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?

The be-wigged dancing machine performing next to Sia on her recent "Saturday Night Live" appearance was, in fact, not Maddie Ziegler. We forgive you for being confused since Maddie and Sia are besties, but this new tiny dancer blew us away.

As it turns out, the dancer in question, Mina Nishimura, isn't that new. She's invested in NYC's downtown scene, so doing something on live TV with a major pop star is totally unusual for her. But you'd never know, (nor would you know she had very minimal rehearsal time before the performance) thanks to her emotionally-charged dancing.

Nishimura is a trained Butoh dancer who uses the Japanese form to create her own contemporary work. She's weird and wonderful, so it's no surprise that Sia would want to work with her.

Does this mean that someday we might see Ziegler and Nishimura onstage together? With Sia calling the shots, it doesn't seem totally impossible.

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The latest in the never-gets-old trend of dancers modeling fashion (dare I say, bringing it to life?!) is a video of two of our favorite sisters dancing in all the latest for Glamour magazine.

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.

Dance and fashion FORRREEVVVVERRRRRR!

Enjoy!

 

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!

Dancers reveal the funniest—and sweetest—things their fans have ever done for them.

Corey Cott (by Lorenzo Bevilaqua)

Corey Cott

Jack Kelly in Newsies on Broadway

"Newsies has the most incredible, loyal fans ever. There are kids who have come to the show 60 or 70 times, and at the stage door we’re on a first-name basis. They even come to our softball games (all the shows on Broadway have their own softball teams) and bring cookies and treats.

"They make us really creative things, like bracelets and drawings. Every day it’s something new. One fan gave me a toy train with the words “Santa Fe” on it, since my character wants to get on a train to Santa Fe. I have that on a shelf in my dressing room. And someone brought a rubber toy “pape” for my new puppy.

"The drawings people have done of me are my favorites. Some are more realistic than others. Over the last year I’ve hung them up on my dressing room door, and now it’s

become a wall of more than 25 drawings."

Maddie Ziegler (by Portraits with Pride)

Maddie Ziegler

“Dance Moms”

"One time, I arrived at the studio and a boy came up to me and gave me a dozen roses and a long letter. He and his dad were in town for a hockey tournament. They were all dressed up, and had flowers for my mom and my sister, too.

"In the letter, he said he loved my dancing, and he gave me his phone number and a school picture. I still have the dried flowers and the letter at home. It’s funny that so many boys like the show!"

Sarah Lamb in Christopher Wheeldon’s Electric Counterpoint (Johan Persson)

 

Sarah Lamb

Principal, The Royal Ballet

“I was dancing Sugar Plum Fairy once in Atlanta, and I received the most beautiful and surprising present. A girl gave me a very old copy of e. e. cummings’ The Enormous Room. She must have read in an article somewhere that he’s one of my favorite writers. It was exceptional; this girl seemed to know me so well, despite the fact we’d never met.”

Rasta Thomas (Courtesy Bad Boys of Dance)

Rasta Thomas

Creator of Bad Boys of Dance

"I used to have a PO box where fans could send letters, and I would get pictures, candy and handwritten love letters with perfume and little lipstick kisses on them. Now, most fan mail is through Facebook or email. The love letters are always flattering—and the “Will you marry me?” ones are extra-special!

"Some of the dancers in my company have fans who have actually tattooed the dancers’ faces somewhere on their bodies. Ryan Carlson and the Lombard twins have both reached tattoo status. I can’t say I’ve been tattooed yet. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone—my nose is far too big!"

Amelia Lowe in a Mandy Moore routine with fellow contestant Will Thomas (Adam Rose/FOX)

Amelia Lowe

“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9 contestant

"Last November, I was on the 'SYTYCD' tour in Boston and we performed on the night of my birthday. I was bummed the whole day because it was my first birthday away from home and without my family around.

"When we walked out the stage door, there were about 70 fans who had waited half an hour in the cold to see us. I mentioned to one of them that it was my birthday, and then the entire line sang 'Happy Birthday to You' to me! It was this line of complete strangers who just wanted the best for me, and it totally cheered me up and made me feel special."

Yann Trividic in George Balanchine’s Western Symphony (by Kyle Froman)

Yann Trividic

Former principal dancer, Miami City Ballet

"Sometimes, when fans hug me, they try to sneak in a kiss! I have to turn my face so they wind up kissing my cheek.When people feel moved, sometimes they have a very special way of expressing how thankful they are. And that’s OK—I’m French, it works"

 

 

Sarah Pasch in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco (by Angela Sterling)

 

 

Sarah Pasch

Corps de ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet

"Our company toured to NYC last February, and before we left Seattle, our videographer went around and asked a few people what our must-have airplane supplies were. I said crossword puzzles.

"When we got back, a young girl named Ella, who goes to the PNB school, stopped me in the hallway and said, “Sarah, I saw your video and that you really like crossword puzzles, and I brought you some!” It was the sweetest thing. Ever since she was my “daughter” in the Nutcracker a couple years ago, she’s been one of my biggest fans."

(L to R) Katie Finnegan, Clarke Thorell and J. Elaine Marcos in Annie (by Joan Marcus)

 

J. Elaine Marcos

Lily St. Regis in Annie on Broadway

"In my last show, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I did a dance number, and my “trick” at the end was shooting hundreds of Ping-Pong balls into the audience from my costume and my mouth. If someone got a Ping-Pong ball, it was like catching a baseball at a game. They would ask me to sign them at the stage door.

"A lot of fans gave me bedazzled Ping-Pong balls, and one fan made me a mold of a mouth with a Ping-Pong ball inside. There was glitter on the lips because Priscilla is all about glitter and sparkles. I thought, “Oh my gosh! Someone took the time to do all of this!” It was sweet, and very funny.

"Then, on my opening night of Annie, my former Priscilla fans sent me lilies, since my character is named Lily St. Regis. My entire dressing room was filled with lilies"

 

Chloe and Gianna clearly make a good team.

When we left the ALDC last week, the team was celebrating a clean sweep pulled off in Abby’s absence. Uncertain about when they could expect their leader’s return, the moms were fixated on Abby’s whereabouts and intentions this week. Luckily, Gianna came back to the rescue, and lead her team through another very successful competition. Here are my top AWKWARD and AWESOME moments from this week.

AWKWARD: Melissa pays a visit to Abby’s home to discuss the fast-approaching Nationals. She voiced her concerns about Abby’s absence, Mrs. Miller’s health and Maddie’s need for her teacher’s instruction. Abby makes it clear that she will be putting her family first (rightfully so), but reassures Melissa that she need not worry about Maddie performing a solo at Nationals this year. As Maddie has been winning first place trophies all season, this makes a lot of sense, but Melissa knows the other moms won’t see it that way. When they ask about her visit, she chooses not to mention those details…as if they wouldn't come out on national TV in a few weeks.

AWESOME: No Abby means more Gianna, and that’s something I can get on board with. As I mentioned last week, Gia’s relationship with the girls is healthy, supportive and constructive—and produces incredible results. Without Abby to lead Pyramid, Gia calmly and quickly told the moms who would be dancing what numbers. Each routine was memorable—not to mention, she worked under the added pressure of facing the dreaded Candy Apples. Gia for President!

AWKWARD: Last week, Abby made it clear that she had no desire to see Brooke and Paige at the studio when she returned. So when she finally arrived at rehearsal this week, you could see the fear wash over the Hyland girls' faces. Unsurprisingly, Abby gave them a hard time, and warned them that they’d be doing solos every week and learning them in the same amount of time that Maddie learns hers. On the bright side, Brooke and Paige performed with their team for a second consecutive week, so let’s hope they’re here to stay.

AWESOME: With all the drama between Abby and the moms, it can be hard to remember that Abby has independent relationships with her students. After awards, the moms pressured Melissa to call Abby to deliver the results; Abby dismissed them, explaining she'd already spoken to the girls (who hadn’t even made it back to their dressing room). This moment showed that, whether she's physically present or not, Abby supports her team. I guess we can't believe everything we see on TV...

AWKWARD: Over at Candy Apples, choreographer Anthony has pulled the plug on his time with the team. Cathy brags that she is “perfectly capable of leading her own team,” but that's clearly not the case at all. Lucky for her (or not), she had Mom Yvette to step up and take charge. When the troupe encountered their rival ALDC moms at competition, they bragged that Cathy did everything herself, a statement that caused Yvette to have a serious meltdown. Sobbing and screaming, “I hate it, I hate it, I hate it,” she escaped to the wings. Mom Holly probably summed it up best on her Twitter account (@DanceMomHolly): “Do you think Yvette hates it?” Yes, I think she does. We’ll see if she returns for another week.

AWESOME: Cathy’s main concern this week was choosing a soloist who could beat ALDC rep, Chloe. She selected Zack, a very technical dancer who has beaten Chloe at previous competitions. Chloe has a history of being neck-in-neck for first place with a Candy Apple boy (throwback to the Justice days), but with Gia choreographing a lyrical solo for her, she was ready for the challenge. Both dancers performed beautifully, but Chloe outdid herself this week. The choreography was challenging both technically and emotionally, and Chloe danced so well that she had every Mom standing (not just her own!). After what felt like years, Chloe earned that first place slot, proving that she, too, can beat the boys.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I’m ready for Abby to just walk into rehearsal and be like, ‘You’re doing this wrong. You’re doing this wrong!’ ” —Kendall

Next week, it looks like more Hyland drama (Don’t cry, Paige!), but Abby seems to be back in action. With Nationals around the corner, we can certainly expect the drama!

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