TLC’s ‘Irish-dancing Tweens’ – will this be a ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’, ‘Dance Mom’ disaster?

Girl plastered with makeup for a competition

On Tuesday I was mindlessly perusing the Internet, when I stumbled across several article links on Facebook regarding the US network TLC’s ordering of eight episodes of a show currently known as “Irish-dancing Tweens.”

While some were intrigued by the idea, other friends were not so thrilled and as I read some of the article links…I am coming to agree with the latter, especially given my experience dancing with an Irish school.

I am cautious for several reasons. The biggest of them being if the release in The Hollywood Reporter refers to the dance form as "Irish Jig Dancing" when it is simply called Irish dancing is a big red flag...if they can't even take the time to get the name of dance form right in the article, what makes you think that they are going to take the time to get all the facts about competing straight?

It is going to resemble the metaphorical bull in a china closet, where the big TV crew comes in, sets up shop, and then the producers edit out everything of value and just focus on the negative aspects-such as the tanner and the resemblance to beauty pageants.
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It is setting up to be a formula show, much like "Toddlers and Tiaras" or "Dance Moms." Where at the beginning of every episode in Toddlers and Tiaras, the audience “meets” around three little pageant competitors (and their sometimes overbearing mothers). The viewers see the child's house, what awards they have won and what their plans are for the upcoming competition. It then continues to show the more dramatic and over the top aspects of pageant life such as fake teeth for three year-olds and fake eyelashes for them. As the competition heats up, it almost always ends in a tantrum, from one of the children, a parent of said children…or both…

Still from 'Dance Moms'
The formula varies with "Dance Moms", there are also some similarities from episode to episode-there is always Abby Lee with her precious "dance pyramid" in the beginning outlining which of her top five will be highlighted that week in the group numbers and then there are the moms complaining about what went wrong the week before-all these people do on these shows is complain, complain, complain...

While the movie "JIG" tried to show just how much work and training goes into preparing for the World Championships, I can only hope that TLC will try to follow the documentary's footsteps. Unlike the pint sized beauty queens who pretty much just hop, bop, and pivot around the stage looking like little dolls-pint sized Irish-dance champs at least have talent...unlike the top 5 dance pyramid, these girls do not wear midriff baring outfits that are, in my humble opinion, a bit too mature for someone who is 9-11 years old. Yes they may wear pricey, blinged out dance dresses with sometimes overly huge wigs that may or may not be the color of the dancer's natural hair, and yes they may also wear fake-tan, but their tummies are covered, and they can usually pound out three steps of the treble jig like there is no tomorrow...

An idea for TLC would be to not just focus on the tween crowd, but to vary the ages from episode to episode...much like JIG did in following some older dancers as well (the big three followed: Claire Greaney, Simona Mauriello, and Suzanne Coyle are all in my age group and competition), I say this because while the younglings can bring a share of drama as we were all drama queens at that stage, but the hardest most dedicated dancers I know are all senior level or close to it.

For instance where I’m from, the toughest age group just happens to be the 17&O open, but there are no "rivalries" in my eyes...just a talented pool of dancers who all bring their A-game to every competition...we are all pretty good sports too-no tantrums (that I have seen) and that includes the younger groups too. Even in my brief experience in Ireland, I was able to observe the hard work that goes into dancing-it is not so different on either side of the pond.
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Promo image from 'Jig'
If they would show the endless drills during dance class, the hours of at home practice and cross-training rather than 12 minutes of different moms bashing each other and complaining how the other person's kid gets highlighted every single dance, then TLC may be onto something. They should show the kids talking about the friendships that they have made not only in their schools, but in other states within their age groups or from different local schools, maybe if they put a positive spin on something-people would want to start Irish-dancing. However, if they focus on the negative, superficial side-the tans, the wigs, the expensive dresses, trying to dig up "rivalries," etc other than the fun kids have while competing, I can think of several families with young children that would be turned off by the activity...

This show could go one of two ways...either be really really really good where you won't be ashamed to say that you watch it or be really really awful and go the route of "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "Dance Moms" where you make fun of the antics at dance class, but are ashamed to openly admit that you DVR'd all 8 episodes and watched them while eating Nutella straight out of the jar...

Promo for 'Dance Moms':




Trailer for 'Jig' the movie:

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