Dance Moms is an American reality television series that debuted on Lifetime on July 13, 2011. Created by Collins Avenue Productions, the show originally followed the early training and careers of children in dance and show business under the tutelage of Abby Lee Miller, as well as the interactions of the instructor and the dancers with their sometimes bickering mothers. Cheryl Burke replaced Laurieann Gibson during the second half of Season 7.
Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles, California, the show is primarily filmed at the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) studios.
Primarily set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and later in Los Angeles, California, the show originally followed the Abby Lee Dance Company's Junior Elite Competition Team of mostly preteen girls as they traveled week-to-week to various dance competitions, winning awards and preparing for Nationals, while at the same time being prepared by Abby Lee Miller to be "professional, employable working dancers." The series depicted the doting mothers as rivals of each other on behalf of their own daughters, often arguing with Miller and each other, and sometimes closing ranks against rival teams. Dance performances were creatively conceptualized by Miller and her dance instructors, with input from the show's producers, while choreography was done by Miller, her staff, and occasionally a guest choreographer. Various rival dance teams spurred the team's competitiveness. The show's success was often credited to the drama and conflict among Miller and the moms, along with the weekly dances and the close relationships among the girls as viewers watched them grow up and improve their skills.
The show featured Miller as a strict dance team coach who, over the series, relied more and more on criticism, sometimes personal, to motivate the girls, with an emphasis on hard work and competition against teammates. Every week on the show, Miller used a pyramid of individual headshots and gives feedback to each girl about her ranking, previous week's performance, attitude, effort, and the behavior of the girl herself and her mother. Miller had never used a pyramid in her studio prior to Dance Moms, and when once asked about it, Miller stated, "I've never done that in my life. That has nothing to do with me. That's the show; they came up with that whole process."
In season 5, Miller relocated the team to Los Angeles to help build her reputation on the west coast, and while the team continued weekly competitions, the focus shifted somewhat to include preparation for acting and music business careers.
During the second half of Season 7, several dancers and their mothers left the ALDC to form "The Irreplaceables." Abby left the show several episodes later, followed by the remaining ALDC dancers and mothers.
Abby Lee Dance Company
Dance Moms at the May 2015 opening of ALDC-LA in Santa Monica, California
, season 5. From left: Holly Hatcher-Frazier, Kira Girard, Melissa Gisoni, Jill Vertes and Jessalynn Siwa.
- Abby Lee Miller is the director of Reign Dance Productions (formerly Maryen Lorrain Dance Studio), which houses the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC), of which she is owner and chief choreographer. She left the show during the second half of Season 7 due to her going to prison.
- Gianna Martello is an instructor for RDP covering all genres of dance, and is also the assistant choreographer for the ALDC Junior Elite Competition team. Martello studied dance under Miller's tutelage through Reign Dance Productions.
- Melissa Gisoni is the mother of Maddie Ziegler, a lyrical/tap dancer and Mackenzie Ziegler, acro/Hip hop dancer and singer (under the stage name Mack Z). Maddie was known to be Abby's favorite student during her time on the show, which caused tension between the other moms and Abby. Maddie and Mackenzie studied dance at Miller's studio through Reign Dance Productions from the early ages of four and two respectively. They were original cast members of Dance Moms, and left during Season 6. After leaving the show Maddie and Mackenzie left ALDC and switched to Dance Mechanics.
- Christi Lukasiak is the mother of Chloe Lukasiak, a ballet, lyrical/contemporary dancer; she is also professional at other forms of dance, such as acro, jazz, tap, bollywood, musical theatre and hip hop. Chloe began dancing at Miller's studio at age two. They were original cast members of the show, but left the show after the Season 4 finale. Chloe then quit ALDC for good and now dances at Studio 19. They returned to guest star for the Season 7 finale and Season 7 B. Chloe then joined "The Irreplaceables" as a guest.
- Kelly Hyland is the mother of Brooke Hyland, an acro dancer and singer and Paige Hyland, a jazz dancer and model. Kelly was a dancer at ALDC, but quit as a teenager to become a cheerleader. Brooke and Paige were original cast members, but Kelly assaulted Abby in the middle of Season 4, resulting in the Hyland's leaving the show. Brooke, Paige, and Kelly were eventually kicked out of ALDC because Kelly was reported for assaulting Abby. Brooke and Paige have since gone on to focus on school.
- Holly Hatcher-Frazier, is the mother of Nia Frazier, a contemporary and acro dancer and singer (Nia Sioux). Nia had earlier studied dance at Miller's studio through Reign Dance Productions. They were original cast members of "Dance Moms", and left the ALDC to join "The Irreplaceables".
- Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is the mother of Vivi-Anne, a musical theatre/tap dancer who joined the ALDC for most of season 1. Vivi-Anne was previously a student and team member at her mother's studio, Candy Apples Dance Centre, where she continued her dance training after leaving the team and show. Cathy and Vivi-Anne have continued to appear occasionally since season 2. (Also see "Rival studios" below.)
- Jill Vertes is the mother of Kendall, a model and jazz dancer and aspiring singer (Kendall K). Before joining the ALDC in season 2, Kendall studied dance at Rogers Dance in Pittsburgh and Studio 19 in Cranberry Township, PA. During season 2, they were portrayed as having switched teams (to the CADC) for several episodes, but they returned to the ALDC team/cast. They left the ALDC to join "The Irreplaceables".
- Kristi Ray is the mother of Asia Monet Ray, a jazz/acro dancer and singer (Asia Monet). Asia first appeared on AUDC, where she was the youngest competitor from either season. Asia briefly danced with the Junior Elite Competition Team in Season 3, before leaving just before Nationals.
- Kira Girard is the mother of Kalani Hilliker, a lyrical dancer and model and fashion designer. Before joining the ALDC in season 4, Kira and Kalani appeared on season 2 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC). After several weeks with the ALDC team in season 4, she was made a permanent team member of the ALDC in season 5. They left the ALDC to join "The Irreplaceables".
- Jessalynn Siwa is the mother of JoJo, a jazz and contemporary dancer. Before originally joining the ALDC as guests in season 5, Jessalynn and JoJo appeared on season 2 of AUDC. After several episodes as a guest dancer, JoJo was made a full-time team member, but left the show during Season 6.
- Ashlee Allen is the mother of Brynn Rumfallo, a lyrical/acro dancer. Brynn had previously joined the team in Season 5 as a guest. Brynn trained at Club Dance Studio, Arizona, like her teammate Kalani. She was given the opportunity to be a full-time member of the team in the first episode of Season 6. They left the show during Season 7 along with the other remaining ALDC members.
- Stacey Ann Ketchman is the mother of Lilliana Ketchman, an acrobatic & jazz dancer. They joined the ALDC in Season 6, and Lilliana joined the elite team in Season 7. They left the show during Season 7 along with the other remaining ALDC members.
- Yolanda Walmsley is the mother of Elliana Walmsley, a jazz & lyrical dancer. They joined the ALDC in Season 6, and Elliana joined the elite team in Season 7. They left the show during Season 7 along with the other remaining ALDC members.
- Camille Bridges is the mother of Camryn Bridges, a contemporary & jazz dancer. They joined the ALDC in Season 7, but they left the ALDC to join "The Irreplaceables".
- Jaime Caes is the mother of Maesi Caes, a hip hop & contemporary dancer from Iowa who toured with Justin Bieber. They joined the ALDC in Season 7 after Jojo quit the team. They left the show during Season 7 along with the other remaining ALDC members.
- Cheryl Burke is the dance coach for "The Irreplaceables." 
- Christi Lukasiak and her daughter Chloe Lukasiak (See "Abby Lee Dance Company" above.)
- Holly Hatcher-Frazier and her daughter Nia Frazier (See "Abby Lee Dance Company" above.)
- Jill Vertes and her daughter Kendall Vertes (See "Abby Lee Dance Company" above.)
- Kira Girard and her daughter Kalani Hilliker (See "Abby Lee Dance Company" above.)
- Camille Bridges and her daughter Camryn Bridges (See "Abby Lee Dance Company" above.)
- Candy Apples Dance Center (Canton, Ohio) is owned and operated by Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, the mother of Vivi-Anne, who danced with the ALDC in season 1. The CADC has been the main rival for the ALDC throughout the five seasons of televised competitions. Over the five seasons of Dance Moms, show producers added several dancers who were well known in the dance competition world and/or had auditioned for Dance Moms in the past, making the "Candy Apples" a team that existed only for television (the real-life Candy Apple team ceased to be featured on the show). Partway through season 5, the CADC was completely recast for one week (see below).
- Studio Bleu Dance Center (Ashburn, Virginia) is coached by Gloria Hampton, the mother of Kaeli, who danced with the ALDC as a guest team member briefly in season 3. Studio Bleu's competition team, which the ALDC competed against several times, was portrayed as a respected and formidable opponent in several episodes.
- Murrieta Dance Project (Murrieta, California) is owned and operated by Erin Babbs, who has been an occasional guest choreographer for the CADC in seasons 4 and 5. MDP competed against the ALDC several times in season 5.
- Broadway Dance Academy (Fenton, Michigan) is owned and operated by Jeanette Cota, the mother of Ava, who guest starred as part of the ALDC "Select Team" in season 4. The real BDA team competed against the ALDC several times in season 5 before leaving the show (except for Ava) to be replaced on the TV team by the four dancers from the former CADC team.
- Beginning with the start of season 5.5, BDA competed as "Candy Apples" for one week after which they resumed using their actual name. This team (consisting of Huelsman, Wilkenson, Smith, Roth and Ava Cota) won the Overall Group competition, handing the ALDC their first Nationals loss in the group overall category.
- ^ Season 2 included one special episode that is not acknowledged as a season episode, as well as another that was not allocated an episode number by Lifetime.
- ^ Season 3 included one episode that was not allocated an episode number by Lifetime.
Dance Moms : Viewers per episode (millions)
Awards and nominations
Controversy and criticism
Several episodes featured controversial costume choices made by Miller, some of which were criticized by the moms, particularly Lukasiak and Frazier. Due to heavy criticism, the season 2 episode "Topless Showgirls", which aired on March 6, 2012, has been removed from rotation. The episode features the young dancers performing a burlesque-style routine and wearing sequined, flesh-toned bra tops and tights in an effort to make them appear nude. Miller defends her costume choice saying, "Everyone in the industry knows the girls are completely covered and everything's harmless." Lifetime confirmed pulling the episode. The episode is not included on the season's DVD.
Kelly Hyland was arrested in early January 2014 on charges of assaulting Miller during a dispute backstage at a dance competition held in New York City during filming for the show's fourth season in November 2013. Hyland appeared in court with Miller on January 21, 2014 and pleaded "not guilty". A hearing was scheduled for March but adjourned to May 5, 2014. Legal expert Rosemarie Arnold opined that because the episode aired on TV, Hyland's defense that the alleged assault was scripted was viable. On a January 29 appearance on The View, Miller announced that Hyland and her daughters Brooke and Paige are no longer contracted with and would no longer appear on Dance Moms. The episode featuring the incident between Hyland and Miller aired on February 11, 2014. After the final episode of season 4, Christi and Chloe Lukasiak also left Dance Moms because of continuing insults and dismissive treatment toward Chloe. In October 2014, then-13-year-old Paige Hyland sued Miller, but Hyland's lawsuit was dismissed.
On October 13, 2015, Abby Lee Miller was indicted in Pittsburgh on charges of concealing her income from her performances on the show in 2012 and 2013. She was charged with bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets and false bankruptcy declarations in hiding some $755,000. In June 2016, Miller pled guilty to the charges, and entered a plea deal with the IRS. In May 2017, Miller was sentenced to one year and a day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. Season 7 B was the last season to feature the original cast members. Christi Lukasiak revealed that the original cast wouldn't be returning for a new season. After filming for Season 7 B wrapped up The Irreplaceables announced that they were going on tour.
A spin-off series, Dance Moms: Miami, set in Miami, Florida, at Victor Smalley and Angel Armas' Stars Dance Studio, premiered on April 3, 2012, and was cancelled in September 2012.
A sister program titled Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition followed Miller and other dance professionals judging twelve young dancers aged 6–13 years on different styles of dance, hoping to find the most versatile dancer of the group. The series premiered on October 9, 2012 and ran for two seasons.
In 2014, Miller hosted another sister program titled Abby's Studio Rescue that followed Miller as she visited dance studios across the country to assist them to improve their choreography, studio decor, staff and other aspects. It premiered on June 24, 2014.
In July 2014, another spin-off titled Raising Asia starred Asia Monet Ray, a guest team member for several episodes of season 3 of Dance Moms. The show followed Ray, her model mom, bodybuilder dad and younger sister Bella Blu, helping Asia to pursue her dreams of fame in show business.
A British version of Dance Moms titled Dance Mums premiered on October 20, 2014 and ran for two seasons. Jennifer Ellison hosted the series, set at her Liverpool dance school, Jelli Studios. Dance Mums was produced by Shiver Productions.
Ellen DeGeneres is developing a film based on Dance Moms.
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