For Dance Moms Star Nia Sioux, Off-Broadway Is a Dream Come True
The teenage dancer and her mother, Holly Frazier, leave the cameras behind for a summer Trip of Love.
If Abby Lee Miller — the victory-crazed dance instructor on the Lifetime series Dance Moms — is one of reality television's favorite villains, Nia Sioux tops the list of its most lovable underdogs. The head-down, hard-working dancer has never been the most lauded member of the Abby Lee Dance Company, but she has unassumingly solidified her place as a fan favorite, along with her mother Holly Frazier, who consistently claims the title of most even-keeled Dance Mom on the bench. After six seasons with the show (and unknown plans for a seventh), the now-15-year-old Nia is making her first move away from the cameras, and onto the boards with her off-Broadway debut in the 1960s-flavored dance show Trip of Love at Stage 42.
"It's nice because usually if I'm onstage I'm being filmed," said Nia, following a one-on-one rehearsal with director and choreographer James Walski, where she ran her numbers for the show — most of which had been learned within the past 48 hours. "It'll be — not relaxing, but kind of weight off my shoulders."
Over the past six seasons of Dance Moms, Nia's castmates have begun to scatter into various nooks of the entertainment industry: Chloe Lukasiak starring in the new TV movie Center Stage: On Pointe, Maddie Ziegler taking on roles in film and television, and Ziegler's younger sister Mackenzie pursuing a music career under the pseudonym "Mack Z." As the last remaining member of the original ALDC competition team, Nia has started to map out her own post-reality show career, and it may be pointing toward the stage.
"Since last year I really started getting into acting and singing because that's what I want to do as a career. I want to make sure that I'm a triple threat," said Nia, who has also dabbled in the pop music industry, releasing three songs along with two music videos. Even so, she's adamant about one thing: "I want to be on Broadway."
"I grew up in New York City so we always went to Broadway," explained Holly. "It's not unusual for Nia to see four or five Broadway shows every year" (Finding Neverland, On Your Feet!, The Color Purple, Waitress, and Shuffle Along, made the mother-daughter pair's to-do list for this trip).
Nia continued, "Everyone that knows me was like, 'Oh my gosh, you've been waiting for this moment! You finally get to be in an off-Broadway show!' It's literally a dream come true. It's overwhelming at times because you're getting all these dances, but I love it. I like being challenged. And it's so different from what I usually do."
Nia's schedule usually entails learning a handful of routines within two or three days for a competition and starting from square one the following week. Beginning July 12, however, she gets to settle into her handful of 1960s-inspired numbers for a six-week stay — an unanticipated turn in her family's summer plans, according to Holly, who came straight from Los Angeles to New York with Nia after finishing season six of Dance Moms.
"After we wrapped last week, my plan was to be at home this summer with my husband and my two sons," said Holly.
"And the dogs," Nia interjected.
"And the dogs, of course. But Nia's plan is always to find other projects and work that will keep her moving forward. So I just kind of follow behind Nia and support her the best way I can."
While that support typically involves busy filming schedules, cross-country travel, and months-long stints away from their home in Pittsburgh, it also includes maintaining a semblance of normalcy following the "monkey wrench" — as Holly describes it — that has been Nia's adolescent career.
"I think we keep Nia very well grounded," said Holly. "This is great that she's on TV and now she's going to be in an off-Broadway play — those are incredible accomplishments by anyone's standard. But at the end of the day she's just Nia Sioux. She's one of three kids in our household."
"The middle child!" Nia was eager to clarify.
"I think it's important to remind her that on any given day, any of this could be gone. Nothing's promised. Nothing's going to last forever. But hard work and perseverance — that will channel you through for anything you set your mind to."
For now, Nia's mind is set on making an impression on the New York theater community while also living in the shadow of her next goal — Columbia University, where she hopes to attend college in a few years.
"It's amazing to see your child mature," said Holly. "And I've watched her mature as a person but also as a dancer. Competitive dance taught her skills that surpass just being on a television show — things that she can transfer to this experience. I don't know if there are many kids who could be thrown into this incredible dynamic experience and have fun and not feel — well, you definitely feel overwhelmed," Holly laughed. "But not feel like—"
"You can't do it," Nia said finishing her sentence.
"You can't do it," said Holly in agreement. "Instead she's excited about feeling overwhelmed."
Agreeing in turn with her mother, Nia responded, "It's a great feeling."