Dance News

You probably know Ava Cota as the lovely, leggy dancer who was rejected from the Abby Lee Dance Company, on "Dance Moms," because she was "too tall." Now, that lanky frame is propelling her career as a model. Ava just made her New York Fashion Week runway debut, and we're guessing it won't be the last time the six-foot beauty graces NYC's catwalks.

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Dance News

You had muscles like that at seven years old, right?

It's week two of Asia with the ALDC, and the drama surrounding this little firecracker has just begun. Here are my three most AWKWARD and AWESOME moments from last night's episode:

AWKWARD: Asia vs. Mackenzie. New girl Asia gets on top of the pyramid in her first week. Uh oh, looks like she’s just earned a big fat target on her back. But no, the moms are still ganging up on Mackenzie, claiming that she’s faking her injury. She loves to dance, people. She would not fake this injury! Plus, now she really wants to kick little Asia’s butt. I’m going to assume that, healed or not, Mac will be back next week. Team Mackenzie!

AWESOME: Asia’s solo. This is just so much better than her puppy dance from last week. She’s playing Rosie the Riveter, a tough cookie just like she is. Holy muscles, Batman! This girl is fierce. Everything about the choreography is super cute—and her costume is appropriate! Can I be Team Mackenzie and Team Asia?

AWKWARD: Flaggate (a.k.a. the group number). Asia isn’t doing most of the choreography, but she does get to run across the stage with an American flag. Essentially, Abby’s tacking a young kid on at the end to bring the overall age of the routine down. Isn’t this the same kind of thing we used to make fun of Vivi for in Cathy’s choreography? But the real drama comes when apparently the flag is held up the wrong way onstage. Someone must be blamed! Was it Paige’s fault or Asia’s fault??? We never find out, but I’m going to go with: Who cares? They looked great.

So pretty. And so not deserving of what Abby put her through this week.

AWESOME: Maddie’s solo and Chloe’s solo. My goodness, I love these two. This rivalry isn’t anything new. We spent most of Season 1 wondering if Chloe would ever be triumphant over Maddie (spoiler alert: she was!). After months of no head to head competition, they’re both onstage this week. Yippee! Chloe is elegant and clean and gets second place; Maddie is emotional and striking and gets first. Just goes to show, a little healthy competition goes a long way…

AWKWARD: I spoke too soon. Abby takes this Maddie vs. Chloe thing way too far. She kicks things up a notch by asking everyone (moms and kids) to vote for either Maddie or Chloe after watching them perform. Sigh. This does not seem like a productive activity. Maddie wins the vote by a landslide, leaving Chloe feeling terrible. Best moment: Mom Kelly votes for Paige. Hahaha. In your face, Abby.

AWESOME: Holly’s defense of getting an education. Mom Melissa has decided that Maddie and Mackenzie should be home schooled, and the other moms are not pleased. Yes, sometimes home schooling is the best option, but this is clearly not one of those times, especially with little Mackenzie, who’s too young to have decided whether she even wants a career in dance. Plus, she’d miss her friends! Holly does a remarkable job of explaining the seriousness of pulling kids out of school: “School’s not just about busy work. It’s about: Can you think? Can you be a citizen of the world and think for yourselves?” Yes, Holly! In the end, smart dancers are successful dancers.

And now (drum roll please) the QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“Asia might be a big deal on the Internet, but so is a dog who can bark his ABCs.” —Mom Christi

A dog who can bark his ABCs!? Where is this dog? Will someone send me a link, please?

Dance News

There are a lot of kids on that stage—but it works.

This week, something major was missing at the ALDC—the “AL,” to be exact. Abby Lee’s absence meant no pyramid, no assignments and a whole lot of confusion. The girls and moms found both pros and cons of living life without Abby. Here are my top AWKWARD and AWESOME moments from this week.

AWKWARD: Although the moms had some reasons to celebrate in Abby’s absence, it became very apparent that her presence is necessary at the studio. With Gianna so stressed that she was driven to tears, the moms felt helpless as they tried relentlessly to get ahold of their fearless leader. This meant constant phone calls and text messages, and when Abby did respond, her demeanor was less than favorable. Not to mention, all of these calls were on speakerphone and texts were read aloud, which created an unnecessary amount of tension.

AWESOME: While we did see Gianna in one minuscule moment of weakness, something needs to be said about her starring role in this episode. Can we just take a minute to think about the fact that she has been choreographing the girls’ routines since episode 1, and she’s only now getting interview time? She went above and beyond this week, taking charge of a team that truly needed leadership, keeping them motivated and creating amazing pieces. With partner-in-crime James, another top teacher at the ALDC, she choreographed all 4 numbers without so much as a phone call from Abby. It’s clear that she’s dedicated to the girls, and the girls admire and adore her. If Lifetime wants to give Gia her own spinoff show, I’ll be watching!

AWKWARD: When Melissa called to deliver the news of the winning group dance, Abby announced that she’d only be back when the Hylands were gone—on speakerphone, of course. We’ve seen Abby’s close relationship with Brooke in previous seasons, and seeing how these remarks affected her was seriously heartbreaking. Watching Brooke dissolve into tears while Kelly and Melissa reassured her that Abby loved her was really the worst. Kelly mentioned that the relationship her daughters have with Abby wouldn’t be the same after this week—let’s hope that isn't true.

AWESOME: It may have been horrible to see Brooke so sad, but she certainly channeled that emotion into her performance. It seemed unlike Brooke to ask for a solo initially, but her insistence on this opportunity to dance and prove her commitment to the team was amazing. After allegedly learning her dance in a mere 15 minutes, she performed beautifully and earned 4th place—without a costume! What’s more, Brooke’s solo music was her own single, now available on her album on iTunes! 

AWKWARD: Brooke and Paige are officially back, but what does this mean for Leslie and Payton? With Leslie furious that Brooke was doing a solo and Payton wasn’t, fighting ensued in the observation mezzanine and continued throughout the weekend. With colorful insults being thrown constantly, Leslie seemed incredibly nervous that her time with the team could be coming to a close. But with a group dance of nine that took first place, there could be a chance that every team member will stay!

AWESOME: We know that Abby isn’t too thrilled about the girls’ promotional work with their fans, but what the Ziegler girls were a part of this week is nothing to criticize. To support The Starlight Foundation, Melissa helped a little girl, Hannah, achieve her dream of meeting Maddie and watching her perform. Serving as inspirations for one another, Maddie and Hannah spent time together throughout the episode, concluding with Maddie dedicating her (flawless) solo to her as well as the gift of her (gigantic) first place trophy. It was so great to see what an amazing impact the girls can have on their fans, especially for such a great cause.

And now, the QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I walk in the studio and Gia’s at the front desk, and I just assumed Abby’s at a headband sale somewhere.” —Mom Christi

Next week, the Candy Apples will be back for their revenge—but will Abby be there to lead her team? What do you think?

Dance News

The girls showed genuine emotion in their contemporary routine this week—and we loved it!

After a grueling week of Abby Lee Dance Company showcase prep and performances, Abby’s dream team was back and ready to compete—minus a few key members. The Hyland family is still M.I.A. this week, much to the team’s dismay and Abby’s delight. With plans to attend a new and highly-acclaimed competition and go head-to-head with Cathy and her fresh crew of MVPs, the stakes were higher than ever. Here are my top AWKWARD and AWESOME moments from this week.

AWKWARD: We’re back at the Candy Apple's Dance Center this week, but things aren’t exactly how we left them. While choreographer Anthony has stuck around, many of Cathy’s recruits have not. With Jaden and Zack inexplicably absent (not to mention old favorites Gino and Nick), we’re introduced to a new cast of talented dancers from around the country. Amongst them is none other than Lucas Triana, a super-flexible, strong and driven dancer who we first saw on "Dance Moms: Miami." I was thrilled to have a chance to see more of Lucas, but just really confused as to how Cathy can play this off. With Lucas came Mom Bridgette, whom Cathy claims to be “very good friends with on Facebook.” While the team is undeniably comprised of impressive talent, it’s pretty awkward that Cathy and crew keep shuffling their players around in hopes of defeating the invincible ALDC.

AWESOME: It’s a miracle—the moms are getting along! It seems that in times of need and turmoil, the moms make an unconquerable army. They really come together to face the Candy Apples and lobby for Kelly’s return. In Brooke’s absence, Abby calls in senior company dancer Payton, and with her comes Mom Leslie. In the past, the other moms have been far from thrilled to share the observation mezzanine with her, but this week they’re appreciative of her strong demeanor. Grateful to have another ally by their side on the upcoming trip, the moms have nothing but compliments for Payton, and they go pretty easy on Leslie as well. How refreshing!

AWKWARD: We may have gotten a break from the Pittsburgh mama drama this week, but that doesn’t mean there was any shortage of conflict. Although breaker Jalen and Dad Rick weren’t with the CADC this week, Cathy made sure to keep her team stocked with powerful and outspoken parents—and I don’t just mean the parents of the dancers. Cathy’s mother (reluctantly) agreed to tag along to Lancaster with the team, and choreographer Anthony’s mother came to support, too. The two remained silent until the inevitable post-awards showdown, when Anthony’s mother was far from hesitant to tell the ALDC how she felt. One set of moms is enough—let’s not bring in another! Christi said it best: “This is about dance! Are you people insane?!”

AWESOME: At this week's pyramid revealing, Abby told Nia once again that she wants more from her, a point to which Mom Holly argued could only be improved if Nia had more time in the studio with her teacher. Well, she instantly got her wish. Abby was disappointed in Maddie’s reluctance to perform a new solo last week, so she put Nia in her spot for a trio with Kendall and Chloe. She cut Nia no slack in rehearsals—and it certainly paid off. The girls looked beautiful onstage in a technical and stunning routine. Even Melissa remarked that Nia’s facials were “priceless.” The best part? Abby agreed! Go Nia!

AWKWARD: It seems that Yvette and Kristie Ray have a bit of unresolved tension from their time together on AUDC last season. As the two reunited, they instantly burst into an argument rehashing all kinds of things that had been said in the past. These two have each met their match—neither was willing to back down, especially in the defense of their daughters. Once the members of their respective teams pulled them apart, Kristie managed to get the last word by calling Yvette out on her Spanx being too tight (ouch!).

"Open Waters" was both technical and moving.

AWESOME: I loved the group number this week. Entitled “Open Waters,” the piece showcased technical excellence, strength and emotion—all the elements that make up a winning contemporary number. The girls looked so strong and mature, and the costumes, in combination with a sleek low-ponytail, made for a clean and professional look. Even with the challenge of working with a prop (and a new team member), they still managed to pull off a first place win (and reign supreme over the Candy Apple's crew!). Victory for the ALDC yet again!

 

Although the numbers looked great and the drama was scarce, the show really isn’t the same without the Hylands. The moment Abby pointed out what an asset Brooke’s unmatchable contortion work would have been to the group number, it became clearer than ever that the family actually isn’t replaceable. So, with Leslie and Payton determined to stay put, tension will most certainly be high at the ALDC next week.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“Leslie’s like the boil on the butt of humanity.” –Mom Christi

Dance News

Some familiar faces in this crowd...just not the ones I wanted to see for an entire episode.

How do I love "Dance Moms"? Let me count the ways... Chloe, Maddie, Paige, Brooke, Nia, Kendall, Mackenzie. Oh, you know, just the 7 characters that weren’t even in this week’s episode of the show. Yep! That’s right. No pyramid. No solos. No groups. Nothing. Are you KIDDING me?!?

Week after week, I’m frustrated with the focus on Mama Drama versus actual dancing, but considering the show is called "Dance Moms," I really can’t complain. But after seeing tonight’s episode, I’d gladly sit through endless footage of screaming in the ALDC observation mezzanine.

Set and focused entirely on the Apple Cores,  “An Apple a Day Keeps Abby Away” followed the plotline of yet another hand-picked team, lead by none other than Cathy and her new sidekick, esteemed choreographer Anthony Burrell. If Lifetime is trying to teach us the age-old lesson of “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone,” they’re seriously nailing it. With no more than a taunting glimpse inside the ALDC, I felt a major void during this week’s episode, so unconventional that it can’t even be categorized into awkward and awesome. Here’s a rundown of the hour’s top shocking and questionable moments.

Is this "Dance Moms" or "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition"?  With Abby hunting for studio space in L.A. (is that really going to happen? I’m not sure my heart could take it), we got to see some behind-the-scenes footage of the upcoming season of "AUDC." Undeniably a fan of any and all things Abby Lee, I’m eagerly anticipating the show’s second season…but not at the expense of my beloved "Dance Moms." Between these sneak peeks and Cathy’s utilization of both Zack and Hadley from "AUDC"’s first season, I honestly don’t know what I’m watching anymore. On the positive side, it was great to see the two performing Burrell’s choreography, both in the group number and individual solos. They’re stronger every time we see them!

The (second) return of Kaya and Nicaya. Yeah, the mother who calls herself “Black Patsy,” inspired by Patsy Ramsey, who is famous for being an overbearing, psychotic stage mother. If that’s not enough to deter you, Kaya’s uninhibited yelling, name calling and overall aggression earlier this season probably put you off. Don’t worry, Cathy personally recruits the pair and invites them to represent her own studio. Great! Can’t wait to see ya!

The moms unite. Aside from the brief, nondescript clips of the ALDC girls rehearsing a piece we never saw, the only taste of familiarity in this episode were scenes with the moms we know and love. And…they were getting along! And bonding! What a relief. While toasting to Abby’s absence over a festive lunch and gossiping about the possible studio move, the moms seemed to be enjoying each other’s company (even Kristie!). After discovering Jill’s sneaky spy skills in last week’s episode, Abby gives her the task of rounding up the troops and heading to the competition to see what Cathy and her new team have to show for themselves. Jill quickly complies, and follows through until the very end (but not without throwing a few insults in the green room.)

To sum it up, this week’s episode was a different program entirely. On the bright side, it’s great to see how the "AUDC" dancers, Apple Cores and new recruits have improved, giving the dancers and studios exposure on a primetime national platform.

Next week, it’s more Candy Apples with a side of "AUDC"—but this time, we at least see a solo from Maddie, who's awarded a special guest performance. I can’t say I expect this to go over well among the moms, but I’ll welcome the drama if it means seeing the familiar faces we know and love.

Quote of the Week:

“Cathy will enter herself in the open solo category and dance her own dance if it means competing against us.” —Mom Christi (Next week on "Dance Moms"…)

Dance News

Cuties fighting cancer

Finally, an episode of "Dance Moms" that features only the ALDC! Triumphant over Cathy and the Apple Cores at last, Abby’s dream team was back and better than ever. From the start, Abby’s spirits were high as she greeted each girl (and mom!) with a smile as they entered the studio. I knew things had to be too good to be true—and I was right. Although lacking the CADC drama that has dictated most recent episodes, this week’s “Two Girls, One Solo” took tension between the mothers (AND the girls!) to a new level. Here are my top 3 AWESOME and AWKWARD moments.

AWESOME: Brooke is at the top of the pyramid! I can’t say I remember the last time this happened, but she certainly deserved it. With a breathtaking and technically astounding performance among ALDC’s senior company last week (and compliance with Abby’s insistence on a date with partner Kevin), Brooke truly outdid herself. (Surprise! She was not rewarded with a solo. Maybe next week?)

AWKWARD: This week, Abby had a few tricks up her sleeve…in the form of teammate showdowns. With Asia’s return after a job in L.A., she’s set to compete a solo against Mackenzie. And Chloe and Maddie will go head-to-head as well, which is nothing new. But, of course, Abby couldn’t leave it at that. The two will be competing the same solo with identical choreography, costumes, and music—an unprecedented tactic at the ALDC (and as far as I know, everywhere.) Everything about this made me nervous and suspicious—as Mom Christi pointed out, the choreography would likely be catered to only one of the girls’ strengths. After an impeccable duet performance last week, it really was a toss up...

AWESOME: The group dance. A concept piece based on fighting cancer, “Living With the Ribbon” was tasteful, unique and beautifully performed. The choreography showcased all of the girls’ strengths (they’re looking better every week!) and tapped into their personal experiences with the disease and loss. With such an important subject, Abby devoted as much time and energy into conveying the message to her dancers as she did teaching the choreography. A well-deserved win for the ALDC!

AWKWARD: I’m definitely a fan of Asia, but what I am not a fan of is lip-syncing during a routine. From the moment she started her solo, it was all I could focus on—and Abby agreed. Upon returning to the green room, Asia was instantly scolded for the mistake. As Mackenzie awaited her own critique, Abby asked her what she had learned from watching Asia in the wings, to which she responded, “not to lip sync.” Good girl!

AWESOME: Although certainly challenging her dancers this week, Abby seems to have softened up a bit after last week’s win. Yes, pitting her dancers against each other wasn't the most kind-hearted mechanism, but in rehearsal scenes, her critique is constructive, encouraging, and at a moderate volume. With a group dance based on a heavy topic, Abby opens up to her girls about her own experiences and encourages them to share their own. I’m confident this is a side of Abby that is constant, but maybe not shown in every episode, and it was a welcome change. It’s clear that the relationship between Abby and her girls is one based on admiration, respect and trust—something we may forget amongst all the surrounding drama.

AWKWARD: Awards. Finally, the Maddie/Chloe showdown came to a dramatic finish. Maddie was announced second, and Chloe first (!), leaving Maddie’s eyes filled to the brim with tears and Chloe grinning ear-to-ear. A proud Christi cheered from the audience while Abby whispered to Melissa, “There is no doubt Maddie should have won.” Though her shining moment was already tainted, Chloe was a great sport and congratulated the other girls without flaunting her victory. Back in the green room, a competition director came in to apologize for a score discrepancy—as it turns out, Maddie actually had the higher score, making her the overall winner. Abby was beside herself with glee, and Chloe was fighting back tears as she traded in her plaque (while my heart seriously broke into a thousand pieces for her.) The moms, suspicious about the sudden alteration, asked Abby how the mistake was possible. Moments later, the director thanked Abby for bringing the situation to their attention.

Between Jill and Christi’s discovery of the Ziegler girls’ extra rehearsal time and a possible instance of foul play in scoring, we are certainly headed down a dramatic and probably tear-filled road this season! Though things seem to be on the mend with Christi and Kelly for the moment, we can undoubtedly expect blowouts galore in the coming weeks. Hopefully, the drama will stay among the adults, not the girls.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  “I thought they both did a fabulous job, so I don’t think it matters who the winner is.” –Paige (TRUE THAT, PAIGE!)

 

Dance News

Mom Kristie decides to suck up to Abby. Because that's definitely the best way to make everyone else hate you.

I must admit that this week’s episode had way too much Cathy, way too much mom drama and not nearly enough dancing. But there’s nothing like rooting for little Mackenzie to keep me riveted. Here are my top three AWESOME and AWKWARD moments.

AWESOME: Pyramid time! Chloe’s on top of the pyramid even though she didn’t win first place last week. I love that Abby’s finally showing her that ounce of encouragement. Chloe, Asia, Maddie and Kendall will all get solos! Unfortunately, we won’t actually get to see them until next week.

AWKWARD: The battle over “The View” continues. Abby announces that Asia’s filling in for Mackenzie on the show, which makes Mom Melissa very upset. Then Abby tells Mackenzie to make her mom fight for her (because 8 year olds should definitely tell their moms what to do). Of course, the kids are fine with whatever happens, but the far-less-mature moms will not stop fighting over it. Somehow, Mom Kelly makes it all about her and her kids, but I’m not really sure how that happened. I sense that Abby knows the whole time who she wants to use, but has found the perfect tactic to rile these moms up and stretch the NYC trip over two episodes. Yes Abby, please draw this fight out for as long as possible. You know how that thrills me.

AWESOME: The results are in…and Little Mac gets to perform! Even though I knew this was coming, I was still excited to see her little face light up. And Asia handles rejection like a pro. The kids’ performance is great, and Abby doesn’t yell at anyone afterwards. Great success!

“As soon as I did my cartwheel over the seat, I was like, ‘I’m back.' ” —Mackenzie

AWKWARD: Cathy. The Candy Apples director announces that she’s holding auditions for a new dancer—because no one at her actual studio full of dancers is apparently good enough. Good job being a teacher, Cathy. Watching the judging process is cringe-worthy. First she tells a girl she won’t get the job just because her name is Maddie, then she calls a child Had instead of Hannah, then she asks a chubby (but awesome!) little boy “Are you sure you’re a dancer?” about a dozen times. So inspirational. To make it worse, Vivi is a judge. Shockingly, she doesn’t have much to add.

AWESOME: As awful as Cathy is, I do like this new dancer she’s chosen, Victoria. Victoria is a student from Larkin Dance Studio, and she is stunning. Anthony Burrell’s choreography starring the newcomer looks like it’s going to be pretty cool. I’m excited to see what’s to come for this little one.

AWKWARD: Cathy and Vivi eat cheesecake. First, Vivi admits to eating five pieces of pizza in one day. Then, Cathy grills Vivi about new kid Victoria (who she’s never spoken to) and tries to force Vivi to admit that she wants Jalen to be her boyfriend. Again, Vivi doesn’t have much to add.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Mom Cathy: “This is hard work auditioning people.”

Vivi: “I’m hungry.”

To be continued!!! Stay tuned for next week when the girls will finally perform the solos we’ve heard almost nothing about. Until then, let me know what you thought of this week’s episode in the comments.

 

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!

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