By Madeline VanHorn, Point Park News Service:
Gianna Martello, 25, of Forest Hills, works as a choreographer at the Abby Lee Dance Company and can be seen on Lifetime’s hit series “Dance Moms.” Martello graduated from Point Park University in 2011 with a degree in advertising and public relations.
Q: How long have you been dancing?
A: I started dancing when I was three years old. My mom danced, my grandma danced, everyone in my family danced, so it’s the only thing I’ve ever known.
Q: When did you start dancing with Abby Lee Miller?
A: I started dancing at Abby’s studio when I was 7. I attended smaller studios near my house and around town before that. When I started to get serious with dance and my mom knew I was really into it, she found Abby’s studio. I’ve been there ever since.
Q: When did you go from a student to a choreographer at the Abby Lee Dance Company?
A: I started assisting Abby when I was 16. She never had an assistant before because when I was a student, it was just Abby. She taught every dance, every style, every competition piece, everything. When I was 16, she told me to come in on the weekends to help her and I loved it, so she started giving me my own classes … In fact, the first class I ever taught had a few of the girls from “Dance Moms” in it. I taught all through college, too. I’d go home on the weekends and teach on Saturdays and Sundays.
Q: Why did you choose to attend Point Park?
A: I actually didn’t want to go to school at all. I wanted to move to L.A. or New York to dance, but my parents said that I needed to stay in town another year and go to school. So, I decided I could take some classes at Point Park just because my parents were telling me to go to school. I started out as a sports, arts and entertainment management major, but my neighbor was an advertising and public relations major, and I realized that I really wanted to do that instead. I ended up loving all of my roommates and everything about the school, so I stayed for four years.
Q: Have you done anything with your public relations and advertising degree yet?
A: A little bit. I focused on design while I was in school. I liked creating magazine covers and album covers rather than writing, so I now design the advertisements that Abby and the dancers post online publicizing our events. I design the tags on Abby’s store apparel too. So, weirdly enough, I do use my major through my job.
Q: Did you have to audition to be on “Dance Moms?”
A: No, I was actually at Starbucks when I got the call that I’d be on the show. I was always known as Abby’s right-hand man, because at competitions, I would always give the judges the music and warm the girls up and everything. So when we got the show, Melissa said, ‘Well, we don’t go anywhere without Gia,’ so the producer called me and said, ‘We’re going to film for six weeks, but everyone’s telling me they need you at competitions.’ I kind of just fell into the show from there.
Q: Do you ever watch the show?
A: I only watch the competition dances to see how they get edited. I’m still at the studio teaching when the new episodes air anyway. I live through everything that is shown on the show, so I really don’t need to watch the episode.
Q: How do you deal with the drama between Abby and the moms?
A: It was weird at first, but I’m used to it now. People ask me how and why I stick around, and it’s because I love my job. I wouldn’t have been there from age 7 to age 25 if I didn’t love Abby and my job.
Q: What is it like to be recognized out in public by fans?
A: It doesn’t happen to me as much as it happens to the girls and the moms. It’s on a smaller scale for me, so it isn’t too crazy. But if I go out with Maddie and Mackenzie, it’s a hassle to even try to get through the mall or run into a grocery store.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a part of “Dance Moms?”
A: I love that we’re always doing something, and that we get to travel to a different city every weekend for competitions. I also love the perks of getting to attend events like the Teen Choice Awards. If I had to sit home all the time, I don’t know what I’d do with myself, so my favorite part would have to be the travelling aspect of it.
Q: Do you plan on living in Pittsburgh forever, or do you want to try and move somewhere else?
A: After high school, I wanted nothing to do with Pittsburgh. I traveled for dance so much and was always in New York and wanted to stay there. But then I went to Point Park and we got the show, so now I really can’t see myself leaving the studio with or without the show. It’s my home. I would love to live in L.A. or New York, but for now, I’m good here.