Dance Moms quickly became a television sensation. The show introduced us to little girls who would become superstars. Without Dance Moms, we wouldn’t have Maddie Ziegler, or Kenzie, or Jojo Siwa. The show may have been a trainwreck at times (ok, all the time), but we still watched it just to check in with our favorite little dancers— and their moms of course.
Keep reading to learn more about the show’s behind the scenes secrets. Is Abby planning on returning to the show now that she’s out of prison? What has Kendall been up to since the show ended?
A Series Of Lawsuits
Kelly Hyland filed a lawsuit against Abby Lee Miller in 2014 over an incident that happened during a rehearsal in New York City. Basically, an all-out physical fight broke out, and Hyland claimed that the show’s producers intentionally started the fight to amp up the drama for Dance Moms.
Kelly’s daughter, Paige Hyland, also filed a lawsuit against Abby for emotional distress. Judges weren’t having any of it and all of the lawsuits got thrown out for insufficient evidence.
A Slap Across The Face
After Abby pulled Paige Hyland out of an on-stage line-up in season 4, Kelly Hyland blew up and slapped Abby across the face. The ensuing screaming match escalated to hair-pulling and finally a slap across the face. Abby pressed charges, but the charges were dropped in court and Kelly was ordered to stay away from Miller for six months and spend two days in counseling.
Hyland’s lawyer told ET, “It’s a good result for her. She has no criminal record before this. No convictions of any kind prior. The terms are easy which reflects the nature of this type of case. Hopefully, she can move on and be a mother and live happily ever after.”
One Episode Was Pulled From Rotation
Miller once told Gawker, “I like to push the envelope, and this is taking it right to the limit.” Well, she definitely went to, and then beyond that limit when she choreographed a burlesque routine for a bunch of underage girls. The girls were wearing flesh-colored leotards to simulate nudity.
Viewers were uncomfortable with the whole episode, so Lifetime promised that they would never air the episode again and that they would pull it from all streaming services.
Producers May Have Encouraged Controversial Routines
Abby Miller has accused producers of the show of trying to stir up controversy by having the girls dance some pretty racy routines.
Abby said, “When a grown man tells me he wants one of my kids to portray a pregnant teen and wear a baby bump — I have to put my foot down. If that means not moving my foot and not working and getting fined in the process, well that’s a risk I am willing to take to protect my girls.”
What Maddie Has To Say About Her Time On The Show
Maddie Ziegler is Dance Moms’ most successful export. She was a fan favorite from the beginning and she’s only become a better and more famous dancer since she left the show. In 2017 she told People, “I learned a lot of lessons. […] I’m really glad that I did move on from that, and I did learn a lot from her and we did have some fun times. But I feel like now, I’ve never been happier in my life.”
Maddie also expressed feeling stressed out while she was on the show. It seems like she’s happy to be carving out her own path in the industry.
A Lot Of The Drama Is Fake
If you know anything about reality tv, you know that it’s not exactly “reality.” Producers and stars amp up the drama to get higher ratings, more viewership, and more money. Kalani Hilliker told OK! magazine that the walkout in the Season 5 finale was staged because the producers thought it would boost ratings.
Maddie Ziegler has also talked about how fake the show is. Maddie told USA Today, “It’s hard to do a reality show when there’s so much crying and drama. The producers set it up to make us all yell at each other. You know how I said that moms do fight? The moms have a fake fight sometimes. Afterward, they just start talking and laugh about it.”
The Competition Scenes Are Heavily Edited
In 2014, International Business Times got to go behind-the-scenes of the Sheer Talent competition in New Jersey where Dance Moms was filming. The event lasted 9 hours in total, but only 40 minutes for those 9 hours made it to our television sets.
IBT wrote, “Going to a Dance Moms taping completely shatters the illusion that the show is in any way genuine.” Audiences are asked to rehearse their reactions to the ALDC dancers, and a lot of the ALDC routines are performed twice.
Some Of The Girls Aren’t Actually ALDC Members
Dance Moms follows the girls who dance at Abby Lee Dance Company, as well as their moms. We love to watch the drama unfold, but what if the whole premise of the show was a lie? What if these girls don’t even dance at ALDC?
Well, in 2014, we found out that Mackenzie Zeigler wasn’t really a part of the group. She was dancing with a different group while she was appearing on the show. The only time she was even at ALDC was when they were filming for Dance Moms.
Abby Served Time In Jail
Abby Lee Miller was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud and bringing $120,000 of Australian currency into the U.S. without reporting it. In the summer of 2017, she reported to prison to begin her sentence, and one year and one day later, she was out.
While she was in jail she earned a personal finance class diploma, which she obviously really needed. Maybe now she’ll be more responsible with her money.
Abby Lee Miller Is Coming Back
On Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, Abby Lee Miller took to Instagram to tell her 3.5 million followers that she’s going to be returning to Dance Moms. I guess it’s hard to find other job prospects when you have a criminal record…
Abby posted a photo of herself looking shocked and excited alongside the caption, “OMG! Can you believe I’m going to film Season 8 of Dance Moms!” Do we all think this is going to be a trainwreck? Probably.
Kira Girard’s Criminal Past
Fraud charges really do seem to follow this show around. In 2016, RadarOnline reported that guest star Tracy Reasons accused Kira Girard of having a criminal record. After some investigating, the rumors turned out to be true. Girard was involved in a fraud scheme in 2005.
She was “selling” televisions on eBay, collecting money from customers, and then she just didn’t send anybody any TVs. It seems like the adults on this show just can’t stay away from drama. How hard is it to not break the law?
The Show Was Originally Supposed To Be Very Different
The version of Dance Moms that we’ve been watching is a lot different from the creators’ original vision. Back in 2008, producers decided to take five different mothers from five different cities and follow their daughters’ dance careers.
The model was pretty similar to shows like Toddlers in Tiaras. When it came time to cast the moms, they decided that there were enough crazy moms in Pittsburgh to make the show a success. Abby was cast later and the rest is history.
Some Girls Were Rejected Because Of Their Moms
The Abby Lee Dance Company is home to far more dancers than the ones featured on the show. So why do some girls get picked to be on TV over others? Well, it all comes down to their mothers. Lifetime producers get to choose which girls are featured, and they’ve even vetoed some of Abby’s picks.
The show is called Dance Moms, so the girls who get picked need to have moms who are particularly passionate. Passionate is a nice way of saying that they need to be a little bit crazy.
Jojo’s Bleached Hair
Jojo Siwa burst onto the Dance Moms scene with a spunky attitude and a head full of gorgeous blonde hair. Jessalynn Siwa, Jojo’s mother, admitted that Jojo is actually a natural brunette and that she dyes her hair regularly.
A lot of people were upset about a girl so young damaging her hair with potentially harmful bleaches and dyes. Since this hair controversy, Jojo has grown into a successful YouTube star, and people are still worried about her tight high ponytail. Maybe everyone should just leave Jojo alone.
The Real Reason Abby Left The Show
Abby left Dance Moms right around the time that she was dealing with her legal issues, so it seemed like those two things were connected. But in reality, Abby left the show for a completely different reason.
Abby was frustrated because she felt like she wasn’t being fairly compensated or recognized for her creative contributions to the show. She didn’t like that a group of male producers was getting all of the credit for her choreography, costumes, and concepts.
The “Pyramid” Was Invented For The Show
A lot of viewers have a problem with the show’s “pyramid” concepts, which literally stacks the girls against each other. It’s basically a device that adds an element of drama to the episodes.
The pyramid wasn’t actually Abby’s idea. Lifetime came up with the pyramid gimmick to make the show feel more competitive. Abby said she didn’t like the idea and she only went along with it because producers asked her to. I don’t really like the idea of explicitly comparing young girls to each other in front of their faces either.
Chloe And Christi Cut Ties With The Show
Dance Moms cast members come and go. One mother-daughter duo who left the show was dancer Chloe Lukasiak and her mother, Christi. They left at the end of the fourth season.
Chloe was tired of not getting the same opportunities as the other girls. It wasn’t just Abby that was the problem. After leaving the show, both Chloe and Christi blocked most of the cast on social media. Basically, everybody noticed and it caused a bunch of drama— but this is Dance Moms so what else is new?
The Abby Lee Dance Studio Received A Suspicious Package
In 2015, the post office near the Abby Lee Dance Studio received five suspicious packages addressed to JoJo Siwa. The post office actually called in a bomb squad to hose down the parcels and check everything out. They didn’t find any bombs, but they did find something pretty creepy.
A 36-year-old man was trying to send some inappropriate and obscene items to the young dancer. He also had a YouTube channel on which he discussed the girls inappropriately and revealed that he had a tattoo of Jojo’s face. The stalker was thankfully sentenced to 3 years in prison.
The Show Was Originally Supposed To Be A Documentary
We’ve learned a lot about the origins of Dance Moms from the dancers themselves. A lot of them have started their own YouTube channels or communicate with us via Instagram. Nia Sioux recently took to her YouTube channel to talk about her experience on Dance Moms and how she got her start on the show.
She said, “It was only supposed to be for 6 weeks and 6 episodes, so we never really thought anything of it. Obviously, it turned into much more than that.”
The Girls Were Homeschooled While On The Show
Jojo Siwa has also talked about her Dance Moms days on her YouTube channel. In one video, she talked about what an average day of filming was like for her.
All the girls would carpool to school in the morning with one of the moms. “We do school from 8 o’clock to 11 o’clock… so then we eat lunch until about noon. Then at noon, we go to set that’s right across the street from the school that we go to and the set is obviously Abbey’s studio. We go from about 1 to 4 or 5 and then we continue to dance all night,” she said.
Nia talked about some of the superstitions that the girls had at ALDC. In a YouTube video, she said, “the number 22 was the lucky number for our studio, so if your dance was number 22 then that was really good.”
“Another thing was we have our handshake that we would do. We call it 5-6-7-8. And then also if we jinxed ourselves before we went onstage we had to knock on wood.” Whatever helps you win, I guess.
Money Money Money
While the show eventually became hugely successful, in season one, nobody knew if the show was going to take off. As a result, the cast initially didn’t get paid very much. According to Christie, the moms in season one barely made any money off of the show.
During a Q&A, Christie said she made $600 off of season one. Jill added, “and the kids didn’t get a paycheck. We got one paycheck and we had to split it.”
Abby Was Bankrupt Before The Show
Abby Miller’s Dance Studio may have grown into a dance hotspot, but it wasn’t always that popular. According to TMZ, Abby filed for bankruptcy in 2010 several months before the first episode of Dance Moms aired.
Apparently, she wasn’t making money because customers weren’t interested in attending her Pittsburgh dance studio. According to court documents, Miller owed more than $400,000 after falling behind on real estate taxes. Do we think this is some real life dramatic foreshadowing?
The Show’s Not Scripted
Dance mom Jill Vertes confirmed that the show is “not scripted one iota,” during a June 2013 meet and greet. She did also say that certain situations are “enhanced” and “manipulated” by producers.
Former Dance Mom Kelly Hyland once called the show “scripted” during an angry outburst, but she’s since taken back that statement. She said, “the show is not scripted or staged, it is just very edited… to make me look bad.”
Maddie Didn’t Know Who Sia Was
Maddie Ziegler is one of Dance Moms‘ biggest breakout stars. Anyone could have predicted that Maddie was going to make it big, but I don’t think anyone really knew how big.
Maddie first met Sia when she was 11 years old. She said, “I didn’t know exactly who she was that well, being 11, so when I met her I was ‘Wow, she’s so incredible’. I thought I would do this one video and never see her again. But we became a dynamic duo.”
Maddie Might Star In A Movie Sia’s Directing
Sia and Maddie have worked really well together— so well, in fact, that Sia wants Maddie to star in a feature film she’s directing called Sister. Sia has always wanted to make a movie, but she said, “I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I wanted to make a movie because I thought it would be seen as a vanity project because I was a singer. … And then last year, after I made the ‘Chandelier’ video, I realized that I was pretty good at directing, so I felt a little bit braver.”
She announced her plans to make this movie back in 2015, and we haven’t seen any more announcements about it in the last few years, but it might still be happening.
A Jojo And Bieber Encounter
Anyone who knows Jojo Siwa knows she has always had a huge crush on Justin Bieber. That’s why it was especially hurtful when Bieber tweeted, “burn it” in reference to the new car Jojo got for Christmas.
When everyone yelled at Bieber for bullying Jojo, he deleted the tweet and sent an apology tweet which read, “I have nothing against you it was the car and the colors I didn’t like I really hope you didn’t think it was malicious or mean spirited.”
What Kendall’s Doing Post Dance Moms
After Dance Moms, Kendall got herself a pretty big Instagram following. She now has over 6.5 million followers. She looks a lot different than she used to, and some people have speculated that she may have gotten lip fillers.
In 2017 she released a successful Christmas album. Her 2015 music video beat out Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” on the iTune charts, so basically Kendall is living her best life. She hasn’t gotten as big as Maddie or Jojo, but she’s still a success story as far as I’m concerned.
Paige Is A Model Now
Paige Hyland quit dancing after she left Dance Moms. She’s started a new career: modeling. She still goes to a regular high school, but she makes some money by taking on a few modeling gigs at the same time.
She’s modeled for Sherri Hill in the last two New York Fashion Weeks. She’s still close with Chloe from her Dance Mom days, but she also hangs out with her friends from high school. She has over three million Instagram followers and she still does Instagram ads sometimes.
Mackenzie Ziegler Is A Literal Star
During Dance Moms, Mackenzie was often overshadowed by her older sister. Now that the show has ended, Mackenzie has been able to step out from under her sister’s shadow.
She designed a clothing line with JUSTICE, she wrote a self-help book called Kenzie’s Rules for Life, she went on tour, she walks red carpets, and she’s still dancing, just not with Abby Lee. Kenzie is more focused on hip hop nowadays, and you can watch her dance on YouTube and Instagram.