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Manteca studios students part of Lifetime show
Dance and Cheer Stars of Manteca dancers, from left, Alyssa Powers, Anasity Anaya, Tabitha Lira, and Kaylee Mejia were recently featured on the national TV show Dance Moms on the Lifetime channel. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

It’s high-energy and it’s high-intensity and its cutthroat and it’s brutal.
And as a group of dancers from Harmony Rebeiro’s Manteca Dance Stars learned that it’s all just made for television.
Earlier this year Rebeiro took a team of four of her top dancers – Kaylee Mejia, Tabitha Lira, Anasity Anaya and Alyssa Powers – down to Southern California for a live filming of the popular Lifetime television series Dance Moms. And not only did they get to see some of their favorite dancers perform on the show, they got to grace the same stage – performing solo routines as “competitors.”
But while the show portrays an often brutal dance competition scene where judges and mothers push their competitors to the limit – and dramatics ensue both in the audience and backstage – Rebeiro wanted her up-and-coming dancers to see something that most people don’t ever get the chance to see.
How it’s all scripted.
“I would say that our enrollment has definitely gone up as a result of the show,” she said. “But when it comes to competition dance a lot of times it paints things in a bad light and when we have parents that we’re trying to bring in, that’s what they expect it to be like and sometimes that’s hard to overcome.
“But this shows them that what they see on television is actually just that – for television. It’s not like that at all of the competitions, and we want them to see that.”
The girls, who drove down to Southern California on a Friday, and filmed the segment on a Saturday, got the chance to see popular coach Abby Lee Miller and student Maddie Ziegler – the famous dancer that rose in popularity when she was cast for the expressionist dancer in singer Sia’s music videos.
While they appear hardened on the show, getting to meet them in person, according to the girls who participated, was an eye-opening experience – showing them that they’re just like the girls from the competitions that they’re used to participating in on the weekends.
“Just getting to see how the show works was really amazing,” Lira said. “Just seeing how the cameras were positioned and the angles that they took and how the dances progressed. I’ve been watching this show for about four years, so it was great to actually be a part of an episode. “
On Tuesday the girls and their families and the rest of the Dance Stars crew at Manteca District Ambulance to hold a viewing party – where the girls got to see which pieces of the show were used and how many times they were showed on the episode.
While nearly every aspect was staged – giving the professional dancers extra time to nail takes, and setting up an award ceremony that was anything but for the sake of the cameras – it was the experience that made it all worthwhile.
“We have a competition coming up that’ll give the girls more of what they’re used to in terms of actually dancing before judges, but this was a special experience that they’ll never forget,” Rebeiro said. “And if they ever call us again, we’ll gladly go back and be a part of it.”