On this past Tuesday’s episode of Dance Moms, then 10-year-old dancer Lilliana Ketchman is given an “ultimatum” by her notoriously-authoritarian instructor Abby Lee Miller. Either she performs her role in the group number perfectly, or she is benched at the next competition. Over the next 42 minutes, Lifetime’s audience of millions watches as Ketchman shoulders the pressure as gracefully as seems possible for a pre-teen, nailing the number and exploding into celebration as soon as she is off the stage and in the wings:
“I’m not going to be benched!”
The afternoon after her triumphant moment is broadcast, Lilly, who recently turned 11, steps into a TV studio in New York City, where we meet her for an interview.
“You were so amazing last night!” Cailin says as we lead Lilly and Stacey from the green room to the set. Three chairs await, one for each of us two, and one in the middle for Lilly, who cheerfully pulls herself up onto a stool.
“Thank you!” The camera hasn’t even started rolling, but Lilly is eager to spill the beans on the new season of Dance Moms.
“We yelled so much on stage for that number, but they cut so much of it out!” she laughs, already looking right at home in our office. As we finish setting up, she dives into stories about her on-set schooling experiences with the other young stars of Dance Moms.
“It’s kind of hard to focus on school, because one of the girls is always singing, and she’s not very good!” She oozes a charming mix of playful innocence and wit well beyond her years.
Just behind the camera, her mother, Stacey, who also stars on the series, has the same feel of a mom on the sidelines as her daughter plays a youth soccer game. Despite the way she and her fellow dance moms are portrayed on the show, Stacey comes across as laid-back, and trusting of her daughter as she interacts with new people. As a duo, she and Lilly seem grateful…and grounded.
The camera turns on, and Lilly picks right up where she left off, dishing on Dance Moms behind-the-scenes details from Abby Lee Miller’s persona on and off-camera to how she and the other dancers deal with pressure.
Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights on Lifetime.