Like Abby Lee Miller and the Pittsburgh Dance Moms and dancers before them, Victor Smalley, his pal and business partner Angel Armas, and their talented troupe of Stars Dance Studio dancers have become overnight TV superstars via their Lifetime reality show Dance Moms: Miami.
With their fans blowing up the Twitter-verse and mobbing them at airports and dance competitions across the country, Smalley and Co. are suddenly in demand around the clock. Still, he took a little time out to tell us about what makes his studio, his dancers and their show unique.
CGM: What was your reaction when you were first approached to do Dance Moms: Miami?
Victor Smalley: My first reaction was, “OMG! Are you sure you wanna see these crazy dance moms in action?” But on the other hand, I was excited to share my art and my kids with America.
You have television experience from So You Think You Can Dance. Did that help prepare you for having your studio taken over by the Dance Moms cameras? And did you have any advice to offer Angel, your mom and your students?
VS: My SYTYCD experience did help me and prepare me for the Dance Moms cameras. And the best advice I gave to everyone was be yourself!
How are you and Angel most alike — and how are you most different?
VS: Angel and I are most alike in the sense that we are artists, we love our kids, and we share the same passion for what we do.
Angel and I are most different in the way we are as people. I am young and free spirited, while Angel is strong, serious, strict and bold. Angel and I both see each other as equals, but we do have different roles in the studio. For example, I deal with more of what happens in the dance room, while he deals more with what happens outside such as parents, finances, etc.
It’s cool to see your own mom featured on the show. Was she a fiercely protective Dance Mom, too, when you were growing up — and does she have any advice to offer in dealing with the mothers of your students now?
VS: My mom was and still is a over protective dance mom! Sometimes too much! And her advice with dealing with the mothers is to just tell it like it is, be strong — and don’t let them walk all over you.
Did you watch the Pittsburgh Dance Moms — and if so, are there any takeaways that you’ve applied to Dance Moms: Miami?
VS: I do watch the Pittsburgh Dance Moms — but there is no takeaway I have applied to Dance Moms: Miami because we are completely different in every way!
What sets Dance Moms: Miami apart?
VS: I think what makes us different is the way we look at dance. We view dance as more of an art form rather than as a show. We love our kids and are not afraid to be hands on. I myself can demonstrate my choreography to a dancer, and I feel that helps out a lot because dancers are usually visual learners. Stars Dance Studio is trendy, edgy and glam … not as dated or safe.
I’m so happy to see Lucas in the cast! How important is it you that male and female dancers are featured on your show?
VS: Angel and I are boys, so it is great that we have boy dancer. Having a male in a group gives more opportunity and options for the story line. Dancing is not just for girls. It is for everyone and we are so happy we have a young boy that doesn’t care about what anyone thinks!
It is important to have both male and female dancers, because in the professional world, male and female dancers dance together all the time. I’m glad we can expose our girls to that at such a young age!
How important is it to you that the talent of your dancers is showcased as much as the natural drama that is generated by competition and competitive parents?
VS: It’s extremely important that the kids’ talents are shown on the show, because everything I do in this studio is solely for the kids! They are the only reason why I’m not in L.A. right now dancing myself.
And finally … Dance Moms and Dance Moms: Miami are among the most talked-about shows on our blog, and your fans are unbelievably devoted and passionate. How have you prepared yourself and your students for the sudden fame?
VS: I prepare the students by always reminding them to stay humble, because in dance, there is always going to be someone that is better than you! Also, I tell them to be leaders. A lot of kids look up to them and I want to them to be able to lead by example. Last but not least, I tell them to always be safe and protect yourself .
An all-new episode of Dance Moms: Miami — plus a sneak peek at the continuing season of Dance Moms — airs tonight in its new timeslot, 10/9CT, on Lifetime.
Video and images: © 2012 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks