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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MFA: Dance

Directing Professor

Jeffery Bullock


While growing up watching reality television, the author found joy and pleasure relating to the show Dance Moms with her own experiences in competition dance. Competition dance culture preaches that private studios provide a “safe space” for training and team bonding. However, Dance Moms showed international audiences how traumatic practices of abusive pedagogy in private competition studios scar the psyches and bodies of young dancers. A critical analysis of competition dance culture reveals toxic power dynamics, parental projection, trauma bonding, patterns of cult psychology and brainwashing, and blatant racism. The author’s personal narrative is included to highlight her journey from the intimate terrorism of dance competition culture to a place of enhanced awareness, new patterns of thinking and training, and the discardment of outside voices of racism that were learned and embodied throughout her childhood.

Performance Access Statement

If you wish to see the creative piece or performance that accompanied this thesis, please complete the Request Form, and you should receive a response from the Dance Department within two weeks.