Is Abby Lee Miller Too Mean?

September 16, 2019

Let me preface this by saying, among our own staff, we are conflicted. Many of us think she crosses a line. The word “horrific” was even used to describe her show. Some of us feel her style might help her students face a career that is, at times, extremely difficult. There’s a debate among us over a tough love style versus positive feedback. A couple of us remember the “good old days” when teachers would poke you and scream at you, usually in Russian.

If you haven’t seen the show Dance Moms on Lifetime (Tuesdays at 9pm EST), you might be unaware of the controversy surrounding Abby Lee Miller. She’s the larger-than-life leader of a company of young competition dancers. She’s tough on them. A lot of people are saying it is detrimental to her students’ emotional health, including professional dancers. It’s common to see her students crying on the show. She’s a yeller. She holds grudges. She demands a lot from the girls’ moms in the name of “commitment.” The thing is, her students usually win at the competitions. Does that make all the drama okay?

Some professional dancers who have spoken out against Miller’s style include Derek Hough (@derekhough) of Dancing With the Stars. He tweeted:

Mark Ballas (@MarkBallas) tweeted:

Whether you’re team Abby Lee or completely aghast, take a second to think about what criticism does to students. Check out these articles on how to cope with negative feedback.