Set in Pittsburgh, Dance Moms follows the Abby Lee Dance Company's Elite Competition Dance Team of young girls aged 8 to 15 as they travel week-to-week to various competitions in hopes of a national title. Much of the program is focused on the mothers of the dancers as they both encourage their daughter's careers as dancers and rival the other dancers' mothers. Later in the program, Candy Apple's Dance Studio (located in Canton, Ohio) is introduced as a rival dance company.
Every week on the show, Abby uses a pyramid chart to show the moms and the dancers who she feels did the best in her eyes, and who needs to improve. Miller had never used a pyramid In her studio prior to Dance Moms, and when asked about the pyramid Miller stated in an interview, "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." The pyramid changes every week, and it has been reflected that the moms' behavior often affects the girls' placement on the pyramid.
Kelly Hyland is the mother of Brooke and Paige. Appearing in 75 episodes and attending 60 competitions, Hyland was disinvited from the ALDC by Miller. [see below]
Kristie Ray is the mother of Asia. Appearing in 9 episodes and attending 7 competitions, Ray left the ALDC citing growing bickering between the mothers.
Jackie Lucia is the mother of Sophia. Appearing in 3 episodes and attending 2 competitions, Lucia left the ALDC citing poor sportsmanship between the mothers.
Kaya Wiley is the mother of Nicaya. Appearing in 3 episodes and attending 1 competition, Wiley was disinvited from the ALDC because of her boisterous behavior.
Kim Nguyen is the mother of Chloe. Appearing in 1 episode and attending 1 competition, Nguyen was disinvited from the ALDC because of her rude behavior.
Shelly Serigne, Gloria Hampton, and Marcia Hoffheins are the mothers of Ally, Kaeli, and Bella respectively. Appearing in 2 episodes and attending 2 competitions, the mothers were disinvited from of the ALDC citing poor sportsmanship by Miller. These dancers were members of the replacement team while the mothers staged a protest on Hyland's behalf.
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 simulate the idea they are nude. Miller defends her costume choice saying, "Everyone in the industry knows the girls are completely covered and everything's harmless." Lifetime confirms pulling the episode on March 23, 2012. The episode is not included on the DVD.
On January 29, 2014, Miller announced that Kelly Hyland and her two daughters Brooke and Paige are no longer contracted with and will no longer appear on Dance Moms as stated on an appearance with The View. Hyland was arrested in early January on alleged assault charges after 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" to charges of physical assault. Proceedings are to resume in March. The episode featuring the incident between Hyland and Miller aired on February 11, 2014.