Is "Dance Moms" fake? Is Abby Lee Miller guilty of child abuse? What does the ALDC team think of the explosive Kelly Hyland fight? So many questions and now, after over three years on air, devout viewers of the Lifetime reality dance competition series are finally getting some honest answers.
In an interview with AfterBuzz TV AfterShow this week, “Dance Moms” stars Maddie Ziegler, 11, her sister Mackenzie Ziegler, 9, and their mom, Melissa Ziegler-Gisoni, 43, dished the details behind the hit show. The reality stars, who attended the Los Angeles based program following the airing of the season four, episode nine “Nothing’s Fair in Abbyville” Thursday, discussed some of the burning topics surrounding the popular Lifetime series.
“Abby gets a bad rap,” Ziegler-Gisoni told AfterBuzz in defense of Abby Lee Miller, her two daughter’s longtime dance coach, the owner of the famous Pittsburgh, Penn., based Abby Lee Dance Company. “Abby had so many great moments with the girls and I just wish people would see what a kind person she really is… She has a big, big heart. She just wants the girls to do well,” she said when discussing the recent fan backlash regarding Miller’s teaching tactics which some fans have referred to as “child abuse,” an allegation which Ziegler-Gisoni calls completely unfounded.
“Abby didn’t touch any children or abuse any children,” said the “Dance Moms” star, adding that she has no qualms about letting her children dance with the infamously tyrannical teacher. “You have to accept everybody for who they are and I’ve accepted Abby for who she is because she is a great lady and she produces great dancers,” said Ziegler-Gisoni, who later went on to compare the studio to a close family unit when they’re not filming for the series. “We have a great studio… Everybody loves each other. There is no fighting,” she said.
So what else changes at the Abby Lee Dance Company when the cameras aren’t rolling? Apparently, quite a bit. “It’s usually not normal for all the moms to just watch their kids,” said dancer Mackenzie Ziegler, the youngest of the elite dance troop who claims she normally performs with children her own age. “I don’t actually dance with them. I dance with a different group so it’s really different,” she said. Mackenzie’s day-to-day life isn’t the only ones that is altered, Maddie, a favorite of Miller’s, also claims her group changes behind-the-scenes. “My group is with Nia, Chloe, Kendall,” said Maddie, adding confirmation that the team’s newest member, Kalani Hilliker, isn’t a true member of their elite group. “She doesn’t really go to the studio,” Ziegler confirmed.
While the “Dance Moms” stars were more than open about discussing their life at the ALDC studio, one topic seemed to hit a nerve with the mother-daughter trio: the recent televised physical altercation between Miller and their former co-star, Kelly Hyland, a fight which resulted in the dance mom's immediate departure from the series. When prompted to discuss how the team has been affected following the loss of Hyland, 42, and her two daughters, Brooke, 16, and Paige, 13, Ziegler-Gisoni appeared noticeably uncomfortable. “I just wish they didn’t show it,” she said, adding that the team has noticeably changed since their permanent leave. “It’s definitely different. I miss Paigey,” she added.
While the family matriarch was less than forthcoming with details regarding Hyland’s battle with Miller, (Hyland was recently charged with assault and harassment) her daughters openly discussed the duo’s altercation in detail, calling the incident “scary.” “It was like really sad because you could see me in the background just balling. We were all crying all the kids,” said Maddie. Despite the controversial moment being televised nationwide, Ziegler-Gisoni stated a similar incident will never be shown on the program in the future. “It will never happen again… We need to move on from it. We need to have positive things,” she said, giving support to her fallen castmate, saying, “Everybody snaps at some time in their life. We’ve all had our moments.”
“Dance Moms” airs Tuesdays at 9 pm ET on Lifetime.