For the third time in just three short years, dance coach Abby Lee Miller premiered a new reality series on the Lifetime network Tuesday. While not as intense as her series “Dance Moms” and “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” the reality-TV program, "Abby's Studio Rescue," which stars Miller, 47, and her attempts to help failing dance studios nationwide, didn’t disappoint.
For those unable to tune into Miller's new program, or who simply want to relive the drama, here are the top five OMG moments from episode one of “Abby’s Studio Rescue”:
Miller kicked off her new series by visiting Triple Threat Performing Arts Center in Warwick, Rhode Island, but of course the meeting didn't go without a snag. Problem was, the studio’s owner, Marlaina Rapoza, was absent upon the infamous dance coach’s arrival.
“I’ve heard the business might be suffering and that there [are] problems internally,” said Miller. “Where is the owner of the studio?”
When one dance instructor reveals that Rapoza is at home during business hours, Miller instructs one of the employees to contact the dance coach, asking her to come to work under the guise that there is a student-related emergency, only to have Rapoza shockingly deny the request.
“Marlaina has no interest in what the problem is at her dance studio. Some kid could have fallen and broken her neck, she doesn’t care!” said Miller, who eventually convinced the studio owner to make an appearance after revealing her identity over the phone.
“I am extremely concerned that Abby is here and that my mom is not here. You can tell from Abby’s face that she’s appalled,” Rapoza’s daughter and Triple Threat dancer Ashlee said on the situation. “I know this is going to be bad.”
OMG moment indeed. That slang exclamation was all the students of Triple Threat could say after Miller revealed the businesses' pricey renovations, which included the addition of silks, ballet bars and a complete overhaul of a previously unusable studio space. “We came in and did a complete overhaul. We jazzed up the place,” Miller said of the 5,000-square-foot studio, which had a history of sewer, electrical and cosmetic issues. “It was like Christmas!” Marlaina, who was particularly thrilled with the addition of shock-absorbent Marley floors, said of the changes. “It’s not just a Marley floor. It’s a $30,000 Marley floor!”
With Rapoza frequently absent from the studio (absences which she claims were related to her struggles with anxiety) Triple Threat dance instructor Bethany Peterson was forced to lead the competition team, a position she admitted to feeling underqualified to fulfill. “Teaching at Triple Threat is very hectic. Marlaina is just not at her business. She is never there and she needs to be,” said Peterson. “We definitely need a better ballet and technique teacher. I feel like I am not qualified to have such a big responsibility with the competition team. I’m only 18 years old and I have not been to college yet for dance.”
Fortunately for the studio’s 200 students, Rapoza appears to have hired more teachers since the episode’s premiere.
Triple Threat’s lackadaisical scheduling not only bothered the studio’s dance moms, it also hit a nerve with Miller. “A good schedule is one of the things that anchors the studio and keeps everything running smoothly. Now, Marlaina doesn’t have a schedule. It’s a mess!” said a visibly frustrated Miller.
“People come here to take 4:30 jazz class but, suddenly, there’s a ballet teacher because you got ahold of somebody and they were able to come today, so, Woo-hoo! We’re going to have ballet today! The kids don’t know. They have the wrong attire. The wrong shoes,” said Miller of the studio’s disorganization.
“Shouldn’t they have their same shoes every day?” Rapoza challenged.
“Why are you not listening? You’re making excuses!” Miller yelled in response. “Yes, a kid should have her bag. Yes, a kid should bring all their dance shoes to an audition, but this is dancing school. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. They signed up and they paid to take a certain class and that class has been changed.”
Despite Miller’s advice, Rapoza accused the “Dance Moms” star of exaggerating her scheduling issues, saying, “I don’t think Abby thinks I care about my studio and that is 100 percent opposite. I care so much that I asked for help.”
Marlaina vs. The Dance Moms
Similar to the Abby Lee Dance Company, Triple Threat also has a problem with its students’ moms. According to Rapoza, the studio’s less-than-perfect conditions before Miller’s refurbishment was not the only thing keeping her away from her newly-opened business; the mom drama was also a factor.
“I have found myself actually avoiding it,” Marlaina explained of her frequent absences. “The gossip about me amongst the moms is toxic in my studio. If they’re not talking about me, the moms are in the waiting room screaming and they’re each other or they’re fighting. This is the reason I don’t want to be there.”
After a brief pep talk with Miller, Rapoza gave the moms an ultimatum: Discontinue the drama or leave the studio. “Basically moms, at the end of the day, this is my studio, I love you all, but you need to make a decision if you want to stay or if you want to go,” Rapoza said. “I will let you out of your contracts but it has to end now and we all have to move forward.”
“Abby’s Studio Rescue” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on Lifetime. Miller’s hit series “Dance Moms” returns to the network July 29.