As the mother of two ambitious, showbiz daughters — Maddie and Mackenzie — Melissa Gisoni certainly has her hands full. So we felt lucky when she took some time out of her breakneck lifestyle to talk to Wetpaint Entertainment about what Season 3 has in store for her daughters, the quality of her friendships with Abby and with the other moms, and the status of her engagement.
Wetpaint Entertainment: You guys are in the middle of shooting Season 3. What can you tell me about it?
Melissa Gisoni: Things are definitely different this year. Lots of little surprises. Kathy is back, unfortunately. She is worse than ever. We had a really crazy, crazy weekend this past weekend.
What feels different?
It's just even crazier this year. It's more stressful. There just seems to be a lot more going on — lots of surprises. There are new members. I don't even know if I'm allowed to say that.
The two previous seasons have seemed pretty stressful, and now you're saying it's even more so? Have you ever considered just saying, “OK, enough — let's just leave this”?
No, because this is what my children want to do, and my kids love Abby. Abby's the best. And if we would ever leave, we could never dance around here. We'd have to leave and go to another state. Maddie would never leave Abby ever, ever.
How do you put up with it then?
Well, I put up with it because the mothers moan and groan about my kids getting special attention. They've all admitted that if they got it, they would take it. But they're not getting it, you know? They always say, “Hey, if I got it, I would take it too.” I put up with it because Abby is the best. She has made my kids into fabulous dancers.
She comes across as very blunt and tough on television. Is what we see what we get?
No. I don't think so. She's like that when she's teaching but not all the time. You don't get to see the sweet part of Abby — the loving part of her — because she adores our kids. She really loves them. And the cameras don't show the part when she's hugging and kissing our kids, but she does.
I understand the need to create drama, but at the same time, let the woman show her softer side, you know?
She has a heart of gold. Right before we started filming, Maddie went and taught with Abby in Louisiana, and I came with her. And it was Maddie's birthday. It was, like, 30 people. We went and got a private room, and Abby got her really cool birthday presents. She's just a really good person. She loves to buy things for the girls and treat them to things, but they don't show that. I just want people to know that she really is a good person.
What's your relationship with the other moms on the show?
We're friends. When we were on hiatus, we went out to lunch. One week we went out four times. Jill, Holly, and I are very close. We're all friends. I just left Kelly’s house. And we look out for each other's kids. We really do.
Your engagement was a big storyline in season two. What's been happening since?
Everybody knew that I was engaged, but I didn't make this big, big stink about it. So everybody was like, “Why didn't you tell me?” It was just kind of a crazy thing. Now it's just kind of a joke.
Are you guys planning a wedding, or have you gotten married since?
Not married yet. We don't have any time to get married because we're filming all the time.
But all is well?
Can you tease anything in the first couple of episodes that we should be looking forward to?
There's a really big surprise with the whole team, so [viewers] just have to really look for that. Yeah, it affects our entire seven children.
Is it good surprise? A bad surprise?
No. It's not so much a good surprise... not too much, no.
How are Maddie and Mackenzie?
They're great. They're wonderful. I mean this is just our life. Our children go to school full-time. They're not home-schooled. I pick them up from school. We go directly to filming. We eat in the car. We have a full-time tutor because they do miss Fridays from school, but they're just normal kids. It's difficult when we go to, like, the mall. We can't go to the mall anymore.
How hard is that on them?
I think sometimes it's difficult because the kids want to be kids. We took the girls to the beach for, like, an hour, and people kept coming up to us. We're like, “We’re really sorry, but we only have an hour.” The kids just want to be kids. Sometimes it's very difficult.
Where do you see yourselves a few years from now?
I see Maddie definitely being a professional dancer somehow. I'm not sure in what capacity. Either on a TV show, on Broadway, something. She's definitely going to be doing something with dance the rest of her life, I'm sure. Mackenzie, actually, wants to go on Broadway now. Mackenzie's really a good singer, and no one's really ever heard her sing. She's amazing.
What do you think the show has done for them?
Oh, my gosh. The show has opened up so many doors for them. There's going to be so many opportunities for them. I mean, it is a blessing. I mean, it's a tough, tough world being in a reality TV show; but it's definitely been a blessing.
Do you get protective? Do you ever sort of set boundaries as far as what the producers can show and what they can't?
We don't really have a choice. But, absolutely, I'm very protective of the kids. And some people are kind of crazy fans. We have a lot of great fans, but there are some obsessed fans. That's why none of the kids have Facebooks. They're all fake. When people say, “Oh, we talked to you on Facebook,” I'm like, “No.” The kids don't have Facebooks. And I look at my kids' Twitter account every day, several times a day.
I'm sure as a parent, there's a lot of added stress with opening up your family to the general public.
I've noticed boys really, really, liking Maddie lately, and it's really freaking me out. It's crazy!
Season 3 of Dance Moms premieres Tuesday, January 1, at 9 PM E.T. on Lifetime.