'Dance Moms' gets off on a loud foot

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Christi helps her daughter Chloe get ready for

Christi helps her daughter Chloe get ready for a performance in the new Lifetime Reality Series Dance Moms, premiering Wednesday, July 13, 2011, at 10 pm on Lifetime Television. Photo Credit: Scott Gries /Lifetime Television /

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Oh, yes, there's dancing, too -- 8-year-old girls strutting through "tough love" from Pittsburgh drill, oops, dance-team instructor Abby Lee Miller. "I produce stars," Miller says by way of introducing herself to the camera. "I'm preparing them for a career, so that when they get to real life, they're ready."

Ho-Kay, I guess -- so long as the kid is truly into dance and Mom can offer support when Miller stomps on the kid's feelings. But no, these are hard-nosed stage moms. "My ex-to-be claims that dance has ruined our marriage," says Melissa, whose "star" kid gets scant comfort upon complaints of stomach pains. Mom Christi admits, "I do find myself at times putting dance before school," spending $16,000 annually in the process. And Dawn the minister pitches such a fit over fairness that Miller calls the cops, reporting, "She does not have weapons, just her mouth."

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That's all a countdown to the week's big competition in Phoenix.

MY SAY These ladies, using the word advisedly, do the job they're there to do. Which is yelling, carping, bragging, bullying, drinking and overdramatizing. Miller more than matches them, in heated confrontations that play like pro wrestlers' bile-laden ringside showdowns. That's entertainment!

But what about the kids?

BOTTOM LINE Inexorably transfixing, whether you're taking names or taking notes.

GRADE B

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