Long before the world got to know Abby Lee Miller on ‘Dance Moms’, Gianna Martello was just another one of her dedicated students. Now, thanks to the insane popularity of ‘Dance Moms’, Gianna (a.k.a. Gia) gets to put her amazing choreography on display for all to see. And ZLife caught up with Gianna on the road to get a glimpse of how it all began.
ZLife: How did you get started dancing at the Abby Lee Dance Company as a young girl?
Gianna: Well, everyone in my family danced. My mom, my grandma, my aunt. So I fell into it when I was 4 years old. Back then, there was no such thing as the internet, so my mom searched the phonebook for a dance studio and there was one HUGE ad in it that was black and red and stood out. My mom took me to the studio to watch classes and I sat upstairs, just like you see on ‘Dance Moms’. She said to me, “This is the place. This is awesome.” And I’ve been there ever since!
ZLife: So, is Abby Lee Miller as tough as she looks?
Gianna: It’s funny, everyone says she’s so tough on the girls on the show, but I remember her being way tougher on my group. She used to take us to all our competitions in New York City. So, we would all pile into her car at 2am, drive to New York, compete at 8am, and go back home. One summer we stayed at her house in Florida and went to every dance competition in the state. It was pretty intense. But I knew this was what I wanted to do, so it drove me.
ZLife: She sounds so intense, but what would we be surprised to learn about Abby Lee?
Gianna: She’s such a sweetheart and would probably go to the ends of the earth for me or any of her students. I once had to do an interview for a pageant and she hated the shoes I had on with my suit. She drove me to Macy’s and we got there at 9:28 – mind you they close at 9:30 – and she convinced the staff to stay open for us for one hour to make sure I had the right look for my pageant. She’s an incredibly nice person.
ZLife: What has been a career highlight for you?
Gianna: The show in general and getting to be an assistant choreographer for all these amazing little girls. When I was 16, I started teaching the youngest kids class at ALDC and Maddie Ziegler happened to be in the class. It’s been so awesome and I’m so thankful.
ZLife: Who is your dream person to work with?
Gianna: I’d love to choreograph for JLo or Meghan Trainor. And I’ve been following Travis Wall’s career [from So You Think You Can Dance] since I was little, so I’d love for him to choreograph a dance for me. He’s unbelievable. So incredible.
ZLife: Okay, time for some rapid fire questions. What’s your favorite type of dance to choreograph?
Gianna: A mix between lyrical and contemporary, because I love the musicality of contemporary, but I’m a big fan of technique which I get from Abby.
ZLife: Favorite dance movie?
Gianna: Center Stage. I could probably recite every word to that movie.
ZLife: Favorite dance move?
Gianna: Anything leg-wise that shows off my flexibility and my technique. That’s always been my thing.
ZLife: Favorite song to dance to?
Gianna: I love all of Rihanna’s stuff right now.
ZLife: Favorite move to incorporate into a Zumba class?
Gianna: Maybe some jazz, a fan-kick or two!
ZLife: Favorite piece of advice to give out?
Gianna: Just keep going, never stop. If you don’t win a competition, it’s the opinion of three people. Keep competing. If you love to do this, you will succeed.
ZLife: And last, but not least, what are you doing right this second?
Gianna: I’m actually in Vegas waiting for my dance kids to compete in Nationals! We’ll be back in the studio in September.