“Dance Moms” recap: French Diss

Or … “The one in which I find out what that ‘Alouette’ song I learned in Girl Scouts really means.”

But first, did everyone come through two weeks with no new Dance Moms okay? Everybody good? Catch a little Olympics action? Or … whatever else they air on Tuesday nights?

And now we’re back, but Paige and Kelly aren’t. Turns out, they’re at the doctor for the foot Paige crunched backstage at last episode’s competition in Lancaster. Abby uses this information as a teaching moment: The girls have to understand that their bodies are their instruments. Or Abby’s instruments, anyway. Little talented tools in Abby’s quest for ALDC glory. So treat the instruments with care.

Kendall, however, is not one of those instruments. Jill either. Abby forgives but she don’t forget. So the Vertes girls are MIA at a pyramid time, which could explain Abby’s rebounded mood. She says that congratulations are in order because Len-kester went swimmingly and all three solos placed in the Top Ten.

To keep the victory train rolling, this week we are going to Starbound in Philadelphia. We’re their national winners, people. We’re in their brochure. We are their champions, my friends. So let’s see what dances we’ll bring to the party this time. Which means we need us a pyramid.

Bottom row begins with Paige … for having an outstanding performance and placing sixth overall.  Huh? I’m going to guess this has something to do with her injury, then. Abby calls the booboo an accident, but still Paige is punished.

Next is Mackenzie. If you’re at competition, you’re there to learn, Abby tells her. So there was a post-competition quiz and she didn’t pass it? How do we know she didn’t learn? I don’t get it. But I rarely do.

Next, Chloe. She did a great job in the group, but with no solo or duet, “it’s” a little difficult to judge. I don’t get that either. Here’s how Christi feels about “it.”

Row two begins with an even sleepier-eyed than usual Brooke, rewarded for her maturity during practice.

Then comes Nia. She worked that working girl LaQueefa to the hilt.

Top is Maddie. She got highest score the judges gave out.

Everyone is in the group dance except Mac, who scores herself a solo as a consolation prize. Maddie gets a solo, too. And Brooke, who will be doing The Diary of Anne Frank, because it wouldn’t be an episode of Dance Moms without a dead kid tossed in here somewhere.

Brooke knows who Anne Frank is, but she’s not sure what her story has to do with dancing. You and me both, sister. But if anyone can make a tale of death come to life in zee daunce, it’s Abby Lee Miller.

• Find out more about Abby Lee’s new series Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition and see a first pic from her Aug. 12 Drop Dead Diva appearance!

Chloe and Paige have been begging Abby Lee Miller for years to do a duet. So of course she picks the week that Paige crushed her foot to grant their wish. Chloe does her best to look excited, but she knows her buddy is down for the count and their dream dance ain’t gonna happen. Maybe Abby is really that optimistic, but mostly I find this cruel.

Group practice begins with ballet work. Ever since that whole Joffrey debacle in the mid-season finale, Abby has been all about it. So about it that this time that the group dance is going to be entirely ballet-oriented. Called Alouette. As in gentille aloutte. Alouette, je te plumerai.

Since I know zero French beyond fry, this sends me off on some kind of tangent to make sure I have the correct spelling and then to figure out what the hell “je te plumerai” means in the first place.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Alouette, gentille Alouette
Lark, nice lark.

Oh that’s nice. A nice birdie!

Alouette, je te plumerai
Lark, I will pluck you.

Wait … what? Pluck you?! You pluck chickens, not larks.

Je te plumerai le tête
I will pluck your head.

I’ll pluck your WHAT?

Je te plumerai la tête
I will pluck your head.

Why in the hell would you pluck a lark’s head?!

Et la tête, Et la tête
And your head.
And your head.

Yeah, I got it. Pluck the living daylights out of a poor songbird’s head.

Oh-oh-oh-oh!
Oh oh oh is right. Let’s see what else we’re plumerai-ing.

Je te plumerai le bec
I will pluck your beak.
Et le cou
And your neck.
Et le dos
And your back.
Et les ailes
And your wings.
Et les pattes
And your feet.
(Oh c’mon now. There’s nothing to pluck on aloutte’s les pattes.)
Et la queue
And your tail.

La Conclusion

Well thank God for that. And now I’m more than a bit concerned about what the group dance choreography will entail.

Here come Kelly and Paige. Paige is wearing a big ol’ boot on her left foot, which, Kelly says, is broken and therefore Paige must be off le pied for six weeks. Seeing her duet partner sidelined brings Chloe to tears. And things is tough all over for the Hyland ladies, for now Brooke is clutching her … let me see here … dos …and looking pained, too.

Oh-oh-oh-oh!

Up in the mom loft, the ladies are discussing how most kids stop doing acro at Brooke’s age because our bodies stop bending that way once we’re fully formed. My body stopped bending that way pretty much at birth, so I’m impressed that Brooke’s held out this long.

Well I’ll be. We’re down a little soldier and it just so happens that here come Jill and Kendall! What are the odds?! Jill says they are just here for dance class and she knows she has to be patient and wait for an opportunity. The universe is a magical place, Jill. Your opportunity is just on the other side of that door, scribbling haikus or maybe “Paige Luvs Biebs” in a little blue notebook.

Jill — who looks like she borrowed Big Mac’s Bumpit — mines Paige for info, realizes her own good fortune borne of Paige’s bad fortune, and goes off to find Abby and seal the deal for Kendall. Just a mother doing what’s best for her child. Abby is stalwart. The mothers are incredulous.

When patronizing Abby and throwing the other mothers and kids under the bus get her nowhere, Jill changes her tack and tells Abby that she simply can’t live with herself because of what she did, pulling Kendall from ALDC and the opportunities the studio affords her and all. But before the arse-a-kiss-a-mea-culpa can work its magic, Kelly appears to let her know that Paige’s spot on the team is most certainly NOT up for grabs. Abby doesn’t argue.

Off to class with you, Kendall.

Oh fer the … after angling for her Maddie to get the part on Drop Dead Diva, Abby is now chastising the kid for flying off to do the role and missing a day of practice. I’m impressed that she’ll only be gone for a day. In any case, when Maddie comes back, says Abby, that group dance better be perfect and she better not be all Hollywood Diva. You have ego when I tell you to have ego, kid, and not a minute more.

Brooke’s Anne Frank solo is all about the diary, says Abby, just the way, I am sure, that Maddie’s Helen Keller solo was all about the doll. Kelly has no clue who Anne Frank even is, which makes Dr. Holly look a little something like this.

Oh Kelly. Oh former cheerleader popular girl who paid no attention in class Kelly. In any case, Kelly does know enough about this Frank kid to know that she probably wasn’t doing cartwheels.

Someone please pluck le brain from my head.

None of this may matter anyway, though, because Brooke is grimacing more than being a dancing Anne Frank requires. Kelly reveals that Brooke has seen a chiropractor and the doctor says she really needs to rest. Then she wonders if maybe Brooke could do a dance with no acro in it for once. Oh, Kelly. Brooke, acro. Maddie, lyrical. Chloe, contemporary. Nia, LaQuifa. Paige, bottom of pyramid. Big Mac, cute. These are the rules.

Because she’s young and still bendy, Big Mac Cute’s solo is acro and called You Know You Love It. Even if you don’t know, it doesn’t matter because Mackie knows she loves it. From the looks of it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it, too.

And here’s Jill again. Why’s Jill here again? Because Abby is auditioning new duet partners for Chloe. Holly thinks this is ridic — Chloe has a team-full of potential partners. For the sake of a minimal decorum, Abby runs Chloe and Nia, then tells Nia that it just looks too … quirky. She and Chloe don’t dance alike. Let’s give Chloe and Kendall a whirl. The mother’s ain’t having it. They actually descend from the Mom Loft as a united front to deal with this nonsense.

Abby remains resolute that Nia just isn’t right for the part and Holly says Nia is never right for any special part unless she is hoisting Mackenzie. Why can’t Abby adapt the duet so that it is more in keeping with Nia’s strengths, instead of importing yet another interloper into the mix? Why can’t Nia and Chloe dance ’60s, or maybe pop and lock? Abby says she wants to enter THIS dance and it’s not about offending anyone – it’s about doing what she has to do to win. Which is offending everyone.

And now she is wearing a brown shirt with a teensy-giraffe-print collar while she explains herself further. The woman is going sartorially crazy this half of the season. The original seashell-laden flotsam necklace is getting lots of airtime tonight, too.

Aaaaand Kendall is suddenly in the group number. Abby blames this on Brooke brooding about her back pain and Paige’s foot and Maddie in Atlanta and the uncertainty of it all. But she says Kendall still isn’t an official member of the team. Righty-o there, Ab. Then she admits that she might also possibly, just a little bit, be doing this to get Jill off her dos. I think she really means off her queue. But alou-whatever.

Upstairs the mothers are sewing, sewing, sewing and Kelly says she can’t figure out why Abby can’t accept that Brooding Brooke’s back is bothering her and give her choreography that won’t aggravate it further. Jill can’t figure out why Abby isn’t sitting Brooke out and giving Someone Else a solo. She’s just saying … . Christi can’t figure out why everywhere Jill goes someone breaks a foot.

Jill reacts to that like this.

But she’s not going to let these harpies stop her from wearing more tie-dye from getting Kendall back on this team.

Now we get a brief glimpse of Maddie doing one of lots and lots of takes for her Drop Dead Diva appearance, which she likes because she’s a perfectionist. Melissa just wishes the other mothers and girls could be there to glimpse it, too. Mmmm, Melissa? That’s probably the one place they would like to be even less than at ALDC. But I could be wrong. Jill’s here, after all. And Kendall just got the duet spot with Chloe, bringing her evil plot full circle.

When Maddie returns, Abby requests a little debriefing about her big acting debut. She got a standing O for her dancing, says Maddie, but they told her she needs to emote more in her acting. Well, maybe if Abby would give her solos with more expressions other than “pained.” For instance, her Starbound solo, which requires smiling because This Is Her Over Us who are less powerful. It’s a start.

And we’re off to Philly. Group dance goes first.

The girls make for adorable little dancing mimes and the judges are grooving away to the pluck-a-lark-head song, but Abby just sees a ton of mistakes and crummy ballet. Jill thinks Kendall lent a ton of sparkle. Christy is more impressed than she thought she would be. I liked it. It was jaunty. And no birds were denuded in the doing of the dance.

Backstage, Abby is non-plussed. She says it was not quite the je ne sais quois she was expecting. In English, not quite the “I don’t know what” she was expecting. I don’t what she was expecting either. According to urban dictionary: “As far as English speaking people are concerned, this is spoken by snooty types as to sound more sophisticated than they are.” You can take it from here.

Aloutte, gentille Aloutte. Aloutte, you just won first prize. Hubby Rik is marveling at Abby’s crimp-a-licious hair in her aside. “Sassy!” he marvels. “Sassy hair!”

Big Mac’s solo is first. She is dressed head-to-toe in hearts to remind us we know we love it. It’s not hard to love it. In the audience big sister Maddie grins with adorable pride.

Backstage, Brooke’s Anne Frank costume is awesome, with a sort of pinafore covered in script to symbolize Anne’s diary — but the girl is suffering. It even hurts when she breathes. Kelly’s attempts to help don’t help. Jill sympathizes by saying that Kelly should have given up the solo when there was still time for Someone Else to take it. Abby sympathizes by saying that Kelly and Brooke are faking the whole deal because Brooke is lazy and they’re worried that the competition is too stiff.

Lori says Brooke’s back is the only thing that’s too stiff and Abby and Jill should shut les becs before I reach through the screen and plumerai their overly sprayed têtes. A tearful Kelly finally tells Abby that she is unwilling to risk Brooke’s back for one dance and Abby blows up, then stalks out.

And now, by way of commercial, Holly and Christy are talking about their favorite moments in  “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” Dance Mom Film Critics. Frazier & Lukasiak go Siskel & Ebert. That was just a little bit weird.

As always, Maddie’s solo looks like every other one of Maddie’s solos, even though it’s contemporary instead of lyrical. I love the kid. She’s a beautiful dancer. But I can’t be as impressed as Abby is with her ability to learn a dance in days despite a Drop Dead Diva role when all of her dances looks look exactly alike. She knows these moves and expressions backward and forward. They’re just slightly rearranged, with a fresh set of judges who get their chance to beam for the cameras and make Maddie a winner.

I. Want. To. See. This. Kid. Challenged.

Chloe and Kendall’s duet goes swimmingly and I’ll give Abby this much — with their long legs and natural grace, they are indeed very well matched. The choreography is interesting, their highwaisted green costumes sophisticated and the girls seem happy to be dancing together. I’m all about Kendall, if we could just get rid of Jill. Or render her mute.

Big Mac’s solo gets second. Abby says that makes her the first one to lose.
This is Maddie winning again. That could not be less interesting.
Chloe and Kendall get first, look genuinely excited and hug it out on stage. Jill says she feels vindicated. I’m just glad Kendall gets something positive out of being caught in the middle of this drama.

Backstage, Abby congratulates only Maddie and then demands that she run her Drop Dead Diva dance for the group. Maddie looks weary and like she’d really rather not, but she — like always — does as she is told. While Maddie leaps halfheartedly about, the other mothers interject to take Abby to task for once again blatantly pitting their daughters against their friend, and they do so in a way that ultimately champions Maddie, but Melissa removes her from the room anyway.

That’s a good thing, because Christi and Abby begin to make it really loud and really personal. And suddenly Abby turns on Chloe, calling her a sneak — SNEAK, SNEAK, SNEAK — which has absolutely zero context to what is going on here and makes Abby look like the worst possible schoolyard bully. The last thing we see is Chloe collapsing in tears and fleeing the room with the other girls encircling her.

Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. What will happen next?

New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.
Images and video: © 2012 A&E Television 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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6 Responses to “Dance Moms” recap: French Diss

  1. Pingback: Dance Moms recap: You're (Immi)grating On My Nerves - Channel Guide Magazine

  2. Pingback: "Dance Moms" recap: Boys Rule, Chicks Cruel - Channel Guide Magazine

  3. Lori Acken says:

    I’m starting to agree, Melody. Used to be that the drama was campy, but now everyone is so abusive to each other and to the kids that it is becoming painful. And Debra, I don’t think viewers would object in the least if we got to see Brooke doing some normal teenage stuff along with the dancing, do you? The sole purpose of these kids this season is to be the target of adult anger. Sad.

  4. debra says:

    Abbe is so full of it. “Brooke is lazy and afraid of losing”. Really, Abs?? Brooke doesn’t give one fig about losing. She has said so and I believe her. Brooke is 14, stuck in a group of pre teens, and wants a norml life. It is called growing up. Something Abbe Miller knows nothing about, since apparantly she never has. I agree though. Challenge Maddie. I really want to see if this kid can do anything beside “pained whatever”.

  5. Melody says:

    I just can’t watch this show anymore. I love the girls and they are all incredibly talented, but the show is just o horrible to watch. The film it for viewers, they dramatize it for viewers. If we all just stopped watching, they wouldn’t film it anymore and those poor girls wouldn’t be verbally abused every day! (Well, at least not as much).

  6. Joan Kane says:

    I LOVE,LOVE,LOVE Dance Moms
    looking forward to next year.
    Already ordered season 1 in dvd.
    Looking forward to season 2 dvd.
    Also,looking forward to season 3
    Will also watch Abby’s new show!

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