September 03, 2014

"Tribal Council" on Dance Moms

Confuse 'Em While They're Young: 'Dance Moms' Puts Headdress on 13-Year-OldThe Lifetime TV series Dance Moms did a full-on parody of Native culture on Tuesday night when five girls in the Abby Lee Dance Company competed for their instructor's approval in a number called "Tribal Council." According to the recap at Glamorosi,

The group will do a Native American-inspired jazz routine called "Tribal Council"--Abby got the idea for the number after seeing Cher in concert.

Fast-forward to the actual performance, in which a 13-year-old girl named Nia gets the lead role. As described by Glamorosi:

The group competes first with their "Tribal Council" routine; they wear two-piece costumes that are red with gold trim, except for Nia, who wears gold with red trim. They all wear face paint and headpieces; Nia wears a full headdress, and they all take turns dancing on a large drum. This is, of course, culturally inappropriate, and I'm surprised it got by the producers, but I do not fault the girls.

Here's a clip of the dance number from Lifetime's YouTube channel:
On the show's Facebook page, the issue of cultural appropriation has been brought up by a number of viewers. Here's one comment:

As a native woman I think it's disrespectful. And frankly I always complain when famous people try to make our culture a fashion choice. Learn real ways to respect a native. The headdress is stupid, the face paint is stupid.
Comment:  So Abby Lee got the idea of stereotyping Indians from Cher's stereotyping of Indians? Wow, that's brilliant...not.

Next time you want to imitate a minstrel performance, maybe you should think twice about it. Duhhh.

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