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|Country of origin:||United States|
|Number of seasons:||7|
|Number of episodes:||220|
|Premiere:||July 13, 2011|
|Finale:||November 7, 2017|
|Related Shows:|| Dance Moms: Miami|
Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition
Abby's Studio Rescue
Dance Moms is an unscripted reality television program. The show follows a group of "Moms" and their daughters, the latter performing in the world of young competitive dance as instructed by the controversial Abby Lee Miller. The program was largely filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the Abby Lee Dance Company until the fifth season, where the show relocated to the ALDC LA studio in Los Angeles, California.
The show premiered on July 13, 2011 and ran for seven seasons before concluding on November 7, 2017.
To view the episode guide for "Dance Moms", click here.
Set in Pittsburgh’s renowned Abby Lee Dance Company, owned and operated by notoriously demanding and passionate instructor Abby Lee Miller, “Dance Moms” follows children’s early steps on the road to stardom, and their doting mothers who are there for every rehearsal, performance and bow … all under the discerning eye of Miller. Presenting a powerful cast of characters known to raise eyebrows, the series immerses itself in the highs and lows surrounding competition season to deliver an intriguing and dramatic look at the cast’s frantic pursuit of the ultimate National Dance title. The series is centered on the devoted Miller, who runs her school with an iron tap shoe as she instructs her young and talented students, while also dealing with over-the-top mothers who go to great lengths to help their children’s dreams come true. “Dance Moms” poses the tough questions many ask about what really goes on behind the scenes in the fast-growing and controversial art of competitive dance.
Constantly on edge from her strict discipline and at times harsh “my way or the highway” style of teaching, Miller's students and their mothers are pushed to the limit emotionally, physically, socially and, in some cases, financially as the students tirelessly rehearse every day for weekly dance competitions throughout the U.S. Some students and mothers in Miller’s universe buy in to her methods, while others crack under the pressure. Either way, “Dance Moms” uniquely captures this outrageous and dynamic interplay among teacher, student and parent as Miller commits herself to bring out the best in those students — and mothers — willing to dedicate themselves to be part of one of the best dance teams in the nation.
Origins and creation of the show
- Early in the show's conception, it was called Just Dance, with the idea of being a documentary, about five different girls from five different cities would compete, and then meet in a finals.
- According to executive producer Jeff Collins (as from his own perspective on what happened), the embryonic creation of the show began with a request by Lifetime's Gena McCarthy for a show similar to Bridezillas (with Collins's friend Rob Sharenow also at Lifetime.) Being a network for women, Collins was interested in a show featuring mother-daughter relationships. Bryan Stinson, Jeff's best friend (who had joined Collins Avenue), had already been tossing around the idea of a show like Dance Moms, along with John Corella, who in turn had been a longtime friend of Abby up to this time (Corella having once been Mr. Dance of America for Dance Masters.) Corella suggested Abby to the other producers, who in turn sent a camera to take footage at the studio, and Abby was filmed by either Christi or Kelly. Jeff liked the footage of Abby, particularly as shot from the unusual observation deck above, and the basic outline of the show was set.
- Christi has denied rumors that she created or pitched the show. According to Christi, sent in for a casting call at the same time as Melissa, and the casting director (Stinson) found their relationship interesting. Then he asked if she had a friend; and after Christi pointed to Kelly, he loved their relationship. Then he saw Abby and the way she looked and acted, and was intrigued by that. Christi has said that she was the one originally sending in information, and helping Collins Avenue find what they were seeking.
- Abby has stated that early plans were to make the show 85% about the moms, 10% the kids, and 5% the dancing, with Abby not even in the equation. She has said there was more interest after her fight with Minister Dawn was filmed, and that at West Coast Dance Explosion, she signed a contract as choreographer worth $1,500 per episode, for four years, with a four year option.
- According to Abby, the first dancers John Corella suggested to other producers were Paige, Maddie, Chloe, Mackenzie and Nia; Abby had considered Brooke too old when she had sent pictures to John. Chloe similarly relates that Brooke was selected following her sister.
- The cast expected only six episodes to be produced. After they were filmed, they were surprised when Lifetime ordered more.
- According to Abby, thirty families were initially interviewed, twenty-seven from Abby's studio, and Cathy was the first person to be cast.
- In an interview after the first season, Abby Lee Miller claimed that the production company interviewed "23 families to choose those mothers. The children were never auditioned." However, mom Christi Lukasiak claimed that Miller's statement was false. "The children absolutely auditioned, too. I have Chloe’s audition tapes saved on my computer." Abby later stated that the children merely sent in short videos that were "20 seconds of amazing," rather than the face-to-face interviews of the mothers.
To read about the pyramid, follow this link.
To view the ratings over the course of the show, follow this link.
This section currently exists in outline form, and is lacking example citations and links
- Verbal attacks on the children by Abby and rival mothers, including attacks on their personal characters
- Deceptive distortions of real people, with the production intent to turn them into stereotyped, exaggerated stock-characters in what is a program substantially infused with creative fiction.
- Enduring, life-long damage inflicted on the reputations of minors.
- Stress and workload. By Season 2, the young performers spent many hours in dance classes, rehearsals, extra filming, at competitions, as well as lengthy travel time. Shooting of the 28 episodes occurred in approximately 26 weeks of the year; this includes each girl generally learning one or two new dances per episode. Additionally, the girls frequently make other celebrity appearances, such as at commercial ticket events ("Master Classes" and "Meet-and-Greets").
- Performance pressure, particularly involving Abby's instruction techniques
Liana M. Nobile focuses on some of the initial points, in a passage from a paper entitled "The Kids Are Not Alright: An Open Call for Reforming the Protections Afforded to Reality Television’s Child Participants":
- Instead, hours and hours of footage are filmed and then edited down into episode—length segments, typically a half hour or an hour.172 The editors take the footage and create a story based on what they have captured on film, as opposed to prewriting a story in script form and then capturing it on film, as in a traditional entertainment medium.173 As such, the reality participant is unaware what footage will air or how it will be spliced together.174 This often leads to distorted portrayal of reality television participants, which is problematic because the person portrayed on television is supposed to be an accurate and “real” representation of the person in real life. Reality children must be protected from the harsh results of appearing on reality television shows.
- Portrayal on television may have long lasting effects on children, especially because of the way the internet enables embarrassing scenes from reality television to live on into perpetuity.175 Unlike children, adults are more likely able to fully comprehend the risks involved with being on a reality television show. Often, a child’s participation occurs once a parent or legal guardian agrees to the child’s participation on the child’s behalf.176
- According to Abby after Season 1, the girls were not being paid, because then they would be considered professionals. However, at the time of filming the early third season episode Out With the Old, In With the New, Abby claimed on Twitter that the moms were on strike to seek better pay and perks; Kelly later echoed this claim regarding the actual nature of the parking lot sit-in dispute. Kelly's 2014 lawsuit against Collins Avenue (link to pdf) includes a copy of changes in her Collins Avenue contract, including various forms of compensation to be paid to the Hylands as a group (including $6,935.00 per regular episode); a fraction of which was allotted directly to Paige and Brooke, at $1,050.00 to each dancer per regular episode in the third and fourth seasons. In 2015, Abby instead stated that all the girl dancers had been paid $1,000 per episode, from the first season until the fourth season; and the pay to the kids was raised to $2,000 per episode in the fifth season.
- The Pennsylvania 2012 Child Labor Act requires payment to child performers into a trust fund or scholarship, at 15% of the minor's parent's or guardian's total compensation.
- An article in Dance Studio Life gives the differing positions of many competition directors on when they consider child dancers appearing on television to be professionals.
- When possible, dances are often performed and filmed twice at competitions, with only one performance judged; although with editing, this can sometimes lead to strange angles. Repeat performances have been especially common with group dances since Season 3.
- In 2014, Abby's remaining four dancers from the first season averaged over one million followers on Instagram. Paige, Brooke and Kendall also had over one million followers apiece.
- It is Abby's stated opinion that it is the editors that have the true power in creating the show, and "not the cameraman, not the producers, not me, not the kids, not the moms. We shoot on three cameras, we shoot six days a week and there’s over 100 hours of footage."
- In 2014, Abby stated she was shocked when she discovered the show is airing in 110 countries, rather than the 30 she had previously believed.
Major awards and nominations
|Year||Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Outcome|
|2012||2012 Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Reality Show||Dance Moms||Nominated|
|2013||2013 Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Reality Show||Nominated|
|BMI Film & TV Awards||BMI Cable Award||Craig Owens||Won|
|2014||2014 Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Reality Show||Dance Moms||Nominated|
|2015||2015 Kids' Choice Awards||Nickelodeon: Favorite Reality Show||Won|
|2015 Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Reality Show||Nominated|
|2015 Reality TV Awards||Best Recurring Cast||Won|
|Industry Dance Awards||Favorite Dance TV Show/Film||Won|
|2016||2016 Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Talent Competition||Nominated|
|2016 Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV Show: Reality||Nominated|
|2016 Reality TV Awards||Best Heartfelt Moment||Won|
|Best Performance||Dance Moms|
A sister show is Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, a panel-judged elimination contest series. Another related show by Lifetime and Collins Avenue is set to debut in June, 2014, entitled Abby's Studio Rescue.
A show called Ice Moms was going to be in production, but they never decided to produce it. It was going to be focusing on figure skaters and their demanding mothers.
In October 2012, Collins Avenue Productions and Lifetime announced preliminary work on yet another Dance Moms franchise, in addition to the two located in Pittsburgh and Miami; this project also seems an abandoned project.
Abby's Studio Rescue debuted on Lifetime, June 24th, 2014, and canceled after seven episodes were broadcast.
A British version of the show, Dance Mums, premiered in 2014 on Lifetime in the U.K., featuring Jennifer Ellison. The show was produced by ITV's "factual arm" Shiver, rather than Collins Avenue. A trial run was tried for broadcasts in the United States, but was soon abandoned. In 2015, the show was still scheduled for a second season for the United Kingdom.
- Primary external link page is found here.
- Official website Dance Moms at myLifetime.com - includes links to various video streams
- Facebook page
- YouTube channel
- Instagram account
- Twitter page
- Wikipedia page
- Afterbuzz YouTube recap and "aftershow" discussion program
- Tumblr blogs tagged "Dance Moms"
- We3KingsMusic YouTube channel for company supplying music to Dance Moms; with program video clips
- Dance Moms at the Internet Movie Database
- Dance Moms on TVGuide.com
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