Person of interest: Abby Lee Miller of 'Dance Moms'

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She's been called "a genius" by Jimmy Fallon but also described in far less complimentary terms by legions of "Dance Moms" fans around the world. And now, Pittsburgh's Abby Lee Miller is set to launch yet another reality show when "Abby Lee's Ultimate Dance Competition" debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Lifetime.

The new program features dancers ages 6-13 competing for scholarships and a cash prize before a panel of judges run by the zaftig Ms. Miller, a graduate of Penn Hills High School. The behind-the-scenes drama -- which will include not only dance moms, but dads as well -- is certain to make for lively water-cooler conversation.

Ms. Miller said she and "hot" dancer John Corella had been "strategically dreaming of the competition show for 10 years."

Dance is in Ms. Miller's blood; her mother, Mareyn Miller, ran studios in Florida and Pennsylvania. Abby Lee took baby ballerina lessons at age 3, then began teaching her own class at age 14.

She built the Abby Lee Miller dance studio in Penn Hills in 1992, and to the 2.2 million fans who tune in to watch "Dance Moms" each week, it's a well-known backdrop to a show featuring talented young dancers, their moms and, of course, Ms. Miller.

People yell and cry a lot. But so far, there's been little romance of any sort, and Ms. Miller teases that her new show might correct that.

"Dance Moms" has been a Teen Choice Awards nominee, and Ms. Miller was singled out as a reality show favorite nominee for Logo's NewNowNext Awards. She is also set to appear on the cover of the October issue of Dance Teacher magazine.

Here are a few questions for the outspoken Ms. Miller:

If you could do one thing every day for the rest of your life ...

Talk to my mom, play with my dog, cuddle with my buddy, laugh out loud!

I'm surprisingly good at ...

Driving! But I'm a horrible passenger!

What do viewers see on TV that is most like the "real" me?

I think they see it all, except my flirtatious side? Hopefully, "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" will fix that.

Pittsburgh's best-kept secret is?

Reign Dance Productions, home of the Abby Lee Dance Company.

Where do you buy those bold necklaces you're always wearing?

NYC and LA, wholesale!

True or false: Children should be seen and not heard, and does the same go for their mothers?

False! A well-mannered child should always greet an adult first. Dance moms should only give their opinions when asked.

Have any of your former students let you know what they think of "Dance Moms"?

They all think we should have done the show 20 years ago, when I was really mean!

What's the oddest fan mail you've received?

A whole set of CorningWare!

Please name your favorite Pittsburgh restaurant or attraction.

The Dirty O (Original Hot Dog Shop) in Oakland.

I could really do without in my life.

[Moms] Christi and Kelly, lol!

Working on my new show has taught me ...

What having a job is like: so much easier and less stressful than running your own business!

My idea of a perfect vacation is ...

Sun, fun and a beautiful sailor boy on my yacht.

Abby then added a last question of her own:

"Why would youns Pittsburghers dance anywhere else when you can drive to my studio?"

theater - tvradio

First Published October 7, 2012 4:00 AM


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