While Dance Moms has Abby Lee Miller and a veteran team of uber competitive moms, TLC’s new Cheer Perfection (Wednesday, July 11 at 10pm ET) has an equally intense coach/co-owner in Alisha Dunlap of Arkansas’ Cheer Time Revolution, and a somewhat less-fashionable foursome of “Cheer” moms who are determined to see their kids win.
Cheer Perfection debuts as a one-hour special with an opportunity to go to a series pending viewer interest. From the sizzle reel it looks promising, as Dunlap shares that Abby Lee ferociousness, belting out orders and expectations and not backing down to crying youngsters unsure of their abilities. Biggest difference, however, is that Dunlap brings more heart to her coaching style.
“I’m a hard coach but I got a big heart for cheer,” Dunlap tells Channel Guide Magazine. “I love these kids. I like to push them, but then I always like to reward them in the end.”
Proving so, Dunlap is far quicker on offering praise when performance warrants it. She’s clear on her expectations for her team and for the moms. “The most important quality that a child needs to have is they need to have the heart for the sport – if they love the sport and their heart is in it, they’ll do well,” she says. “An ideal cheerleading mom for me also has to have the love for the sport. They need to want their child to be good. They need to have dedication because they have to bring their kids to practice and they have to be just as involved and be willing to give up their time to be at a gym, all the time practicing and getting their kids where they need to be so we can coach them to be the best.”
And sometimes “Cheer” moms can be equally as hard as their coach. While Ann Robinson (Torrann’s mom) got a bit of a tongue lashing from a fellow mom who calls her the “queen bitch,” Robinson tells cameras “I don’t spend all this money to lose.”
Regardless of how the moms behave, Dunlap says “the mom’s influence has no influence on me. It’s not the kid’s fault how their parents act and I deal with the kids. … If a mom thinks her kid is great and needs to be in the front position or she needs to be on the top of the pyramid, then her kid needs to show it. The kids earn their spots.”
Capturing that drive to be the best (and all the craziness that can come along with it) is something producers of Cheer Perfection have mastered, a familiar task as they are also the veteran producers of the popular Toddlers & Tiaras series.
“I know that TV is TV and they’re going to edit it the way they want to edit it, but I hope that I do a good job and present our gym and myself in the way we really are and they don’t edit us to make us look crazy,” Dunlap concludes.
The one-hour special will follow a week leading into tryouts for a new elite team Dunlap is compiling, and viewers will see the talent, drama and rivalries that emerge as the young competitors – and their moms – do everything it takes to make the team.
Cheer Perfection airs on TLC Wednesday, July 11 at 10pm ET.