GiaNina Paolantonio Kicks Off the Next Generation of "Dance Moms"
Those who thought Abby Lee Miller’s one-year prison sentence marked the end of the Dance Moms era are wrong: the popular Lifetime series is making a comeback with a new cast of tween and teen dancers, including 13-year-old GiaNina Paolantonio. At age nine, the young dancer stepped into the spotlight as Amanda Thripp in Broadway’s Matilda. Since then, she has danced for both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets dance teams, performed with Mariah Carey at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting and on her “All I Want for Christmas Is You” tour in New York and Las Vegas, and was featured as a principal ballerina in The Greatest Showman. Recently, Paolantonio made multiple appearances on Lip Sync Battle Shorties as a part of the Big Battle Dance Crew, and she also joined “Team Capezio.” In the midst of her busy lifestyle, the tween took the time to reflect on her next endeavor at the Abby Lee Dance Company, including if Miller is truly as tough as she seems.
When did you first start dancing? What about it appealed to you the most?
I began to dance when I was 15 months old. My mother is a dance teacher, and she always brought me to the dance studio as a baby while she taught. I used to run around the studio in my walker during class trying to do what the other kids were doing and bumping into them. My first class was a “mommy and me” class she was teaching, and the rest is history. I guess I was born to dance.
What is your favorite style of dance and why?
My favorite style of dance is lyrical because I get to express my passion and emotions through my movements and tell a story to everyone watching.
What was the audition process like for Dance Moms?
The audition for Dance Moms was a very long process. It began with filling out paperwork, which lead to a few Skype interviews with casting directors. After that, I was then invited to attend the in-person, two-day audition with a select group of 21 kids from all across America. I learned choreography and had a chance to dance for Miss Abby and the team of producers. After the two days, the 21 kids were narrowed down to the top 11, and it was a waiting game from then on. Three months later, I found out I made the team when Miss Abby posted it on her Instagram.
Any funny moments not caught on camera that you can share?
We all have so much fun being around our teammates, and there isn’t a day that goes by when something hilarious doesn’t happen. We all really enjoy being around each other, which leads to a ton of laughter.
How do you deal with Abby’s strict nature? Does it make you upset when you’re at the studio?
Abby is a wonderful person and coach. She’s strict, but that’s the only way to bring the best out of her dancers. She can be brutally honest, but I would rather have that than someone always telling me I’m great and can’t do anything wrong. To become great, you must be challenged. It can make you upset at times, but that is all part of the process.
How does your mom help you stay strong while training at the ALDC?
My mom has been by my side throughout this entire process, and it makes it even better that she can experience this with me. She is so strong and passionate about dance that this is second nature to her, as she has been teaching for 27 years. She has seen it all in dance, so her guidance is immeasurable to me.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are unclear right now because I want to stay in the moment and do my best to be the best dancer I can be while on Dance Moms. Whatever comes next, I will take it as it comes and listen to my heart while continuing to pursue my dreams in the entertainment industry.
This or That:
Ballet or hip-hop? Hip-Hop
Group dance or duet? Duet.
Nickelodeon or Disney? Disney.
Beauty or fashion? Both!
Cupcakes or cookies? Also, both!