‘Dance Moms’: The Original Idea Had Nothing to Do With Abby Lee Miller

Abby Lee Miller might be one of the most polarizing figures in reality TV, but it’s hard to imagine Dance Moms without her. Throughout her tenure on the show, she often liked to remind members of the cast that they owed their fame, success, and wealth to her. But in reality, the opposite might be true. In fact, the original concept for the hit reality TV show had very little to do with Miller.

cast of 'Dance Moms' season 2 show
Dance Moms Season 2 cast | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Like most TV shows, Dance Moms began with a casting call. Following the success of Toddlers & Tiaras, the producers at Lifetime were trying to think of a concept for a reality TV show that would focus on the world of competitive dance. One of the original ideas was that the show would follow a new dancer, and their parents, each week, and then viewers would have the opportunity to see them all compete against one another at a national competition.

An original cast member gets candid about the audition process for ‘Dance Moms’

While nearly all of the original cast of Dance Moms hailed from the Abby Lee Dance Company, the first casting call wasn’t exclusive to Miller’s studio. In a recent YouTube video, Christi Lukasiak revealed that it just so happened that the casting director for Dance Moms liked all the moms that came from that particular studio. He especially loved that the moms already had history with one another and were referencing each other in their audition taps.

“All of our tapes, we weren’t just talking about dance and our daughters, we were all talking s— on each other,” Lukasiak recalled about the audition process for Dance Moms. “And he was like, ‘Hold on a minute here.’” But when did Miller come into the picture? It wasn’t until filming began, and the producers realized what an intense person Miller was, that the concept of the show shifted and Miller became one of the main focal points.

Abby Lee Miller didn’t become a focal point of the show until filming began

“It just started going and once we started filming at the studio, they quickly realized that there was another person in the studio who made for amazing television,” Lukasiak shared, referencing Miller. “And then that’s kind of how the show evolved into a dance teacher and the team, and then the moms.” Especially after Miller was thrown into the equation, the executives at Lifetime knew that the show would be a great success. The rest, as they say, is history.


‘Dance Moms’: A Video of Abby Lee Miller Dancing Has Been Unearthed

“The [Dance Moms] producer came to us and they were like, ‘Listen, the network wants more episodes,'” Lukasiak recalled. “And we were like, ‘Wait, it was supposed to be six [episodes].’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, no, they think this is going to be a great show.’  And we’re like, ‘It’s not even aired yet.’ And they’re like, ‘It doesn’t matter, they think it’s great. They want more episodes so we’re going on the road this summer.'”

‘Dance Moms’ helped put Miller on the map

There’s no denying that Miller’s teaching style and penchant for drama helped make Dance Moms a success. However, if the moms from her studio hadn’t been the ones to catch the casting director’s eye, the show would have never been filmed in her studio in the first place. It seems like Lukasiak was right all those years ago when she said that the seven original dancers (and their moms) put Miller’s name on the map.