Dance News

"Dance Moms: I Know What You Did Last Competition" Recap

What happened this week on "Dance Moms?" Well, Paige and Brooke’s mom Kelli was really angry the whole time, and then Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie’s mom) tried very hard to suck up to Abby Lee. But as usual, I will skip over all of the silly things that the moms did, and get to what is really awesome about this show: the kids and the dancing. Here are my top five moments.

5. Maddie’s Helen Keller solo. I have to admit, when Abby first described it, I was skeptical. I tend to cringe when little kids do serious solos about things they just don’t understand. But when Maddie got out there and acted her little butt off, I was pleasantly surprised. Sometimes this little winner reminds me why she’s always on top of the pyramid. This was one of those times. I thought she deserved higher than a fourth place title.

4. Nia, the constant underdog, showed us how awesome she can be last week in her duet, so Abby rewarded her with a more mature role that, honestly, may have been a little beyond her technical level. But she embraced it! Though she only placed ninth (a failure in the world of Abby Lee Miller), she really showed that she’s working her way to being one heck of a dancer.

3. Maddie and Chloe’s duet was just really good. Abby even referred to this routine as her secret weapon against the two schools that came to the competition specifically to beat them. Well played, Abby. I dare anyone to find two other kids that can fouetté in unison like that. Phenomenal.

2. Mackenzie’s solo. Yes, it’s true that this girl can do no wrong in my eyes, but I was so proud of her for nailing that solo! Especially after all the pressure Abby put on her—she even threatened to throw little Mac back on stage if she ran off before her dance was over. But apparently having Abby manning the wings only makes her stronger. She remembered every shoulder shimmy and back walkover in that routine. A well deserved first place—plus, her first crown ever! (I might have just cried a little.)

1. What do you mean one kid can’t be on my list twice in a row? Mackenzie has officially nailed the first place spot (for the second week in a row, I might add) by saying this little gem: “I wish Justin Bieber was one of the judges. He’s cute.”

Will Mackenzie ever not make the number one moment on my countdown? My bet’s on no, but check back next week to find out!

Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Taja Riley

Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers

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via ew.com

P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.

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Double leg amputee, Eric Graise dancing (via Youtube)

When you think of a dancer, a double leg amputee may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Eric Graise, who's one of the stars of the upcoming "Step Up: High Water" YouTube Red series, hopes to change that. Graise, whose legs were amputated as a child due to missing fibula bones, will play a character named King in the new dance series, set to debut early next year.

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New York City Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (via @nycballet on Twitter)

We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.

New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).

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Dance News

Oh hey there, Hallmark Channel! The producer of all those sweet, homey movies best watched in your PJs with your mom has a super dance-y film on its holiday lineup this season: A Nutcracker Christmas. And the casting is—to use a very Hallmark-y pun—perfectly on pointe.

A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.

Yes, it's a whole lot of plot to wrap your head around. But the real story here is that Sadie is played by none other than the phenomenal Sophia Lucia, and the ever-dashing Sascha Radetsky is also involved in the project. (Radetsky's exact role is unclear from the press material, but he seems like a pretty natural fit for Mark, no?) The odds seem good that we'll get the gift of some very high-quality dancing. Merry Christmas to us!

Sophia Lucia showing off those banana feet (via @sophialucia5678)

You can catch A Nutcracker Christmas on December 10 at 8 pm. Get your slippers and hot cocoa ready.

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In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.comfor a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?

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