Is ‘Dance Moms’ Accurate? ‘Bunheads’ Cast Weighs In

by | January 10, 2013 at 5:13 PM | Bunheads, Dance Moms

Executive Producer Amy Sherman-Palladino of "Bunheads" and actors Sutton Foster and Julia Goldani Telles speak onstage during the ABC portion of the 2013 Winter TCA Tour. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The fictional ballerinas of “Bunheads” have weighed in on the real (or “real”) young dancers of “Dance Moms.” Their verdict: the reality series accurately portrays the cutthroat competition of the youth dance world but some of the details of the show are as fictional as anything on scripted television. The show’s actresses all have a background in the less flashy world of ballet, but were asked their opinions of the Lifetime hit during the show’s TCA panel. Said Emma Dumont (Melanie), “I’ve met dance mothers who I never want to see ever again in my entire life, but there’s such a community in dance that there’s also the — you get the flip side of that where, like, everyone is family.”

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Added Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo) “My mom is a dance teacher… and I grew up in that kind of atmosphere when I was younger. I know a lot.  It’s very cliquey, you could say, but I never experienced where the moms would have a huddle, and they would talk about a daughter.” Jenkins also revealed that much of the drama on “Dance Moms” is producer created. “Those invitational competitions, all you have to do is, like, get second place, and you are automatically in.  But they are, like, ‘Oh, it’s  invitation only.  We are so special.’  Like, no.  You just have to not suck.”

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Outspoken “Bunheads” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino also defended the show’s slow pace, which has led to criticisms that it lacks a plot. “I look at a lot of the comments about, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest show on television, you know. It’s, like, nihilistic… I look back on the stuff we did on ‘Gilmore Girls,’ and it’s a very similar pacing to ‘Gilmore Girls.’  But now television shows are cut up.  ‘Gilmore Girls’ was three acts and a teaser.  We are six acts and a teaser.  So the actual structure of television has changed, and when you change the structure of something, if you write to an act break, then every act break has got to have some sort of big ‘dun, dun, dun,’ and there’s the closet, and he’s dead, and she’s dead, and we are all dead, and the bullet — and the cow is dead.  Everything is dead.  And I’ve never written to act breaks.  It’s just not my style. I want the story to unfold the way I hear it, the 20 voices in my head.”

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The show’s star Sutton Foster teased an upcoming clearly defined storyline, her character Michelle rebuilding her relationship with her family. Her real life brother, Hunter Foster will be playing her on-screen brother. “Back when we first started, Amy [Sherman-Palladino]  said she wanted to bring a brother character in for me. Then a couple weeks later, she’s like, “We want your brother to play your brother.”  My brother is a Broadway performer as well. We’ve done a handful of stuff together when we were kids, really, but we’d never really worked together.  So it was — it was amazing.  We did two episodes together.

“He plays my older brother in the show,” she continued. “He’s sort of like the male version of Michelle.  He’s a bit lost, a bit of a drifter.  We are both kind of lone wolves out in the world. He begins to reveal more about who Michelle is and why she is the way she is, and then we also meet a mother character.  Our mother [played by Lolita Davidovich] is introduced into the storyline.  So that again is also very revealing.”

“Bunheads” airs on Mondays at 9/8c on ABC Family.