My daughter and I share a love for dance. When So You Think You Can Dance started, we used to watch and call each other on the phone. At the time she was the artistic director for a rec league level dance company. The problem was the parents. More specifically the problem was the mothers who had watched So You Think You Can Dance as well as Dance Moms. Because of the lack of regulation, and the petty small world that dance consumes, girls were lured to other programs where it was promised they would learn the 'tricks' that would get them noticed. Many of the other teachers were older than my daughter and didn't have the benefit of her background in contemporary concerns in the dance industry. But the Dance Moms wouldn't buy into the idea of age appropriate dance and costume.
The competition industry bears much of the blame for this. It used to be that provocative costumes or actions for young children would lose points. There is something truly disturbing about seeing a seven year old bump and grind. Yet in their zeal to win, win, win, too many dance schools, often run by people who have next to no experience in the academic and professional dance world, are putting tiny children through their paces. Let's just consider for a minute the concept of dancing en pointe. To be strong enough to accomplish this you have to have trained your muscles to support your entire body weight. That doesn't happen overnight. Indeed my daughter's studio required a doctor's xray analysis of a child's ankle before moving them up. That is not the case in most dance schools.
My daughter just sent me a link to a story from Australia expressing many of the same concerns. You can read it here: Ambitious Child Dancers At Risk
Below are some quotes: