If you want to get berated by Abby Lee Miller in person, the "Dance Moms" queen will be in Atlanta this weekend for open casting for "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" and a special master class on Sunday, Nov. 10.
"Dance Moms" Abby Lee Miller is coming to Atlanta this weekend for three reasons:
1) To find potential contestants for "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" on Friday in an open call at Midtown's Center Stage. You can register here.
2) Participate in a dance competition Saturday as part of taping of season four of "Dance Moms."
3) Host a "master class" at the J.W. Marriott in Buckhead for hundreds of students Sunday at noon to learn some steps from Miller and her star students Maddie, Mackenzie, Kendall and Nia. You can buy tickets here.
I spoke briefly with Miller today by phone during a break in taping. ("Dance Moms" returns for season four in early January.)
Miller, who has been teaching for more than 30 years, said the class will feature warm ups she does with her own students. Then she'll teach two routines and part of a solo one her star students Maddie has done. Afterwards, they''ll take questions and answers and pose for pictures. If you just want to watch, it's $65 a ticket or $119 to take part in the class itself.
"You have some amazing studios in Atlanta," she said. "We're excited to be there."
Kids, ages 8 to 16, can participate, she said. "It's for all levels,"' she said. "You don't have to know how to dance like Maddie to be able to attend the class. You have to love it. We'll provide some really advanced stuff but there will be really easy stuff everyone can do."
She also is keeping an eye out for talent for both her TV shows.
How's life season four so far?
"Same stuff, different day," he said. "The moms still fight. They're still jealous of Maddie. It's how the show works because it's real... The kids are growing up. They're heading into their tween years. They're rolling their eyes and smart-mouthing their moms more. Before, they used to think their moms were perfect."
And is she really as tough as she seems on the show?
"I think I'm tougher in real life," she said. "I think they edit me to make me look mean. There's a difference between mean and tough. The alumni I have who are on 'Wicked' and 'Book of Mormons' and "Newsies' on Broadway and at DisneyWorld in Orlando, those kids would tell you why they do this. And they'd tell you how much tougher I was 20 years ago!"
She said she's truly mellower now, that she no longer sweats the small stuff. "The kids are softer now," she said. "They all have cell phones so when you say something nasty, they go calling their moms. Years ago, they didn't have that ability so by 9:30, they would have forgotten what you said at 5:30."
Miller said she wants to toughen the kids up so they are ready for the real world, that it's not all praise and butterflies and happiness. The moms don't help matters, she added.
Melissa Ziegler, Mackenzie and Maddie's dance mom, said in a separate interview how great her life is. Her kids have participated in Abby's master classes in Orlando and Charlotte. A lot of kids ask her daughters whether they are dating. They're too young. "They're 9 and 11," she said. "It's so cute." People also ask how mean Miller really is. "Maddie is protective of Abby," Melissa said. "When poeple say nasty things about Abby, she walks away with attitude."
And while she acknowedges that Miller is a "total diva," she is also generous and "very kind hearted. People don't get to see that about her. She spent her entire life working her butt off for other people's kids. Her whole life is devoted to dance."
Melissa is also thrilled that summer boot camps now draw hundreds of people to Pittsburgh who might otherwise go elsewhere. Abby's dance studio, in other words, is now a tourist attraction for a city that doesn't have enough of them.
And while she knows her daughter Maddie "is a star. She doesn't even know it. We try to keep our kids grounded. She is humble and kind and sweet. She gets that from me." She isn't worried about her daughters as they enter their teens. "I taught them the right things to do," she said. "It's something really important to us."