How to get into dance moms

How Do You Get Cast On 'Dance Moms'? The Audition Process Is A Lot More Hollywood Than It Seems


by Allison Piwowarski

Is anything what it seems on reality TV? Here I've been thinking that all the stars of Dance Moms are just Abby Lee Dance Company dancers (and their moms) who have trained with Abby and happen to be on the show. Turns out, I am a gullible gal, because there's a lot more Hollywood pizzazz thrown into the casting of Dance Moms than you'd think. If you ever found yourself wondering, "How do all of these moms who want their daughters to be stars just magically show up on this series?" it's because the only magic involved is Hollywood magic. So what does that casting process look like?

Well, the show doesn't just pick any mom of the Abby Lee Dance Company parent pool. Why? Because some of those moms could be noncompetitive, and supportive of every child, and basically, a total bore to watch on television. Dance Moms lives on highly emotional situations, and to ensure that the current season is as drama-packed as the next, casting needs to be a little more selective.

That's why there is a website for an open casting call for Dance Moms ! Now technically, I, a 23-year-old non-mother, could apply too, but I wouldn't be selected (or maybe I would if I put my Creative Writing degree to good use... In that case, watch out Maddie Ziegler, my imaginary daughter is coming for your solo). But after the casting directors weed through the phonies (like me), they are left with a special pile of names of potential new Dance Moms cast members, and the picking begins.

So what does this application look like? First, it has the usual questions:

  • Name of parent(s)
  • Name of dancer
  • Age
  • Job
  • Current studio
  • Video links to dance solos

Then, things take a turn for the specific. This is where the casting producers will separate the Brookes from the Maddies (if you will). Here are a handful of questions the casting application will ask you, and how I think a real Dance Mom would respond.

How Good Is Your Kid?

What Casting Is Looking For: Here is where a Dance Mom says how amazing her dancer is. This is not a place to hold back the dedication to making sure people know that you've got a star on your hands.

How You Should Answer: "On a scale from 1-10? My child is a Beyonce. Whether she is doing pirouettes or tumbling, those that watch her think they've been touched by an angel."

How Important Is Dance To You?

What Casting Is Looking For: You live, breathe, die, dance.

How You Should Answer: "I live, breathe, die, dance."

Who Is Your Kid's Biggest Competition In The Dance World?

What Casting Is Looking For: Here is where Dance Moms have to show their knowledge of the dance competition world. You can't just say, "Someone who can spin around four times, 'cuz my little baby can only spin thrice. "

How You Should Answer: "Maddie Ziegler"

Which Moms On

Dance Moms Would You Butt Heads With?

What Casting Is Looking For: Again, you want to show some knowledge of the show, so this is a great time to name drop.

How You Should Answer: Name every single one of the current season moms.

After the applications are sent in, there is a open call where mothers and dancers attend. That's where the face-to-face happens, and you actually have to show up with a child dancer (so, I'm officially out). From the looks of sites promoting the open call, the casting call for the 2015 season was in Los Angeles. It's a long way from Pittsburgh, but the most dedicated Dance Moms hopefuls wouldn't let that get in their way.

Images: Scott Gries/Lifetime; Giphy (5)

9 Things You Need To Know Before Becoming A Dance Mom


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If you’d have told me five years ago that I’d be a dance mom, I’d have given you side-eyes with a firm, “You’ve got to be kidding me. ” It’s funny how unexpected things end up happening in life.

Fifteen competitions, dozens of tights, countless dance shoes, bun after bun after bun, and many pointed toes later, I am officially a dance mom. Me. The ungraceful, only-took-dance-in-kindergarten, no-time-for-drama, foodie, writer, social media geek.

A. Dance. Mom.

I’ll tell you what. I’ve learned something over the past five years about dance moms, dance studios, and dance companies. The biggest lesson being this: award winning dance companies are often NOTHING like the TV show phenomenon Dance Moms, despite all the heavy press it gets. All the yelling, the crying, the yelling, the weekly competitions, the yelling, the catty moms – and did I mention the yelling? UGH.

The dancers I know aspire to head off to college, major in dance (or something completely different than dance), land a professional gig, or maybe even a spot on So You Think You Can Dance. Or they want to teach dance. Or, they simply enjoyed dance while going through school, and then they’re done. It’s a relief, and also inspiring.

Do you have a kid who has his or her heart set on joining a dance company?

1. YouTube videos are your friend.

Whether you’re trying to decipher the difference between a ballet bun, a low bun, a middle bun, a flat bun, a left side part bun, a right side part high ponytail, a low side ponytail, or simply need a few tips to keep your daughter’s hair slick and all the flyaways at bay, there are two words you need to remember: YouTube Videos.

I feel somewhat like a seasoned pro at fixing dance hair these days, but even I lose track of the intricacies involved in making a bun flat instead of round. Plus, now that my daughter is approaching 11 years old, she’s able to do most of her company competition hairstyles all by herself, thanks to YouTube!

Related: Even though I hate the TV show Dance Moms, I still couldn’t help watching this video (featuring 11 year old Maddie, one of the show’s dancers) hundreds of a few times. It’s amazing to think she was about the same age as my own daughter when she filmed this video!

2. Your daughter will start speaking French.

“Mom. What do you mean you don’t know what pas de chat is?” Ummm…. Not the cat?

(My six years of French classes are clearly not showing their worth here.)

Along with saying strings of classical ballet terms – in French – my daughter also has a journal where she writes the movements down. She creates dances. Choreography. IN FRENCH. I’m equal parts amazed and fascinated, and maybe even a little jealous of her ability to retain and apply the knowledge!

By the way, the term pas de chat means cat’s step, as in the likeness of the movement to a cat’s leap. So, there you go!

3. Also? It’s cool when there are boys!

I love that there are an increasing number of boys joining my daughter’s studio, and not just for hip-hop classes. (How cliché.) These boys do ballet, lyrical, jazz – all of it! It’s great for partnering during certain pieces of choreography, and also adds another layer of diversity to what’s normally a mix of girls. There aren’t many other sports where boys and girls can continue to play for the same team, but dance is one where it’s encouraged.

4. Company dancers work hard. Like, really hard.

Last year my 10 year old daughter took three techniques: ballet, lyrical and jazz. She was at the studio two or three nights a week, for a couple of hours each time. There’s stretching to do, movements to practice, choreography to master, and other exercises (sit-ups, anyone?) to complete. They work hard, and as the dancers get older, their classes get longer and tougher. Often times they’re at the studio six days out of the week, and practicing at home, too. It becomes a way of life! (And they love it.)

5. It’s more about technique than turns.

If you watch Dance Moms, you notice that many of the dancers often do never-ending pirouettes in their numbers. Continuous turns, around and around and around and around. It’s become a “thing” for many competition dancers, but not for the girls at our studio. Endless pirouettes give a wow factor, for sure. And many dance companies have very young girls and boys who know how to do a bunch in row, with precision. Yes, it’s impressive; there’s no denying that.

What’s also great, however, is finding a studio that focuses on a variety of techniques, and that impresses upon its dancers the importance of understanding the intricate pieces to a wide variety of choreography and genres. Like, pirouettes are meant to accent a larger piece, or to showcase the prima ballerina in a number, not to stand alone and be the focal point for five whole minutes. There’s a reason why you don’t see dancers doing that on So You Think You Can Dance

6. Less is not more.

As in, dance gear. Find a studio that takes pride in age appropriate costumes for girls. Enough said.

7. Buy stock in hairnets, bobby pins, hairspray and flesh colored hair-ties.

Even though every year I purchase enough hairnets, flesh colored hair-ties and bobby pins to prepare a ballet army for Swan Lake, somehow as competition weekends get closer, they are all missing. ALL OF THEM. Last minute drugstore runs to restock are a must, and I always hope some other dance mom hasn’t already stripped the hairnet section clean before I arrive. Because, hairnets aren’t easy to come by at the last minute if they’re not at the drugstore!!!

(And some dance moms are known for scraping an isle clean of hairnets. That’s never me, of course.)


8. Make-up skills for days.

After half a dozen YouTube tutorials (ahem, #1), and several years of practice on my daughter, it’s safe to say that I have make-up skills for days. STAGE make-up skills, that is. On girls. Are they translatable to my daily life as a grown woman? Nope. Although, I have been known to borrow her concealer now and again (it’s really good).

9. Dance moms become a tribe – and so do the dads.

The group of moms and dads at my daughter’s dance studio get along famously. This is especially important for those of us with kids in the dance company, since we spend A LOT of time together during competition season. We’ve become a tribe! We laugh, we support each other’s dancers, and we help out when one of us isn’t able to be there. It’s a great support system in [what can be] a very chaotic, emotional and busy world.

So, Now What?

You and your dancer have to love the studio where he or she will be spending hours and hours. You need to respect the teachers—not only their dance knowledge (yes, that’s important), but also their teaching style and focus.

Are there girls and boys of all different shapes and sizes?

What do the costumes look like?

Where do their graduating dancers land?

How many get dance scholarships?

Do they get selected for professional companies?

And most important of all, are the dancers having fun? AND is having fun encouraged? Is having fun given more weight than winning?? Because dancing should be fun most of all!

Reasons Why Dance Moms Is Totally Fake

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Dory Jackson

In 2011, Lifetime Network graced the world of Dance Moms, a reality show that followed in the footsteps of other successful shows In Young girls and their persistence, squabbling mothers. I guess tots & tiaras with franchise flavors real housewives mix in for good measure. Moms in Dance revolves around Abby Lee Miller of the "Pittsburgh" studio of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC), and her junior elite standings. What drives the show is the consistent yelling and insane demands from Miller, coupled with Mom's drama. The series presents a behind-the-scenes look into the world of dancesport, while lighting a steady dose of over-the-top chaos. nine0003

From the beginning, many dance mom fans were wondering if certain aspects of the show were being rolled out on camera. How entertaining, how dramatic can it be, how real is it? Conflict on the series as a choreographer, like his performances? Let's find out what's really going on behind the scenes at one of life's most lucrative programs.

Show choreographer drama

It's not rocket science to the viewers that "reality" TV is not entirely authentic. Reportedly, elements of many programs are improved to keep viewers interested, and life seems to feel free to use this method. Dancer Kalani Hilliker opened OK! A magazine that in some situations were staged during the season 5 finale. nine0003

As a rule, the girls at the show are required to perform every week for a new competition. Sometimes, if they land on Miller's good side, they get the opportunity to showcase a solo. During the finals, Miller had Hilliker and ballet dancer Nia Frazier compete against each other in a fight to the death to determine who would get the chance to perform solo at the Nationals. In the end, Frazier was declared the winner of the challenge. Naturally, Miller's decision caused an air of rift between the dancers' mothers. nine0003

However, a few key components of such a tense situation were reportedly omitted from the footage that was shown on TV, such as this important piece of information: "I did do a solo on the Nationals," Hilliker said in a buzzword. "It just wasn't on TV." Yes, all that TV drama was ostensibly for nothing, since both girls got their moments in the spotlight. While it's fair to say that a staged version of this story sounds much more interesting than the so-called truth, fans want to keep this tale alive next time Moms in the Dance tries toying with the audience's emotions. nine0003

His big stars say it's fake

Dancer Maddie Ziegler became a worldwide sensation after starring in Dancing with the Stars. She demonstrated her abilities for five seasons before taking on an international title for herself as the heroine of Asya's "Chandelier" video. Miller's mom and bandwagon certainly catalyzed Ziegler's career, but despite acknowledging the show's impact on her life, Ziegler also confirmed that more than just dance moves are being performed on the show. “It's hard to do a reality show when there are so many tears and drama. Manufacturers tweak it to make us all yell at each other,” Ziegler told USA Today. “Moms fake sometimes fight. Then they just start talking and laughing about it.” nine0003

Even Miller's boss says the show team has gone too far. “They're just spurring people on. They push you to the brink of exhaustion and the brink of going insane," she told TMZ. “I just don't think the show should be played. I think we should just let things happen. "

Practice (and reshoots) to make it perfect

When it comes to TV shows and movies, it's not unheard of for scenes to be shot multiple times from different angles, but where does the line lie with reality TV? You may have heard of Kim Kardashian requesting that her marriage proposal to basketball player Kris Humphreys be re-shot for E!'s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but did you know dance moms are too much, even with actual dance competitions? nine0003

According to Radar Online, "everything I've recorded multiple times to ensure the producers got the maximum take for the show." As a result, the days were long and the young people were often exhausted. The show may air for a 60-minute block, but daily shoots reportedly can last as long as nine hours. The girls allegedly got multiple opportunities to perform dances too in the competition, which definitely doesn't sound fair to other teams. "Dance mom stars got a few chances to perfect their dances," Radar reports. "The other participants in the competitions were allowed only one performance." nine0003

Still in denial? Reportedly attended by a reporter from Business International once one of the contests for girls in 2014 and checked the inequality. "I can confirm clicking on [the show] does not represent a typical event," the journalist said. "Not only is the number of participants noticeably less than average...the production and single-handedly pushed back the start time of the competition are awaiting the arrival of the OANRC's group."

Competitions manipulate

The seemingly exhausting pace of life for the dancers on the show raised eyebrows among the audience. The OANRC girls attend a new competition every week and somehow manage to win with honors in the vast majority of them. How do the kids pull off such memorable performances, as well as filming shows, attend school, and try to lead pretty normal lives? nine0003

By manipulating reality, of course! From the moment the girls arrive at the competition, the whole stage turns into an organized event. According to the International Business Competition time shown on the program, there is often not enough real competition. "OANRS LA swept the devotion competition 2 dance [season 6] but that's not certain because they were the 'cream'," NTT reports. "Looks like [Miller's] two teams were the only groups to compete. " In the addition of a farce cast, the contestants are reportedly given a reserved seat for the competition, and the crowd's reaction is allegedly staged too, because they were filming separately from the actual performances. nine0003

And it turns out like this: bossy Miller, they say, they don't talk much because of the music and choreography that you see on the show. While viewers tune in for a week to watch her coach the girls on a gorgeous routine, the network reportedly selects and approves all of the music and dance featured on the show.

Not all girls are loyal members of the OANRC

If the reality show was going to call itself "Dancing with the Stars", one would assume the dancers and their moms would be full members of the dance studio, but you know what they're saying about assumptions? nine0003

The Hilliker dancer has been an asset to the Pennsylvania OANRC studio since she jumped on our TV screens, but you knew she was trained at a club dance studio in Mesa, Arizona. before joining mom in dance and, at the time of this writing, continues to be an active member of the dance club? According to USC Annenberg media, Hilliker only trains with OANRS when filming is shown; during the off-season, she returns to Arizona to resume training with club dances. Ballet dancer Ziegler told the International Business Times that Hilliker "don't go to the [OANRS] studio". Hilliker isn't the only one hiding a dick at the dance moms part of the time. Season 5 addition JoJo Siwa is also reported to train with Miller only during filming. nine0003

So why throw these outsiders around? Drama, of course. "These new moms of girls usually start problems with the original mothers, claiming that their kids will keep the spots of the originals," USC Annenberg told media. "Once again, all hell breaks loose."

Fan favorite Mackenzie Ziegler, the younger sister of superstar Maddie Ziegler, is not even a member of OARRC's most elite team. Sis is reportedly just joining Maddie and the rest of the elite squad for filming. "I don't really dance with them," McKenzie told the International Business Times. "I'm dancing with another group, it's completely different." In reality, little Mackenzie spends much of his time with dancers his own age. Sorry guys, photos this time. nine0003

Game Over

Getty Images

No matter how much the dance mom tries to produce suspense, the ratings say viewers can see through the façade and move on. During the show's fifth season, ratings began to drop after several stars, including showgirl Chloe Lukasiak and mom Christy Lukasiak as well as sisters Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler and their mother, Melissa Gisoni. The aforementioned ladies seemed to take a lot of unmissable drama with them as they left. nine0003

To stir up interest, the series refocused on a cold, hard dose of truth: the coach's legal troubles. At the time of this writing, she is facing federal charges of fraudulent bankruptcy and money laundering. According to the Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh, Miller is "accused of withholding $755,000 in assets from her television shows from bankruptcy proceedings. The case began after a bankruptcy judge saw her on TV in December 2012 and thought she should be making more than $8.89.9 she claims the monthly income.” The series milked her on TV, producing tears the moment that implied Miller was leaving the show.

All that premonition turned out to be for nothing, however, because Miller didn't miss a beat and was back for season 6, though we can't say the same about the show's ratings. On TV by the numbers (according to online radar) the series' mid-season premiere attracted only 961,000 viewers, a drop from the 1.3 million people who tuned in for the season's premiere, leading many to believe the jig (literally and figuratively) was. nine0003

Season 7 debuted in November 2016. Can the cast and crew concoct enough reality to keep viewers coming back? We will keep you informed.

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BIG MAM - 9 halls

Irina Nikhaenko
Many people know me as BIG MAM.

How my dancing life began:
since childhood I was a downtrodden and closed girl, but somehow I came to the lessons at a new school and my classmates suggested that I go dancing. The dance school was nearby and of course I agreed. The first training was in Hip-Hop. We studied basic movements and after the first lesson, I realized that I had come to the area where I felt comfortable and well! HERE, my life began to change drastically! nine0007 After 3 months of classes, I already performed on stage, went to championships, battles, where I was a leader and won prizes!”

Surely many have come across moments when finding yourself, studying your body, its capabilities and how to control it is no longer just a desire, but a NECESSITY! After all, it depends on how you CARRY yourself through life, who you appear to others, how you are perceived and accepted.

Irina went through a serious school before finding herself and going on stage for the first time:
She studied with Zak Venegas and many top dancers in Russia, attended their master classes and special courses, dance camps, for example “STAR DANCE CAMP”.

She was a member of the “Dream force” team, she participated in championships and won first places, including the “ART OPEN WORLD” World Cup.

Participant of the most popular project “DANCING” on TNT.

How did I decide to get into the most ambitious project in Russia?
“I've been watching every episode of the TV show since season 1. It seemed that it would be simply impossible for me to get there!) But for me it was a huge dream and one day a little girl of 17 years old decided to send a questionnaire for the 4th casting season. I send an application and I receive an answer: “WE ARE WAITING FOR YOU!” How insanely happy I was then!)0007 I come to the pre-casting and I understand that I most likely will not pass - many strong dancers were standing next to me, I see Karpenko, Ryzhova and I can’t believe my eyes - they are alive and ready to appreciate my dance!)
Danced my own choreography, made small changes and DON'T BELIEVE!!! said, "YES, YOU GO FURTHER!"
You can't even imagine what emotions I felt then! I wanted to cry with happiness, but I was shaking all over with fear and overexertion!
Filming took place in Glavkino itself! What scale do you think? I could believe that ALL THIS IS HAPPENING TO ME! nine0007 I had never been to Moscow before! And, you know, I thought that it was unattainable for me! Impossible…

Entering the stage was insanely exciting! I understand that I am standing on the main stage of the best dance project and having a conversation with Miguel - and this alone is breathtaking! He says: "Well, let's get started?" And I start dancing: I danced everything from beginning to end without a single blot! Don't forget about emotions! thought I did it! But Miguel said harshly: “Sorry, not this time! YOU ARE NOT DANCING!” nine0003

I had a wild depression for 1. 5 months, but I was not going to despair: I got even more engaged in my development and mastery!

A year has passed and I decided not to waste time and went to the 6th season of “DANCING” on TNT. I came to prove to everyone that I am an example for those who are afraid to change themselves and do what they love because of complexes.
After the broadcast, I received many thanks for being an example and motivation! And this was the highest award and victory for me!

Participated in the projects "DANCES" on TNT (season 4 and 6), "Model XL". Season 2 on channel Yu, "YATANTSUYU" on the first channel, starred in a video with Tatyana Mingalimova.

By the age of 20, she had already founded the team “Free for Life” in the city of Pyatigorsk and participated in the director of several clips.


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