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Dance Moms
General Information
Country of origin: United States
Number of seasons: 7
Number of episodes: 220
Broadcast Information
Original channel: Lifetime
Premiere: July 13, 2011
Finale: November 7, 2017
Related Shows: Dance Moms: Miami
Dance Mums
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.

Dance Moms is produced by Collins Avenue Productions, and broadcast by Lifetime Television.

The show premiered on July 13, 2011 and ran for seven seasons before concluding on November 7, 2017.

Episode Guide

To view the episode guide for "Dance Moms", click here.


The Instructors

Abby IDA 2015
  • Abby Lee Miller: Owner of the Abby Lee Dance Company which she started at age fourteen. Abby is known for her strong demands and harsh criticisms towards her dance students. In the frequent arguments with the Moms, she has been called "bossy", "mean", and a "bully."
Gianna Martello Capture
  • Gianna Martello: Gianna is assistant choreographer for Abby at the ALDC, and tends to avoid major controversies.

The Moms

Holly Hollywood Round 2b
  • Holly Frazier: Mother of Nia. With her doctorate in education from an Ivy League school,[1][2] Holly had developed a reputation as calm and rational, but the fifth season has shown a Holly that's been more combative with Abby.
Jill Vertes - Hollywood Round 2d - S5 - crop
  • Jill Vertes: Mother of Kendall, who joined Abby's studio at the beginning of Season Two. Growing hysterical at Abby's lack of favor towards her daughter, Jill abandoned the ALDC to join Cathy's rival studio, only to return to Abby's studio later, but in a mellower mood.
Kira Hollywood Round 2b
Dance Moms- Maddie's First Kiss (S4, E22) - Lifetime
  • Christi Lukasiak: Mother of Chloe. Christi frequently fought with Abby, leading to frequent blow-ups, and an eventual departure following the end of Season 4. Christi later returned to the show in Season 7.
Ashlee 02 - Wild Wild West Coast Part 2
  • Ashlee Allen: Mother of Brynn. Ashlee and her daughter featured as guests in Season 5, with Brynn being nicknamed "The New Maddie". The duo later joined the team as permanent members in Season 6.

The Dancers

Nia Frazier - (Nia Sioux) - August2015
  • Nia Frazier: Holly's daughter. Abby often has assigned her ethnic roles, saying those will be available as jobs for her later in the world of professional dance; Holly has complained of stereotyping. During Season Two, Nia was praised for her hard work, and given a scholarship to the ALDC as most improved dancer.
Kendall S6 Headshot
  • Kendall Vertes: Jill's daughter. She was on probation in many episodes, due to her newcomer status in Season Two, and due to her mother's behavior; additionally, she bounced back and forth from Cathy's studio following her mother's decisions to defect (or "studio hop".) Impressed by Kendall's dancing towards the end of the season, Abby was left wondering how fast Kendall would zoom up the ranks of her fellow dancers.
Kalani S6 Headshot
  • Kalani Hilliker: Kira's daughter. A strong dancer from Club Dance, Kalani first appeared in the second season of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, where she had been Abby's favorite contestant, but placed fourth in the final episode. Kalani joined the Junior Elite team in Season 4, but soon chose to return to her home studio. Offered a spot again at the start of Season 5, Kalani decided to return to the ALDC.
Chloe Russel Baer
  • Chloe Lukasiak: Christi's older daughter. Abby has tried to promote a rivalry between her and Maddie, a theme also heavily echoed by the show's editing. Chloe is a strong dancer known for her turning abilities.
  • Brynn Rumfallo: Ashlee's daughter. Brynn previously joined the team as a guest in Season 5, which during this time she earned herself the nickname "The New Maddie". Her and her mother later joined the team as permanent members in Season 6. Like Kalani, she used to dance at Club Dance.

Former Cast

Kristie Ray-E14-crop
  • Kristie Ray: Mother of Asia. Kristie and her daughter joined the team in Season 3, as Abby wanted to give Mackenzie competition. Prior to appearing on the show, Kristie and her daughter had been contestants on AUDC.
Asia Monet Ray 10563129 512226372244243 105135491840898024 n
  • Asia Ray: Kristie's older daughter. Asia joined the team in Season 3 to be competition for Mackenzie. Despite being the youngest on the team, she proved to be just as advanced as the other girls.
  • Kelly Hyland: Mother of Brooke and Paige. Kelly was one of Abby's first group of students when both were young, but quit to pursue cheerleading. In Season Four, her physical altercation with Abby led to court battles and tabloid headlines, as well as her family's departure from the show.
Brooke Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 6 08 27 PM
  • Brooke Hyland: Kelly's older daughter, and the oldest regularly-featured dancer. Abby has called her a "brooding teenager". On the show, Brooke often complained that dance classes consume too much of her time, and considered quitting to become a cheerleader (like her mother did.) Extremely flexible, Brooke is especially strong in acro, but also has suffered back problems.
Paige Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 6 04 26 PM
  • Paige Hyland: Kelly's younger daughter. Abby criticized Paige as a gifted underachiever. Paige is kind and supportive, and has often been upset by the show's fighting and other stressful situations, with her mother calling her a "sensitive kid". Also considered strongest at acro.
  • Leslie Ackerman: Mother of Payton, Leslie appeared on the first episode of Season Two, and has made subsequent appearances. Leslie's loud shouting has generally alienated the other Moms.
Payton Ackerman headshot by Dawnessa Dawn Biery crop-png B
  • Payton Ackerman: Leslie's younger daughter. Payton was first introduced in Season Two and was often brought in to feature in group dances. However, she was never given a permanent spot on the team due to her height and her mother's behavior.
  • Cathy Nesbitt-Stein: Mother of Vivi-Anne, and owner of Candy Apple's Dance Center, located in Canton, Ohio. During the early episodes of Season One, she played a role similar to the other Moms, making the long drive to have Abby teach her daughter. Later, Cathy quit Abby Lee's studio to return to leading her own, starting a ALDC vs. CADC rivalry.
  • Vivi-Anne Stein: Not as strong as the other dancers on the show, Vivi-Anne complained in Season One that she didn't want to be in show-business, and would rather play softball. Since Cathy withdrew her from Abby's studio, Vivi was never heavily featured on the show, similar to the other Candy Apple's dancers.
  • Melissa Ziegler: Mother of Maddie and Mackenzie. Melissa frequently finds herself involved in arguments with the other Moms when they accuse Abby of favoritism towards her daughter Maddie. She is more likely to take Abby's side than the other mothers.
Maddie pyramid Season 6
  • Maddie Ziegler: Melissa's older daughter. Abby considers Maddie her prize student. The other Moms have complained repeatedly to Abby that she gives Maddie special treatment, sometimes causing Maddie to respond apologetically or with distress. Maddie is considered strongest at lyrical and tap, although the latter is rarely televised.
Kenzie S5/6 Headshot
  • Mackenzie Ziegler: Melissa's younger daughter, and the youngest regularly-featured dancer. Mackenzie enjoyed limited success during Season One, but transformed into a highly successful dancer during Season Two. Her sense of humor has become regularly highlighted.
Jessalynn 02 - Wild Wild West Coast Part 2
  • Jessalynn Siwa: Mother of JoJo. Jessalynn joined the cast in Season 5, eager to get her daughter a permanent spot on Abby's team. Like Kira and Kalani, Jess and her daughter had previously been contestants on AUDC.
JoJo S6 Headshot
  • JoJo Siwa: Jessalynn's daughter. Another contestant from the second season of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, where she finished fifth. JoJo became a provisional member of Abby's team early in the fifth season, but has initially failed to convince a skeptical (and aggravated) Abby that she is a right fit for the team stylistically.

For other Moms and dancers appearing on the show, see also:


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.[3]

Origins and creation of the show

  • Early in the show's conception, it was called Just Dance, with the idea of being a documentary,[4] about five different girls from five different cities would compete, and then meet in a finals.[5][6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[8] 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.[9]
  • 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.[10][11]
  • According to Abby, thirty families were initially interviewed, twenty-seven from Abby's studio, and Cathy was the first person to be cast.[12]
  • 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.[13]

The Pyramid

To read about the pyramid, follow this link.

Ratings and Reception

The 2011 series premiere drew slightly over 1 million viewers, a 70% increase over the previous time period average, including especially disproportionate increases among adult women.[14] The final four episodes of the first season averaged 1.7 million total viewers, a further 70% increase.[15]

2015 KCA via sosugary

The first episode of the second season attracted an audience of 2.5 million viewers.[16] Overall, season two averaged a 69% increase over season one in adult viewership, including a 72% increase among women aged 18 to 49. Already with Lifetime's youngest audience, the median age of viewers further dropped to 32 years during the second season.[17]

The third season premiere became the most watched broadcast episode of the series, with a total audience of 2.8 million.[18]

In 2012, Dance Moms was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the Television/Reality category, losing to MTV's Punk'd.

In 2015, the show won for Favorite Reality Show at the Nickelodeon 28th Annual Kids' Choice Awards.

Dance Moms viewers history

Overnight viewers through Season 5 episode "Showdown in Pittsburgh, Part 2"

Dance Moms ratings ranking history

Overnight ratings position rank among the day's cable programs (18-49), by Season and Episode Number

Dance Moms ratings history

Overnight ratings (18-49) by Season and Episode Number


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.[19]
  • 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

Other information

  • According to Abby after Season 1, the girls were not being paid, because then they would be considered professionals.[20] 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[21]; Kelly later echoed this claim regarding the actual nature of the parking lot sit-in dispute.[22] 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.[23]
    • 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.[24]
    • 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;[25] although with editing, this can sometimes lead to strange angles.[26] 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."[27]
  • 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.[28]

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[29]
Industry Dance Awards Favorite Dance TV Show/Film Won[30]
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
(Group Performance)

Related Shows

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;[31] 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,[32] 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.

External links


  6. 6.0 6.1
    michelle-keenan: "How did you get involved in Dance Moms? 'Cause there's rumors going around that the show was your idea, you pitched the show..."
    Christi: "No-no-no-no-no. I did not pitch the show, the show was not my idea. Um, the show was already being - in the process of being produced, and shopped to networks. A casting director put out a call in L.A., and it was on the Internet. I answered a casting call... he wanted to have like 5 different moms from 5 different cities, and compete at nationals. When I sent in my casting call, or my video, Melissa sent hers in as well, and he thought our dynamic was very interesting... I said I have this great friend named Kelly... when he saw Abby... and how she didn't look like a teacher, or act like a teacher, he was very intrigued by that. So no, it was not my idea. But I was the original one who was sending the information and kind of working with them to help them find out what they wanted.
  7. Afterbuzz, "Jeff Collins (Dance Moms) Interview | AfterBuzz TV's Spotlight On"
  19. see Wikipedia articles on Reality TV; Nick Dobbs on exaggeration of characters, girls not being bratty and viewer confusion of reality tv with reality; Brooding Brooke;; criticisms the show makes the team's abilities appear better than what they are relative to other dancers; etc.
  24. Section 5, paragraph (e), especially at (2)(iii)
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