Welcome to the wildly uncomfortable racial-profiling edition of Dance Moms, dance fans. We’ve already done sexually inappropriate and emotionally inappropriate to death, and we did death last week, so heaven knows it’s time for something new to melt our minds.
But first the good news.
Since the missing kids routine was such a showstopper, today the blackboard pyramid is not a pyramid at all! It’s Maddie at the top (I think she is superglued there), and in a surprise bit of joie de vivre, Paige, Brooke, Nia AND Chloe all made the second row!
On the other hand, poor Vivi-Anne and MacKenzie are punished for swinging instead of dancing — even though that’s what Abby made them do — and having the bejesus scared out of them, by being bounced to the bottom. I am reasonably certain they are just glad the whole thing is over and could truly not care less, but the mothers feel for our little puddins in any case, so that’s nice.
Also, Abby’s black top is jazzed up with a couple of snappy pastel flip flops today, but that’s where the good news ends, because it turns out pastel flip flops are no indicator of a sunnier nature, and she promptly opens up a can of snarky whoop-ass on the mothers for their lack of teamwork (Who’s a bad sharer, Cathy? You are! You are!) in Rhode Island.
Despite the fact that she is not called out individually, Bad Sharer Cathy is warned by the other mothers that she is in her “honeymoon period” at the studio and her time with Abby’s temper is coming. Bad Sharer Cathy informs them that, should such a thing happen, she’ll just “flash a couple of dead presidents” and that will be that. Got it, Homey C.
Lingering a bit longer on the subject of those no longer among us, Melissa reveals that her mother, Maddie’s “Grandma Babcha,” died of cancer and Maddie’s new solo, “Angel,” is dedicated to her. This was very touching and expository, except I made the grave error of Googling “Babcha,” to see if it was a ethnic term of grandmotherly endearment like Oma or Nonna and found out that — while it is indeed Polish for “grandmother” — Urban Dictionary also offered up “old lady in line that smells bad.”
No more Googling during Dance Moms. Especially since I am about to get the mother of all “ethnic” lessons from Abby Lee.
Now even if you did buy into her explanation that only Nia gets to learn ethnic dances because only Nia is ethnic (sorry, little white girls! Only little white girl casting calls for you!), the part where Nia’s solo is called — and I have no constructive idea how to spell this, so forgive me for going phonetic — “LaQueefa” is a brain buster. For real.
NO more Googling during Dance Moms! Also, I need a drink and an aspirin.
The show must have known this, because suddenly Minister Dawn is back in the house to inform Abby that she doesn’t owe her another nickel since Abby memorably tossed her and her daughter’s keesters from the building and the company, ergo their contract is broken. From the kitchen, I can hear threats of a court case bandied about, but despite the hype in the Dance Moms ads throughout the week, Dawn is onscreen for maybe 90 seconds total, after which Abby Lee offers up her own Three Commandments: Thou Shall Not Lie, Thou Shall Not Steal and Thou Shall Not Piss Off Abby Lee. Amen.
Two. Two aspirins.
The dance number is taking a back seat to costumes this episode, because we’re already talking pack lists. Mrs. Dead Presidents is not having any entire-group theme-dressing crap, especially the black and white banquet-wear, because frankly she has “boughten some fabulous clothes” for the trip, the highlight of which is a splendid fuchsia formal and she is not leaving that baby at home. (“When Candy Apples steps out, we do it in style,” she proclaims. “We don’t dress like the help.”) To cement her point, she waggles a finger in Ab’s general direction and yodels, “You remember I am not a team player!”
Teaching moment! (Also, why do these mothers not learn that the way to Abby’s good graces is to behave like a spoiled toddler in boutique clothing and happily point out how naughty you are?)
Besides of which, Cathy has ulterior motives for overpacking for the trip — there’s a Most Photogenic prize awarded at this competition and she’s certain her Viv has the look. Viv is certain of two things: ”My mom wants me to be famous. I don’t want to be a model.”
At long last, we get a glimpse at the group number — a generic sort of frenchie, Fosse-esque number that involves a lot of posing on chairs. “The kids get to dance like teenagers, so they love it,” Abby says. Besides the solos are the thing this time ’round. More specifically, the costumes.
Sure enough, there’s Nia’s leopard print, Diana-Ross-in-the-disco-era jumpsuit with the space-cadet collar hinted at in last week’s preview. But don’t worry — it’s not intended to be racially offensive, says Abby. It’s actually a parody of the whole drag queen thing. Neither of which bother Nia a lick — “I love my costume for LaQueefa … I thought it was amazing,” she chortles with the signature detachment that permits her to keep a poker face when Abby rails on her dancing for most of the episode. And the series.
Holly does not think the costume is amazing, nor Abby’s query about her having an afro on hand to augment the outfit. “Let me just pull it out of my purse,” she cracks with wide-eyed disbelief as Christi looks on, silently thanking the Gods of Abby Lee and Minister Dawn that she hasn’t a drop of ethnicity in her. One that Abby can detect anyway.
“That’s not the black experience we know,” Holly tells the camera. “There’s nothing wrong with LaQueefa or the LaQueefas of the world (oh yes there is — Google it), but that’s not Nia’s experience; it is not my experience. My name is Holly. I am as far away from LaQueefa as it gets.”
“This is show business,” Abby counters, “When they want something different, they’re going to love Nia.” Urp.
This sets up the token gossip session at “Italian Restaurant,” which is becoming the go-to joint for the gals and tonight mostly serves as a platform for Kelly to admit she doesn’t get why Holly’s so peeved about an Afro. Kelly doesn’t much understand why anybody gets peeved about anything. Unless of course, Brooke is about to go on stage looking like Pennywise the Clown. Then someone better fork over their own costume and be fast about it.
And then it’s off to the competition, another Star Power dealie, this time at the Moheghan Sun casino in Connecticut. The action is running ahead of schedule, so suddenly we’re rushing like crazy to get costumes and make-up on and spin-proof hair-dos did. Apparently this does not sit well with Maddie, which she displays by sitting placidly in front of a mirror while Melissa yanks at her hair. ”Deal with it,” Melissa snaps. “Be a grown-up!” And then in the next breath, “I can’t deal with Maddie’s attitude. She’s 8-years-old and sometimes she thinks she’s 16!” When clearly she should think she’s 40?
At Abby’s behest, Maddie goes off and spins it out.
The dance does not go well. Nia and her chair wind up way separated from the rest of the crew, which leaves Maddie sobbing back stage and Holly fearing for her daughter’s life. Oh, not to worry, Hol — Abby hasn’t had the chance to introduce the world to LaQueefa, yet. You’re safe as a kitten.
Meantime, Cathy and Vivi head off to make Vivi a supermodel. Vivi looks like an enema awaits her. Worse — Cathy’s art direction. Finally Vivi has about enough with her mother telling her she looks like a pug and takes over the shoot, prancing and posing to her heart’s content. She looks adorable. So you know the photos will wind up being anything but.
Back at the competition, Maddie bounces back to her top-o-the-pyramid self and does a pretty, floaty little solo that would make Babcha proud, bolstered by Babcha’s angel pin which Melissa has pinned to her costume.
The other solos are condensed into a 60-second montage in which Viv and Mac play pattycake and do a cartwheel; Brooke does the ol’ toes in front of the chin trick; turns out Paige does acro, too; and once again we see just a snippet of a lovely lyrical solo from Chloe.
In a weirdly random moment, the next thing that happens is a throughly unsurprised Maddie wins “Petite Miss,” whatever that is, and scores a hot pink and royal blue trophy that’s approximately twice as tall as she is.
Vivi, however, does not leave her mark on the modeling world, leaving Cathy to wonder why the judges couldn’t see the potential, instead of a reluctant 6 year old buried under makeup and feathers.
And then, Oh Lord, then it’s time for Nia to try to do a dance that can somehow distract the audience from being completely stunned into submission by music that seems to consist entirely of some guy yelling, “LAQUEEFA, WHAT WHAT WHAT?” at 72 million decibels. What?
Holly, who has apparently not witnessed this performance until it’s been done for all the world to see is incensed and finally pulls Abby aside for a little discussion.
At first, Abby tries to soothe Holly with the news that when there is an “ethnic audition,” Nia is the only kid she’d send. Holly — and Lori — is incredulous. Abby makes some remark to the camera about Holly’s silly book-learnin’. Then she suggests that if Holly forked over $30,000 a year, Nia might be a better dancer and maybe even go to some not-ethic auditions — which Holly incredibly does not take as blackmail so much as an indictment of how much she and her husband are actually worth.
WHAT WHAT WHAT?!
Dead presidents, Holly. Turns out the bad sharer was right.
Or maybe not …
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Photo: ©Scott Gries/Lifetime