Two stars from the Lifetime reality TV show "Dance Moms" visited a Hoffman Estates dance studio Saturday, much to the delight of more than 60 young dancers -- and their moms -- who came from across the Northwest suburbs to meet the duo.
During a three-hour visit 11-year-old Chloe Lukasiak danced with local students at The Dance Project, 1762 W. Algonquin Road, in two classes led by one of her choreographers. Chloe and her mom, Christi, also participated in a Q-and-A session, signed autographs and took pictures with fans, who ranged from ages 9 to 18.
Studio director Lisa Gomez said the event -- which was limited to select participants because of space -- was the idea of her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, who saw on Twitter that Christi and Chloe were visiting dance studios on the East Coast. Sarah urged her mom try contacting Christi to see if she could visit their studio and they surprisingly got a response.
Gomez said she liked the idea because she knew a lot of her students are fans of the show, which follows a group of moms and their daughters during dance competition season as they are taught by renowned instructor Abby Lee Miller.
"Students at both studios just love to dance," Gomez said, adding that she thinks her daughter is a huge fan because like the girls on the show she "grew up" at the dance studio. "They come to the studio to work on their passion of dancing."
While they may have similar dreams and interests, the biggest difference between Gomez's students and the girls at Abby Lee Miller Dance Company is the drama, Gomez said.
"We have nowhere near the drama," she said, adding that she hopes the show doesn't give dance studios a bad rap because she believes a lot of the scenes are set up for TV. "Between the moms, the moms and the directors -- we don't have that. We try hard to be a happy family at the studio."
Abby Lee Miller's students also learn routines much quicker and dedicate more time to their hobby.
"The kids on the show learn a dance in the matter of a week," Gomez said. "We take several months to learn a routine."
Chloe, who usually avoids the drama on "Dance Moms," was "just as sweet as she is portrayed on the show. She jumped right into class with the other kids and danced alongside them," Gomez wrote in an email.
Christi, she added, chatted with the local dance moms while the students participated in a class and that she too was "super nice, down to earth, easy to talk with and very candid."
"Everyone felt very comfortable around her," Gomez said.