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?
Abby Lee Dance Company goes to Nationals! Considering how awesome everyone dances, there’s an awful lot of crying in this episode that I could live without. I’ve also chosen to ignore the Candy Apples in this recap, because they were just too annoying. (Although I did think the thirty seconds of Cathy’s creepy cackle perfectly illustrated her personality.) With that said, on with my top five moments:
5. Not that Abby generally holds back when insulting her students, but Abby calling Paige stupid was below the belt. Kelly storms out. Silver lining? This means she’s outside and free when she gets a call offering Paige a photo shoot. Yay Paige! We’re not really sure what this photo shoot was for, but it was a nice moment in the spotlight. She really is a beautiful kid.
4. So there's this new trend on “Dance Moms” where Abby waits until the last minute to cast a routine. It’s not fun for the girls, it’s not fun for the moms and it’s really not fun for me. This week, the routine in question is a solo, and the three contenders for the spot are Chloe, Kendall and Nia. In an unexpected twist, Abby makes the moms be the judges. Shocker of shockers, all the moms choose their own kids to win the part. Who will break this three-way tie? Mom Melissa, of course. (Do we think producers were upset about the lack of mom drama last week?) Melissa picks Nia! Yay Nia! I’m so proud of… wait, Abby doesn’t want Nia. You mean this whole letting-the-moms-choose idea was just a ruse?! Abby convinces Melissa to choose Chloe, which makes Kendall cry. "We already knew who was going to get it," says sad-face Kendall. Excellent point. Chloe’s happy to get the part, but she’s feeling the pressure. And now Chloe’s crying, too. I told you there was a lot of crying in this episode. Well done, Abby. Well done.
3. Maybe I’m still coming down from the excitement of meeting Maddie and Chloe last week, but I love that these two are constantly cheering each other on instead of pulling each other’s hair out. They both competed solos this week, danced beautiful, and (most importantly) beat Justice! As Abby so eloquently says, “Justice has been served!” Maybe the judges were as turned off by all the fake blood in his routine as I was. Anyway, back to the girls. Chloe’s beaming smile backstage while Maddie performed was just priceless. Time for crowning: Maddie got second place, and Chloe got first! Maddie was so happy for her. Mom Christi was a mess. So was I. Go Chloe! Cue the victory music.
2. Remember how nothing makes me happier than seeing Mackenzie dressed up like an animal? So obviously I was thrilled when Abby announced that this week, little Mac would be a killer bee. Wait, is that the same solo music that Vivi once used? Uh oh, I sense impending drama… Luckily, Mackenzie was so darn cute that nobody stayed angry for long. Basically, she put Vivi’s sad shimmying to shame. A well-deserved first place. “She’s not Maddie. She’s Mackenzie, and she’s an amazing little dancer,” said mom Melissa. Truth.
1. A moment of silence at a dance competition is a very rare thing, but Abby manages to inspire one with this week’s group routine. “My Last Text,” about a group of kids who die because they’re on their phones in the car (creepy!) was well danced, mature and super poignant. The audience was in tears and even Cathy called it “absolutely brilliant.” Not surprisingly, this number wrapped up the Abby Lee Dance Company’s clean sweep. All in all, an excellent way to end the season.
Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler are too cute for words, though we would have loved to see a little bit fiercer choreography. I mean, the world knows what these two are capable of. And by now, modeling is just another day in the life of miss Maddie Z. But the point was to show off the latest couture and, as usual, the Ziegler ladies nailed it.
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!
On set with all the ALDC kids! (Photo by Nate Powers)
Last night’s “Dance Moms” episode featured a very special guest: Dance Spirit! So instead of our usual recaps, I’m going to give you a rundown of five things you didn’t see on TV—but I did.
1. You know those moments when the kids and moms are speaking directly to the camera about what’s happening? That’s called an “On the Fly” or “OTF.” And though it may appear that they’re done against a wall of brightly colored costumes, they’re not. They’re actually filmed outside the studio on the grass. And they really are done on the fly! Cast members get almost no warning before they’re called away to share their thoughts.
2. Those plot twists are planned—but not everyone is in on them. When Jill came for a “surprise” visit to our photo shoot? The only one who was shocked was Melissa. Jill and Kendall were waiting outside the house for more than an hour before entering, hanging out with the crew. The producers had cooked up the whole thing. And yes, even I knew it was coming.
3. The kids are generally nowhere near the mama drama. And that’s a good thing. Maddie told me that as soon as the fury begins, one of the moms will whisk the children out of the room. And remember that scene in last night’s episode where Abby calls Jill down to yell about Kendall? It seems like Kendall is right there, hearing it all, but really Gianna had moved Kendall and Maddie into a corner to run the choreography—and stay far away from the mayhem. Of course, they’ll see it later on TV… but it’s the thought that counts.
4. This show has really good editors. After all, they have to cut a full week of footage into one hour. They can also make it look like you're reacting to anything that's said in whatever way they want. How do I feel about that?
5. Beyond all the fancy camera work and editing, some of it actually is real. I saw real emotion, real hard work and real smiles from all the kids on set. And we really were there to capture a day in the life of Maddie for our November issue. “Why just Maddie?” you ask? It seems a lot of the dance moms had the same question. We chose Maddie because we see some serious potential in her. If she stays in class (which she promises me she's doing), she has the skills and the commitment to make it in the dance world when her time on “Dance Moms” is a distant memory.
Want more behind-the-scenes details from the show? Maddie spills it all in our November issue. Get excited!
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"…)
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!)
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.