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EXCLUSIVE! The advice Chloé Lukasiak would give herself before the very first episode of Dance Moms is... (plus reunion tea!)

At the top of our "what to watch" pyramid this week? The Dance Moms reunion (airing on Lifetime Wednesday, May 1 at 8 p.m. ET and streaming the next day on Lifetime's website) starring most of the legendary OG all grown up. 

If you saw even a single episode/Insta fan edit/TikTok reenactment of the iconic reality series (which, if you have been alive in any portion of the past 12 years, is extremely likely) then you remember Chloé Lukasiak. 

Chloé, who was only 9 years old when the series began, was quickly painted as the "underdog" of the show—and of her studio in Pittsburgh, Pa. where she'd grown up dancing for the soon-to-be infamous (and v. controversial) dance teacher Abby Lee Miller. Each week of the show's filming, Chloé and her teammates  would compete to beat other studios (and each other!) and win not only dance competitions but a prized spot in Abby's pyramid rankings of the girls. In the early seasons, producers and audiences zeroed in on the rivalry between Chloé and Abby's then-favorite student Maddie Ziegler. 

Now nearly 23 years old, a college graduate and the proud co-founder of her own dance competition Elevé, Chloé got real with Girls' Life about the pressures of growing up onscreen and stage, how "Team Chloe" changed her for good, what we can expect in the reunion (and why she said yes to returning to begin with), her friendships with her former castmates (Kalani Hilliker, Brooke and Paige Hyland, JoJo Siwa and Kendall Vertes all return for the reunion special, while Nia Sioux and Mackenzie and Maddie Ziegler declined to join) and whether or not she'd do the whole experience all over again.

Girls' Life: When the opportunity to do a Dance Moms reunion came about, your reaction was...

Chloé: "I think I should do this—not for anyone else, just for me." I had a lot of experiences of thinking I was closing the book and then another season got renewed, then another. I never had any closure. I spent quite a few years after the show [ended] trying to put it in the past and move on...and it felt very unfinished. I remember sitting there fiming on the third day [of the reunion special] and thinking, "OK, I can move on now." 

GL: Anything you're nervous to potentially see when the reunion airs?

Chloé: When we first sat down, we all did our introductions then the producer turned to me, like, "OK, we're going to start with you, Chloé." I immediately started crying. I'm pretty anxious to see that.

When Dance Moms was airing, I was a kid, so I didn't really experience anxiety over it. Now as an adult, I'm nervous about what people are going to say on social media so I'm nervous to see if I made myself look foolish just sitting there sobbing for, like, 15 minutes! 

But more than that I'm excited to watch all of us get to reflect together. We have a great relationship—we've kept in contact since the end of the show and it's such a bond unlike any other so it'll be exciting to see us reminisce on our childhood together. It'll be a whirlwind. 

GL: Recently, it feels like there's been a wave of a lot of child stars revisiting and reflecting on what made them famous. Social media and streaming have also kept Dance Moms relevant and gaining new fans over a decade later. Why do you think the show and its stars have continued to stay relevant?

Chloé: There's something about it—I can't fully figure it out—but when it was airing, I was like, Oh, this is a popular show. And now it's even more popular, maybe because of TikTok and social media. I was at an event last weekend and someone was telling me how she watched the show when it was airing and now her daughter is watching it, like, without even telling her about it. I was like, oh, so this is going to happen for generations. I think young girls, especially who dance, are just called to it. 

GL: And why do you think, despite many attempts, no one since has been able to replicate that kind of Dance Moms energy?

Chloé: Honestly, our bond was genuine. I think you can't manufacture the history we had—I've known most of the girls since I was 2 years old, so we actually had a very genuine connection and friendship. Later on, I think people would watch and kind of develop this game plan, like I'm going to go on [the show] and be *this* type of character and really stand out in this way, whereas for us it was very real. It was our real lives. The only thing that changed was that we competed every weekend and there were cameras, but the group was the same and Abby was the same. It was all very organic. I think when they try to piece things together, they lose the spark.

GL: Tell us about your bond with the cast in 2024—nearly 13 years after the show premiered. Who do you talk to the most?

Chloé: With the reunion, it's been pretty much a year of just constant communication again. It feels really good to be so in contact. But I pretty much kept in touch with everyone since the show—I talk to Kalani, to Nia, to Brooke, I see Paige—just not as a group. Nia and I really got close after the show. I consider all of them close friends, but Nia and I moved to LA at the same time and lived close and saw each other all the time. We're just really similar and we talk all the time. But it's hard to pick one over the other. They genuinely feel like my other sisters. 

GL: As the show aired, sometimes those genuine friendships got overshadowed by all the rivalries. Did "Team Chloe" shape how you viewed yourself growing up?

Chloé: Oh, completely. I don't know if it was just me being naive, but it was not clicking to me that it was, like, a competition between the two of us [Chloé and Maddie]. I was just, like, "OK, I'm here to dance." It just didn't occur to me but now that I look back, it's very obvious that we were constantly competing for first place or whatever. I'm actually really grateful that my experience was what it was—I feel like I'm empathetic, I work really hard—and I am completely who I am because of that intense competition at that young age.

GL: Did you see yourself as the underdog then?

Chloé: I think I heard a lot of others labeling me that way so I kind of took that on. But I don't think, if I hadn't heard them saying it, that I would've felt that way. I was just there to compete, to do my best then move on. 

GL: And how about now?

Chloé: I definitely don't see myself that way now. I think it was a struggle—for a while I had to cross that bridge of, like, OK, you're not always losing, you're not always second place, you are good enough on your own but it took a minute to get there.

GL: Anything you thought was normal while filming that makes you kinda shocked today?

Chloé: Cameras! I thought it was normal. Now that I make YouTube videos and vlog my days it's, like, oh, it's not that normal to film your everyday life. I think the transition into YouTube was so normal to me. Growing up, people knew where I lived. They knew my birthday, where I was born, my sister and just, like, every fact about my life. I thought it was so normal until, honestly, a few years ago.

GL: Do you ever think about what it would be like to *not* have all those people knowing every fact about your life?

Chloé: A little bit! Every once in a while, I play around with the idea of, like, what if I just disappeared off the face of the earth and could just be completely normal. It's really strange how we walk the line—all of us—like, I still get recognized multiple times per day, just walking around out and about. Someone will walk up and be, like, "are you Chloé from Dance Moms?!" 

But aside from that I am completely normal! I just graduated college and I'm figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I'm ordinary in every other way so it's a strange balance. For the kids who are on Disney or something, their lives are changed so profoundly—like, they clearly live a different life than everyone else. We kind of walk that weird line.

GL: Tell us a little more about your, well, normal world in 2024. 

Chloé: I graduated in December. I got a degree in creative writing. I moved out of LA...I'm temporarily in Pittsburgh but actually relocating somewhere very fun in the fall. And I started my dance competition: Elevé Dance Competition.

I co-founded it with three other women and it's really about just changing the narrative in the dance world. Even outside the show, the dance world is notoriously pretty negative. So a couple of years ago, we were like, "what if we made our own dance competition that kind of provided a safe space for dancers who are passionate but don't get to experience it in a positive way." So it's really our aim to create this uplifting experience. The first year has been going really well and we're planning the second year right now so I'm really excited about that.

GL: Do you ever dance yourself? What's your relationship to dance?

Chloé: It's been a roller coaster. I continued to dance competitively after I left the show—just at a different studio. Then, actually right before COVID [lockdown], I took my last dance class...not realizing it would be my last dance class. For a couple of years afterward, I thought I would never dance again, that it was in the past.

Then a couple of semesters ago, I needed a one-credit class and the only class available was Beginner Ballet. So I took it. I was like, "easy A!" And it actually rekindled, I don't know, some love of dance for me. It's all been very slow. There are a few studios at my gym so sometimes I pop in, put on some music and turn or stretch or do something. I dont know what's next—can't say for certain.

GL: So with all the ups, downs, friendships, rivalries, struggle and joy...would you do it all over again?

Chloé: In a heartbeat. I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason. Everything I went through shaped me, so I wouldn't want to run the risk of not maturing or learning in the way I was supposed to. But I would tell myself: How others perceive you is not your truth and it doesn't have to define you. It goes back to that underdog label. People cheer for you, you're supported...but at the same time, it feels like I'm just that person who will always be second best. 

GL: Your final words of wisdom before we watch the reunion?

Chloé: You are not restricted to the definition others have for you. You are bigger than that and you can go beyond that. Listen to yourself—be the kind of person you want to be.

Stream the Dance Moms reunion HERE starting May 2!

Obsessed with Dance Moms? Then here's what to read next:
🩰 "The time I met the original cast of Dance Moms" One GL girl's story
🩰 Pressley Hosbach on how she booked Dance Moms...and how joining the reality show changed her life forever
🩰 Elliana Walmsley is embracing her "clean girl" era (with a dash of drama, obvi) 

Images: Lifetime.


by Katherine Hammer | 5/1/2024