Abby Lee Miller is a complex woman. The Dance Moms star is known for her groundbreaking choreography and unorthodox teaching methods, as well as her eight-month stay in prison for hiding her earnings from the show.
I always liked to believe that Abby wasn’t really that mean to the girls. It had to just be producer tricks and creative editing, right? However, according to Maddie Ziegler’s 2022 interview with Cosmopolitan, the dancer has had to “unlearn” a lot of the toxic lessons Abby taught her. Maddie also revealed that she hasn’t spoken to Abby since leaving Dance Moms in 2016.
All that being said, the dance moms don’t exactly work hard to keep the peace at the ALDC. Say what you will about Abby, but there are many instances on the show where I actually have to take her side. Here are five examples of times I agreed with the dance moms…and five times I agreed with Abby.
AGREE WITH THE MOMS: Holly Explains The Negative Stereotypes In Nia’s Dances (Season 1, Episode 7)
As the only people of color on the original ALDC team, Holly and her daughter, Nia, are often the subjects of Abby’s “multicultural” dances. Holly hits a breaking point when Nia is assigned the solo “They Call Me Laquifa” (based on Shangela, a drag queen from RuPaul's Drag Race, which is getting another spinoff), complete with an afro wig and a leopard print bodysuit.
Abby’s defense for Nia’s “ethnic” dances is always that she wants to prepare Nia to be able to dance in any type of style, at any audition—but Holly doesn’t want her daughter to be typecast, or be a part of promoting hurtful stereotypes about people of color.
Abby can’t see Holly’s point of view and becomes hostile. It’s a tone-deaf and frustrating response on Abby’s part, and I obviously side with Holly.
AGREE WITH THE MOMS: Abby Takes Credit for Sophia Lucia (Season 3, Episode 3)
One short-term member of the ALDC is none other than Sophia Lucia, a dancer from California who went viral for her turn videos and holds the Guiness World Record for consecutive pirouettes.
Abby’s master plan is always to scare her dancers into working harder, but she does so by telling the girls how superior Sophia’s dancing is to theirs. The moms are quick to point out that Abby didn’t train Sophia — but she did train the six dancers at the ALDC who can’t keep up with her.
Chloe’s mother Christi has some choice words for Abby in the dressing room:
Abby doesn’t have a good comeback, because it’s true!
AGREE WITH THE MOMS: Abby Wants Chloe To Start Homeschooling (Season 4, Episode 5)
At the start of Season 4, Melissa shares with the moms that her daughters, Maddie and Mackenzie, have started homeschooling to allow more time for dance.
Abby takes notice of the positive effects homeschooling has had on their training, and suggests to Christi that Chloe should do the same. The moms have a lot of objections, especially Holly (a former teacher and principal).
Christi asks Chloe what she thinks about homeschooling, and the very mature 12-year old says that while she loves dance, she loves school too and doesn’t want to give up the part of life that’s “normal.” Rather than succumb to Abby’s pressure, Christi listens to her daughter. This one goes to the moms.
AGREE WITH THE MOMS: Abby Brings In A New Team (Season 4, Episode 16)
Abby’s catchphrase, “everyone’s replaceable,” gets a lot of mileage during Season 4 of Dance Moms when she begins auditioning dancers for a new team to go up against the Elite Competition Team.
Meanwhile, the girls work harder than ever to prove to Abby that they don’t need to be replaced, leading to a winning streak that spans 13 weeks.
Despite the winning streak, Abby brings in the new team anyway. The moms are upset, and rightly so — don’t 13 straight wins prove their girls’ dedication and talent? In the season finale, Abby dismisses all the Select team members, proving that all along they had just been pawns in her scare tactics. It was a waste of everyone’s time.
AGREE WITH THE MOMS: Mackenzie’s Hip Hop Solo (Season 6, Episode 16)
In Season 6, Melissa finally makes the announcement that she and her daughters are leaving the ALDC. When the time comes for Mackenzie to perform what might be her last solo ever, Abby assigns her an acrobatic routine.
Mackenzie begs Abby to let her do a hip-hop routine — but Abby snaps that if she isn’t happy with the choreography, she doesn’t have to do a solo. Against Abby’s wishes, the moms change Mackenzie’s music and choreography to a hip-hop solo.
Here’s the kicker: Mackenzie absolutely kills it. She comes out and gives the most energized and expressive solo of her career, taking first place. Abby ruined the chance to create a special dance with one of her all-time favorite students.
AGREE WITH ABBY: The Moms Give Abby The Silent Treatment (Season 3, Episode 2)
After Kelly and her daughters make an exit from the ALDC at the start of Season 3, Abby makes the decision to fill the girls’ spots. To stand in solidarity with Kelly, the moms stage a peaceful protest — and by that I mean they give Abby the silent treatment.
It’s childish and counterproductive, and definitely doesn’t help in getting Kelly back on the team. I’m on Abby’s side here. Nothing good can come from the silent treatment.
AGREE WITH ABBY: The Moms Change The Group Dance After Broadway Baby’s Death (Season 3, Episode 9)
Abby is devastated by the death of her beloved dog, Broadway Baby. Claiming they want to do something nice for her, the moms hatch a plan to secretly change the group dance to a tribute dedicated to the pup.
Unsurprisingly, Abby isn’t pleased that the mothers went behind her back and changed her choreography. They should have known better. As a fellow person who considers my pets to be my babies, I have to side with Abby. Messing with that woman’s vision after her dog’s death was a recipe for disaster.
AGREE WITH ABBY: Abby Puts Payton In Her Place (Season 3, Episode 35)
Payton, one of Abby’s studio dancers, is often invited to dance with the team when they need an extra for a group number. That’s the case in this Season 3 episode, where Payton joins the team during one of Kelly, Brooke, and Paige’s many hiatuses.
In the dressing room, Abby accidentally calls Payton “Kendall,” after which Payton announces her name to the room, basically telling everyone to get it right.
Payton’s little teen-angst outburst isn’t cute to Abby, who slams Payton for being disrespectful and immature. Payton’s mom, Leslie, isn’t too thrilled, but this was just one of many examples of Payton acting superior to the other girls. Agree with Abby.
AGREE WITH ABBY: The White Board (Season 4, Episode 27)
There aren’t many times you’ll catch me disagreeing with Dr. Holly, but the white board incident is one of them.
Holly has the idea to keep track of the negative comments each dancer receives during rehearsals. What starts as a discreet tally in Christi’s notes app turns into a massive white board with each dancer’s name.
The board distracts the girls and disrupts class. While I disagree with many of Abby’s teaching methods, she makes a good point when confronting the moms: They signed up to work with Abby, not the other way around. If they don’t like the way she teaches, they’re more than welcome to find another teacher.
AGREE WITH ABBY: Abby Gives JoJo The Michael Jackson Duet As A Solo (Season 6, Episode 14)
Before JoJo Siwa was an international superstar and a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, she was a member of the ALDC.
During a Michael Jackson-themed week, Abby assigns a duet to Kendall and Maddie. But when Maddie has to miss rehearsal for a gig, Abby has JoJo jump in to take her place. Kendall isn’t happy about it — she wants to do the duet with Maddie, her best friend.
Abby says that if Kendall doesn’t want to do the duet with JoJo, then JoJo can do the dance as a solo. Jill is furious, claiming that JoJo’s mom, Jessalynn, should have intervened to stop Abby from giving Kendall’s duet away.
I wholeheartedly, 100% side with Abby. JoJo got the solo because Kendall didn’t want it. She was willing to step in and give the choreography a try, and she gave the performance her all. JoJo did nothing wrong, and deserved a chance to do a solo, regardless of who the dance was intended for.
What do you think? Did I miss any big fights? Luckily, Seasons 1 through 8 of Dance Moms are available to stream on Lifetime, with many more feuds to debate.
She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.
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