionist choreographer Abby Lee Miller pushes her kids to become stars. That’s fine and dandy, but for one of her dancers, the only black girl Nia, it’s often at the expense of making her dance to stereotypically “ethnic” pieces or themes.

Nia Dance Moms, black girl on dance moms

Meet Laquifa. Seriously. Her solo was called “They Call Me Laquifa”.

Abby’s even said, in so many words, that Nia needs to learn ethnic dances because those are the pieces she’ll be auditioning for in the future. WHAT?? To make things worse, whenever her mom Holly speaks up about not wanting her daughter to carry a gun in a dance, play the role of a bully, or anything that she doesn’t agree with Abby makes Holly the villain, claiming she’s ruining her daughter’s dance career. *Enter eye roll here*

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people are always maliciously going out of their way to be racist or anything, but there’s something about dance and black people on television that’s always off. Or is it black people on television in general? Or maybe it’s a class thing? Or is it just me?

*Kanye shrug*

What are your thoughts?

xoxo, Jessica

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