The ugly side of the show aired last week involving a fight between Miller and former dance mom cast member Kelly Hyland.
Hyland and her two children were kicked off the show after a shouting match led to blows. Hyland was shown slapping Miller, although she says she was just warding off the aggressive dance instructor.
Hyland was charged with assault in the case and has sued Miller and the show’s production company Collins Avenue Entertainment, charging that Miller routinely abuses and bullies children on the show.
The incident was enough to prompt a backlash in the dance studio industry. Jann Davis, owner and president of Dance Studio By Design in Canton, MA., has started a petition on the Web site Change.org, urging Disney to reconsider the show.
“We believe that show portrays an unfair perspective of the dance studio industry,” she writes in her petition.
She argues that the show hurts dance studios that “act responsibly” in their teaching methods and says the show appears to violate Disney’s own programming standards.
The petition is one of ten that have been filed on the site, all of which call on Disney to cancel the show because of it’s abusive atmosphere.
“This show promotes children, girls as young as 8 years old, in blatant and overtly sexualized costumes and dance routines,” writes Cynthia Tyler of Antwerp, NY, on her petition.
“Abby Lee Miller (who has never danced professionally) continually and viciously lambastes these young children to draw attention to their bodies in sexual ways in order to win competitions,” she adds.
Most of the petitions complain about the sexualization of pre-teens on the show, and Miller’s abusive manner toward them. Miller is bill as a tough-talking, no-nonsense instructor, who routinely belittles her students and their parents.
During a recent episode of “Dance Moms,” Miller “coordinated a routine for her students that had them wearing tan bikinis that gave the appearance of full nudity, and trained them in sexualized ‘burlesque’ dance routines,” complained Justin Jurek of Virginia Beach, VA.
Many of the petitions pre-date last week’s show. Hyland’s daughters, Brooke, 16, and Paige, 13, were cast members.
Among the allegations, Hyland claims Miller threw a chair at Paige, upsetting the child so much her school work suffered, forcing her to seek out school counselors.
The show’s producers went out of their way to foster conflict between the chief choreographer and parents, according to the suit.
“Heated arguments would ensue and the conflicts could be recorded for dramatic television purposes to attract viewers each week,” the lawsuit states.
So far, Disney could not be reached for comment. Follow TheImproper on Twitter to get the latest updates on this story. We’ll follow up as soon as we hear from Disney or Lifetime.