Ian Schmoke dances his way to fame

Senior Ian Schmoke dances on the well-known, reality TV show, “Dance Moms.”


Julie Schmoke

Senior Ian Shmoke is an up and coming dancing star who travels to Pittsburgh every day to train at Abby Lee’s Dance Studio. He appears frequently on the reality show Dance Moms, which you can view at the video link below. He’s shown here after winning the overall title at Nationals last summer.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Most kids get asked this question multiple times throughout their childhood. The typical response is usually, “A princess, an astronaut, or someone famous.”

Here at BAHS we have a student, Ian Schmoke, who started answering the question very early in life, and now he is making his very own dream come true. He is a part of the well-known reality TV show, Dance Moms.

Dance Moms is a reality TV series that debuted on Lifetime on July 13, 2011, and is currently in the fourth season as January 1, 2014.  The show takes place in Pittsburgh, and follows the early careers of Abby Lee Dance Company’s Junior Elite Competition team. Abby Lee Miller is the director, owner, and main choreographer of the Abby Lee Dance Company.

Along with staring the girls of the Junior Elite Company and Abby herself, the show also stars the moms of the young dancers. Appearances by the Senior Elite Company of Abby Lee Dance Company also occur, including appearances by Ian.

Dance Moms has aired in thirty-two countries and has over five-hundred million viewers,” said Ian Schmoke.

Ian dances four days a week, for at least five hours a day. A lot of times longer than that.

“The really neat thing is how many people recognize me. It’s amazing how many people watch the show,” he said.  “It’s announced when we go to certain competitions with the show and whenever we get there, there are always people waiting outside the theater or the hotel with phones and cameras just trying to get our pictures and film us walking in. It’s amazing to look back twelve years ago when I started this and think that I never thought I would end up where I am today, working with the show and professionals like I am now. It’s really a dream come true.”

Here are Ian’s answers to some questions asked by the BluePrint.

BluePrint: How long have you been dancing and where did you start out?

Ian: I have been dancing for twelve years and I started at Pauline Baker Rogers School of Dance.

BluePrint: How did you get started at Abby Lee’s?

Ian: I’ve known her for about six years now; I met her at a national competition. I was running against one of her students, and I ended up winning. After that, she invited me to come to dance camp at her studio. Abby then wanted me to train with her, but my dad was hesitant because of how expensive it is to train with Abby. We went back and forth to Pittsburgh for a few classes here and there and didn’t have to pay anything. Then, last summer Abby found me again at a national convention and told me that I needed to train with her to be ready to enter the work force in two years.

BluePrint: What is the best part about dancing?

Ian: The best part about dancing is that it is a form of expression without speaking or writing anything down. I can just show the way I feel when I hear the music playing.

Ian 1
Ian is shown here with Maddie and McKenzie, two of the stars of the show Dance Moms.

BluePrint: What is the best part of dancing for Abby Lee Miller?

Ian: The best part of dancing with Abby is learning all the new techniques and the training I get with her, and it’s really interesting to work with the filming crew. It’s a lot different than most people would think to learn how you have to look at the camera or how you have to stand to make yourself look taller. It teaches me a lot of things I will need to know for the future.

BluePrint: Why do you continue to dance?

Ian: I continue to dance because there is honestly nothing I love more than dance. It’s my passion, it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.

BluePrint: Do you like dancing for a famous teacher?

Ian: Yes, it definitely has its perks. People recognize me when I go to competitions and have my Abby Lee jacket on people know it’s from the show and they watch me because they know you must have talent to train with Abby. She has over sixty successful, professional dancers.

BluePrint: How is it seeing the girls from the TV show at the studio?

Ian: It’s not really any different. When I met Abby I met all them, and we became best friends. It was hard not seeing them all the time after the first year, but now I see them usually three or four days a week and I treat them just like all my best friends.

BluePrint: Is the cast of Dance Moms the same in person as on the show?

Ian: A lot of them are the same. Abby comes across mean on the show, but really she is just strict and expects a lot out of you. It’s honestly a good thing Abby is as strict as she is because when you audition, they will just cut you and tell you that you’re horrible if they don’t like you. The show kids are just regular kids like anyone else; they just happen to be on a TV show. Oh, the moms, I love the moms. All the moms are so nice and very supportive of me. They all are welcoming and will let me stay with them when I need too. It’s like we are all a family.

BluePrint: Do you ever get nervous dancing for and with such well-known people?

Ian: Oh, yes I get very nervous. Especially when Abby is in the audience because she is always front and center with her notebook ready to take notes. It really helps for auditions because you know what to expect then. Dancing with the girls on the show is not really that different because I dance with them every day in the studio. The only difference is when we are on stage.

BluePrint: Are you at the studio when they are recording Dance Moms?

Ian: Yes, they film Tuesday’s three to six, Wednesdays they start around 9 A.M., that’s when they do pyramid for the show and Abby tells the moms what they are doing for the week. They also film part of the day on Wednesday and on Thursday.

BluePrint: Have you been aired on Dance Moms?

Ian: Yes, I have filmed with them before and it was aired. Abby wants to utilize me a lot this year because I am going to be at the studio more.

BluePrint: Has Dancing at Abby’s helped you accomplish a lot?

Ian: I would definitely say so, before I was just an average dancer, I would win some competitions, but other at competitions I wouldn’t place. Dancing the last year at Abby’s, with all her choreography and training, there wasn’t one competition that I didn’t place at least in the top three.

It’s amazing to look back twelve years ago when I started this and think that I never thought I would end up where I am today, working with the show and professionals like I am now. It’s really a dream come true.”

— B-A senior Ian Shmoke

BluePrint: Will you continue to dance as a career after you finish high school or would you like to teach?

Ian: I’m looking to dance as a professional first. I’m looking into a lot of places, in Florida, Disney World employees a lot of dancers and it really pays well. They house you and everything. Another option I’m looking into is Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas because that has been a dream of mine since I have been a kid. My main goal is to eventually go out to California and do commercial work, music videos, and filming.

“Maddie has her chandelier video out and now has filmed two more in the past week for the same artist, Sia. Mackenzie has an album out, she just filmed a video to one of her songs and just recorded a Christmas album. “

BluePrint: How tough is it to dance and be a school student?

Ian: It’s very difficult, even though Mrs. Hartsock allowed me to have a condensed schedule. I have my four core classes, which are all very difficult because they are college level classes. There is a lot of homework that goes with taking college classes, and it is difficult to do because I drive myself to dance, which is an hour and a half away. I get home from school around one-thirty every day and I try to do as much homework as I can.