By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Monday, June 27, 2016
The comparisons are obvious between Dianna "Miss D" Williams of "Bring It!" and Abby Lee Miller of "Dance Moms" on the same network.
Both are tough-talking, aggressive, successful dance coaches. They work with a group of talented female dancers with equally contentious stage moms. "Dance Moms" came first, debuting in 2011 and has aired a whopping 173 episodes. "Bring It!" followed in 2014 and is now in its third season.
But Williams is doing something "Dance Moms" never did: host a national tour using the top members of her Mississippi Dollhouse team. And she's filling theater-sized venues such as Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre on Wednesday. Based on ticket sales as of Monday, the Fox is almost full. (Buy tickets here.)
"It will be a mixture of things you've seen on the show, fan favorites, plus new material," said Williams from Baton Rouge last week, where the tour began and will run through August. "It's very different from what you see on TV. It's unedited. You'll see the girls performing. You'll feel the love and excitement. You'll feel empowered."
While the parents often make a ruckus on the TV show, they will be well off stage. "They won't even be allowed back stage," Williams said. "This is about the children! They can stand in the lobby for all I care!"
Williams never thought of doing TV until the idea was posed to her. But ultimately, she is comfortable just being her outspoken self. "We're real," she said. "Our kids ride school buses. They have homework. They are not home schooled."
And she's proud to bring something positive to Jackson, Miss. "Most people don't even know where Jackson, Miss. is and that something as notable and amazing as this comes out of there," she said. "We're proud of where we're from and doing a hip-hop dance style that has been popular in the South for years. I love that we can share it with the world."
Clearly, the show has benefited Williams, who started her first dance team in 2001. She now has two dance schools (one in Jackson, another in Birmingham) and more than 400 students.
For the girls who are featured on the show, she said they gain plenty from the exposure but is well aware of cyberbullying. "You meet a lot of amazing fans but also some people who are rude and feel entitled," Williams said. "With me, I think sometimes the girls now if they're ever with me, I will protect them. They don't have to worry about being afraid."
Many of the girls she has worked with over the past 15 years are now adults. Some have gone on to medical and law school. Some are parents bringing in their own kids to her schools. She sees how her tough love helped many of them navigate life outside of dance school.
"They have learned determination and how to sustain a job," she said. "All that rehearsal helped them in college studying for tests."
Williams has also managed to stay out of legal trouble. Miller on Monday pled guilty to one count of concealing bankruptcy assets and one count of not reporting an international monetary transaction. She could face 24 to 30 months in prison.
"Whatever situation she's going through, I'm praying for her," Williams said.
The future of "Dance Moms" is in doubt. "We are still watching everything closely as it all unfolds and will keep you posted if anything with the show changes," a spokeswoman said.
Here are some moments from opening night of "Bring It Live!" in Baton Rouge:
“Bring It! Live”
7:30 p.m. Wednesday
$25-$55 before applicable fees
660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta