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Pittsburgh Native To Star As Judge On "Dance Moms" Spinoff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Rachelle Rak is back in the 'Burgh to teach master classes – including at Capa Downtown.

"On hip, the other hip, turn front, look over shoulder," she says.

She's sharing her experience from lead roles in a long list of Broadway shows, including Chicago, A Chorus Line, Starlight Express, Fosse and Flashdance.

But it was her role as a guest choreographer on one episode of "Dance Moms" last year that attracted a new audience.

"That night my website was on fire, crazy, 18,000 hits," she said.

The next day, Rak got called to audition to be a new judge on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition.

"I'm not sure if Abby is the one who picked me or if she got stuck with me, but it's been a good year," she said.

Abby is known for her sometimes mean comments to the dancers – a very different style from Rachelle's.

"She has a way that's a way I'm not used to, to get a child to do what they do," Rak said. "It's very different."

"When you're good and you know what you can get out of a child, I don't think you have to put them down to get it," she added. "But again there are different ways of approaching things. I can't say Abby doesn't have great dancers."

Rak would know. Their moms both owned dance studios around Pittsburgh and Rak competed against Abby's school as a child.

Even as grown adults, Rak isn't spared from Abby's rude comments.

"All the time, what are you wearing, what are you wearing," she recalls. "I just smile and giggle, 'Oh this old thing?' Funny, I think she loves and hates me all in one breath. She really respects me."

But KDKA's Kristine Sorensen wanted to know if Abby has a nice side.

"She has a real sense of humor," Rak said. "She's a real one-liner, zinger. She says it like it is – how she sees it. Maybe not how it is to everyone else."

As for the fighting between the moms on the show, Rak says, "It's crazy. I think there are dance moms in every walk of life. There are baseball moms, there are football moms, there are dance moms."

Whether it's on teaching a master class, dancing on Broadway or judging on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, Rak stays true to her Pittsburgh roots, spreading her love of performing with that great big smile.

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