On the Lifetime reality show Dance Moms, teacher Abby Lee Miller spends about as much time making her young students cry and sparring with their mothers as she does teaching classes and fan kicks
In an exclusive interview and photo shoot with In Touch, the 47-year-old dance instructor insists that underneath her gruff, tough — and sometimes terrifying — exterior, she’s actually quite vulnerable. “I’m a schoolgirl at heart,” the single Pittsburgh native reveals in the new issue, who never danced professionally but started the Abby Lee Dance Company when she was 14. “There’s still an innocence to me.”
Abby explains that there’s a side to the her that the viewers don’t get to see. “I’ve done a lot of nice things for my girls. I take them to dinners, to movies, to Broadway shows. Most of my kids, over the years, have never seen a plane or been to a five-star hotel. I teach them which fork to use and things they won’t learn in school.” She adds that the cameras don't display her “artistic side” and have yet to show the choreography process. “We don’t just pull all that out of our a--es!”
EXCLUSIVE PICS: See Never-Before-Seen Photos of Abby Lee Miller as The Black Swan
However, if she’s harsh, she says, it’s for one reason: She wants her pupils to live up to their potential. “I have bigger dreams for these kids than they have for themselves,” she says. “I want them to be better — I want them to win.”
But Abby admits getting them to their potential means a lot of yelling. “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,” she explains.
Overall, Abby tells In Touch, she just wants to be the best teacher for her kids “Life is a competition,” she says. “A teacher’s success is based solely on the success of her students.”