Competition has great potential to bring out the best in people but it also has great potential to bring out the worst. Bullying, catty behavior, favoritism – these are things that have plagued pre-professional and conservatory schools as well I’m afraid. Where there is competition for parts, roles, or attention, there is room for negativity (in the professional world, too!). Particularly where children are involved, however, I do think it is up to teachers and studio owners to take these “facts of life” and encourage (demand) positive and considerate behavior. This does NOT mean needing to adopt a “yippee, everybody wins, everybody’s perfect” attitude. I think it means that 1) We respect the art form by committing to personal growth, recognizing that everyone has room to improve. 2) We diversify our focus to include a full spectrum of goals in dance (not just the competitive side of it).
Jennings makes a wise choice to eschew loading up on pseudo-hip pop-culture gags, a sometimes irksome DreamWorks trait, or insisting on giving characters a heroic arc, like most Disney fare. Instead, he goes for old-school Warner Brothers visual humor such as how Miss Crawly’s fake eye tends to pop out at inopportune times or Rosita’s inventive DIY way of dealing with her childcare crisis. He allows his camera to slip and slide around the set pieces, including a rooftop escape route that would do King Kong proud, and knows how to stage the singing acts, dramatic lighting and all.