“Dance Moms” recap: The More They Stay The Same

Everybody remember where we left off in April? Maddie stumbled. Chloe soared. Abby bent over, let us see her shake her tail feathers — then hightailed it outta Jersey in shame.

Everybody good?

Before we begin, quick moment of silence for Hubby Rik who got his priorities goofed and is working right now instead of patrolling the Pitt Crew for swears and apologies. I guess he will just have to read the little missus’s recap to find out what happens, now won’t he?

Or maybe I’ll wait up for him and act the whole thing out.

Missed the episode? Watch it here for free.

Anyway, as we open on a brand new day in Pittsburgh, everyone’s creeping into the studio on their tippy-toes, pretending they have no idea if Abby Lee returned unharmed from Jersey or if the horror of Maddie’s downfall drove her deep into a forest where there is no dance. Only silence.

After an apparent thirty minutes of standing around, dreaming of apologies that shall not come, a shadow appears in the doorway and turns into a weary-looking Abby. Welcome back, says she, oh so quietly. New York didn’t go quite as planned. But props to Chloe for making Abby Lee’s name the top junior soloist at Starbound. Well, and also a little herself, but mostly Abby Lee. Huh. Maybe things aren’t going to be so different this go-round after all.

And it’s two Dance Moms Fashion Moments for the price of one! DMM Debi’s studded Renaissance Faire wristbands are also hot in Pittsburgh. And little jean jackets appear to be the new cold-shoulder shirt. Hurray! At long last, I have something Dance Mom in my very own closet! I am wearing it every Tuesday until further notice.

Abby acknowledges that Holly — or as she says it, Hawley — was upset about Abby being upset about Maddie forgetting her dance. Hawley calmly explains that every kid deserves the coos and cuddles that Mads got from Abby backstage, especially post boo-boo. This inspires Abby to dust off her volume button.

“Nia had YOU,” she hollers at the good doctor. “She went to you!” The other mothers ain’t having even a spoonful of that nonsense. Just because they are present to shield their own children when they stumble at competitions doesn’t mean that Abby can go ahead and fire insults and arrows freely. And we’re off to the races! Christi yells. Kelly yells. Holly makes her point quietly but firmly. Melissa stays silent.

Mackie does this:

And it’s a darn fine thing she covered those little eardrums, because not five minutes into the summer season, Abby is her old self again.

“SOME KIDS ARE JUST SPECIAL!” she bellows of her unequal opportunity coddling.

Catch up on Abby’s most memorable moment thus far!

Then, in an aside, she walks that back a little and says she did not abandon the whole entire team. She just wasn’t there to be a cheerleader (which she was, for one team member). She was there to be the dance teacher (just not everyone’s) and not to sit in a room and babysit the children (baby-minus-the-sit-ing one kid doesn’t count). Now I know where Abby went between New Jersey and today! She went to “I Got That Backward-ville.” And bought the t-shirt.

But enough, foul debaters! Abby’s time is very valuable! And the cost of admission does not include a heaping side of free discussion. Besides of which, we have so much to do, because — since the East Coast didn’t go so hot for us last … whenever — we are headed West, young dancers, to NexStar in L.A., land of freely emotional children.

Abby — who has apparently hired new hair and makeup people — says that she is at a distinct disadvantage, because it takes a lot to draw the emotion out of her repressed little Midwestern dancers. The inaugural summer-season shooting of beer out my nose has officially taken place. Go on, one of you children! Laugh without permission! Cry for any reason except dismemberment! See how quickly she hands you your booty-shorted butts!

Speaking of laughing and crying, it’s pyramid time!

So as not to throw us longtime viewers off too badly, the bottom row begins with Paige. The crime: getting stuck in the straps-cum-jail-cell-bars from her prop in the jailhouse group dance. I’m pretty sure Paige didn’t design those things.

Next is Nia — for wearing a bike-a-tard to practice and then fussing with it. Bike-a-tard. Now there’s a word. Fussing with your bike-a-tard. Now there’s a punishable offense.

Next is Brooke for not wearing pointe shoes to her Joffrey audition and confusing the judges about the strength of her ankles.

Row two begins with Maddie, who mucked up her solo in the midst of a competition, drove Abby Lee out of town and other atrocities that are still apparently not nearly as bad as futzing with a bike-a-tard and casting widespread doubt about your ankles.

(GAWD, this feels like home! We’re hoooooooooome, Dance Moms Nation! We’re home!)

One spot ahead of her sister in row two is Mack, for being 50 pounds of charisma and face. No doubt about that one.

Bike-a-tard. (It’s just fun to say. That, and now I’m wondering who the first person was to decide that an a-tard was the optimal thing to wear whilst on a bike. )

Chloe is at the top of the pyramid. For this she earns a featured spot in the group dance and a solo. Mack gets a solo, too. Abby says she entered a solo for Maddie, but she’s pulling it until her adrift little sailor can right her off-course ship.

RELATED: Christi Lukasiak talks Chloe, Joffrey and the show’s new season!

Trio will be Chloe, Paige and Brooke and they must self-immolate on stage. Or set the stage on fire at the very least.

The group dance will be called I Want it Now. Can we all say that? Abby knew that we could — because we’re all rich little brats who want this and want that and want everything now. If their mommies, daddies and step-daddies weren’t well-off, muffin, they couldn’t afford tuition. I suggest you embrace it.

The moms are summarily dismissed and head up to the Mom Loft to further discuss what their money is buying here, which should be Abby’s presence and devotion throughout the entirety of each competition. Ain’t enough money in the world, ladies. Not in the world.

Back in the dance room, since Chloe is the one who took home a first place finish, not to mention the Joffrey Ballet School scholarship, Abby is understandably doubting her ability to lead the group dance. She wishes that Maddie — the responsible one whom we all count on who still did not improv the rest of her solo the way that we’ve been taught — was able to take her place. Two. Two t-shirts from “I Got That Backward-ville.” And a keychain.

Upstairs again, Melissa lets slip that Abby told her she was fleeing Jersey to rush to her ailing mother’s side. Turns out that was a fib, so Melissa’s a little confused. But better a mom-based lie than a Maddie-based truth. Not to the other mothers, who now realize that Melissa not only knew about but also aided and abetted the daring escape by calling the very taxi that spirited the bawling dancemaster away.

Because of this, everyone thinks it should be Melissa who goes right down there and cries liar liar pants on fire, because she was pants on fired the worst. Melissa thinks they could care less about her mistreatment — they just want to watch the fallout. Well, duh, Melissa. That’s what we’re here for.

Still, says Christi, let’s look on the bright side. We’re going to L.A. and Cathy won’t be there. Then she does a bangin’ impression of the head Candy Apple’s victory whoop, which ushers in our first look at my most beloved “Welcome to Ohio, John R. Kasich Governor” sign. No farm animals, though. No Tommy’s Jerky Outlet. Also, Cathy has multiple hairstyles just like Dance Moms Miami Mayra. Here’s the new one.

The other happy Apples news is that Taylor is off her crutches and her boot got the boot, so non-boozy bubbly for everyone! And we’re done.

Well, that was random.

Back in Pittsburgh, Chloe’s hot little number of a solo will be lyrical contemporary and is called Keep Burnin’. It’s also short, so let’s hope she doesn’t forget it. Just for kicks, Abs gives Chloe a lecture about forgetting. But Abby, it wasn’t Chloe who forgot, it was … ah, never mind.

Downstairs at the front desk, the girl gang has convinced Melissa to lead the charge on Abby Lee. Or at least stand there morosely while they confront Abby Lee. Holly simply wants their fearsome leader to promise that they will all travel as a team and support one another as a team. Fearsome Leader says that until they pay for her trip, she does not have to adhere to any school rules. Christi says Abby is an idiot. Abby instructs Gia to dial 911 about that.

Mackie’s jazz solo is called Perfect Fit (which will eventually evolve into If The Shoe Fits), and it involves a lot of tricks and even a prop. Also, the “don’t be a dum dum” choreography advice from Robert Goulet, Jr. of the Joffrey school fell on seriously deaf ears, because here’s Mackie shaking her bum bum again. She’s wearing shorts with pink ruffles on the tush, though, so it’s actually pretty cute.

Upstairs, Melissa — wearing what my new pal reader Becky aptly christened the “abandoned-shoulder” shirt — reveals that not only did Abby tell her that she was heading home to mama, but she did so via a hush-hush bathroom whisper session. Nonetheless, Mel is loathe to trod the subject any further. She’d rather face the wrath of the mothers than stand up to Abby Lee. Makes her a nervous wreck is what that does.

“I’m a door mat!” she self-chastises. Someone has spent her mid-season downtime watching the Season 1 DVDs.

The trio is modern jazz and is called Girls In The House. Maddie is on hand to run the music. And demonstrate the dance moves. And serves as junior dance warden. Properly executed by Maddie or otherwise, Kelly is unimpressed with the choreography. Too much posing. Too much walking around. Where is the technique?

I don’t know, but here’s a fresh little slice of hell for the children. Abby makes Nia, Paige and Maddie sit down and critique Chloe’s solo. “We try to teach our kids to be supportive of each other, not judgmental,” says Christi. It must have worked, because the girls do their best to helpful without being mean to their pal.

With the success of the group dance riding on her shoulders, Chloe is also informed that Abby’s entire professional reputation is packed in the trunk. It’s just NexStar, Abby. It’s not, like, the Joffrey … well, anyway. With three dances to rehearse in the span of a week, Chloe’s hip flexors are starting to bug her and Christi is worried about the girl’s body and her spirit.

Time for Abby and Maddie — in a practice room I’ve never seen before — to discuss what happened in Jersey. Which amounts to the former asking the latter if she could do the squandered solo on command and onstage, should Abby ask. Because Abby’s totally going to! Somewhere! Sometime! Someplace! And when she least expects it! Which I am pretty sure is code for: at NexStar in Los Angeles. The child nods dutifully.

And then we’re in Cali. Nexstar is one of those competitions to which people bring tons and tons of numbers and on which they spend tons and tons of money. Speaking of tons of numbers — whoopsie daisy! — Maddie’s solo is still on the program! How did THAT happen?! And now what?! Because if Abby scratches it, everyone in the whole wide world will think that Maddie can’t do what she was put on this planet to do.

But Maddie remembers well the Jersey disaster, appears a little traumatized and says she isn’t so much willing to go out there and biff it again. Still, she doesn’t want to make Abby mad by NOT doing it either. What’s a girl to do? Whatever Abby says.

Time for the Girls In The House to get in the house. Paige misses a kick and the spacing is a little duckie, but it’s still typical Abby Lee preeny-posey cute. Paige knows she’s in some kinda trouble. And she is.

“Apparently if you don’t kick your leg, that’s the end of the world at the Abby Lee Dance Company,” marvels Christi. “Paige? Armageddon. It’s upon you. You didn’t kick.”

Man, I wish Hubby Rik was home. He’d kiss the screen right now. All I am left with is Kelly suggesting to Abby Lee that the bigger issue might be that every other dance in the division had much better choreography, completed kick or no.

Oh! Mackie’s prop — which was a plain old white box at practice — is now a big, black platform shoe. Also she is wearing a black lace body stocking. And doing moves I am not so sure should be done by a 7-year-old. Especially one in a black lace body stocking. And now she just slipped on her sleeve mid-flip and came down hard on her hip. She tries to finish the dance but is obviously injured and upset. She does one last pose then flees the stage into the arms of the other girls, who tell her she still worked it.

“I fell and got hurt,” Mackie whimpers. So now what happens? Mackie is not Maddie. So does she face the wrath of Abby Lee — or do her born-of-The-Doormat genes afford her a cuddle and a pass? Abby hates being the good guy. She would rather just yell. And yet she cuddles and tells the boo-boo to put on a happy face.

Then she tells the boo-boo’s big sister that if she’s feeling better, she will be doing the solo of doom so as not to embarrass the studio with a scratch that is Abby’s fault. Finally, she hauls the kid outside to ask her One. Last. Time. if she’s going to step up or not. Maddie says she just isn’t ready and Abby is calm as a puddle about that.

Of course, the announcer calls Maddie’s solo anyway. In the audience, the girl pops up in a panic, then sits back down and crumbles. “She’s sick!” Melissa calls toward the judges. “She’s sick!” Well if she wasn’t before, she certainly is now.

Next up is Chloe, dressed in fabric flames, who is at the younger end of her age group. After a typical “my whole professional reputation is riding on your ability to vanquish a bunch of Californians” pep talk from her teacher, Chloe goes out there, nails the solo and finishes by wiping her hands of Abby’s doubt. Actually it’s just part of the choreography, but that’s what I decide she’s doing. She struts off the stage like the Miss Thing she is.

Back in the prep room, Abby is losing her shizznit at the group dancers, who are dressed like ballerinas moonlighting as old-timey cigarette girls and trying in vain to make to make Abby Lee happy with her own damn choreography.

Since a little teardown worked so splendidly on Chloe, Abby decides to test it out on Maddie, too. She tells the solemn girl that if she would have done her solo, it would have been Abby Lee’s name to which the victory was pinned. How this relates to the group dance, I am not entirely sure. But it makes sense to Abby Lee. “Come back, Maddie,” she implores her dearly beloved. “Come back.”

Abby pronounces the group dance performance cute, but she doesn’t know how far cute is going to get us in California. It’s going to get us to fifth place. Abby says they should’ve just stayed home.

The other awards don’t go much better. Mackie gets tenth, which is nice given what happened to the kid and all. Christi doesn’t think people even realized that  Mack didn’t do her whole dance. Chloe gets fifth. Trio gets third.

When Abby continues to rage at the dancers for their collective performance, Kelly has had o’plenty. She launches into Abby about her lackluster choreography and blatant training-time favoritism with renewed vigor and vitriol. Abby counters that Kelly’s daughter is 14 and still she can’t master her turns.

“Work with her!” wails Kelly. Abby assumes that she means right this minute, so she orders a blank-faced Brooke to do 30 turns, right here on the spot.

As Christi ushers the kids out of the room, Kelly counters that her kid doing 30 turns backstage ain’t gonna make up for Abby’s sucky choreography onstage and that “maybe me and Christi” should go someplace else.

“Christi and I, you idiot!” Abby bellows, mere millimeters from Kelly’s grinning face. “Christi and I!”

The proximity of Abby’s open mouth is too close for Kelly’s comfort. “Don’t eat me, Abby!” she chortles.

Next week, the chairs and F-bombs fly!

New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.

Imagery and video: © 2012 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. All rights reserved.

 

About Lori Acken

Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.
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8 Responses to “Dance Moms” recap: The More They Stay The Same

  1. Lori Acken says:

    Well, Jen, first of all, why are you reading this tired old thing, when there’s a brand new blog just waiting for you to try it on for snides? And second of all, I know nothing about sororities, so I’d say you’re already … whatever post-pledge is … and can just be the designated driver until you birth the child. According to Christi, she and Kelly are the official co-chairs of the Dance Moms drinking club anyway. You get a membership card and a “lump of coal to help with the stomach pumping.” Yay for role models!

  2. Pingback: "Dance Moms" recap: You're (Un)dead to Me! - Channel Guide Magazine

  3. Lori Acken says:

    Thanks for the insight on the peer critique, Melody! I swear I am going to be a pro at this stuff by the time we’re done. Which I hope is never.

    And Kathryn, if you read my newest interview with Chloe’s mom, she’s hoping for the same. Me, too. The girl deserves it — television show or no.

  4. Kathryn says:

    I am just sick over how Chloe is treated by Abby. She sets her up to fail and when the kid gets fifth despite being up against older kids, Abby blames her instead of her crappy choreography. Her laying all the pressure on her before hand was reprehensible, too. It is so obvious that she couldn’t care less about Chloe. I noticed that nothing was said about her getting the scholarship to the Joffrey, either. Like they said in the re-cap, that should have meant so much more to Abby than some crappy competition in California that the girls weren’t prepared enough for. You know what’s going to happen, though. They won’t let Chloe go and she will lose such a great opportunity to become a better dancer. Christi should get her head out of her heinie and realize that a scholarship to Joffrey is so much more important than a reality show that will last another couple of seasons at best and then be forgotten. The producers should write in Chloe’s adventure at the Joffrey, and if the Joffrey won’t let them film there, they should at least let her go and interview her occasionally away from the school. LET HER GO!!! Please, Christi! Please, producers!

  5. Melody says:

    I became addicted to Dance moms midway through season 2 and I’m so glad it’s back! I’ve been reading your recaps for awhile and they’re hilarious and very true. Just a quick note on the critiquing each other bit. I’ve been taking ballet since I was 3 (I’m 17 and have never seen anyone dole out the kind of verbal abuse Abby does) and sometimes our teachers will have us watch and critique each other. However, they’ve always told us to critique the good and the bad and we always critique EACH OTHER, meaning each person takes a turn critiquing so you don’t end up feeling judged. So what Abby did wasn’t completely insane (like everything else), she just didn’t go about it in a very positive way (but what else is new?).

  6. Lori Acken says:

    Oh, I saw, Jen, I saw. Not the first time, either.

    New season’s like coming back to college and all your party people, isn’t it? Wooohoooo! Ten-cent TV tappers on Tuesdays!

    • Jen says:

      Does this mean we’re starting a sorority? Remember, I’m pregnant. Kind of puts a damper on Pledge Week activities.

  7. Jen says:

    It’s soooo good and sooo satisfying. P.S.- Last week Cathy Nesbitt-Stein of the Lower Canton Warehouse District Nesbitt-Steins got in a twitter war with a high schooler. Pretty hilarious.

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