“Dance Moms” recap: Abby’s Rants-A-Thon

Aw, c’mon, man! I thought I was getting one — just one — episode where we could all sit back and revel in the talent of our favorite little dancers before we wade back into the well-dressed sturm und drang of life at ALDC. I thought tonight’s Dance Moms Drinkie Word could be “Hooray!” But nooooo! We get an hour of Abby bitchin’ away with no moms to call her on it.

Still, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the little trip down Memories-of-Abby’s-Hairbands Lane. And whether the high priestess of dance liked them or not, it was lovely to have an episode devoted almost entirely to the girls’ dances. With a little bit of Abby’s Ego Trivia thrown in for sport.

Speaking of Abby, we start out with her standing oh-so-alone on an empty stage telling us we’re about to see some of her favorite dances and — and because this Dance Moms, so someone has to be reamed out for at least half of the episode — some utter disasters. Whoops. Nope. It’s because she’s Abby Lee MIller and willing to do something no other choreographer would DARE to do. Whichever. We’ll start with the worst and work toward the best.

#10 — Pin-up Girls Maddie, Paige and Chloe’s trio from Episode 1, Season 1. Aw! Remember when Maddie, Paige and Chloe did trios? And the mothers looked like they were actually laughing and having fun out there in the audience? The dance really didn’t go all that terribly wrong, except that Chloe’s Esther Williams head wrap drooped down over her eyes.

But she dances perfectly despite that detriment, proving once and for all that Chloe is a pretty flawless dancer even with her eyes closed. The performance still won first place, but Abby says no, it was sabotaged. By a dance mom. Namely Christi drinking it up in the hotel bar with Kel instead of sewing her daughter’s headgear into the child’s skull. Yessir. Christi went right out there and made sure her kid would fail. Sounds logical. In Abby’s universe, if not, say, yours or mine.

#9 — The Bumblebee solo by Vivi Stein. Unless I missed something, we never actually saw the entirety of this dance on camera — especially since the rest of the clip shows a cameraman and everyone else just kinda hanging out, rather than in the heat of competition —  so I’m wondering if we’re including it so Viv can be in the episode. In any case, seems Cathy took Abby’s hallowed choreography and bee costume  and morphed them into something embarrassing, according to Abs. Actually it’s not that bad. It’s actually kind of adorable watching Viv wave her little ruffle-covered arse around in bee-with-stinger fashion.

But Abby wanted her 6-year-old bumble bee to be a killer bee instead. And watching Cathy pull a backhanded bumble-bee-a-mea-culpa in front of a mortified Abby in the hallway is worth the price of admission to the countdown right there.

#8 — Jailbirds from the Season 2 spring season finale.  Abby says it was supposed to be a tribute to Bob Fosse. Abby says it was really a tribute to sloppy technique. Who’s teaching these kids, anyway?! Oh. It’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s the mothers’. For not dressing their kids in the proper attire that no one told them was the proper attire and thereby stressing them out. If I recall correctly, at least some of the mothers thought perhaps having 11.3 seconds to learn to dance among the straps-slash-cell-bars might have been the real problem — as evidenced by this one of these things is not like the others moment in the audience:

Time for something called Abby’s Extras. Ooooh, Abby just said hell! In a hand basket, no less! Quarter in the Swears Jar, Abby!

This Abby Extra is all about Disastrous Dances. There’s Chloe forgetting her choreography. Paige forgetting her choreography. Nia forgetting her choreography. Maddie forgetting her choreography. Nothing like watching little kids suffer and then replaying it again for sport. Wasn’t there anything else we could show that was extra?

And another bonus! The “Pop Quiz Pyramid!” Question #1 — At what age did Abby become a choreographer? Who else besides me hears every one of the Dance Moms (except maybe Melissa) saying they’re still waiting for that to happen? That’s not the right answer. Abby says the right answer is a) age 13.

#7 — Garden of Eden, an acro solo from Brooke that we also didn’t see very much of in whatever episode it was actually in. Abby says that Brooke is one of the best acrobatic dancers she has ever had (wha’?! I thought she was a snot-nosed teenager, all evidence to the contrary, and not much else) and someday that kid could be dancing in Cirque du Soleil. Or “Cirque” as the cool kids call it. That is, she could if her mother just stays out of it. Except to write the checks to ALDC. And get her kid to stop wanting to do normal teenage things. And buy some damned chair stoppers. Oh wait … that was Paige. In any case, this dance is so lovely and complex and really makes me wish we could see more of Brooke on stage.

Wait a sec. Are we still in the bad dances? We can’t be. This was flawless. It got first place. Oh well. I guess, like the pyramid, any time Abs is counting down something it ain’t always going to make sense. Or possibly ever.

#6 — My Pumps, Season 1, Episode 2. This is the dance that started it all for me, because these were the costumes on the screener that led me down this wayward dance-strewn path.

But once I adapted to the sight of those threads, this jazz funk bad boy that became known as “Wildly Inappropriate Prostit-tots” was all about Nia’s completely thrilling death drop, taught to her by a drag queen named Laquifa/Shangela, whom we’ll hear and dance more about later in the countdown. “She dropped it like a hot potato!” exclaims Abby, wagging her uber-coiffed head and snapping her fingers all oh-no-she-di’int style. Uh, Abby. That’s just plain drop it like it’s hot. No potato.

No potato, no potato, no potato, FLOOR!

#5 — The Mom Dance by Cathy Jean, Season 1, Episode 5. Ah, gahd, really? We need to see this debacle again? Really? And weren’t we on our way up? This is not up. Oh. This is not #5 either. Less typing and more paying attention, Lori. It’s Another Abby’s Extra. An extra special way to embarrass the moms. Well, except Cathy Jean. She handled that one all by her love-child-of-Edith-Bunker-and-Patti-Lupone self, right there.

Pop Quiz Pyramid time again. Which Dance Mom was a former student of Abby’s? If you don’t know this one, you have so not been paying attention. There’s a reason Kelly took up drinking, people.

#5 — Dream On A Star Chloe’s solo from the semi-ill-fated trip to Hollywood in Season 1, Episode 10.

Abby finally, effusively admits that Chloe is pretty much a flawless little dancer, save for the one big flaw that is her mother. Abby says that there’s no doubt that Chloe is going to end up a professional dancer … if Christi doesn’t get in her way. I don’t think it’s Christi getting in the way of Chloe getting to take advantage of that Joffrey Ballet School scholarship. Just sayin’.

#4 — Angel Maddie’s tribute solo to her late grandmother from Season 1, Episode 7.  I, too, say this is Maddie’s most lovely solo ever, in a sea of most lovely solos. Abby says Maddie inspires people to dance and to cry and Abby to be a better choreographer. The dance inspires me to remember some uncomfortable Polish-language lessons, courtesy of Urban Dictionary during the self-same episode as LaQuifa.

And another Abby’s Extra — the “world dance premiere” of an adorable frenchie-mimey little solo from Paige that lets her emote and excel. Uh, would it kill us to actually see one or two or five or seven of these on camera? I mean, other than during recap shows? Ya got six excellent dancers, Abby and the people who make Dance Moms. Maybe we could get a load of all of them? Or, as Paige’s music says, should we just drink ourselves silly and get past it?

Pop Quiz time again. Who gave up dance for cheerleading? Duh! That would be Brooke. For a whopping one episode. This quiz is too easy. Can’t we ask something a little tougher — like is this a turtleneck or not?

Oh wait! The cheerleader thing was a trick question! Seems Brooke followed in her mother’s saddle-shoed footsteps all the way to the football field. Do they even make saddle shoes anymore? Yes. Yes they do. Do cheerleaders still wear them?  No. No they don’t. Should I stop taking a swig of my beer every time someone says “dance”?

Yes. Yes I should.

Another Abby’s Extra — The Cutest Dance Ever, which is a solo by everybody’s favorite little bum-bum shaker, Big Mac. Abby says this kid is a brat who cartwheels from the moment she gets up until the moment her head hits the pillow. And maybe she shouldn’t compare her to Maddie, since Mac’s a sassy cartwheeler and Maddie’s a disciplined emoter.

#3 — Black Swan — the first duet I believe we saw Maddie and Chloe perform. Yes? No? In any case, I looved this dance from the tail end of Season 1. Looooved it. Might even be my favorite dance of the series, thus far. If memory serves me, it was also the first chance we got to see Chloe display the dark side at she is so surprisingly good, given her sweet and gentle nature. Abby just wishes that Melissa and Christi would work together as well as their girls.

Also from this episode is favorite dance …

#2 — My Beauty, the national-champion group dance. Abby says that sometimes she just goes right out there and choreographs a number that is too beautiful for words — including the ones she uses to tell us that she does that. Finally the moms backed off and the result was unspeakable beauty. Or maybe it’s because she didn’t dress the kids as, like, dead kids and prisoners and prostit-tots and the result was unspeakable beauty. That could be, too.

Oh there’s Maddie and Big Mac’s dad in the audience. Remember the Brief Appearance of Kurt before he was summarily replaced by the mysterious Greg Gisoni of the letter-sending lawyer?

And another Abby’s Extra. Oh now “Laquifa” is called “The Funkiest Dance.” What? WHAT WHAT WHAT? That’s not what you called it the first time, lady. It was certainly The Loudest Dance Ever. And possibly the first children’s dance inspired by a choreographer’s drag-queen pal. But maybe not. In any case, Nia made lemons into LaQuifa-ade in her inimitable Nia way.

And it’s back to the Pop Quiz: How many Broadway shows have featured dancers from the Abby Lee Dance Company. Can someone real quick define “feature”? And why did we abandon the integers of 3 pattern and make the (d) answer 17 instead of 18? Is that a hint?

Enhhhh! Funny preview for next week’s episode. Apparently Abby puts Maddie’s picture at the top of the pyramid twice for last week’s dual dances of duplicity, which inspires Christi to opine that Maddie’s picture is like a gremlin. You just add water and it multiplies. <chortle> Wait. Are we watering Maddie next week?

Anyhow, 17 was not a hint. It was a red herring. There have, in fact, been 12 Broadway shows featuring ALDC dancers. And that’s why Abby gets to go to the Tony Awards. And that’s probably why we included this question. So we could all know that Abby gets to go to the Tonys.

Abby just said piss. Nothing gives her more pleasure than to piss off the moms. Abby. You mother-piss-offing bad-ass, you. Another quarter in the Swears Jar.

The next Abby Extra — From Pittsburgh With Love (and guns) is the gold-trench-coats-and-faux-pistols Secret Agents dance. Was that what it was called originally? I thought Private Eyes.

But anyway, the appropriateness of little girls aiming pistols at the audience aside, it was a totally awesome dance. You were right, Abby. Abby was right. So why isn’t it #1? And also, anybody else besides me not realize until this episode how much chair-jiving Melissa does out in the audience? Might somebody we know be a frustrated little closeted dancer.

Oh. That’s why the Secret Agents aren’t #1. Because Where Have All The Children Gone is. The original dead kid dance from Season 1, Episode 6.

Yeeeeeah. I still don’t know about this one. I’m still having nightmares from that music from the first time around. “Maybe we’re just sleeping in rooms filled with metal shelves.” <shudder>

But what I think of Abby’s rankings doesn’t matter a whit. What you think of it either. If we don’t like it, well … Abby doesn’t care. Of course you don’t, Abby. That’s what makes you you. And that’s what makes this Dance Moms. And that’s why we tune in.

Next week: Kelly goes rogue!

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

Images 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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