Step it Up: Traci's tough love gets borderline abusive
Step it Up's Traci Young-Byron clearly wants the best for the talented dancers of the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre, but her means of securing a brighter future for these YCDT members is sometimes problematic. Young-Byron certainly sparked concern tonight, when she went too far with her hands-on approach to teaching.
Not satisfied with Jakirah's insufficiently pointed foot, Young-Byron tried her best to mold her into a better dancer... literally. But this lesson in foot pointing only hurt — and possibly humiliated — Jakirah.
In Young-Byron's defense, hands-on teaching is sometimes necessary in the world of dance. A teacher can only yell at his or her students so many times; eventually, a flexed foot may need to be physically manipulated so as to better show the dancer how his or her feet should look on stage and in the studio. Hands-on teaching is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but Young-Byron may have gone too far when she forcibly tried to make Jakirah's foot point. Jakirah definitely did not enjoy this moment; she later admitted that it felt like Young-Byron was going to break her foot.
This was just one of many concerning incidents that took place during the episode. Young-Byron chastised Jakirah at length in front of the entire class, making her repeat a few counts of the dance multiple times while being scolded repeatedly. The breaking point occurred when Young-Byron referred to Jakirah as "soft." This was one criticism too many, and Jakirah couldn't help but shed a few tears. Young-Byron was clearly not happy about the waterworks, but she thankfully did not repeat the line about saving it for the pillow that has caused so much exasperation among Lifetime viewers.
In prior episodes, Young-Byron showed a softer side of herself, thereby impressing fans who had perhaps gotten the wrong impression from her brief appearance on Bring It. Tonight, however, it was all about tough love. Most fans were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but several others expressed sympathy for Jakirah. As these Twitter users pointed out, Jakirah had a bad day — it happens to the best of us.
Young-Byron really does have her dancers' best interests at heart, but sometimes she goes a bit overboard with her critiques and physical teaching style. There's nothing wrong with pushing Jakirah to be her best, but it's also important to know when to back down.