With Tuesday’s season 8 premiere kicking off the final batch of episodes for coach Abby Lee Miller, the mother-daughter duo revealed that some things will never change for Lifetime’s competition-dance show.
“What’s always the source of the drama? It’s Abby,” Christi, 40, tells PEOPLE. “She’s a strong personality and it’s difficult to stand up to her.”
It was announced last month that Miller would be making her final appearance on the show after quitting Dance Moms in March amid a bankruptcy fraud case. (In July, the 50-year-old former coach was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release. She was additionally fined $40,000 and ordered to pay the $120,000 judgment, as well as give a DNA sample relating to her felony charge.)
Prior to the allegations, Christi was one of the first mothers to individually stand up to Miller, who was recently criticized by Dance Moms successor Cheryl Burke for traumatizing her young dancers. Now Christi is applauding the other moms who do the same in the upcoming season, calling herself the “other moms’ biggest cheerleader.”
“I think the moms have all gotten a lot of slack like, ‘Why do you put up with this?’ and ‘You’re just doing this for the wrong reasons,’ ” she says. “I’m really proud to say I’ve watched women I’ve known for a long time stand up and say, ‘You know what? We’re not doing this anymore.’ ”
Season 8 will also bring back a fan-favorite from the past when Chloe, 16, returns to the show for a proper goodbye after an “abrupt and out of nowhere” exit in season 4.
“I really didn’t even think I was leaving . I figured we would go back the next season, and then I left and I never came back,” Chloe admits. “It felt very unfinished for me, I needed closure.”
Returning to the show will serve as reunion for Chloe, who admits she has distanced herself from many of the girls — including fellow teammate Maddie Ziegler — since her departure.
“It was a little bit difficult at first because our schedules were super grueling and we really didn’t see each other a lot,” Chloe confesses. “Unfortunately, we fell out of touch whenever I left, and she left and we all did our own thing.”
Although the two girls were pitted against each other on the show during dance competitions, Chloe says the rivalry was “never really an issue” and they “stayed friends throughout that whole thing.”
“I was always the one to say it’s just dance, it’s just competition,” Chloe says.
As for their friendship now? Chloe has nothing but nice things to say about 14-year-old Ziegler, adding that she hopes the two can reconnect soon.
“I recently saw her at Nia birthday party and we caught up a bit. We exchanged numbers, and I think maybe when I’m in L.A. soon again well try to meet up,” Chloe says. “I miss Maddie. She’s really great and I’m really proud of everything she’s doing. I’m really happy for her.”
Dance Moms premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.