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!

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!

Cuteness overload!

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!

 

These costumes are made of money. Literally.

After the epic meltdown that was last week, I was a little nervous for the latest “Dance Moms” episode. But things generally went pretty well: Chloe and Mom Christi came back, Maddie was back at the top of the pyramid and all things seemed right in the world of ALDC. Of course, that never lasts long. Here are my top three AWESOME and AWKWARD moments from last night’s show.

AWESOME Everybody will be in group dance “Money is the Root of All Evil” (even Mackenzie!). There’s real money shoved into the crevices of these costumes, because that will definitely be seen from stage (<-- sarcasm font). Heaven forbid they just make photocopies of real money or use Monopoly money. “I’m not so sure this is a good use of money,” says genius Mom Jill. You think? Anyway, back to the awesomeness: This dance was spectacular. I know I always say that, but this one really showed off the girls as solid dancers and stellar actresses. And, I have to admit, the costumes looked great. First place, baby!

AWKWARD Abby’s attempt to “get back” at Chloe by not using her real name. She just refers to Chloe as “you” or “Blondie.” Ugh. It’s not even Chloe she’s mad at; it’s Mom Christi. Abby acting like a sixth-grade child makes Chloe cry—because Chloe is actually a sixth-grade child. Well done, Abby.

AWESOME Remember last week when I fell in love with Nia? My love has tripled. So Nia apparently decides all by herself to stand up to Abby and ask for her duet with Paige back. You go girl! Abby says maybe, which is the best response a kid could ask for. She comes around in the end, and the girls get to dance their duet, “The Wild Child and the Wallflower.” What a perfect cutesy routine for these two. Abby’s grinning in the audience, and so am I.

Now that's the Brooke we know and love!

AWESOME Brooke gets a solo. Well this hasn’t happened in a while. Mom Kelly is mad for some reason right off the bat, but Brooke pretty much kicks butt. There’s definitely a maturity in her dancing that I don’t remember seeing before. And for all the haters (like me) who thought Brooke didn’t care about dancing anymore (hence the title of her solo, “Care Less”), she proves us wrong. She likes to dance, people! She actually likes it!

AWKWARD These moms are really getting on my last nerve. For once in this entire zany season, Abby comes back to the dressing room post-competition in high spirits. She tells EVERYONE they did a good job (that never happens!) and smiles as she leaves. I’m ready to change the channel…but the moms just won’t have it end like that. Let the fighting begin. The big feud is between Mom Kelly and Mom Christi, but no one really understands what they’re fighting about. I think it’s something like: Christi’s mad that Kelly didn’t call, but Kelly did call, but Kelly shouldn’t have to call, but Kelly should’ve just come to Christi’s house, but Kelly’s a bad friend, but Christi’s a bad friend, too. Moral of this story? Who cares.

AWKWARD The previews for next week’s show. Abby’s dog Broadway Baby dies, and I can’t even handle looking at Abby’s face when she’s that sad. If things are crazy dysfunctional when Abby’s in a good mood, I can’t imagine what will go down when she’s in mourning. I’m uncomfortable already.

And last but not least, the QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I want to walk back into that studio like I want a stiletto jammed in my eyeball.” —Mom Christi

With that pleasant mental image, I leave you until next week. Don’t forget to let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments!

 

 

 

I know this show is called “Dance Moms,” but there’s nothing that upsets me more than an entire episode (like last night’s) focusing mainly on the moms being annoying. Silver lining: Mackenzie got a solo. Here are my top three AWESOME and oh-so-AWKWARD moments from the latest drama-filled installment.

AWKWARD The ridiculous process of casting the group routine “Voyage Home.” First, Abby announces that Brooke and Mackenzie are not in the dance. Brooke doesn’t really seem to care about not dancing (after all, she's having a really good hair day). But the fact that Mac is being punished for working with a faulty prop last week hurts my soul. Sophia’s still in the dance even though she’s missing all the rehearsals for it. Wait, how is Sophia supposed to learn this routine again? It doesn’t matter because she doesn’t show up for the competition anyway. I guess it all falls on Kendall to change up the formations on stage. That’s good, because she never crumbles under pressure…

AWESOME This group dance was supposed to be serious, teaching the girls about history and immigration, but then Abby clearly has no idea what immigration actually is, and instead explains that they’re basically dirty travelers from nowhere in particular going home. OK…Good thing the girls have some serious acting chops and were able to pull this thing together with very little background info. It was actually a beautiful piece. And sorry Brooke and Mac, I have to admit, it does look nice that the dancers were all relatively the same height. Abby says Kendall messed everything up, but I didn’t notice her mistake. And then they win first place overall. So take that, Abby.

AWKWARD Obviously Mom Melissa is not pleased about Maddie being downgraded to a duet, especially one with Kendall, who—while she’s a great little dancer—is not on the same level as Maddie at all. So Abby gets Melissa to admit she’s upset, then tells Mom Jill all about it. So the moms go at it over who lied the most. The best part is: Every single mom who recounted this conversation definitely lied about it. It’s as if they forget that everything they say is being filmed for national television. I wish they would just be able to re-watch old footage while taping. Then we could settle these arguments a lot more quickly and get back to the kiddos.

AWESOME Maddie and Kendall’s duet “Sugar and Spice.” Even though this routine is way too easy for Maddie, and Kendall gets so many corrections it seems inevitable she’ll mess up onstage, the girls totally pulled it off. What a cute number! And Kendall looked pretty darn good. First place!

AWKWARD The moms are going through Abby’s garage to find old dance stuff. Christi thinks she’s going to get scabies—but really there are only mice lurking behind all the boxes. Then they find weird photos of Abby with a black eye. Didn’t think that plot twist through, did you, Abby? Next week you’ll have to find a different way to put the moms to work in exchange for them giving you money. Wait, what?

AWESOME The two solos! Mackenzie’s routine is called “Lemonade,” and she proves that she can even spell l-e-m-o-n-a-d-e. She’s a child genius, ladies and gentleman! She was amazing onstage, and, as usual, that kissy face just kills me. Paige also rocked the stage this week with her solo, “I Wanna Dance.” I’d actually forgotten what Paige’s dancing looked like, since I think it’s been over a year since she actually did any on this show. With Maddie, Chloe and newcomer Sophia not competing solos, Paige gets the opportunity to really shine. And she surprised me! Nice going, Paige.

So what have we learned here today? The kids, in general, are AWESOME. The grown ups, however, make everything AWKWARD.

And now—the moment you’ve all been waiting for—the QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I don’t wake up amazing. It takes me hours to get this way!” —Abby

At least she’s modest.

Tune in next week for another episode and another recap. And don’t forget to let me know what you think!

It’s episode three and the moment of truth has arrived: Abby must decide who will stay and who will go. It was certainly a nailbiter. Here are my top three AWESOME and AWKWARD moments from this week's show.

 

AWKWARD OK, we knew the old team was going to be brought back eventually, but did they have to do it in such an uncomfortable way? At first, the new team is back, except Ally. Turns out Moms Marsha and Flo had scared her off. So in return, Abby scares Marsha and Flo out of her studio. Their kids are upset, and it’s really sad. There goes your 15 minutes of fame Bella and Kaeli. I’m a little confused about why Abby thinks this is a necessary move—her usual motley crew of mothers have scared away plenty a new student and still stuck around. Is she making room for someone? Ah yes, her old students! After a half-hearted stand off, the old moms come waltzing right back into the studio. Even Kelly’s back! I have to admit, I missed them. Especially Mackenzie.

AWESOME I know I’m supposed to be mad at Sophia for stealing Maddie’s spotlight, but I just can’t be. She’s just too awesome. She can do 54 turns. She has a 6-pack. No, she has a 12-pack. She consistently blows me away, but let’s be honest, her choreography could use some work. We get it, she can fouetté. Let’s see something else now.

AWKWARD Brooke doesn’t get to be in the group routine. After all that hoopla about letting the Hyland sisters back on the team, Brooke lasts approximately 5 minutes before Abby unceremoniously kicks her out of the number. My guess is that she had a school dance or something that weekend, but since they’ve already exhausted that plot line, the producers decided on this lame one instead. We miss you, Brooke!

AWESOME Even though there was no Brooke and then they all only had like a day to rehearse, the group routine “Red Carpet Special” looked pretty darn good. And when Mackenzie couldn’t get that red carpet prop to budge, but still never lost her cute, kissy face, I melted. What a pro. A well-deserved first place to the reunited team!

AWKWARD Remember that time last week when the moms all acted like fourth graders? They’re at it again, making fun of Mom Jacqueline for being too gorgeous and too nice. They might as well pull her hair and stick a “kick me” sign on her back. Or they’ll just keep to their original plan of sneaking a roofy into her drink. Wait, did Christy really just say that out loud?

AWESOME True, the appearance of superstar Sophia has meant that the other girls are a little off their games, but Chloe still did a beautiful job with her solo. And as much as Mom Christy drove me nuts for this entire episode, she does have a point; Sophia doesn’t have the onstage emotion that Chloe has. Chloe’s an excellent little performer, and to prove it, she gets an “Expressive Heart” award. I’m not really sure what that is, but I think it means she rocks.

 

Going along with our “Chloe is awesome” theme, here’s my QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“Miss Abby kept saying how much better Sophia was than all of us. But that just gave me a purpose, to show Miss Abby that one day I will be as good as Sophia.” —Chloe

It’s shocking how much better she’s handling this situation than her mother. My goodness I love this girl.

 

Tune in next week for another exciting episode, and an even more exciting recap. And don’t forget to let me know what you think!

 

 

This was a fabulously kid-focused, (almost) drama-free episode. The moms kept their fighting to a minimum, everybody got a solo and my not-so-secret favorite, Mackenzie, got tons of screen time. L.A. clearly suits this crazy bunch. It was hard to choose, but here are my top five moments:

5. Mackenzie’s on top of the pyramid! Enough said.

4. Kendall stepped up her game. She’s finally officially on the team—and showed everybody why. Her solo, “Kiss Kiss,” was well danced and well acted. Since when does she have stellar technique? I don’t remember seeing that at Candy Apples. She even beat Chloe! And did someone sedate her mother? Jill was eerily mellow. All in all, an excellent week for Kendall.

3. Mackenzie’s solo “A Perfect Day in the Sun” was just, well, perfect. “In my solo, I forgot a split second, and then I just kept going on,” said Mac. Silly editors making it look like that pause lasted a lifetime. While I was super proud that she kept dancing after she forgot her routine, Abby was less than impressed. How can you be mad at anyone who pulls of painted-on freckles so well? Mac sure showed Abby—high score Elite Mini solo! What a pro.

 2. Brooke’s debut as a recording artist. It was great to see Brooke have a chance to stand out—even if it wasn’t because of her dancing. I have to admit, “Summer Love Song” is super catchy. (“Spin that record round and round, ‘cause I can’t get enough of that summer sound…”) Plus, seeing Abby attempt to direct a music video was just comical—especially since the dancers doubled as videographers. (Where are all your entertainment industry connections, Abby?) I love that everybody got the chance to be involved. Not surprisingly, Mackenzie has a phenomenal voice. Seriously, that child can do no wrong.

1. Maddie’s comeback. Abby kept Maddie hanging for way too long as to whether or not she’ll get a solo (of course she will!). Maybe I just needed a couple weeks off to truly appreciate what Maddie can do, but wow, that was a great solo. “Close to perfection,” as Abby said. I can’t believe that girl is only in 4th grade. A well-deserved first place win.

Next week looks like a doozy. We’ll find out who Abby will use at Nationals, Cathy comes back and Kelly cries (uh oh). Until then… What did you think of Mackenzie’s freckles? Is Brooke’s song permanently stuck in your head, too? Don’t forget to let me know what you think!

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