Finally, an episode of “Dance Moms” that didn’t leave me feeling infuriated! This week, the hour was loaded with our favorite dancers, moms, choreographers and even some familiar drama. With Abby’s return from “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” filming came the return of the infamous pyramid, based not only on of the last competition’s results, but also on the girls’ reported work ethic in Abby’s absence. With a quick recap from each dancer (Brooke recorded a CD! Nia has added 4 classes per week!), we were caught up and ready to get back on track with the Dream Team. Here are my top AWKWARD and AWESOME moments from this week.
AWKWARD: Abby may have a snazzy new hairdo, but her demeanor has not changed; without missing a beat, she’s back in the studio dishing out the tough love. This week, the victim is none other than Mackenzie, who was awarded with a solo as a chance to earn first place while Asia is out of town. In case that didn’t make her feel bad enough, Abby tells her that she’s getting too old to be cute (I disagree), and that she’s all over the place. On top of everything, Abby’s frustrated with how exhausted Mackenzie is after a day at school—specifically, playing at recess. She strongly suggests (a.k.a. orders) that little Mack refrain from joining her friends on the playground, and makes sure Mom Melissa knows it.
AWESOME: This week, Chloe was given the challenge of a hip-hop solo. Having only performed hip-hop twice and taken just a handful of classes, she’s less than confident about the routine. As always, she handles the situation with grace, working hard with senior company dancer Payton to sharpen her skills. Abby explains that in order to succeed in the industry, it’s vital to excel in every style, not just your favorite. Great point! It’s good to see Payton back in the game, and even better to see how awesome her relationship is with Chloe. What’s not quite as awesome is the return of Mom Leslie, making a brief but memorable appearance in the observation mezzanine, much to everyone’s dismay.
AWKWARD: Things seemed especially extreme in the Mama Drama department this week (like when Melissa said she thinks everyone wishes she would die in a car crash…?? Eek!). I wanted the ALDC back, but I didn’t want to revisit the same issues that caused Melissa to file a lawsuit in Season 2. It’s kind of unclear how the blowouts started…something about Melissa’s failure to comply with the moms’ pact to prevent the girls from visiting the “AUDC” set. But things quickly escalated into screaming and storming out. The situation never really got resolved, and I’m nervous to see how the tension carries over into next week’s episode.
AWESOME: SOLOS! Mackenzie nailed every trick and remembered every step of her number—while rocking the most precious futuristic spacewoman costume in the world. She looked stronger than ever, and judges agreed—a well-deserved win! Chloe hit her hip-hop routine with confidence and strength, nailing her turns in some fancy glittered boots. Maddie’s tap (!!!) was outstanding. I can’t remember the last time we saw her do something other than lyrical, and I wish we could see more. Not to mention, she handled a costume malfunction like a pro—but come on, Melissa, we know you know better than to think Velcro could hold a costume together!
AWKWARD: In case we needed a refresher, we were reminded throughout the episode that, after a mysterious score sheet error, Maddie had received a higher overall score than Chloe at the last competition. Anyone who watched that episode will recall Abby reporting that “the competition came to her” to discuss the discrepancy, but this week, some new footage revealed that Abby had indeed brought the numbers to their attention. Skeptical all along, audiences (including Chloe and Christi) have now witnessed what really happened behind the scenes. What’s done is done, but Chloe has maintained her signature brave face and persistence.
AWESOME: The group dance, “Gone Too Soon,” required each girl to embrace the persona of a celebrity who had faced an untimely death. Featuring Whitney Houston, Selena, Amy Winehouse, Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana, the girls were challenged to portray a story. Their costumes and makeup looked amazing—and the dancing was awesome! I knew the performance would be top notch from the footage of Kendall nailing 5 turns in rehearsals, but each girl seemed to have improved during the competition hiatus. The team’s technique looked strong, and they really earned that first place slot.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Sorry Kendall, you are NOT playing Selena Gomez.” —Abby Lee Miller
Next week, we’ll go behind the scenes at the ALDC annual showcase. Let’s hope the moms are back on speaking terms before then.
P.S. Did anyone else notice Abby’s “Save Your Tears For Your Pillow” iPhone case? I want one!
Dancer Yesenia Ayala first caught our eye in the off-Broadway production of Sweet Charity with Sutton Foster earlier this year. So, we were super excited when we found out she was making her Broadway debut in this spring's sweetest new show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Both productions were choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.)
Since the NYC premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream at American Ballet Theatre's spring gala Monday night, the DS editors haven't stopped talking about its creepy-cute sets and costumes, created by artist Mark Ryden. Well, the obsession is about to get even crazier, because we just heard that Ryden's artwork for the ballet is now on display in not one, but TWO locations in NYC.
Yes, yes, we know: Dancers are athletes as well as artists. But we haven't seen anything hammer home just HOW athletic dancers are quite as well as this video from Self magazine, which features American Ballet Theatre principal/fairy princess Isabella Boylston trying to teach top-level CrossFit enthusiasts ballet.
There's a reason Mia Michaels' nickname is "Mama Mia." The legendary choreographer invests deeply in her dancers, whether they're competitors on "So You Think You Can Dance," members of the Radio City Rockettes, or part of her own elite assistant squad. And now, Michaels is launching a project that aims to give more dancers access to her gifts as a teacher and mentor.
And that's a wrap on "Dancing with the Stars" Season 24, ladies and gents! It's certainly been one for the books. From injuries to shocking eliminations, let's just say Season 24 has had its emotional ups and downs. But despite all that, the season made for some seriously phenom dancing and some killer performances. And as usual, we've loved watching every second of those cha chas, foxtrots, and waltzes.
Let's get right to the exciting stuff, though: Last night's winning couple of "Dancing with the Stars" is...
Nearly 80,000 dance-loving Instagram followers can't be wrong: Quinn Starner is one to watch. And what's just as impressive as the 15-year-old's rabid online following is her ever-growing list of competition accolades. Quinn, who trains at Indiana Ballet Conservatory and Stars Dance Company, been named first runner-up at The Dance Awards for two years in a row (as a junior and a teen); was the 2016 West Coast Dance Explosion Teen National Champion; earned first place in contemporary and third place in the classical division at Youth America Grand Prix Regionals in Pittsburgh last year; has won the Grand Prix Award at ADC|IBC; and was a gold medalist at World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix. Plus, she made it to the Academy round on last year's "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation," and has performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Here's what Quinn has to say about her favorite songs, teachers, and career highlights.