Unethical behavior, disrespect, and possible plagiarizing in competition dance. Surprise!

This week in Minnesota, several teams at the state dance competition accused one of the top winning teams of plagiarism. The winning team had copied costumes, music and a bit of choreography. They claim they were "inspired" by the other team. Many people believe they plagiarized with a few changes around the margins. Instead of filing a complaint, other competition teams stood on the sidelines and held hands in objection. Those teams were disqualified. Seems to me neither behavior was appropriate.

I entered my daughters into dance programs when they were in preschool. I remember going to my first competition dance as an at home dad and seeing little girls with almost nothing on running around wearing huge hats filled with fruit. Carmen Miranda wore way more clothing than these first graders. After hours of watching thousands of dancers and hundreds of moms push and pull and cajole and scream, I called my wife in disbelief. Who would do this to children?

Why would anybody pay thousands of dollars to a studio with a damaged floor where kids got injured year after year in over training on a bad surface just to win a trophy? Why would a parent spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to an out of town dance organization to come in for a few "rock star" hours and try to teach thousands of kids on a dirty, carpeted ballroom floor? Why is hazing with ropes, kitty litter, and assorted other shaming techniques allowed in any environment - especially a so called education one?

These things arise, because the system is pervaded by back stabbing and gossip and cheating and lying and child abuse and theft. The world of crazy dance moms and unethical dance instructors does not just exist on television. It is real. Leaders in the industry need to name it, take decisive action, and stop it. Which is exactly what the state high school league needs to do in this instance.

We eventually found a couple of good schools with quality, ethical environments. My advice if you chose to participate is the following: keep your head tall, smile and wave at others no matter the drama, be respectful, walk away from the bad behavior, and role model healthy attitudes for your kids. I did the best I could at protecting my children. I hope you can do the same.

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