"Dance Kids ATL," which premiered Wednesday on TLC, wasn't a "Dance Moms" clone -- just like a former Columbus resident featured on the show promised.
Tracey Berry, a 1982 graduate of Baker High School, appeared on the show as a dance coach for the elite team of young hip-hop dancers at Atlanta’s Dance 411 Studios.
Yes, some portions of the premiere centered on conflict. And yes, we got the inevitable footage of "momagers." But overall, it was a kinder and gentler version of its reality TV counterparts.
Former Columbus resident Berry takes a role similar to Abby Lee Miller from "Dance Moms," but Berry isn't depicted as a villain. After a competition, it was refreshing to see Berry praise her dancers backstage.
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The main reason I'd prefer "Dance Kids ATL" over "Dance Moms"? Berry's show doesn't put its young dancers in skimpy costumes on stage.
When I interviewed Berry earlier this week, she said her show's future will depend on ratings for a trial set of episodes. Will the lack of staged conflict hurt "Dance Kids ATL" in the long run? We'll have to wait and see.
Berry said "Dance Kids ATL" occupies a unique niche in the world of dance programming, since it doesn't focus primarily on conflicts between the dancers.
"The show actually focuses on all of the sacrifices that these kids make," she said. "All of these kids are like mini prodigies...I believe in these kids."
What about parallels to "Dance Moms," Lifetime's reality TV show that centers on young dancers?
"I really don't like to make a comparison because they're so different," said Berry, who resides in Peachtree City, Ga., and still has family in Columbus.
"Dance Kids ATL" premieres in a time slot directly after another Georgia-based reality show on TLC: "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which is set in McIntyre, Ga. Berry thinks "Dance Kids ATL" could benefit from its scheduling.
"Honey Boo Boo is a ratings darling for TLC," she said.
With luck, "Dance Kids ATL" will follow the footsteps of equally successful reality shows set in Atlanta, chiefly "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" -- which is the most-watched installment of Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise and Bravo's highest-rated series overall, according to The Wrap.
"It has just become the hotbed of reality shows," Berry said of Atlanta.
Here's a clip from "Dance Kids ATL."