Abby Lee Miller, whose award-winning dance company is the focus of Lifetime’s reality series “Dance Moms,” grew up dancing in her mother’s dance studio, which Maryen Lorrain Miller opened in 1945. Sadly, Maryen passed away from cancer in February 2014 and Abby tells Zap2it that while she’s excited to be guest-judging “Dancing With the Stars,” it is also a little bittersweet for her.
“It kills me because she was so into ‘Dancing With The Stars’,” says Miller. “It was her absolute all-time favorite show — you couldn’t say a word if it was on. It kills me that she’s not going to be there with me when I’m judging. I wish she could have come and sat there. But it’s all in the timing. That’s a Bob Fosse quote, ‘It’s all in the timing.'”
When asked what she’s most looking forward to, Miller lets out one of her famous chuckles and says, “I hope I make Derek Hough a little nervous [laughs]. He had a lot of … let’s say … interesting things to say about ‘Dance Moms’ when we first started. His mom was a dance teacher, I think? I’m not sure. But the one thing his mother should have taught him is you never know who’s going to be judging you [laughs].”
Part of her focus when she is judging the Season 18 contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” is getting back to the basics, in the hopes that her advice can help them go on to win the coveted mirror ball trophy.
“I always look for the most technical aspects,” says Miller. “I think the judges do that, but now they’re getting so much more involved in the theme and the musicality and the costuming and the showmanship and all of that. I’m going to go back to the technique. I think the audience loves all of that stuff, but as a judge, I’m always thinking about the next routine and the future.
“I’m trying to give them tools and suggestions and advice that they can use going forward so they can become better and become stronger. If I can help them, if I can give them any tips or any inspiration or any critiques that they can improve upon, that they can fix, that they can change for the next few weeks, they might just end up the winner with my advice.”
So does she have any favorites this season?
“I loved NeNe Leakes, and now she’s gone. I thought I would enjoy her company,” says Miller. “She came from the reality world and she’s crossed over and she’s done so well, so I was interested in talking to her a little bit.”
She continues, “The young woman who is the ice dancer, Meryl Davis, her body — it looks like she was a professional ballerina. She’s so elegant and her physique, her muscles are petite and tight. As a ballerina, she’s beautiful. The quality of her movement — I have trouble telling the difference between her and the professional female dancers. She could be one of them.”
Tune in Monday (May 5) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC to watch Abby Lee Miller bring her signature no-nonsense “Dance Moms” attitude to “Dancing With the Stars.”