When Dance Spirit spent a day with 11-year-old "Dance Moms" Dancer Maddie Ziegler, we saw just how many cameramen, producers, microphones, costumes and props it takes to star in a reality TV show. But the hubbub is all in a day's work for this celebrity kid.

Dance News

Work it, Kenzie!

Finale time! The whole crew—and I mean the whole crew—was in New Orleans for In10sity Nationals. Much of this episode was hard to watch (aka the parts featuring the moms), but, in the end, there was a ton of great dancing. Here are my top AWESOME and AWKWARD moments from last night.

AWKWARD: Abby made the girls go head to head to decide who would perform a solo at Nationals. Mackenzie vs. Asia. Brooke vs. Payton. Chloe vs. Kendall. Nia vs. Paige vs. Maddie. Each group would learn one solo, and only one kid from each match up would get to perform. Of course, this stirred up plenty of drama among the moms. The kids, however, out-matured their parents as usual and seemed fine with a little healthy competition. It was a nail biter, alright, but then the whole plan was turned on its head because of the moms and their mayhem (see below).

AWKWARD: The moms get drunk. Long story short: Mom Christi and Mom Leslie end up in an actual physical fight and Leslie then tried to beat up a producer. Obviously, they were asked to leave the show. The worst part? Their kiddos had to leave with them. Bye, Chloe and Payton. And Mom Kristie, apparently appalled by the moms, took Asia out of the equation, too. I would say I think this will teach the moms a lesson…but that would be a lie.

AWESOME: Mackenzie as “Dance Doctor.” Things didn’t look good for Mackenzie at the start of this episode: Abby pitted Little Mac up against Big-Personality Asia in an improv-off—and Asia crushed it. But after Asia had to leave the competition, it was up to Mackenzie to snag the title. She. Was. Awesome. I know Abby is always saying how good Asia was for Mackenzie—forcing her to step up her game—and I think she may be right. It looked like some of that Asia sass had worn off on her, and all her old tricks were still top notch. Abby might call second place the first loser, but Mackenzie was the champ of this episode in my book.

AWESOME: Where did you come from, Kendall? While it’s sad that Chloe had to leave, it was nice to see Kendall have her moment in the spotlight. And I was blown away by how strong she looked in her solo! As Abby says, she’s “nipping at Maddie’s heels.”

AWESOME: Maddie’s solo. There’s a reason she’s unbeatable, people. This girl knows how to perform. The moms had a point when they said this choreography was designed for Maddie, and she performed it flawlessly. While it was a little expected since Chloe had left the competition, it was nice to see how genuinely thrilled Maddie was (she even looked surprised!) to be named first place. Congrats, Maddie!

AWKWARD: The Cathy came back. Sigh, but we were having so much fun without her! And, to continue avoiding doing any work herself, she’s brought Blake McGrath in as a choreographer—who’s sporting a strange (read: awful) neck tattoo. The kids do a good job picking up his tricky choreography…just not good enough. The Candy Apples group dance gets second to the ALDC, who killed it with an emotional tribute to Hurricane Katrina. Don’t cry, Cathy!

And…the ALDC kids are the National champs!

Now, the Quote of the Week:

“Nia needs to compete for a solo with Maddie and Paige. It doesn’t take a doctor to find out how that’s gonna end up.” —Mom Dr. Holly

That’s all for this season, folks. We're left wondering: Will there be a Season 4? And with no Asia, perhaps no Chloe or Payton, and maybe even no Abby, should there be? Weigh in below!

Dance News

You might not like what she has to say, but Abby Lee Miller will critique your dancing.

“Ever wanted to dance for the ALDC? Well, now’s your chance!”

When I received an email with that in the subject line (I guess the secret’s out that I signed up for the Abby Lee Dance Company mailing list), I figured there had to be a catch. Nope! If you’ve wondered what Abby Lee Miller would have to say about your dancing, there actually is a way to find out.

“ALDC’s Dance Off” is an online competition open to anyone. All you have to do is submit a video of yourself dancing, and you get a guaranteed critique from the ALDC staff. That's already pretty awesome, but entering also puts you in the running to win an even more coveted prize—the chance to dance with the one and only ALDC for a week!

Once every six months, an entrant from each category (12 & under and 13 & over) will be selected to attend the ALDC “Booty Camp” summer program in August. The prize includes airfare and 3 nights in a hotel for the winner and one guest. Your entry must be a solo performance between 1 and 4 minutes long. Judging will be comprised of 80% judges’ score and 20% public vote, so upload ASAP! Scores will be broken down by technique (50 points), musicality (20 points), performance (10 points) and costume/overall appeal (10 points). We all know Abby Lee is a tough critic, so brace yourselves. And save those tears for your pillow!

Check out aldcdanceoff.com for more information and to upload your video. Good luck!

Dance News

What happened on this week’s episode of “Dance Moms”? As expected, it was an emotional rollercoaster. Here are my top three AWESOME and AWKWARD moments from the show.

AWKWARD As usual, pyramid time tops the awkward list. We knew things would be bad after the team landed in fourth place last week. First of all, Maddie and Mackenzie are both on the bottom. This has never happened in “Dance Moms” history, and I’m just shocked Mom Melissa’s head didn’t explode. Obviously, Paige and Nia join them in the last row. Then come Kendall and Chloe in the middle. But who’s on top? Brooke? Sophia? Drum roll please…. It’s nobody. So Brooke’s not on the team but she still gets to dance, and we’re apparently ignoring the fact that Sophia ever existed at all. This all makes perfect sense.

AWESOME Kendall saves the day! Normally I’d be annoyed that Mom Jill is going out of her way to suck up to Abby (and Abby’s dog), but compared to the old, horrible Jill, I’ll take it. Sure, there’s an annoying moment involving costumes (AKA Jill tries to get the moms to abandon ship again and they all ignore her. Then, I laugh.), but it blows over pretty quickly. And Kendall kills it onstage! Her costume is sassy, her acting is spot-on and her technique is surprisingly good. Looks like somebody’s been going to class. She beats out superstar Chloe for third place, and even Abby’s impressed. Now that’s what I call making a comeback.

AWKWARD The other solos. Nia does a lyrical routine, because Nia’s so good at lyrical. Wait, nope. Come on, Abby. Give her something fun! Then Chloe rubs some dirt on her face to be a rag doll. Not her best. Still, I expect the judges will at least like them a little. What?! They didn’t even place!? This is crazy pants.

AWESOME This group number showcases exactly the kind of choreography that makes me love Abby. It’s cute. It’s fun. It has a prop that makes it near impossible. “Drop your hat and you’re off the team,” warns Abby. And we know she’s serious. The day of competition arrives and I’ve never been so nervous to watch these girls perform. Please don’t drop a hat. Please don’t drop a hat. Please don’t drop a hat. OK, moment of truth: Chloe drops a hat. Uh oh. Will Abby care that she handled it really well? Will they still win? Chloe and Mom Christi aren’t about to wait around to find out, and they’re out the door within seconds of Abby erupting backstage. Things get even more awkward when Christi yells at all the fans in the hallway. The big question is: Will they be back next week?

AWKWARD Ugh, the Candy Apples are back. Cathy does a silly half-pyramid with “her” new all-boys team. Let’s get one thing straight: Cathy did not train these boys. Cathy did not choreograph this dance. Cathy is the worst. She should not be allowed to take credit for how awesome they are.

AWESOME “Cathy’s” new all-boys team. I really, really wanted to hate them. But when you handpick four of the best boys from across the country, I guess they turn out to be pretty awesome. So who are they? We remember Zack, 13, from “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.” He has amazing technique and is super sweet. I hope Cathy doesn’t ruin him. We’ve also seen Jalen, 11, before, on “Ellen” and as a member of Super Cr3w from “America’s Best Dance Crew.” And Gino, you look familiar, too! Yup, we saw you on “America’s Got Talent.” Brandon, 13, is insanely well trained and has even snagged awards at Youth America Grand Prix. Not surprisingly, the crowd goes wild when these boys hit the stage. Not fair.

So what are the results? One tenth of a point separates the two teams—and Abby wins!!! Hooray! Hopefully she’ll be in better spirits next week. Tune in to find out and check back here for another recap. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Dance News

Say what you will about “Dance Moms” (After blogging about it for several years now, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it all), but I’m still as hooked as I was during the first episode of Season 1. The girls, the moms, Abby’s incredibly uncensored mouth…How could I resist tuning in for Season 3? Plus, last season’s finale left us with so many unanswered questions. Mainly, will Brooke and Paige come back?

Read on for my three most awesome—and three most awkward—moments of this week’s episode.

 

AWKWARD Brooke and Paige do not come back. We still watch them eat breakfast and stuff though, so something tells me they’ll try to make a comeback at some point. Auditions to replace them went great—besides the fact that all the girls were twice as old and twice as good as the girls already on the team. Oh and remember when Abby used her catchphrase from “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” to cut a girl? “Today is not your day.” Caught that, Abby. I know you’re super famous now, but let’s try to remember which show we’re on.

AWESOME 13-year-old Ally (the Paige-and-Brooke replacement) is great. She seems mature, technically amazing and has a positive, respectful attitude. But brace yourselves for her mom Shelly, because she’s…also really great. Wait, what’s going on here? Is this still “Dance Moms”? I guess we’ll just have to leave it to the other moms to crush Shelly and Ally’s souls until they snap. I’m sure it won’t take long.

AWKWARD Kendall is the first to find out she has a solo, so Mom Jill runs to the dressing room to rub it in the other moms’ faces. Good move. Turns out, everyone but Nia and Ally get a solo in the end. Way to count your chickens, Jill. Kendall may have been showing up for rehearsals all summer, but it looks like she may have skipped those technique classes. She cries about how mean Abby was, Abby yells at her for crying, and things fall apart. At least she’s not on probation this season…

AWESOME I love this group number. “Angel and Demons” deserved that first place win. OK, we’ve seen themes like this before, but I still have to hand it to Abby—everything from the cool choreo to the costumes to the casting (sorry Chloe) was flawless.

AWKWARD Justice is gone! What will ALDC’s rival studio Candy Apples do? Studio owner Cathy’s daughter Vivi seems devastated about the loss of her dance partner. Just kidding, Vivi doesn’t show any emotion. Then Vivi gets kicked off the team by her own mother. She seems devastated. Got you again; she didn’t care at all. Now Cathy’s creating an all-boys team. If nothing else, this will certainly be interesting.

AWESOME Chloe’s solo “Nobody’s Perfect.” Chloe is a champ. Ally may have stolen her part in the group dance, but she handled it like a grown up and then kicked butt when she took the stage alone. Oh right, that’s why she’s the national title winner. This girl’s got it. Mark my words: This season, Chloe’s the new Maddie.

 

Oh yeah, and because I can’t NOT mention this, the most AWKWARD, most uncomfortable moment of the episode:

Abby leaves the competition to go on a date! I think I’m in shock.

 

And finally, the QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“You were just a dumb little kid, doing your thing, with a sister who was amazing.” —Abby to Mackenzie

Agree to disagree on that one, Abby. Mac has always been amazing. And now she's old enough to have braces? I’ve got to say, she totally pulls them off.

I think little Mac says it best: “Haha Abby, I won anyways.”

 

Fess up, did you watch? And what did you think? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be back with another recap next week.

 

 

Dance News

This week on “Dance Moms”: Jill and Kendall came back, and Abby dealt with it surprisingly well—until Jill started being her old awful self and Abby went nutso. Later, they all fought over a hair bow. But let’s skip to the good moments. Here are my top 5:

5. The “Drop Dead Diva” verdict is in—and Maddie got the part! As expected, the moms handled the news terribly. No one was this upset when Chloe snagged a role in a music video or a scholarship to Joffrey, but this was apparently unacceptable! It’s so sad that Maddie can’t be excited about her accomplishments too, but she was oh-so-humble and oh-so-cute. She obviously deserved this opportunity. Moms, get over it.

4. Paige got a solo, but no more mommy-ography allowed. Her choreography was sassy, and it looked really hard! A well-deserved 6th place win. But then she had to go and do a standing back tuck on a cement floor. Shocker of shockers, she hurt herself. Buzz killed.

3. Laquifa’s back! The original Laquifa solo was one of my favorite Nia moments, so I was pumped when Abby decided to choreograph a sequel. And this "Working Girl" number blew her last attempt out of the water! Her character was perfect, and her death drop at the end was pure awesome. Even sweet little Maddie was inspired to show off a little swagger in the audience. Nia got a standing ovation (!), plus ninth place and the “Fiercest Attitude” award.

2. The Twilight dance! Where should I begin? Abby brought in Nick, a senior dancer, to play the evil vampire that seduces all the little girls. What a hunk. Everybody was happy, except for Mackenzie (see #1). Then Abby killed the mood by deciding to cut a bunch of girls on the day of the competition. Paige eliminated herself with her genius attempt at gymnastics. Then Kendall (duh) and Nia got chopped as well. The end result? The piece looked really cool, and got first place! Everybody’s happy again.

1. Mackenzie climbed to the top of my recap pyramid with this little gem in reaction to Nick joining the team: “I think boys are icky. Icky. Icky. Icky. Icky!” Gotta love her.

We have to wait two whole weeks until the next installment, but it looks like it's going to be a good one! See you back here for another recap. In the meantime, let me know what you thought of this week's episode.

 

Dance News

Let me be the first to say that going two weeks without any new Abby Lee Dance Company footage was rough! I missed these little girls; Their moms, not so much. And this episode brought us back to all the things we love—the moms enjoyed some cocktails, the Candy Apples returned and Maddie got to the top of the pyramid (twice!). Here are my top 5 moments from last night's show:

5. Kendall is so precious, and such a hard worker. And I loved seeing her smiling face after a less-than-excellent award ceremony. But that girl was just taking abuse from all sides last night: Abby Lee's one goal was to beat her, her teacher Cathy had pretty much given up on her, her music was skipping all over the place, and then even her mom seemed angry with her performance!  Keep your head up, Kendall—I'm rooting for you!

4. Paige's solo smack down. Ok, while I really can't stand her mom, I love Paige and was so happy to see that she finally got the chance to shine with a solo (as long as she perfected it on her own time with no help from any teachers). Let the mayhem ensue. Her mom went ahead and re-choreographed the whole thing to make it more challenging, and, surprisingly, it worked! Paige placed 7th (only one spot below Chloe), blowing competition Kendall out of the water, and she proved to Abby Lee that she's outgrown her safe, boring choreography. Time to step it up, Abby Lee.

3. Vivi as human prop. Even professional choreographers don't know what to do with this child; the dancers awkwardly carrying her (the "Asian Princess") around the stage was hard to watch. We get that you're using her to bring the age of your piece down, Cathy. Problem is, when she's 15, and still hasn't learned to pick up choreography, poor girl is going to run into some serious problems.

2. Abby Lee brings in some ringers. There's nothing that usually distracts me more than when 18-year-olds dance with 6-year-olds (see number 3), but Abby Lee really pulled it off with class. The choreography was beautiful, and all of the girls really held their own in this week's group number. And, since she hasn't been mentioned yet, let me take a moment to praise little Mackenzie for killing that tricky choreography alongside senior dancers! Take that, Vivi.

1. I was definitely expecting some serious yelling (and perhaps some chair-throwing) when Abby Lee came back to the dressing room after awards. Instead, she gave us the most awesome victory dance ever!  Though it was only about 4 seconds long, I may have re-watched it a couple of times.

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