Pa. Student Dances Her Way Onto Reality TV Show

While Gianna Newborg and her mom, Cindy Passanante, watched the first season of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition on the Lifetime network, different thoughts ran through each of their heads.
For Cindy, it was a chance to enjoy a fun reality TV show with her daughter.
But 13-year-old Gianna, who has taken extensive dance training since the age of 4, had other ideas.
At the end of the final episode, instructions for how to apply to be a contestant on Season 2 flashed on the screen.
"As soon as she saw that come up, Gianna ran for her computer and said 'I'm doing it!' " Cindy recalled.
And after an extensive interview and audition process, her dream became a reality.
Fast forward to Thursday afternoon when Gianna and her mom sat at their kitchen table, discussing their experience as cast members of the show's second season, which begins airing at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
It was a whirlwind that at times tested their relationship, but in the end, brought them closer than they ever expected.
The show focuses on competition between kids between the ages of 6 and 13.
And each contestant brings along his or her mother for support as they deal with the unique coaching style of host Abby Lee Miller, described on Lifetime's website as "the dance instructor everyone loves to hate."
According to Gianna, once they landed in Los Angeles to begin filming, they tried their best to stick to a plan that would hopefully help keep her focused on the competition.

"I knew it was going to be a lot of work and be really tough because we had to learn new dances in just a few days, but I said `my mom can deal with the drama and I'll just dance'," Gianna said with a laugh.
Gianna's longtime dance instructor and manager Maria Quezada of Dance on Q Performing Arts Center in South Brunswick, N.J., described the plan in a similar way.
"Cindy goes and entertains America and Gianna goes and dances for America," she added.
The outspoken mom said her main goal was to stick up for her daughter as best she could. And she wasn't about to let the cameras faze her.
"I was who I am in real life," Cindy said. "I was exactly that way on TV."
"My mom definitely had my back on anything and everything," Gianna added.
Adjusting to the constant filming was something Gianna had a little bit of a tougher time with _ especially knowing that she'd have to compete at the same time.
"I think everyone there was really good so it was pretty intimidating," added the Maple Point Middle School student. "And I was really nervous because I had never done anything like this before. It was completely new to me. But once all the kids started talking, we all noticed that we were all nervous. So I think that relaxed us a little bit."
The pair was not able to discuss many details of the show Thursday due to a legal agreement with the producers, but Gianna did say that she became friends with the other cast members and the group plans to make nationwide appearances together over the next few months.
"Gianna is such a humble girl," Quezada said. "She's definitely a role model and somebody to look up to. She has come back with so much experience and she's still the humble girl that she left as. She now has much knowledge and she's willing to share that knowledge (as a junior instructor at the dance studio) and that in itself speaks volumes of her. She's just such a grounded kid."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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