It’s no secret that a majority of young dancers and their mothers would quite literally kill for the opportunity to be a cast member on Abby Lee Miller’s hit Lifetime series “Dance Moms.” While winning a spot on the infamously tough Pittsburgh coach’s elite junior team is not easily won, the opportunity did happen for one mother-daughter duo, Kaleigh Cavanaugh, 14, and her mom, Kate. Following their appearance on Season 4 of the hit reality-TV series, Kate and Kaleigh Cavanaugh recently spoke to International Business Times about their time spent guest starring on the Lifetime program.
On Season 4 of “Dance Moms,” Abby, 48, announced she was holding open auditions to find new members to add to the Abby Lee Dance Company, an announcement which Kate said she immediately pursued after learning of the casting call on Instagram. Kate, who had previously allowed her daughter to participate in Abby’s famous master classes and “Booty Camp” programs in the past, traveled from her hometown of Monson, Massachusetts, to Florida in Oct. 2013 and New York City in Nov. 2013 to allow her daughter to be seen by the dance coach.
“Miss Abby picks Kaleigh out of the crowd every time she sees her so there must be something about her that she likes,” Kate told IBTimes. “I think Kaleigh’s style of dancing is very much like their style and fits in very well with Miss Abby[’s] elite team.”
The duo ultimately made it to the top 20 in both auditions, beating out hundreds of other competitors and scoring two interviews with the show, but they did not make it onto Abby’s now defunct ensemble team. Despite their loss, Kate, the longtime owner of the studio Kate’s Dance Company Plus in Monson, eventually received a surprising call from Abby asking her to immediately come to Pittsburgh to star on episode 28 of Season 4, titled “Another One Bites The Dust.”
“Abby called me on a Wednesday morning and ask[ed] if I could get Kaleigh to Pittsburgh right away,” she said. “I went out of my way to rearrange all my classes at my studio and booked a flight for us the following morning. Kaleigh missed her eighth-grade graduation just to be there for Miss Abby.”
Despite Kaleigh being personally invited by Abby to join her team as a guest star in the Disney-themed musical theater routine “The Seven Dancers,” Kate claims the coach did not allow her daughter to join the other girls en route to the Orlando, Florida-based competition. (At “Dance Moms” competitions, the cast are known to sequester themselves from the general public.)
“We did not travel to and from the competition with the ALDC,” Kate said. “I was asked to arrive at the venue and wait in the auditorium. I’m sure had we traveled and stayed with the group, it would have been a very different experience. I was segregated from the moms and the girls most of the day.”
While Kaleigh admits Abby’s teaching techniques are strict, she did allude to the idea that the coach called the kids “bratty“ and “stupid“ during her time filming the show. With one “Dance Moms” episode under their belt, both Kate and Kaleigh said they would consider serving as permanent members on the series if offered a deal with Lifetime. “I think it would be a great opportunity for Kaleigh. ... We would definitely be interested,” Kate said.
Whether or not Kaleigh earns a full-time spot on “Dance Moms" (the network is currently casting for Season 5), the three-time national title winner said she will continue to perfect her craft. “I definitely want to pursue dance as a career and then open my own dance studio,” she said. “My friends and family are very supportive and very happy that I have been getting all of these fabulous opportunities for dance.”
Kaleigh said she has gained friendships with the girls on the show and counts her time on the Lifetime series as an overall favorable event. “I would say the experience I had on ‘Dance Moms’ was positive because I didn’t have to argue with the moms,” she said. “I only had to do what I love do, dance.”