Abigale “Abby” Lee Miller was born on Sept. 21, 1966. Her late mother, Maryen Lorraine, owned Maryen Lorrain Dance Studio, which is where Miller developed her love of dance. At the young age of 14, Miller had formed her own company and opened a studio.
Since that time, Miller’s students have appeared in Broadway productions such as “Wicked” and “The Lion King.” Some also scored a spot in Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular. However, Miller’s real claim to fame was all thanks to the Lifetime reality show “Dance Moms,” which debuted on July 13, 2011. “Dance Moms,” which ran for seven seasons, followed the practices and competitions of her junior elite competition team at the ALDC, formally known as the Abby Lee Dance Company. The show was a hit, gaining nearly 3 million viewers in January 2013.
“Dance Moms” became a sensation. The show was so successful that the Lifetime network gave Miller a second one, “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.” Debuting on Oct. 9, 2012, 12 talented dancers from around the country competed for $100,000 plus a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Miller, of course, was a judge, alongside Robin Antin, creator of The Pussycat Dolls and dancer/celebrity choreographer Richard “Richie” Jackson. The show ran for two seasons.
Miller’s “Dance Moms” has given her quite the reputation, and as all loyal viewers would agree, it wasn’t all good publicity, to say the least. However, this is one of the many reasons that the show was popular. Miller has been called many names, none of them nice — monster, villain, b—-. Time and time again, Miller has refused to see herself as any of these things. In an interview with In Touch magazine in 2013, she shared that “while her methods may seem harsh, there’s a rationale behind them. ‘When I tell a child something the first time, I’m nice. The 15th time, I start to get aggravated. By the 30th time, they’re doing 100 push-ups and I’m screaming at them, and of course that’s what they put on TV.'”
One year before “Dance Moms” aired, Miller was already having financial troubles. In December 2010, she filed for bankruptcy and owed more than $400,000 in taxes. It wasn’t until 2014 when Miller’s legal troubles caught up to her. One of Miller’s dancers sued her, claiming assault. The lawsuit shed light on the fact that the producers of “Dance Moms” encourage a violent and combative atmosphere to attract more viewers. Collins Avenue Entertainment was slapped with a $5 million law suit for staging arguments between Kelly Hyland, the mother of Brooke and Paige Hyland, and Miller, which ended in a nasty fight.
On Oct. 13, 2015, Miller was indicted for 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud, for which she created a secret bank account in 2012-2013 to hide income of over $750,000 from masterclasses, merchandise sales and TV deals. If found guilty, Miller could have faced a fine of $250,000 for all 20 counts, as well as five years in prison. In November 2015, she pleaded not guilty. By February 2016, Miller’s case had been pushed back a fifth time. Finally, on June 27, 2016, Miller made a deal with the IRS investigators and entered a guilty plea.
On May 8, 2017, Miller was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison, followed by two years of probation. In addition, Miller had to also pay a $40,000 fine and provide a DNA sample relating to the felony charge. On June 12, 2017, Miller started her sentence at the Victorville Federal Correctional Institution in Victorville, California. On March 27, 2018, Miller was transferred to a halfway house in Long Beach, California, to complete her sentence. Since then, Miller has successfully passed classes in personal finance and real estate and lost 100 pounds. She was scheduled to be released from the halfway house on May 25, where Miller is also receiving “employment counseling and job placement.”
In April, Miller was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a type of cancer. The surgeon treating her said that she has recovered some, but an oncologist would determine what the next steps are as far as chemotherapy, radiation or a second spine surgery. Despite undergoing this major medical battle, the reality star is not ready to give up the spotlight. In February, Miller took to Instagram, sharing an empowering message: “I’m surviving because the fire inside me burns brighter than the fire around me.”
No matter what anyone thinks, the girls from “Dance Moms” girls would not be where they are today had it not been for Miller. There’s been some bad blood between Miller and her dancers for sure, but look at them now: Their resumes are probably better than those of professional dancers years older than them.
Maddie Ziegler is hands down the most famous of the “Dance Moms” crew. She was, after all, the focal point of the show. She is well known in the entertainment industry, even by those who never watched the Lifetime series. She and Sia are pretty close, and Ziegler was featured in three of her music videos, “Chandelier,” “Unstoppable” and “Elastic Heart”; she also toured with the singer. This “Dance Moms” legend also showed her love for acting by appearing in “The Book of Henry” and voicing the character of Camille in the animated film “Leap!”
Ziegler is also the author of a memoir titled “The Maddie Diaries.” Of course, it became a New York Times Best Seller. As justification for writing it, Maddie told Entertainment Tonight, “I feel like a lot of people know me but there’s a lot of things that they haven’t learned yet. So, I’m here to teach them tips and tricks and a little bit more about my life.” In 2018, she shared the ad campaign she did with Tiffany and Co. It is clear that Ziegler is making a name for herself in her own right, and she is here to stay.
Chloe Lukasiak and Abby didn’t quite get along. Viewers will remember the constant battles between Lukasiak and Ziegler vying for Abby’s No. 1 spot. It is clear that Maddie never left her pedestal. Lukasiak left “Dance Moms” abruptly in Season 4, but she did not disappear from the limelight or stop dancing. Along with Kendall and Kahlani, she toured with her girlfriends in The Irreplaceables Tour. She has also been on the cover of magazines, including Girls’ Life magazine, and has attended multiple red-carpet events. Lukasiak recently partnered with Girls’ Life magazine and Barnes and Noble to create “Chloe’s Book Club” as a “community for book lovers.”
Paige Hyland is the younger sister of another “Dance Moms” star, Brooke Hyland. Since leaving the show, Paige has modeled in New York Fashion Week. At the moment, she has given up dance and is enjoying the life of a typical teenage girl. She recently went to prom with a guy named Nick Kelley and has racked up over 3 million followers on Instagram.
Brooke Hyland is 20 years old, and she has also hung up her dancing shoes and is enjoying a normal life. She is currently a junior at Ohio University and a member of a sorority. On her Instagram, she seems genuinely happy after abruptly leaving “Dance Moms” in Season 4.
Nia Sioux had always been the underdog, but no more. After seven years with Abby Lee, she left “Dance Moms” and pursued other opportunities in entertainment. She said, “During the show, I couldn’t take all the opportunities that I wanted to, and now since I’m off the show I’m getting to do what I want to do.” Since her exit, Nia has launched her own website, aptly titled Nia Sioux Frazier, where she shares her thoughts and insights on her blog. She has been featured on Nylon Magazine, worked with BeautyCon and is still pursuing dance.
We can’t forget about Mackenzie Ziegler, Maddie’s younger sister. She joined the “Dance Moms” team when she was only 6. Since then, Mackenzie has also made it big for herself. She designed a clothing line with JUSTICE and, like her big sis, wrote a memoir, titled “Kenzie’s Rules for Life: How to Be Happy, Healthy, and Dance to Your Own Beat.”
In the memoir, she gets real about her experience on the show. She said, “I always felt like I had to live up to people’s expectations of me. I thought everyone was constantly judging me, watching each move and tearing it apart, nitpicking everything I did and laughing at me behind my back.” Makenzie shared how she felt she missed out on her childhood as dance consumed her life, not being able to go to parties, take part in after school activities or just hang out with her friends.
Kendall Vertes, the final official member of the ALDC, continues to dance and took part in The Irreplaceables Tour. She also has a heavy presence in the music industry. In 2015, her premier music video “Wear ‘Em Out” beat Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” on iTunes.
Miller and the “Dance Moms” squad will not soon be forgotten. Although a “Dance Moms” reunion seems unlikely, who knows? For right now, the girls are living their lives, and as for Miller? We’ll see.