So I went on a little fact-finding mission this weekend, Dance Moms faithful. I actually attended a three-day dance competition. Applause Talentâ€™s regional dealie in Madison, Wisconsin, where my beautiful niece competed with her studio, Ignite Dance. Here are some of the things I learned.
There are way too many dances at these things. I have no idea how the judges keep whoâ€™s who and whatâ€™s what straight from solo No.1 to large group No. 403. I suspect it has something to do with the tablet computers in front of them. And the little microphones into which they jabber incessantly while the dancers dance. But Lordie. Also, we do not dance in anything that remotely resembles the order in the $10 program. We just have that so we can follow along comes awards time.
We were at a gigantic high school, but the dancers were still crammed into every practice and get-ready space that they could find. They mostly got along splendidly. All of the moms I saw had on jeans or yoga pants and I didn’t see any fancy schmancy lighted makeup mirrors, but I didn’t look in every room. Otherwise, the rest of that backstage curl and sew and glue and hustle was pretty much right on the money.
I clapped for a lot of dances that came from other people’s studios, too. I’m like that. Girls dressing like boys is a hot theme this season.
Awards take 311 hours. The first 11 hours are spent doing the Wobble en masse which is cute for about 4 minutes and then tiresome, even to the dancers.
The Wobble will stay in your head for a long, long time after you get home.
Everyoneâ€™s a winner during the first half of awards. Itâ€™s what metal winner you are that matters most. The competition-wide winners are announced second and are sometimes all the same kids, just in different arrangements. Also, that one dance wasnâ€™t really dancing, but it was some entertaining theater, so it won a lot anyway.
I canâ€™t for the life of me imagine doing that every weekend.
But Abby and the ladies can, so letâ€™s get to it.
Even though the group dance won by a wide margin last week, Abby isnâ€™t very happy with it. Most specifically, she is not happy with Chloe, who she says did not do the choreography that was given her, even though I thought this was the Improv Dance of Grief Relief, because Abby was too overcome by the loss of her dog to complete the dance.
And then itâ€™s pyramid time.
Bottom of the bottom is Paige. She needs to work on her face or sheâ€™ll never work her way into the judgesâ€™ hearts.
Next is Kendall. Abby says her improv did not garner oohs and ahs. Jill says thatâ€™s because there was no choreography given. But Chloe just got hammered for not doing the choreography, so Iâ€™m guessing, like most of Dance Moms, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Then comes Brooke. Because she is the oldest on the team, Abby wants her to take a leadership role and she just doesnâ€™t do it.
Row two begins with Nia. Sheâ€™s third on the pyramid because she was third highest score overall. Makes sense. Hollyâ€™s all about it.
Then Mack, who got overall high score in the mini division. Did we even see that? I donâ€™t think we did. But Iâ€™m sure she was precious.
Top of the top is Maddie who won her age division and did the highest-scoring solo in the entire competition.
Chloeâ€™s punishment soldiers on. She is still not back in the stack.
This week we are going to Bernardsville, New Jersey, home of killer costumes and strong competitors because it is a hairâ€™s breadth from New York, despite its rinky-dink sounding name.
Everyone but Mac is in the group dance which is titled Your Dream Is My Dream … which is the basically the dance we didnâ€™t do from last week … which was called My Dream Will Be Your Dream. Which is what I pretty much suspected would happen. Weâ€™ll also be importing a boy for the dance, which makes Maddie looks like this.
Mac will be getting a solo called Love is War. Maddie will be doing a solo called Lifeline. Kendall and Nia will be doing a cool, contemporary duet called Dig It. If we have time. Which means that this will be the dance that causes us drama.
Our guest boy dancer will be Nick from a Starpower competition of yore. Didnâ€™t he once go on a date with Brooke, too? To a theme park or something? In any case, we’re all terrifically happy about him.
Brooke and Nick will be the leads in the dream dance, and Maddie is tasked with pretending Brooke is her dying mother. Here’s the rest of the gist: As Brooke is dying, she asks Nick to take care of her daughter Maddie â€” which turns it into a story of a father and daughter. All the other ladies will be playing local singletons in love with dreamy and responsible Nick.
Upstairs in the mom loft, the mothers are discussing their first loves and how you never forget them and how the girls have yet to experience that. Kelly says hers is not a good memory. Must not be. Look.
Then Melissa happily reminds her that her other other love is dead. But apparently that is still not as sad to Kelly as the fact that she has Randy now. A little digging reveals that Randy is apparently quite a bit older than Kelly and not necessarily a looker, but he fits the good-husband bill by having a nice, big bank account.
Then the mothers happen upon the idea of speed-dating for Abby and hit up Melissaâ€™s tablet for possibilities.
Abby must be feeling the love, too, because after she dismisses the girls, she breaks into a sassy little, booty-shaking dance. Her joie de vivre makes everyone laugh, including Abby.
Jill decides sheâ€™s going to take over this operation, so as to make herself and Kendall look like matchmaker rock stars in Abbyâ€™s eyes. If Melissa can commandeer the Bye Bye Baby dedication, Jill can swipe mending Abbyâ€™s broken heart from group credit. She asks Abby if she wants to go to dinner with her and Abbyâ€™s suspect from the start.
Aw, geez. Group dance is beginning and thereâ€™s no sign of Chloe and Christi. Youâ€™ve been in a big trouble and Abbyâ€™s finally in a good mood, so what are you doing, lady?!
When she finally shows up, she blames traffic and looks like an flamenco dancer-meets-bird-meets-origami project. Actually, she kind of looks like Dog the Bounty Hunter in one of his Native American get-ups from the back.
Actually all of the mothers are fancied up, because it turns out weâ€™re all jumping into a limo with spinning disco lights and taking Abby to a speed-dating event at Atria’s. Good to be there. Abby just thinks we’re going to dinner.
Abbyâ€™s all about that until she finds out that Christi is coming, too. Then she refuses to participate. Jill breaks the news to Christi, who agrees to leave, but is entirely bitter about it. The other mothers could care less and party on. On the way to the restaurant, they ply Abby with champagne and ask her to describe her dream man. Abby says a worldly, young, George Clooney type who speaks five languages and has perfect teeth. A fondness for dessert is good. Pigeon toes are a total deal breaker.
Then Jill asks her if sheâ€™s seeing someone special now and she says yes. Hence, I fully expect her to flip her shizzit when she discovers where we are going, but sheâ€™s tickled pink. Special-schmecial â€” bring on the mens!
Bachelor #1 is Chris, a 33-year-old bartender. Abby wants to know if he owns his own tuxedo. He does. And bonus: He can tie a bow tie. How many times heâ€™s been to Disney World brings him up short. Next!
Next is 40-year-old Karl, who sells insurance. Karl … has gum. Oh oh. But wait! Karlâ€™s mom used to teach dance and own a dance studio. Samesies! Karl has potential but timeâ€™s up before Abby can get to her tough questions. The other mothers liked the look of him, though.
Next up is dashing Darryl, who is 52 and a retired former pro football player. Abby comes right out there and tells him sheâ€™s never dated a man of color. â€śYou know what they say,â€ť says Karl. Abby stammers and looks under the table. If he has it out in the restaurant for you to see, Abby, you do not want to date him.
By now the mothers have gobs of food to enjoy along with the show. Which is getting good, because Abby is flirting up a storm, batting her eyelashes and telling Darryl sheâ€™s a 50-yard-line kind of girl. Before I can even wonder what that means, Darryl asks if she has season tickets and Abby cups her hands around her mouth to secretly shout that she just means she Did It on the 50-yard line. And she is proud.
Yeah, ya are! And now we can all stop wondering about issues of virginity. Got that, Kelly?
Abby compares speed-dating to auditioning â€” the casting couch, if you will â€” and says she is right at home doing it. She is pleased with Jill for coming up with this activity.
But not for long. Next day, Abby is super crabby with Niaâ€™s and Kendallâ€™s duet, during which they have to wrangle both a hardhat and a shovel. She dismisses the girls in favor of Maddie, and Jill goes down to â€ścheck onâ€ť Kendall. What she really does is go down to set up an insta-private with Gia, who just so happens to be free.
Oh, hey. Turns out thereâ€™s two sides to the mom loft. And we can see right into the studio during which Kendall and Gia are practicing the duet without Nia. Christi and Holly go on the attack. Jill says she has to do whatâ€™s best for Kendall. Christi labels her the consummate stage mom.
In the main studio, the girls are getting their dreamy costumes and Abby reminds that the dance has to be romantic. â€śThink of me on my last date,â€ť she tells them. The girls looks perplexed. Nick looks disgusted in the way that teenagers will when they think about old people like us getting busy. Abby tells the group her last date was in L.A. and sheâ€™s going to get teary because he doesnâ€™t want toÂ leave L.A. for PA. Not even for her. â€śI donâ€™t blame him,â€ť hollers someone from off camera. “Shouldn’t he give me a ring?” says Abby, undeterred.
L.A.? Hmmm. Home of Abbyâ€™s Ultimate Dance Competition. Manno? Richie Squirrel? Either of you have something to tell us?
Upstairs, the moms seem to know whom weâ€™re discussing, but theyâ€™re pretty sure said man is gay. Melissa offers another clue to his identity: Heâ€™s a dance teacher. Who were our man choreographers? Ricky Palomino? Nah. Canâ€™t be. Bobby Newberry seems too young, too. Anthony Burrell is a man of color and Abby told Darryl heâ€™d be her first, so canâ€™t be him either. I give up. Maybe we’ll get to meet him someday.
Wowza. The moms are some kind of bitter about marriage. As they watch the girls flit about in their white ballet skirts, Christi cracks, â€śThatâ€™s the irony. When youâ€™re young you dream of the white dress and then when youâ€™re married, you dream of the black one.â€ť Like a widow. Mr. Lukasiak? Mr. Hyland? Iâ€™d pour my own drinks and sleep with one eye cracked until further notice.
Since nothing goodÂ happens to us in New Jersey, Abbyâ€™s all a’jangle. And when Nia starts coughing vigorously, she wonders if Maddie should dance her part of the duet instead. She pulls Jill out into the hall to discuss it, and Jill says sheâ€™d rather do the dance as solo than sub Maddie in for Nia. Of course you would, Jill. Abby just shrugs.
Back in the get-ready room, the other mothers discuss how inappropriate it is for Abby to discuss Niaâ€™s health and the state of the duet with Jill, without Holly present. Nia says sheâ€™s doing the dance come hack or high water, so case closed.
Time for Macâ€™s solo. The announcer says we are skipping ahead in our program a little bit, which, with my wealth of newly acquired knowledge, I know is perfectly normal. In some cases, we even skipped entire days, ain’t that right, hip-hop girl who did her solo on Sunday even though Friday was solo day?
Whoâ€™s cute? Macâ€™s cute! And bendy!
She does a great job and is making strides toward Maddie’s skill level at her age, but Abby says she doesnâ€™t use her face enough.
Backstage, Jill ushers Kendall out into the hallway and Gia happens along and says sheâ€™ll watch Kendall run the duet real quick. Holly follows Jill out to see what gives, finds out what gives, and goes back to fetch Nia. â€śI donâ€™t want to miss out on this special lesson,â€ť she quips. You’re fun this season, Holly. I like you the best.
With plenty of spectators looking on, we have the requisite hallway drama du jour, then head back into the get-ready room, where Abby says Jill shouldnâ€™t give a fig what the other mothers say about her trying to get her kid ahead in any way possible. But Jill says theyâ€™re finally a team again and theyâ€™re staying that way. Riiiight!
Dig It is cute as a button, too, and you’d never know Nia was ailing.
Maddieâ€™s solo is a Maddie solo â€” flawless. Plus, Maddie is a two-solo winner the last time we were in Jersey, so what could possibly go wrong?
Backstage, the mothers are having a Come to Jesus moment about whether or not they are going to be team for good and ever and knock off the doing things behind each other’s backs. â€śI didnâ€™t do anything behind your backs,” protests Jill. â€śI did it right in front of you!â€ť
Oh. Well, then. Christi gives her points for honesty.
Here comes the brides for My Dream Will Be Your Dream. Now that I think about it, that explains the perplexing bride costumes that we were supposed to believe were for the Improv Dance of Grief Relief. Paige says despite all of Abbyâ€™s fussing about it, itâ€™s a really clean number and she thinks it will do good. Also, now itâ€™s called Your Dream Will Be My Dream.
It’s very loud and very pretty.
Come awards time, Big Mac gets second in the mini solo division. She’s pretty happy about it. The little chick over there in fourth, not so much.
Yikes. Maddie gets second, too. She’s not nearly as happy about that as Mac.
Duet gets fifth. Jill says the choreography was not a winner.
Well, weâ€™re reasonably consistent anyway â€” the group gets second, too.
Backstage, Abby is as irritable as a rash. She says that all this love crap was designed to remind the girls of how much they loved to dance, and they didnâ€™t seem to get the point. What Brooke loves is Fritos.
Abby says she doesnâ€™t mean to be mean and nasty, and she doesn’t want to be mean and nasty, and she loves every child as if they were her own. She just doesn’t love what happened out there. And no amount of speed-dating can cure it. Points for trying, Jill. More points for giving us an episode with some humor in it.
Next week, the group does LGBT hip-hop, Vivi joins t-ball and Bic Mac might be fakinâ€™ an injury. So of course, Nia’s the one who gets yelled at.
So what say you, Dance Moms faithful? Was it it kinda fun to watch Abby get her flirt on? Are you rooting for Abby to have a date with Darryl, or is that just me stuck on the 50-yard line? Are the dancers doing the best they can do and perhaps it’s the choreo that’s not getting the judges’ love? And what about Christi’s shirt? Or Jill’s fur shrug? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.