On October 25, 2013, Lifetime announced that they had picked up Dance Moms for a fourth season which debuted on January 1, 2014.
A third Dance Moms spin-off, Abby's Studio Rescue, was announced in April 2014. The series chronicles Abby Lee Miller as she visits dance studios across the country to assists them by improving their choreography, studio decor, staff and other aspects. It will premiere on June 17, 2014.
Set in Pittsburgh, Dance Moms follows the Abby Lee Dance Company's Junior Elite Competition team of young girls aged 8- to 15-years-old as they travel week-to-week to various competitions in hopes of a national title. Much of the program depicts the doting mothers as fellow rivals not only of each other but oftentimes as a group protecting the familiarity of the team. All of the performances shown on screen are choreographed by Miller, herself, with the exception of routines crafted by guest choreographers hired by Miller. Later in the program, Candy Apple's Dance Studio (located in Canton, Ohio) is introduced as a rivaling dance company.
Every week on the show, Abby uses a pyramid chart to show the moms and the dancers who she feels did the best in her eyes, and who needs to improve. Miller had never used a pyramid In her studio prior to Dance Moms, and when asked about the pyramid Miller stated in an interview, "I've never done that in my life. That has nothing to do with me. That's the show; they came up with that whole process." The pyramid changes every week, and it has been reflected that the moms' behavior can often affect the girls' placement on the pyramid.
Abby Lee Miller is the director of Reign Dance Productions (formerly Maryen Lorrain Dance Studio), which houses the Abby Lee Dance Company to which she is owner and chief choreographer.
Gianna Martello is an instructor for RDP specializing in all genres including tap dance, en pointe, and acrobatics, and is also the assistant choreographer for the ALDC Junior Elite Competition team.
Melissa Ziegler-Gisoni is the mother of Maddie, a lyrical dancer who also enjoys tap, and Mackenzie, a strong acro dancer. Ziegler was once a part-time receptionist for Miller's studio, but has since switched jobs to spend more time watching her daughters dance. Ziegler is perceived as a doting mother who encourages her daughters' blossoming careers, but is shown as defensive when the other mothers voice concern about Miller's own doting habits. In Season 4, Ziegler begins homeschooling her daughters to spend more time dancing.
Christi Lukasiak is the mother of Chloe, a skilled centemporary/lyrical dancer with strong ballet technique. Lukasiak was the owner of children's fitness franchise, but has since sold her business to spend more time with her growing family. Lukasiak is perceived as an opinionated woman and protective mother, especially when she feels her daughter is belittled by Miller. Miller sometimes dotes on Lukasiak's daughter's abilities, but often regulates to arguing about Miller's teaching technique or Lukasiak's daughter's emotionality.
Jill Vertes is the mother of Kendall, a strong jazz dancer with growing abilities in contemporary dance. Vertes was initially noted as a "studio hopper" and has since found her niche at Miller's studio after her daughter's audition in Season 2. Vertes, early on, was perceived as a brown-noser, but her daughter's growing abilities are well-spoken for.
Holly Frazier is the mother of Nia, a skilled acro dancer who also enjoys musical theater. Frazier was a full-time educator, and was once perceived as the most rational mother of Miller's teaching technique. Frazier has since given up her office career in an effort to spend time at the studio rediscovering her daughter's dance potential.
Kira Hilliker is the mother of Kalani, a strong centemporary/lyrical dancer who joins the ALDC amid Season 4. Hilliker was perceived as naive about the familiarity of the Elite team, but later becomes versed in the mothers' voices while finding her own. Prior to joining the ALDC, Hilliker and her daughter appeared on Season 2 of AUDC.
Leslie Ackerman is the mother of Payton, a Senior dancer often used as a swing when a dancer is unable to perform. Ackerman is perceived as head-strong and stubborn about her daughter's placement on the team despite Miller denying her membership after auditioning in Season 2, but her abilities allow her to perform on an irregular basis.
Kelly Hyland is the mother of Brooke and Paige. Appearing in 75 episodes and attending 60 competitions, Hyland was dis-invited from the ALDC in Season 4. [see below]
Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is the mother of Vivi-Anne. Stein left the ALDC on her own accord in Season 1 to return to her own studio, Candy Apples Dance Center.
Kristie Ray is the mother of Asia. Appearing in nine episodes and attending seven competitions, Ray left the ALDC on her own accord at the end of Season 3.
Jackie Lucia is the mother of Sophia. Appearing in three episodes and attending two competitions, Lucia left the ALDC on her own accord amid Season 3.
Shelly Serigne, Gloria Hampton, and Marcia Hoffheins are the mothers of Ally, Kaeli, and Bella respectively. These girls were members of the replacement team in Season 3.
Due to heavy criticism, the Season 2 episode "Topless Showgirls", which aired on March 6, 2012, has been removed from rotation. The episode features the young dancers performing a burlesque-style routine and wearing sequined, flesh toned bra tops and tights in an effort to simulate the idea they are nude. Miller defends her costume choice saying, "Everyone in the industry knows the girls are completely covered and everything's harmless." Lifetime confirms pulling the episode on March 23, 2012. The episode is not included on the DVD.
On January 29, 2014, Miller announced that Kelly Hyland and her two daughters Brooke and Paige are no longer contracted with and will no longer appear on Dance Moms as stated on an appearance with The View. Hyland was arrested in early January on alleged assault charges after a dispute backstage at a dance competition held in New York City during filming for the show's fourth season in November 2013. Hyland appeared in court with Miller on January 21, 2014 and pleaded "not guilty" to charges of physical assault. Proceedings were to resume in March. At the hearing in March, without explanation, a Bronx County Supreme Court Judge again adjourned the hearing to May 5, 2014. Legal expert Rosemarie Arnold opined that because the episode aired on TV, Kelly Hyland's defense that the "smack down" was scripted was a viable defense. The episode featuring the incident between Hyland and Miller aired on February 11, 2014.