May 06, 2014 2:57am PT by Natalie Stone
'Dance Moms' Abby Lee Miller Guest Judges 'Dancing With the Stars,' Upsets Pro Dancers
Dance worlds collided on Monday night’s Dancing With the Stars, igniting tension between professional dancers and the judges’ table.
Dance Moms reality star Abby Lee Miller, owner and founder of the Abby Lee Dance Company, took part in scoring week eight’s performances, but her criticism and critiquing style were not affectionately received by numerous DWTS pros. Maksim Chmerkovskiy did not hold back in sharing his sentiments about Miller’s comments made at the conclusion of his and partner Meryl Davis’ rumba. “I really don’t care for anything that she has to say,” Chmerkovskiy told host Erin Andrews.
The Lifetime network dance reality television series gained fame due to Miller’s tough love style, which viewers witness in the instructor’s weekly pyramid ranking chart and rare compliment/frequent critique coaching.
“I’m afraid for kids who are exposed to pressure, anxiety and things like that at such a young age and are put down,” professional dancer Derek Hough said of training child dancers. “My fear is that they’ll get burnt out as soon as they hit 16 and they won’t want to do it again.”
Miller, who has trained thousands of dancers out of her Pittsburgh-based studio and seen them conquer Broadway, was quick to defend her disciplinary training. “People can judge, they can say whatever they want to say -- I go to sleep at night and I know what I’m doing is great for these kids,” she said.
Professional dancer Sharna Burgess, who was adamant in her belief of embracing and nurturing the creative in young dancers, remarked that she and her colleagues have no respect for Miller and believe the reality star is abusing her students. “The way she treats her children, the way she teaches them -- she’s not molding anybody into a star; she’s not teaching anybody to harness any creativity; she’s trying to make good TV,” Burgess said, adding, “What she is doing to those kids now at this age is going to affect them for the rest of their lives.”
Mark Ballas opened the night by performing his new single “Get My Name” and was saved, with partner Candace Cameron Bure, from elimination. The singer and dancer, whose mother trained Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, Tony Dovolani, Karina Smirnoff and Valentin Chmerkovskiy in Latin American dancing, maintained his beliefs about Miller since the show’s debut in 2011: “I still stick to what I said three years ago online. I don’t agree with her teaching methods. I’m 100 percent with Maks tonight.”
Though the controversial dance instructor has caused quite a stir with DWTS professional dancers and viewers, Miller continues to draw viewership and will star in Lifetime’s new Dance Moms spinoff series, Abby’s Studio Rescue, premiering June 17.
“I’m in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I have done a damn fine job of getting thousands of kids out of Pittsburgh to stay at the Waldorf Astoria or at a four-star hotel to eat in their restaurant that’s a five-star dining experience to tell them what fork to use and where to put their napkin on their lap,” Miller said. “I mean, I have done that for so many children, it’s countless.”