In the earliest seasons of Lifetime's "Dance Moms," Nia Sioux Frazier was the underdog. She was constantly overlooked by a certain shall-not-be-named teacher, and had a seemingly permanent spot on the bottom of the show's infamous pyramid.
It wasn't until Nia and her mom Holly decided to pursue other creative outlets—singing! music videos! live performances!—that the 15-year-old dancer (she turns 16 next week) got the spotlight she wanted. Today, Nia's a fan favorite far beyond "Dance Moms": Last year, she made her off-Broadway debut in Trip of Love, and next month she'll take her famous death drop on the road with WilldaBeast and Janelle Ginestra as part of the team's #FOLLOWME tour. Catch Nia & co. when the tour kicks off July 28 in L.A.—and get more from her right here, right now. #slay
If you're a "Dance Moms" fanatic, you might be feeling a little blue today. The Season 5 midseason finale aired last night, and although there'll be more mom madness to come, you'll have to wait a little while for the rest. Luckily though, the true stars of the shows—the dancers—are seemingly everywhere these days. Chloe Lukasiak recently teamed up with dance video maven Kyle Hanagami and singer Jess Godwin. And just last night, Maddie Ziegler performed on "Dancing with the Stars," augmenting Josh Groban's sweet yet snoozy rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
For those of you on Team Nia Sioux Frazier, the teen recently debuted her first single, "Star in Your Own Life," complete with a pretty fab music video choreographed by Mikey Minden. I caught up with Nia Sioux to ask about the show and her burgeoning singing career.
Nia Sioux Frazier, age 13 going on 14 (on June 20!) going on 26 (Photo by David Hofmann, aka @sharkcookie)
Dance Spirit: With more than 1.6 million Instagram followers, and hundreds of thousands on Twitter, you're becoming quite the celebrity.
Nia Sioux Frazier: Well, I don't really think of myself as a celebrity—I think it's just being well-known. But that's been my dream since I was little, and it's incredible how my dream is coming true.
DS: Who are your favorite people to follow on social media?
NSF: Beyoncé and Zendaya, all of my friends from school and my dad. He posts funny things about my family.
DS: What's the best part about being on "Dance Moms"?
NSF: Getting to perform as much as we do. And also having so many fans. It's amazing to think about how many people are out there supporting me.
DS: What's been challenging?
NSF: Not getting to see my family that much. Since I'm in L.A. now, I'm away from my dad, my brothers and my dogs. I miss my friends back at home, too. But we try to keep in touch with Skype and FaceTime.
DS: What do you love about singing?
NSF: It makes me feel good. I love hearing something on the radio and singing along—it makes me feel like I can just be me. I love when the music gets in me and I can just flow with it. It's similar to the feeling I get when I'm dancing.
Headed for pop-star stardom (a still from "Star in Your Own Life")
DS: Is there a message behind "Star in Your Own Life"?
NSF: It's about self-confidence. You're already a star, and no one can take that away from you. Know your own worth and be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
DS: What are your goals for the future?
NSF: To be myself and to keep inspiring others to be who they are. I'd love to be on Broadway, in movies or on Disney or Nick. I'd love to have my own reality show. But my dream job is just to perform. That's what I love.
The dance world is a high-drama place—and don't the creators of reality series like "Dance Moms" and "So You Think You Can Dance" (catch the Season 11 premiere tomorrow night!) know it. There's nothing like the pressure of competitive dance to generate anxiety and conflict, qualities that make for pretty compelling television.
Sometimes, though, the drama on these shows feels forced or even scripted, creating an uncomfortably blurry line between reality and "reality." Why not simplify things by putting together a full-on fictional dance-y show?
The creators of Hulu's new series "The Next Step" have done just that, constructing a show around the nonexistent Next Step Dance Studio. But they didn't do away with the reality show format entirely. Instead, they had the actors on "The Next Step" stage partly improvised scenes—complete with reality-style to-the-camera interviews. And that gives the whole package a bit of what's-going-to-happen-next snap.
The best part? Every member of the teenage cast is a legitimate dancer. (One is a freshman at Juilliard!) If the intrigue-filled storyline doesn't get you, their high-octane performances will.
"The Next Step" premieres tomorrow on Hulu. But we've got a few sneak peeks for you today—including one that's a Dance Spirit exclusive. Take a look!
DS exclusive! "The New Routine"
A still from Sia's "Chandelier" video.
Maddie Ziegler's not in Pittsburgh anymore. Yesterday, Sia released the official music video for her song, "Chandelier," and it stars none other than the 11-year-old "Dance Moms" phenom herself. (Somewhere in PA, Christi is whining that Chloe wasn't chosen.)
The video, choreographed by Ryan Heffington (owner of L.A.'s Sweat Spot), features Maddie—wearing a nude leo and a sweet platinum wig—tilting, turning, leaping, and pretty much going berserk in an empty, dingy house. And while those curtsies at the end of the video are super-creepy, this just may be Maddie's best performance yet. Take a look:
These could be your new BFFs!
Calling all comp kids! Are you dreaming of making your small-screen debut? If you think your leaps are as strong as Maddie Ziegler's, your shimmies are as fierce as Asia Monet Ray's and your pirouettes are as sharp as Chloe Lukasiak's, now may be your time to shine! Here's the catch: Your mom (or dad!) has to be on board as well.
Why? The infamous Abby Lee Miller is looking for new kids and their parents to add to the cast of "Dance Moms"—and possibly "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition."
Auditions for dancers 13 and under will be held in Orlando, FL (Oct. 25), Atlanta, GA (Nov. 8), and NYC (Nov. 23). Find out more and register at dancemomscasting.com.
See you on TV!
“Dance Moms,” I’ve missed you this last month. In fact, I’ve missed you so much that the fact that this episode was full of Cathy and her fame-hungry dance dads, way too much crying and almost no Mackenzie moments only mildly upset me. (But don’t do it again!) At least it was also chock full of dancerly romance! Here are my top three AWESOME and AWKWARD moments.
AWKWARD: Maddie and Gino sitting in a tree… While this little crush is the cutest thing in the whole wide world, the way the adults handle it is pretty disgusting. Apparently, Gino gave Maddie a kiss on the cheek at the last competition. While this was no make out (Mom Melissa makes that very clear), it was definitely the most scandalous kiss in “Dance Moms” history. At least Abby and Cathy can finally agree on one thing: no kissing the enemy!
AWESOME: The “group” dance—although you can hardly call this the group without Paige, Brooke or Mackenzie. Still, Maddie, Chloe, Nia and Kendall make an excellent foursome of “bad girls.” They couldn’t have been more in sync if they were clones of each other, and the choreography was so cute! Even if Candy Apples’ bicycle/unicycle dance hadn’t been kind of all over the place, I still think the girls would have nailed the top score.
AWKWARD: Gino and Zack do an emotional dance about Anthony’s late father. While I generally love when choreographers use their own emotional experiences to inspire movement, this was probably not the best venue to honor your dad who died only one week earlier, Anthony. Plus, this routine, while sweet, was pretty darn boring. Only Candy Apples would bring in fabulous dancers from all across the country and then give them choreography that’s mostly just hugging and caressing each other. Where’s the dancing?! Abby, as usual, was honest about not liking the dance, and the Apples freaked out. It all ended in a ridiculous fight where Cathy cried because no one had her back. The dads get all awkward and uncomfortable, except for Jalen’s dad, who has clearly decided that his life goal is to live up Cathy’s butt. Then Gino’s dad asks to join the ALDC. Sigh… In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the biggest fan of the adults associated with Candy Apples.
AWESOME: Chloe and Maddie dancing together. Thank goodness we get to take a break from this little battle (although it looks like it’s coming back in full force on the next episode…). Again, their synchronization was insane. That first place win was no surprise. Now the question is: How is Abby going to decide who goes on the top of the pyramid next week?
AWKWARD: Mom Kelly, for this entire episode. I don’t even know where to start. First, Abby told her that both Brooke and Paige would be featured at competition, which upset her for a reason I must have missed. Then Mom Jill stirred up trouble and Mom Christi yelled in Paige’s face. So now Kelly has an actual reason to be upset, but says she’s not upset. Then both her daughters do really well, so she cries and says she’s leaving the ALDC. I’m confused…
AWESOME Brooke gets to dance with the seniors! Oh, was Brooke too old for this group of munchkins? Of course she was! She’s not quite at the seniors' level yet, but at least she’s finally being challenged. And holy beautiful dancers, Abby. It’s eye opening to see how well-trained and professional Abby’s kids grow up to be (yup, she knows what she’s doing!). To make this little twist even better, cute 17-year-old Kevin is a part of this dance, and he takes Brooke on a date (because Abby makes him). Turns out, Kevin can eat a lot of dessert. I think these two are just precious together. Can I be invited to their wedding, please?
Time for the QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Miss Abby always says, no boys, no boys. But this is the second date she’s set me up on!” – Brooke
And, just for kicks, here’s a fun fact that will blow your mind: ALDC dancer Kevin (Brooke’s date) and Candy Apples dancer Gino (Maddie’s crush) are BROTHERS! Both beautiful dancers, they study at Dance Attack in Miami, FL. (Apparently, Kevin’s been competing this piece with ALDC as a guest all season.) Oh Lifetime, as if this show wasn’t scripted enough…
That’s all for this week. Tune in next week for more “Dance Moms” fun and, of course, another recap.
Looks like those private lessons on facial expressions really stuck with Kendall.
Nothing thrills me more than a two-hour episode of "Dance Moms"—unless that means two hours of Cathy. This week’s "Candy Apple Showdown" had no shortage of the scheming leading lady, not to mention uncomfortably long catfights and confrontations. However, double the "Dance Moms" does mean double the dancing, and I couldn’t wait to see the routines we’d been teased with in last week’s pyramid. Here are my top three AWESOME and AWKWARD moments.
AWESOME: Cathy’s dream team. I hate to admit it, and I credit none of this to Cathy herself, but her group of “Apple Cores”—three incredible boys (including Zack from Abby’s Ultimate) and new girl Victoria—is a force to be reckoned with. I can already tell from rehearsal footage that their level of technique paired with Anthony Burrell’s choreography is going to be stunning.
AWKWARD: The Christi/Kristie showdown. These two share a bad attitude as well as a name. As soon as Kristie Ray was introduced to the moms, I knew this face-off was in the works…but I was hoping it wouldn’t be this awful. Colorful (to say the least) insults flew, making me eager for the scene to end. Unluckily for me, the two were at it again multiple times throughout the episode. The topic? Whether or not 7-year-old Asia Ray ever cried. Abby overhears them fighting and deems it wise to revive the argument in the dressing room in front of all of the girls. She mentions (in front of Chloe) that she hopes mom Christi gets slapped in the face. Nice.
AWESOME: The moms take Brooklyn! At a local bar, Kelly and Christi recap their subway experience, explaining their fear of being trapped forever beneath the city streets, forced to “eat bugs” to survive. A very skeptical Dr. Holly replies: “I do want to remind you that a subway is not in a rainforest or a jungle. It is in an urban environment.” Great to see the moms having fun together amidst all the drama (even if Jill is unsure if it’s NYC or L.A. that’s known as “the city that never sleeps”).
AWKWARD/AWESOME: Jalen and Vivi. I may not be a fan of Cathy, but Vivi-Anne seriously cracks me up. Last week, Cathy interrogated a reluctant Vivi about a possible budding romance with breaker Jalen. This week, we see the youngsters exchanging deep personal information, including (but not limited to) their favorite colors and video games. Things get a bit more serious as they share their sentiments regarding the drama between their parents in the studio—an awkwardness Vivi quickly counteracts by finding a quarter on the floor.
AWESOME: SOLOS! Asia's turn as a fierce and feisty robot (in a Buzz Lightyear-esque costume), Maddie’s flawless lyrical piece, Chloe’s elegant and sharp contemporary number, and Kendall’s sassy jazz dance were all on point this week. Asia and Maddie took first in their divisions, Chloe third (tied with Zack) and Kendall fourth. All received hugs and congratulations from Abby—a reward that's probably harder to earn than a first-place trophy!
AWKWARD: Anthony and Cathy ripping poor Paige to shreds. Everyone knows that talking about another dancer at a competition is a huge mistake—not only are you poorly representing yourself and your studio, but you’re probably sitting only a row or two away from that dancer’s family, friends and teammates. The looks on Paige and Kelly’s faces were heartbreaking—but I must say I was incredibly impressed with Paige for having the courage to face the perpetrators. We love you, Paige!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Cathy didn’t beat me. One little girl who she stole, three little boys who she stole, and a guest choreographer beat me. That, I can handle.” -Abby
We’re left with a horrifying cliffhanger: Abby warns the moms that she’s looking for property in L.A., perhaps to relocate and open a new studio. After that, I had no choice but to sit through the first 15 minutes of "Preacher’s Daughters" in order to see the promised “exclusive sneak peek at the 'Dance Moms' summer premiere”—and it didn’t disappoint.
Be sure to tune in next week for more drama (and hopefully full dances!) in a mid-season reunion special, and mark your calendars for the return of new episodes on June 4th!