Tensions build to a frightening degree on the next all-new episode of "Dance Moms."
Fed up with the perceived favoritism of young Maddie by head dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, angry mothers shout it out to the dismay of their little ones.
Watch the clip for a preview of this intense episode of "Dance Moms," airing Wednesday on Lifetime.
Meet the Dance Moms
Abbey Lee Miller, Head Instructor, Abby Lee Dance Company
Melissa, Maddie & Mackenzie's mom
Christi, Chloe's mom
Kelly, Brooke & Paige's mom
Cathy, Vivi-Anne's mom
Holly, Nia's mom
Yelling, crying and competition: 'Dance Moms' has it all
by Daveen Rae Kurutz, Staff Writer
August 4, 2011
Call it "Real Housewives" of Pittsburgh meets Dance-zilla.
Lifetime Television's "Dance Moms" puts four moms from the east suburbs in the spotlight as they bicker with their dance coach and cheer on their daughters. Based at the Abby Lee Dance Company in Penn Hills, the reality show follows the school's competitive squad across the country for competitions as owner Abby Lee Miller tries to turn pre-teen dancers into stars.
But the moms don't always see eye to eye with Miller.
During the show's first three episodes, Miller called Penn Hills police to have one mom removed from the studio, created a ranking system that always features the same girls at the top and dressed the 8-to-13-year-old girls in costumes so skimpy one mom called them "prosti-tots."
Miller's tactics rile the moms, resulting in in-your-face arguments, often at competitions. But the moms aren't hamming it up for the cameras, said Christi Lukasiak of Churchill. Her daughter, Chloe, 10, has been a student at Abby Lee's since she was 2.
"(What viewers see) isn't theatrics. It's real," Lukasiak said. "Abby brings out extreme sides of people."
Still, the moms return because Miller is "the best," they say. Miller founded the dance company in 1980 and estimates she's taught more than 3,000 students.
Kelly Hyland, of Murrysville, has known Miller since she was a toddler. Hyland grew up dancing in Miller's studio, but quit as a teenager. Now, she sends her daughters Brooke and Paige to Miller's studio and is struggling with whether to let Brooke, 13, drop out of dance and become a cheerleader.
"She's getting to the point where she spends so much time at dance and wants to spend time with friends and at football games," Hyland said. "We're trying to cut back a little and do both. I don't want to see her quit because she is talented. She can do things other people can't."
That doesn't mean Brooke, who was 2009 National Junior Miss Dance of America, is at the top of Miller's pyramid – a ranking system that puts the top performer at the peak of the pyramid. That honor has gone to Melissa Ziegler's daughter Maddie, 8. But just because her daughter is at the top of the pyramid doesn't mean she likes the system, Ziegler said.
"None of us agree with it," said Ziegler, of Murrysville and formerly of Harrison City. "It's a tough thing to talk about. You don't want any child to feel bad because they're on the bottom of the pyramid. This is new for us."
And so are risqué costumes and performances. Miller, who handles the choreography for the competitive squad, created a dance she called "West Coast Jazz or L.A. Jazz" - sassy and what one might see in a music video. The girls wore costumes that included bright colored midriff tops, "hot pants"-style bottoms and thigh-high black stockings.
Some moms called it inappropriate, but Ziegler, who works part-time at the studio, called the costumes "cute" and said Maddie knows that you don't dress the same way for dance that you do for school.
"I don't have a problem with it," Ziegler said. "My daughter is 8 – she doesn't know what sexuality is. She thinks they're cute costumes, and I think they're cute."
While the show portrays Miller as bossy and pushy at times, Ziegler and Hyland say she's not as bad as the show makes her out to be.
"Abby is a great lady and she really wants what's best for her kids," Ziegler said. "My daughters have learned so much from her."
One of the biggest things Maddie's learned is discipline, Ziegler said. The dance mom said she's seen her 8-year-old daughter act more mature at competitions than older girls. A large part of that comes from what the girls learn from Miller, she said.
"Abby teaches them to dress nice, to always be in a dress or something nice and have shoes on, not to run around in booty shorts and a bra top or their costume," Ziegler said. "It's going to help them when they look for a job in the future. She does teach them a lot of life skills."
Viewers saw Maddie's dedication in the first episode of the season, when she refused to leave class despite feeling sick. Ziegler said her daughter ate chicken before class that didn't settle well in her stomach and wanted to push through the nausea.
That's not easy for a mother to do, said Hyalnd – something she knows from experience. In last week's episode, Brooke saw a chiropractor for a chronic pain in her hips. The doctor advised Brooke not to perform just days before the competition, but the teen pushed through – leading her squad to a first place win at a New Jersey competition.
"It's definitely hard to watch your child perform injured or not feeling well," Hyland said. "The way I look at it is that every sport is that way. You can't tell me there' a football player that doesn't go out and play injured, a soccer player that doesn't play with a stomach ache."
Just like dancers have the same obstacles as other athletes, Being a dance mom isn't too different from having a child who participates in a sport, Hyland said.
"Abby's like family to me, and I can't imagine taking my kids somewhere else," Hyland said. "Even though she's mean, everybody who has a successful team, whether it be football or hockey, that coach is probably strict if they're successful."
That strictness sometimes is applied to the moms. During the season premier, Miller chastised Hyland and Lukasiak for going to a hotel bar during a competition while the instructor was practicing with the girls. Miller yelled at the moms and later criticized Lukasiak for her decision after Chloe's headpiece fell off during one of her performances.
"With Abby, you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't," Hyland said. "She doesn't want us with her when we're practicing behind the stage, so we left and had a drink. About 95 percent of the people in that bar were dance moms. There was nothing wrong with it."
Lukasiak said she hopes viewers see through all the drama to the fact that the girls are doing something they love.
"When they take the rhinestone costumes and the fake nails off, they're little girls," Lukasiak said. "They're dedicated, but they're still little girls."
sources: mylifetime.com, etonline, yourmonroeville.com
full video: mylifetime.com ←"Fight Scene" starts at 39:55