“Dance Moms” from the perspective of the dance teacher

Nora Younkin says that the television show Dance Moms “stresses me out.” In a Huffington Post story, the dance instructor said she feels the show she watches weekly, provide young girls with a false sense of reality. Younkin says that many of the girls would not be interested in taking up dance lessons if it wasn’t for the girls on the show. Younkin says she doesn’t teach basic dance classes, but she instructs her students around a syllabus and ensures that they are fluent in the vocabulary and technical aspects of dance as well. She explains that “dance should apply to all the senses and all learning styles.” This means instructors should devise certain methods of teaching dance based on the age range they are working with. 5-year-olds and 12-year-olds do not pick up material the same, nor are they able to focus during instruction time. So Younkin uses alternative methods like improve or rhyming to help her younger students grab the information better while having fun in the process. She explains that the reward from her perspective as a dance instructor is not seeing her students win week after week in various competitions, but knowing that they are able to apply what they know about dance outside of the classroom. Younkin’s style is a complete contrast to the competitive side of dance that is witnessed in the show. While competitions are necessary the way the dance students are treated in the process matters more. It doesn’t take constant yelling to grasp a concept but if it is broken down in a different way it may be easier for students to learn at a faster pace. Younkin says she wants dance to be fun and dance class should be a nonjudgmental creative space for students. Creative combinations are a way students can learn intricate techniques, but it does not have to be all work and no play. As the show’s popularity continues to increase, maybe more instructors will see Younkin’s point of view and change the way they teach dance as well.


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