Dance Moms has not only taken the U.S. by storm, but the world too. Gianna Martello is a key member of the hit reality TV show. As the choreographer for the girls within the Abby Lee Dance Company, Gianna certainly knows a thing or two about dancing. Having been in the company and been a dancer for Abby in the past, Gianna coaches the girls to become the superstars that they are and creates the beautiful routines you can see on the show.
Gianna Martello rose to fame very quickly after the show became so popular. We wanted to know more about how she dealt with the sudden status, her fitness routine as a dancer and her favourite part about what she does.
“These little girls that they had on the show at the beginning were, and still are, seriously talented. It wasn’t like they were on TV for doing something silly, or became famous for doing something crazy. They were becoming famous because of their talent and because of their dancing — I think that’s so great.” – Gianna Martello
Taylor Magazine: You’ve been on Dance Moms since it began – how did you get involved?
Gianna Martello: I grew up dancing for the ALDC (Abby Lee Dance Company) and I was part of the competition team, so I was one of Abby’s main dancers during my years dancing. I was one of the five or six that she took under her wing – basically who she took to competitions and auditions and got really close to. When I graduated from the studio and from high school, I went to college around 30 minutes from the studio and I started teaching at the ALDC as my college job. When my roommates and friends all had college jobs, my job was teaching dancing! We actually got the show the month I graduated college, so it all fell into place. People ask me if I auditioned or tried out and I always say I was doing this waaaay before the TV show! I think Nia was in one of the very first classes that I taught when I was 16.
Taylor Magazine: Wow – 16 is so young!
Gianna Martello:: I go way, way back — with the studio and with the girls!
Taylor Magazine: Do you have a close relationship with the girls?
Gianna Martello:: We are really close! With the girls and their families.
Taylor Magazine: Why do you think that the show has become so popular? What do you think it is that makes it so successful?
Gianna Martello:: I think it’s so popular because the concept has never really been done before. We hit it right at the mark when reality TV was becoming huge. These little girls that they had on the show at the beginning were, and still are, seriously talented. It wasn’t like they were on TV for doing something silly, or became famous for doing something crazy. They were becoming famous because of their talent and because of their dancing — I think that’s so great. I think the show is everyone’s guilty pleasure too!
Taylor Magazine: Everyone loves a dance show! What is also nice is that the girls are doing something that they genuinely love to do.
Gianna Martello: Yeah exactly — it’s not like we’re following them to the mall to get their nails done. We’re following them progressing and growing.
Taylor Magazine: What do you think is your biggest achievement so far whether that’s in relation to dancing or just in life itself?
Gianna Martello: I guess finding out that choreography was my niche! It’s really hard to choreograph for six seasons in a row, non-stop. I talk to other dance teachers and they say that they choreograph for their studio for the year and that’s enough. I choreograph three to four numbers… a week! I suppose my biggest achievement must be surviving the show and coming out alive!
Taylor Magazine: What difficulties do you face working on a reality TV show?
Gianna Martello: Probably two things… One: there always has to be drama. I know we try to keep the dancing, the girls and everything that revolves around them really positive but there does have to be the other side of the show that people love watching too. That’s quite hard for us and the girls. Two: we struggle with people always commenting, always watching and having eyes on us all of the time. One wrong move or mistake and it all blows up. Criticism is everywhere!
Taylor Magazine: How do you come up with different choreography ideas?
Gianna Martello: Once a week myself, Abby and our production creative team will have a meeting and discuss the creative ideas: who is dancing, what their music is, what the themes are. We come up with a rough blueprint and then Abby will tell me what she wants and I’ll run with her idea! It happens so quickly — when people see that the girls learn their routine in around a week, we learn it in a day or two.
Taylor Magazine: How do the girls keep up with the fast pace of the show? Do they struggle or take it in their stride?
Gianna Martello: At the beginning we had some struggles but now, it’s so normal to them. Learning a routine and perfecting it quickly is simply second nature to them. They totally excel at it now.
Taylor Magazine: Some of the girls, for example Maddie Ziegler, have become extremely famous. How have they dealt with the fame?
Gianna Martello:: The fame came really fast and they were so young when it happened too. They didn’t really know what was happening. Maddie has faced a lot of criticism but she has done so well, with just being really sweet and super positive. She’s just such a normal kid.
Taylor Magazine: That is so important when you’re growing up, to keep that normality in life.
Gianna Martello: Exactly, and to not get carried away with your surroundings and stay grounded. All the girls have done a really good job with that.
Taylor Magazine: And with yourself, how did you cope with the quick rise to fame?
Gianna Martello: I’m on the show from time to time but I’m more behind the scenes. I did see it coming, but I saw it coming for the girls much more. I didn’t really think that I was that popular until little things started happening — I was at the mall one day and there was a little girl hiding behind a rack of clothes trying to take my picture. I ended up approaching the girl and being like, ’You can just ask me for a picture – of course I’ll take a picture with you!’
Taylor Magazine: It must be so strange realising that so many people know who you are!
Gianna Martello: Yeah! I went to a baseball game and there were all these girls screaming my name. I was like, ‘This is so weird!’
Taylor Magazine: If you didn’t dance as a career, what would you do instead?
Gianna Martello: I’m really into make-up, fashion and hair. Maybe a stylist?
Taylor Magazine: With regards to being a dancer and choreographer, your fitness routine must be intense. What are your tips and tricks to staying healthy and in shape?
Gianna Martello: I do hot yoga a lot and I have a gym in my apartment but I definitely do not go often enough! It’s so hard when we’re in season and filming because we’re so busy. It’s so hard to do anything when we’re filming because I go to work and then come home and I don’t want to hear anyone talk or do anything… I just want to lay down! I do get back into fitness a lot more when we’re not filming though. I’m also not a junk food eater at all — I don’t like eating sweet things but I’ve always been like that, so it’s not hard for me.
Taylor Magazine: When you’re filming you must be doing lots of exercise anyway!
Gianna Martello: Totally, I don’t even think I breathe when we’re filming!
Taylor Magazine: Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see the show going and what do you think will happen in the future?
Gianna Martello: Oh my gosh… I have no idea. We never expected the show to go this long, so I cannot even imagine where it’s going to go now! I just permanently re-located to L.A. and to the West Coast because I was commuting between here and Pittsburgh (where I’m from) for a few years and I finally made the move so I’m focusing on that right now and everything else, we’ll just have to see!