No question about it — when it comes to Dance Moms theme songs, Miami takes the prize. No “my world, my girls” drivel down here. Down in Miiiaaaami, they dance so hot! And everybody’s taking a shot!
Including Angel and Victor — Aw yeah! Victor is wearing a cassette-tape necklace that is all kinds of awesome! — who are carping on another group routine that earned first place. “You’re not living up to your full potential,” Angel tells the dancers. Apparently their full potential involves something even better than first. Uber-first! A division all their own?
Whatever. Time for the list.
Numero uno = Lucas. Again. Because he’s the boy, he’s the center of attention, he’s number one and it’s his city. Bow. So what if he didn’t win the whole thing, says Angel. He won his division and he brought his star quality to the group dance. Lucas immediately gloms onto the “you didn’t win the whole thing” part and looks depressed. Aw, Lucas. Believe in the list.
Little Kim for the number two slot. She looks like she just won an Emmy and I want to squeeze the bejesus AND the angels right out of her. Angel the human is thrilled that Kimmers remembered her crahgraphy and even more thrilled that her mother is quiet and peaceful. For that, they love her. Ani looks quietly and peacefully proud. See, mommies? See, Jessi? You CAN get camera time for being a sweetie. Not a lot. But some any how.
Third place goes to Sammy, because even though she won first place in her division and first place overall, she still made mistakes in her solo. “You did well enough to score first place overall, but you didn’t do well enough for us,” ‘splains Victor. Sammy looks perplexed. And Susan is starting to well.
Fourth on the list is Jessi. Jessi looks like the usual simmering pot of internal issues, but Susan hath boiled over into gulping tears. Still, her gunmetal eye makeup stays flawless. I am totally impressed. Mine’s in my pants pockets ten minutes after I leave the house, smiling, crying or otherwise. But enough distraction. Victor has something to tell us. Which is that our reputation takes years to build and just a second to ruin it. In other words, if Jessi thinks that all has been forgiven for that unfortunate trophy yanking episode back in ep one, she is sorely mistaken. Years to build, seconds to ruin, weeks to atone, girlie. These guys don’t fool around.
On the bottom, poor little Hannah, who looks haunted. Victor says if they could get her technique to match her artistry, she’d be on top. Debi doesn’t get that at all. She didn’t escape her old studio for Hannah to stay at the bottom. Especially when Abby and Sammy have followed her here.
This week, the A V Club (for I’ve decided I like that better than Miami Dance Machine) will be headed back to Cali for another Starbound competition. Only this time they will have FIVE hundred competitors instead of ONE hundred competitors. I really hope the Pitt Crew constitutes five of ‘em. I really, really hope. I’m just not coping well.
Lucas gets a solo. Kimmy of the Quiet Mommy gets a solo, too.
In Casa Mama, Abby has on a “cold shoulder” shirt just like the Pitt Moms! And cowboy boots! And a chunky necklace! Abby has executed a perfect Hyland-Vertes! I feel better already!
Back in the studio, Sammy also gets a solo. If it were up to Angel, his dancer who aced the whole friggin’ competition last week wouldn’t get a solo because she messed up a ton, even if the judges didn’t think so. The only reason she is getting a solo is that whole unfortunate “winning” nonsense that has been captured on camera and so he can’t argue with it.. Angeeeeellll, you’ve been on the phone with Abby Lee and don’t you try to tell me you haven’t!
Holy cow does Jessi look miserable. Why am I a tad suspect Jessi was not as willing a participant in this TV show as was her indestructible-eye-makeupped mother ? Anyway, not being able to award Jessi a solo hurts Victor. I’m pretty sure it hurts Jessi worse. And Hurricane Susan is about to blow out the windows, I’ll bet it.
This week’s group routine is contemporary and will be about insecurities, something we all have and no one likes to talk about (does this blog make my ass look fat? I mean, does it?). And to prep, the kids best be ready to get open because A&V want to find out eeeeeverthing about them. Which means the Moms — AKA general source of insecurities — are dismissed.
While the group practices dancing securely insecurely, Susan leads a verbal group snuggle for Ani over Little Kim getting her first solo. In an aside, Angel opines that they must have had a special on alcohol or possibly “drug items” because the mothers are being sweet or in other words, not themselves.
Yeah, A, the drug items have worn off quickly because Debi just executed a perfect Reverse Miller and gave the mothers a lecture about there being no “i” in team and therefore, no child should perform three weeks in a row when other children are left out. Absolutely not, agrees Brigette, whose child has scored individual dances three weeks in a row. Abby, whose kid got her first solo last week and her second this week, looks ganged up on. Or maybe confused at Debi’s math. Or maybe both.
Down in the dance room, we are all holding hands and making a big circle, then sitting on our butterflies. It takes me a minute to get that. Butt – erflies. Get it? Angellll! You adorable crab!
Now we’re going to close our eyes and think about our insecurities. Because what makes Stars different from the other studios is that A & V believe the kids have value. That they are artists and therefore should be able to express their emotions and their feelings, albeit in a disciplined fashion. Aw. That’s nice! No, really. That is nice. Dancing is art and art is emotion and high five for A & V. High twenty-seven to the editors for actually leaving this niceness in.
In the circle, Jessi says her insecurity is that people are laughing at her when she dances and yes, that has happened. In an aside, she says people have told her that she is ugly on the inside. Seriously … THIS is the kid we have chosen to put on cameras for an audience of millions? For real? I get that her dancing dazzles, but she is clearly in no emotional place to ride this ride if it continues to send her spinning like this.
Fortunately, Victor ain’t having it. You take that energy that you spend worrying about what other people think and spend it on showing them how beautiful you are instead, he counsels the troubled girl. If he could write that down and pin it to Susan’s forehead, perhaps we might get somewhere with this.
Hannah is afraid that when people watch her dance, they don’t see who she is inside. “That people don’t see your artistry?” wonders Angel. Hannah begins to cry. In an aside, she wishes people would judge her by the way she dances, not the way she looks. I’ve been hoping to avoid any discussion at all about Hannah’ stockier — and perfectly normal for her age because I’ve raised four kids that looked exactly like her — frame contrasts with eensy teensy Lucas, Kim and Sammy. But now it’s out there and we know for sure that she’s aware of it. And no, it isn’t fair. And no, it shouldn’t figure into how she is perceived or scored. And it mostly certainly won’t figure into how I further discuss her in this space. Where’s my Kleenex? I told you — my eye makeup sucks.
Victor wraps his arms around Hannah and Angel tells her that when she dances, she makes people feel something which is what dance is all about. Amen. And it is suddenly abundantly clear to me why these two men are so able to give this girl choreography that allows her artistry to shine. This kid means it when she dances. She is mighty.
Kimmy’s insecurity is that she wants to be perfect and knows she can’t be. “I can be pretty close!” she says hopefully. Angel asks her what she thinks “perfect” is. Kimmy says that it’s when people don’t try to find something wrong with her and if they do, they don’t find anything. Ani looks stricken and says that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with being a perfectionist, but now she realizes that it makes everything so painful.
Can we just skip the rest of the episodes and air this one over and over? It’s a gem. Well, at least right now it is. Yeah, I know. I know.
Victor tells Little Kim that she doesn’t have to be perfect — she’s allowed to make mistakes and she’s allowed to be herself. And Kimmy smiles a perfectly wonderful smile, eyes still screwed tight shut.
Lucas says his insecurity is that people make fun of him for being a boy who dances. “Who makes fun of you?” Angel asks. “Everbody,” says Lucas. Victor and Angel exchange knowing glances.
Sammy says she fears making a fool of herself by forgetting her dance. And also that people think she’s a snooty brat because she’s so tall and pretty. Oh Sammy. People don’t judge tall and pretty girls for being tall and pretty. People judge tall and pretty girls who tell people about how tall and pretty they are. But I know it’s really Abby’s voice coming out of your little head, so I give you a pass.
Victor brings the exercise full circle by telling the kids that while the dance is about their insecurities, what they should take away from it is how special each and every one of them are and that insecurities only hold them back from being the best dancer they can be. This week, we will dance to our insecurities. Next week, we let them go.
RIGHT ON! SERIOUSLY, RIGHT FREAKIN’ ON. Can I turn this episode off now? Because we are cutting back to the mothers now and I am pretty certain they’re going to crap all over the enormous good that we just did.
Yes. Yes they are. Susan congratulates Brigette for Lucas getting another solo. Debi jumps on the bandwagon. Susan says she is not, however, congratulating Abby for Sammy getting a solo because the child was so cocky at last week’s competition — which basically entailed her standing up for herself and her talent when Mayra loudly announced that victory or no, Jessi is the best dancer, because Jessi is Mayra’s favorite. That’s not cocky, Susan. That’s fair. And in any case, Sammy’s bravado happened behind the scenes of the competition. Your kid yanked a trophy out of the hands of a much-younger kid for all the world and the competition to see.
Brigette chimes in that she doesn’t think that Sammy was cocky. She just thinks that it’s not fair that Sammy gets to dance a solo three weeks in a row. Miami math, yer killin’ me. Killin’. (OK, I know it’s DM Miami editors that are really killing me, but I’m going to enjoy playing dumb about that.) I’ve seen Lucas do two solos and one duet. Which equals three not-group-dance performances. This is Sammy’s second solo. Two not-group-dance performances. Three is more than two. Whatever. Dance math be damned, Brigette further accuses Abby of not caring about the other mothers At. All. Uh, Brig. Ya’ll sort of welcomed her with blazing barrels instead of open arms. What exactly would you like her to love?
But Abby deosn’t need me to defend her. She says she’s here for Victor and Angel and she does not give two shi … er… craps about what else goes on in the room. Such as the part where Susan feels compelled reiterate that the difference between Jessi and Sammy is that Jessi is not cocky. Nooo, Susan. No she’s not. She is pretty much convinced that the entire world hates her, starting with her mom.
For the purpose of remaining peaceful, Ani gets up and leaves the room. In an aside, she blames the mothers’ tension on the hecticness of the children’s schedule. Oh Ani. You make Pittburgh’s peacekeeper Dr. Holly look downright unreasonable. Susan says she has to go to the bathroom. Debi has to go, too, because you know we womens never go to the bathroom by ourselves if there’s a friend to tag along. Brigette asks if she can come too. Er, Brigette? What are your insecurities? Dance them out and go potty when you want to.
Requisite Client List commercial break.
The next day, the kids are giggly — Jessi, too — and the mothers are sullen. Abby says she changed her cell phone ringtone to the theme from Rocky to prepare herself for the glut of phone calls that will apparently happen while the other mothers are handing her her arse. But wait! Brigette wants to talk to Abby in private. Debi gives herself permission to call Brigette a backstabber.
In an aside, Brigette says that she’s had some time to think about how much special attention her kid gets at the studio and do a little accurate dance math and she is sorry for being a meanie to Abby and also a bad adder. Ok, no. She does not. She says she used that time to think to realize that Permission-free Bathroom Tagalong Debi actually manipulated her and Susan into doing her Abby-bashing dirty work for her. And she feels compelled to apologize for that. Right smack in front of Mayra, who is sporting a long, red ”Mrs. Brady Several Months Overdue For a Trim” shag adorned with a sparkly-flower headband this week.
Abby says she could care less about the moms attacking her, but when they attack her child’s character, that’s another matter entirely.
Mayra, who started the whole thing in the first place, says this is the stuff they are “trying to clean” here. Dirty dealings will not be tolerated. Unless your son owns the place. Free pass for Mayra! And anyway, if the mothers have problems with one another, they should come to Mayra first. So she knows which pot needs stirring the most because that sure makes for some good TV!
Continuing to feel helpful, Brigette confides to Abby that Debi is a manipulator and that they’ve all had to deal with it. Abby — who really looks like Malibu Courteney Cox today — doesn’t know how Debi can even sleep at night for being such a child-hater. She opines in an aside that Brigette seems sincere in her apology. Well, for the moment, and not probably much more.
Little Kim’s solo is contemporary lyrical and she has both gents’ attention while she practices it. Despite our insecurities lesson from yesterday, Kimmy still wants to be perfect so she can maybe be professional dancer. The moms think it’s perfect. The men don’t. They say she has to stop obsessing about the movements and listen to the music. I’m pretty sure it’s hard to focus on the music, when you are being asked to point one leg straight down and one leg straight up and not twitch a muscle while you’re at it. Music will not hold a wildly contorted body still.
Then Lucas and Victor run his solo and Lucas says he isn’t nervous at all because he’s done 40 bazillion of these babies. Then Victor gives him a kind of splits/chin-stand/pushup combo that he can’t quite pull off. Ok. He’s a little nervous, maybe.
Sammy’s jazz solo is called “All Eyes On Me” which she thinks is cool because it is cool to have all eyes on her. Unless they’re Susan’s, Debi’s and Mayra the Cleaner’s. Then maybe not so much. Victor gives her a little la-la-la-la circular booty-shaking move that he and Sammy find hilarious.
For Victor, this brings to mind either the Soulja Boy or the Wu-Tang dance — whichever it is that Abby does. [In a related note: SOLO DANCE PARTY IN LORI'S CUBE!!!!! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, BOUNCE! Er, sorry copy editors. Sorry. Really. Sorry. OK, not really.]
In any case, turns out Victor is actually thinking of the Dougie, which Sammy says is not a dance for old people, even though she has taught it to her mom. Wrong-o sister! I am doing the Cubie Dougie right this minute and I am totally old. Plus, now Victor is dragging your mom down to do a public Dougie, too. Not to be outdone, Susan and Brigette join in. Ani comes down but is too peaceful to join in. Debi is nowhere to be found for this Dougie-mama dance break. Which is too bad, because Angel says that if the mothers could dance as well as they argue, we would all be rich. And no one can argue like the Debster.
Group dance rehearsal. When the kids take a break, the mothers sneak away from Casa Mama, which Angel uses as an opportunity to herd the kids in there to pretend that they’re their own mothers. Doing his best Andy Cohen, he turns to Jessi and says, “Susan, what do you think about your daughter being on the bottom of the list?” And Jessi, bless her ever-loving, spitting image of her mother, heart lays down a perfect, snarling Susan. She turns to Hannah, head bobbing and finger waving, and howls, “And Debi, it’s your daughter’s fault for grabbing the trophy, not mine!” Hannah cracks up and picks up the ball. “Your daughter shouldn’t have grabbed the trophy from her hands,” says she. Jessi leans across Sammy to drive her no-no point home and Lucas looks mildly terrified. But then he and Sammy get in on the action, recreating the “Sammy shouldn’t have a solo” shtick. “Abby! Abby! Listen!” pleads Lucas/Brigette. Sammy/Abby doesn’t listen. But this is clearly Jessi’s therapy session. She leans forward toward the studio and rages, “Why is everyone not doing anything! You should be doing your solo!”
Oh oh! Busted! “Are you kidding me?!” the mothers cry in unison and I brace myself for Angel to get a “making a mockery” lecture to end them all. But Susan — being Susan and all — saves the day. ”We’re going to California and you guys are not practicing?! Why?” she bellers. Angel and the kids fall out. Game, set, match, tournament, lifetime achievement award — Jessi! The mothers finally get the joke. But Angel realizes Little Kim hasn’t had her moment in the spotlight. He turns to her and says, “Ani, what do you think of the situation?” And — geeeeerd, I love this kid — Kimmy turns head-to-toe crimson and recites her line: “Would anyone like a peppermint?” Angel screams and rocks back and forth with laughter.
Since no one has been murdered for their mockery crimes thus far, he decides to let each kid perform a Mom-core before they get back to business. Jessi first. Surprisingly Susan leads the laughter. Sammy throws an arm in the air and bellows, “Can I have a drink, guys?!” — which makes Abby grab her playfully. And gives me hope that these dames might actually go out for one one’a these days. Lucas whips out an imaginary cell phone, ignores the other kid-mothers and rages into it, then leans in and says sweetly, “Now what were we talking about again?” Angel is in paradise. The mothers are over it. It’s back to work for the kiddies.
The next day at group dance practice, A & V have the kids call out their insecurities as they dance. I’m not sure it will make it into the final routine, but it’s a cool thing to see.
Whoa! What is this? This is Brigette telling Ani — Saint Ani! — to chill out about Kimmy wobbling a little during her solo practice. Saint Ani’s achilles heel is emerging for the first time since the premiere. Saint Ani is a fan of perfect, too. A big’un. To support her in her time of need, the other mothers decide to go out for a drink without her. Well, it’s about damn time!
Susan, Abby and Brigette raise glasses of wine to moving on and no more bullying, then move on to gossiping about Debi. Abby says that Debi was asked to leave the studio at which Sammy and Hannah last danced together. Brigette says that’s not what Debi told them. And also, she knows so much horrible about Abby already because Deb’s been ragging on her for a year. “Well, then karma’s a bitch, huh?” says Abby, with a smile that reinforces that she can be one, too.
Then Susan and Brigette put on some serious “don’t go in the basement after dark, I’m warning you” horror movie faces and let Abby in on an even more terrible secret. Which is that Debi told them she was planning to go to Angel and Victor and ask them not to give Sammy amazing choreography so that she would lose and Hannah would rise up on the list. Yessiree Bob, because that is exactly something Angel would do. Brigette doesn’t know for sure if Debi ever got to them. But she was planning on it. And then Victor and Angel would have planned on laughing Debi right back to her old studio, to which she couldn’t go back because she was kicked out even though she’s not copping to it. This is exhausting me.
Abby says she chooses not to go into the Dark Basement of Dance Mom Hysteria, alone or otherwise, and she will trust no one.
California here we come. Redondo Beach, to be exact. Show me Abby Lee’s crew! Just once. One time. Pleeeeeeease! No dice. DANG IT.
Mayra, wearing a disturbingly understated short do that is seriously no fun whatsoever, snatches Kimmy from the Peppermint Perfectionist’s clutches to do her makeup. And it’s a darned good thing, too, because registration got goofed up and Little Kim will be dancing a lot sooner than planned.
With her pals backing her up from the wings, Victor tells Kimmy to go on stage and live. And that he loves her. I love you, too, Victor. And I’m not just saying that. Kimmy dances beautifully and Jessi totes her back to the dressing room on her back, where everyone whoops it up in her honor.
Lucas isn’t trying to be cocky or anything, but he knows he can dance and he has no fear of losing. Oh Lucas. Did you not watch Dance Moms The Original? When you say something like that or someone says it about you, turrrrrrible things happen on stage. Turrible!
Lucas has on an olive-colored version of the magenta boy-booty-shorts he wore last week. In the audience, Debi has on some seriously studded medieval leather wrist band that looks like said wrist does Renaissance Faires on the weekends just for fun. I fear for the flesh of Susan, who is seated to her right. Abby has wisely chosen the side without a wrist band. That thing is fierce.
Sure enough. Lucas bobbles a pose. Recovers. Was that a bobble or not? Yes it was. Officially a “wobble on the tilt.” No worries. Jessi snatches him up too and everybody cheers.
Sammy’s next. Victor tells her that whether she’s been a part of his studio for a day or ten years, she’s a Stars star and he is proud of her. I. Love. These. Dudes. The gang whoops it up while Sammy dances, except for Debi who sits there like a bump on a log with a scary leather wrist band, clutches her purse and refuses to enjoy. She does not get why Sammy is such a big deal. Hannah does. They hug like crazy backstage. <– Hel-lo, their moms?
Angel’s assessment: Kimmy looked nervous, Lucas wasn’t feeling it and Sammy did her best job yet. Angel says that the only two opinions that matter are his and Victor’s but out there in the world trophies matter. So they have to keep winning for the world.
Judges assessment: Kimmy gets second place overall and fesses up that she’s been working on it for a whopping three days. Lucas and Sammy get stiffed. Brigette says Lucas has never not placed one time in his whole entire life and this is total bullshizznit. Abby is thinking sabotage. And there’s no time like the present to go accuse Angel and Vic of being accessories to the crime. Fine plan.
Abby hauls the duo outside, where they stand with their arms crossed and stare at her in silence. Angel shakes his head a childlike sort of “I did NOT eat the last cupcake before dinner even though there are crumbs on my face” sort of way when she issues the accusation. Victor clutches his face and gives a half smile, causing Angel to break his silence to tell him that he can plead the fifth because this is not a court. Oh, close enough. Abby reads between the cupcake crumbs and the non-binding fifth. Victor assures her that they treat and train everyone equally so no matter what Debi said, they would never take part in an evil plot to Take All Eyes Off Sammy.
Secretly, though, Angel is ticked that Abby doesn’t trust them.
Group dance time. Ohhhhh, their wearing their insecurities on their costumes. Kimmy says ” I AM FLAWED.” Lucas says OUTCAST. Jessi reads I AM UGLY. Sammy is JUDGED. For the life of me, I can’t read what Hannah IS. But then the tempo picks up and the kids rip off their insecurity words to reveal the word UNIQUE underneath. They are all UNIQUE. The dance is pretty angry. Angrier than I thought it would be. I was kind of expecting uplifting at the end. In any case, Debi calls it powerful. I guess I could go with that. But is it WINNER?
It is not. It gets fifth. The girls take it for what it is worth, because after all, it is all about not having to be perfect. Ok, it’s not. A & V are ticked. We can’t go to Nationals in fifth. Angel says the kids have no idea what is coming to them.
I don’t think he means this:
Abby says loudly that maybe her kid wasn’t the only one who was sabotaged. Yes, indeedy. Victor and Angel hauled all of you out to Rendondo Beach to show off the worst possibly craghraphy they could think up for the greater purpose of making Debi happy. But the best part is that Susan has suddenly forgotten that she was a part of the Drinks of Revelation. “Oh your kid was sabotaged now!” she hisses to Abby. Wait, maybe she’s still on the side of not-so-evil. She’s just giving Abby a platform on which to preach. Which Abby does. Then she asks Debi point blank. Debi denies. Brigette says oh fer the fudge … just own it. Debi comes right out and asks Brigette if she tattled to Abby. Aaaaaand everybody is yelling. Abby calls them all a pack of frickin’ animals — even the ones who helped her — and leaves.
Next week: Hannah and Sammy are going to duet out their differences, Kimmy gets fierce and being a mean girl is better than delusional. Plus, Victor yells like he means it!
All new episodes of Dance Moms: Miami premiere Tuesday at 9pm ET.
Photos and video: ©2012 A&E Television Networks, LLC