snipped Conventional wisdom is that positive reinforcement helps kids learn. Do you reject that?
Miller: No. I do positive reinforcement. There's nothing that satisfies me as a teacher more than me spotting a child, let's say [during] an aerial — a cartwheel without hands. I'll spot them over and over and over again, and it's like taking the training wheels off of a bicycle. When they execute that trick properly [by themselves] and jump up and down and scream and yell and run into my arms and hug me, that's amazing. That's a wonderful feeling. I would love to feel that every day. But when you're talking about a competition, and investing tons of money, you want to go out there and put your best foot forward. Your pyramid system of visually ranking your favorite students was very controversial on the Internet ...
Miller: I've never done that in my life. That has nothing to do with me. That's the show. They came up with that whole process. Is it tough to be asked to do something you wouldn't normally? Ultimately, you're representing yourself and your business and no one watching can accurately distinguish reality TV machinations from reality.
Miller: No. There's a lot of things on the show that would never, ever happen. It's television. When we got the opportunity to do the show, all the competitions that came to Pittsburgh were over. All these competitions we're attending, I've never attended in my life. Teaching children a routine in a hotel hallway that they are performing onstage the next day? That's insane. Nobody would do that. But you know what? These kids' ability to comprehend quickly is truly a gift. This show has taught them, "I'm gonna learn it, and I'm gonna do it." The whole pyramid thing was for the show because we could not do a new solo for every single child, and a new group and new duets and trios every single week. There's just not time available. Do you worry at all that by representing your process on air differently than how it is in real life, you're cheating yourself out of business?
Miller: My student just won Mr. Dance of America and I have three title winners for Dance Educators of America in Vegas. I've been around for a long time. My name is not unfamiliar to anybody in the dance community. I'm talking the upper echelon of dance studios. As far as business in Pittsburgh, business is bad anyway. Pittsburgh is a very depressed community. I built my building from the ground up. As far as the general public is concerned, I always tell people that you need to look like a dance teacher like you're looking for a pediatrician. It's hands-on, and you might be with them from age 3 to 18: I've spent 15 years with [some]. I see them more than their families do.