It’s back! The sequins, the screaming, the drama and oh yes, the dance moves. Starting this Tuesday, ‘Dance Moms’ is coming back for its second season on Lifetime.
The show’s breakout star, tyrannical dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, who runs her eponymous dance studio in Pittsburgh, spoke to Fox411.com about her teaching techniques, her haters and what she thinks of those stage mothers.
FOX411: Why do you think 'Dance Moms' became so popular?
Abby Lee Miller: I hope it’s the dancers, the children. I hope it’s not the moms. (Laughs).
FOX411: What do you say to people who say you’re too tough on the kids and shouldn’t scream at them so much?
Miller: I say you should have seen me 20 years ago when I was really mean.
FOX411: So you’re nice now?
Miller: Oh my God; my alumni can’t believe how much I’ve mellowed! First of all, kids are not little, Mackenzie is around 7. Think about how many movies Shirley Temple made by the time she was 7. They are artists, they are athletes, this is their craft, and this is what they do. If they’re old enough to learn a 2 minute, 30 second routine and retain, then they’re old enough to hear what’s wrong with it.
FOX411: Do you think children are too coddled nowadays?
Miller: Yes. They play blame the victim. I think parents today enable their children to fail. Years ago you had to actually work for something. When dance competitions first started, there was a first, second and third prize, everybody else went home with nothing. Nowadays kids get a trophy for being born. It’s ridiculous. Everybody gets gold or silver or a bronze and it goes on and on and on. It’s like they’re trying to pacify everybody instead of making the kids work to be the best. And you know what? You’re not going to always be the best. There’s somebody else out there, somebody who’s working harder or improves quicker, whatever, and they’re going to win. I don’t think it’s an asset to win all the time. I think it’s good to lose, it builds character. I mean, I want to win all the time because I have enough character! (Laughs).
FOX411: Some blogs say some not-so-nice things about your weight. Is that hurtful?
Miller: On my Facebook I get maybe one ugly, sordid, uneducated comment talking about that compared to the 350 positive ones I get saying, ‘I wish I had you as a teacher,’ or dance teachers saying, ‘God you say everything I wish I could say.’ If anybody knows anything about teaching, then they’ll know it has nothing to do with what size or shape you are. That’s why my kids do well in auditions. It’s almost like they have an advantage. I can talk them through it. I can walk them through it. I can teach them to know it and they’re going to know it for the rest of their lives. Lots of school teachers are teaching things that the school kids memorize and the next day they get an A on a test. Ask them two weeks later one of the questions and they can’t answer it. They didn’t learn it, they memorized it to get an A. That’s not the way I teach.
FOX411: Are you shocked by some of the mothers’ behavior?
Miller: I’m absolutely shocked, and I don’t understand why the kids don’t turn to their mothers and say, ‘You are embarrassing me. Shut up.’ I don’t get it.
FOX411: It’s their parent. They have control.
Miller: That’s the issue, you just said it. The mothers can’t handle that the kids care more about what Abby thinks than what they think. The kids want my approval, they don’t want the mother’s approval and they’re jealous.
FOX411: They want your approval because you’re tough.
Miller: Absolutely. And I say to them all the time, ‘Your mother is the one whose shoulder you’re supposed to cry on. I’m the one that’s supposed to make you cry.’