We’ve seen Abby Lee Miller of Dance Moms fame go through significant ups and downs over the years. When her series first began, young girls entered the Abby Lee Dance Company in the hopes that they could grow to become magnificent dancers — and for many of Miller’s students, their hard work paid off. Unfortunately for Miller, her militant direction wasn’t always welcomed by the kids in the school or their parents. And at one point, she was even caught up in a lawsuit for how she was treating one child in particular.
Here’s why Miller was sued by a student years ago, and what her other students think of her now.
Miller was sued for assault by a teen student
While some fans may think Miller is extra aggressive on TV just to make the show more dramatic, things got way more real when the star was hit with a lawsuit. People reports Paige Hyland, a 13-year-old dancer who was taught by Miller at the time, sued Miller for assault. The complaint explained that Miller “intentionally engaged in conduct that caused Plaintiff Paige Hyland to reasonably believe that she was about to be touched or harmed in an offensive manner.” Not only that, but Hyland also allegedly claimed that since appearing on Dance Moms, she suffered from anxiety and panic attacks.
The lawsuit explained that Hyland had to undergo help for the mental abuse she was exposed to, and it went on to say that she “reasonably feared she would be physically injured because she had observed Miller physically batter other people on the show including physically pushing [mother] Kelly Hyland’s face, pinching another student until she bled and violently grabbing another student by the arm.”
It seems Miller never actually got in too much trouble for the claims, however. People reported in 2015 that the lawsuit was dismissed after the judge reviewed the Dance Moms footage.
Miller has defended her teaching style in the past
Miller may be a tough teacher, but she maintains she’s only strict because she wants her students to be great. Miller told People, “I am tough on the kids because someone has to be. … “They have to learn a work ethic, they have to learn rehearsal etiquette and they have to learn to prioritize what they are doing in a day as far as their rehearsals and attending classes.”
Though she’s made kids cry, Miller also mentioned that that’s never her intention, and she doesn’t enjoy seeing the little dancers upset. But, she still went on to explain that certain lessons had to be learned, and at the end of the day, she knows she’s helping them advance their careers. “For years and years I paid for kids’ trips out of town and I took kids to New York City: I paid for the gas, I drove them to the auditions to get a Broadway show,” she added. “If it was up to their mom and dad, they wouldn’t even have gone to the audition because Mom and Dad wouldn’t have taken off work and given up their pay to take their own kid, but I did.”
Her students seem divided on their opinion of her
Aside from the lawsuit, what do her students generally think of Miller’s teachings? It seems the Dance Moms mentor definitely has one huge fan, and that’s JoJo Siwa. We remember the dancer absolutely slaying during her seasons, and she’s since become a huge sensation for dancing, singing, and her social media presence. While Miller was in the hospital fighting cancer, Siwa presented her with a check for $10,000 from Dancers Against Cancer. And Siwa also helped Miller celebrate her 52nd birthday.
There is one ultra-famous student who no longer communicates with Miller, however, and that’s Maddie Ziegler. Us Weekly reports after spending 5 years on Dance Moms, Ziegler never keeps up with Miller anymore. And Ziegler told Seventeen that one of the main reasons she quit the show in the first place was because of the stress. While she noted Miller could be funny, she also added that “I feel like I had so much more pressure on me to be the best in the room.”
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!