Well, all you Dance Moms fans who skipped out on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, you missed yourself quite a spectacle. Not to mention some context about Abby’s snazz-tastic new look and Hollywood attitude — and all the helpless AUDC references I am going to make until I get it out of my system.
But back in Pennsylvania, it’s the first day back after competition season break and there are hugs all around — except that Kelly and the Hyland girls are nowhere to be found. Christi, however, has been growing out her hair, looks like Jill cut hers, and I want Holly’s awesome lace-up jacket, so we do have that much going for us. Also Jill is still into tie-dye, so that’s nice, too.
The girls promptly get to noodling around on a group routine and then the door opens and in marches a disgruntled-looking Abby. I don’t think she is happy to be back in Pittsburgh after a long, hot summer being the star of her own deal in L.A. Also, holy Hannah, look how tall Miss Chloe has gotten. Remember when she and Maddie were almost the same height?
Abby heads for the pyramid, but instead of launching into it, she grabs two squares off the wall and chucks them in the garbage. Not doing a pyramid today, she huffs. Not enough people to do one. How dare Kelly do that to her? But she is equal-opportunity in her disenchantment — she is angry at the people who didn’t show up, but she is also angry at the people who did, because they had six group numbers and some of them know two of them and some of them know one of them and some know none and you can’t win like that. What are you talking about, Abby? Abby is talking about how she arranged for guest choreographers to come in over the summer and prep the gang with their group numbers while Abby was off being a star. Then she called home and learned that she wasn’t the only one who didn’t show up for class. No one else did either.
Well, well. Don’t we look guilty?
Abby admonishes that break is a time to set new goals, overcome obstacles and improve your skills — whether she’s there to help you along with that or not. Holly protests mildly, but Abby’s in no mood. She says they will be going to in10sity Dance in Denver, she will be having auditions to fill the void left by Paige and Brookie, and the rest of the Pitt Crew will be nice and kind and wonderful to whomever wins their spots on the team, so there.
Not hearing her mother’s telepathic screams of “noooooooo!,” Chloe raises her hand to ask about solos at the Denver competition and earns herself a nice little lecture for her efforts. Abby’s too preoccupied with the group dance, which is apparently about angels and demons. Namely one angel who is being torn apart by the demons. It’s group dance as metaphor for Abby’s universe. Chloe will be the angel. Everyone else will annoy Abby to death. Upstairs, Jill wonders why Kendall didn’t pipe up about her goal of making it to the top of the pyramid.
Audition day. The moms show up to sit in the audience to scout the competition. Which is pretty fierce. Abby says the talent is blowing her away — specifically one boneless, bendy little creature she calls the second coming of Brooke. In the stands there is mama drama, but it has nothing to do with the Pitt Crew. Well, I guess it does in auxiliary fashion. Another mom is shouting at good ol’ Leslie Ackerman over the top of Christi and Jill about why she left their kids in L.A. without a ride. I have no idea what they are talking about either, but Leslie says she did that because she felt like it. Also, she’d like to point out this:
Now you know.
Holly is focused on the part where there is so much talent at the audition that Abby could realistically assemble a whole other competition team. Melissa’s just worried that, because the newbies are all so much taller than the other girls, they are going to have to be featured in each group dance or stand out like a sore thumb. Abby says she does, indeed, have some decisions to make.
And here we are at the Hyland house. Kelly asks the girls if they’ve thought any more about returning to dance. Brooke doesn’t think she even wants to, at all. Paige says she likes dance, but she wants to model, too. Diplomatically, Kelly points out that Paige would never have gotten her photo shoot, nor Brooke her chance to record her song, if it wasn’t for their experiences at ALDC. But no one appears convinced that that’s enough to make them want to go back.
Back at the studio, Abby informs Jill that she is giving Kendall a solo. “I just hope you and I have a good season,” she says, giving Jill this deeply meaningful look.
Jill gets the message. She says she will obey. T
he mothers press for details of the newbies, and Abby says she still hasn’t made any decisions. They are clearly hoping that Kelly and the girls return. Then they ask if Abby would give solos to the new dancers and Abby gives an unequivocal yes. Jill asks if they would start out on probation like Kendall did, and she disappears without a word. In an aside, Abby says the other mothers are not understanding that she isn’t doing this to punish or diminish their children — she’s doing it to protect them. She simply wants to assemble a team that’s as good as the one that won last season’s national championship. That actually makes sense to me. Score one for Abby.
Kendall’s solo, It Girl, will be jazz funk. This is Kendall’s year to get … somethin’ says Jill. Like yelled at. A lot. Abby says she heard nothing but good things about Kendall’s devotion over the summer, so she can’t figure out why she is now dancing like a 5-year-old. Finally she tells the poor girl that the auditioners were 500 times better than she was, sending a sobbing Kendall scurrying up to the mom loft. Abby follows her up and says the only kid to get a solo should not be crying.
Jill goes down to try to smooth things over, but Abby is over it. Finally Jill shrieks that they can’t possibly compete with L.A. and she and Kendall leave.
Group practice. Upstairs, Holly voices her concern that Abby will be ten times more impossible than usual because of Abby’s Ultimate. No time to fret about that now, because we have our two potential new team members. If I go with you, she says to Ava, a sylphlike tawny blond, I have a ten-year-old and can keep my age down. That kid is ten? She’s taller than Chloe! If I go with you, she says to Ally, an even taller brunette, I can win in the 13-15 age division.
Because Ava does not know how to do a side aerial yet, Abby decides to go with 13-year-old Ally, daughter of Shelley. She dismisses Ava with a nice little, “Today is not your day” souvenir leftover from her Abby’s Ultimate days. I don’t think AUDC had even premiered when this season of Dance Moms was filming, so I’m not sure anyone but Abby got the e’er so pithy nuance
Wooohooo! We didn’t even have to wait 20 minutes into this baby before getting a look at my best Dance Moms buddy:
Nice to know John and Mary still have their jobs. And that there’s still so much to discover. Like Cathy and Vivi havin’ sundaes!
Turns out Cathy’s team is in flux, too. After last season’s little nationals embarrassment, in which Abby revealed that Justice’s mom Tanya had been scoping out the ALDC, those two are no more at Candy Apples. Huh. I wonder where they went. Anybody ? Anybody know where Justice went?
Cathy wants to know if Vivi misses Justice. Vivi appears to really want to know why they just can’t focus on their ice cream, but if saying that she misses Justice is what that requires, then yes. She missed Justice.
Oh. There’s a reason for their sugary sojourn. Cathy asks her child if Mom did something as crazy as assembling a completely new competition team, would the Vivster be OK with it if said team did not include her? Let Viv think that over for a sec.
Viv is OK with it. Encouraged, Cathy then asks what Vivi thinks of her using all boys for her new team — until she is distracted by the child having chocolate on her tooth and starts a’scrapin’.
Once we recover from that disaster, Vivi says that she thinks an all boy team would win a lot. Cathy says she thinks it’s a brilliant idea, too. Tell mommy she has a brilliant idea, Vivi. Good girl.
Ohhhhhhh oh. We’re back in Pittsburgh, where Abby is getting Ally up to speed on the new group number — where she will replace Miss Chloe as the lead. Welcome to your doom, Shelley. “Who are you?!” demands Melissa discovering the interloper in the mom loft. She and Holly quickly realize that Ally is learning Chloe’s part. Shelley makes a break for it before the other mothers arrive, but Jill says she understands completely if Abby is trying to teach Chloe a lesson that you should come to class instead of going on family vacations. Especially since her kid has already scored a solo. Oh oh, some more. Here comes Christi. And she’s incredulous. “Chloe’s the national champion and she’s been here since she was two!” she says. “You talk about Chloe missing three days for a family vacation — Ally’s missed 13 years!”
Here we find out Shelley is from New Orleans. And that she is about to experience some bayou-worthy heat from the Pitt Crew, who let her know that they do not approve of what is going on down there in the studio. As a consolation prize for losing her prime group dance spot, Chloe gets a solo. A contemporary one. Called Nobody’s Perfect. Nobody’s happy either. After hollering at her for resting on her laurels, Abby sends Chloe to fetch Maddie, who doesn’t even get to do a single step before she gets yelled at. “You cry today, it’s over,” says Abby. “No solo.” Maddie gets her solo because she had the best attendance over the break. No family vacations for her, apparently.
Good heavens. Big Mac gets a solo, too. “You were just a dumb little kid with a sister who was amazing,” Abby informs her. “Now you’re a National title winner.” And Abby spent her summer getting a face-full of Asia Monet Ray who is your age and dances circles around you. Oy, I fear for Mackie this season. Despite the fact that half the country slobbered all over Asia for doing the more sophisticated moves of her teenage elders on AUDC, Abby has given Mac a typically cutesy number called Goody Goody. Mackie says the choreo is hard hard.
Back to the group dance. Abby says that if these slackers don’t step it up, she’s going to pull all of the demons and let Ally dance the angel part as a solo. “That means you won’t dance at all, “ she sniffs to Nia. Clearly, Nia’s also-ran fortunes have not changed since we left off in fall. Holly’s feeling gutsy and decides to go down and inform Abby that she isn’t going to go all the way to Denver if Nia’s not going to dance. Holly has picked up the Kelly mantle … and we know how well that worked for her.
Yep. Tough noogies, says Abby to Holly. You’re part of the team. Holly tried a brand new tactic. “And you’re not God!” she retorts. Abby’s look says one thing: prove it.
Since Shelley’s clearly getting off on the wrong foot with her new peers, Abby takes her for a little get-to-know-ya outing to eat a dozen cupcakes at Prantl’s bakery, which she has loved since she was little kid. They sit outside with their goodies at a café table and Abby asks how Shelley is faring so far. Shelley tries to put a positive spin on things and Abby advises her to never let the Pitt Pack see her sweat and make everything she says a statement. We’re dancing at Denver’s Rangeview high school, home of the Raiders. And we’re welcomed there with torrents of rain. Christi’s mood is equally stormy. “I miss my friend,” she laments. “I’m sorry Shelley but that’s still her seat.”
Shelley protests that she doesn’t even know Kelly and if it was Kelly’s choice to leave, she and Ally can’t really be blamed for occupying a vacant spot. Christi decides not to let this little bit of truth and rationality stand in the way of her snit and tells Shelley that if she really wants to be a part of the group, she should tell Abby that if she turns the group dance in to a solo, Ally isn’t doing it. “I’m not the teacher!” Shelley protests. “I’m not going to tell her what to do with her creative license.”
Except she is. She tracks Abby down and begs her to make the group dance official so she can have a bit of peace. Abby says they know darn well it’s a group, but she needs to do what she is doing to keep them under control. Back in the get-ready room, the mothers are discussing all the ways that Shelley does not fit in. Mostly because she is nice.
Time for Maddie’s solo. Don’t Leave Me. Lyrical, of course. Looks like a Maddie solo. Man, I hope we switch things up for these kids and their dance styles this season, or I am going to get bored awfully quick and that’s a promise.
Christi gives Chloe a tender little pep talk in the stairwell. The crowd cheers her as she w takes the stage. Her dance is filled with technique and turns and I actually see some progress here. Backstage, though, Chloe looks frightened and says she forgot part of the dance. The other girls protest that they didn’t even know, and Abby has bravos and hugs for her and for Maddie. Whoops. Abby did notice that Chloe missed a turn. She says it may not matter today, but someday it will.
What have we here? A special surprise backstage in the form of Mark, Abby’s old pal from high school. Oh. Not just any old pal. The old pal that Kelly stole from Abby back in their youthful dancing days. Everybody, meet Mark.
Mark is no fool. “Kelly who?” he says, when Abby reminds the mothers of who he is. “Kelly who forgot the routines?” he offers, when she presses that he does, too, know Kelly who. Then he flatters even further, saying she and her dancers are the talk of the hallway. “I was nothing in high school,” Abby crows. “Now I’m someone! I’m a dance teacher! … It’s hot in here!” Someone still has it bad.
After they leave the room, Christi says Mark and Kelly did TOO date and Abby was so ballistic over it that she tried to slash his tires. Er, no wonder he’s all “Kelly who?” Slash my tires once, shame on me …
Time for Kendall’s solo. Not as sophisticated as Chloe’s or even Maddie’s, but cute. Jill says she could tell from the first 8-count that this was not going to be an amazing performance. Jet lag. Too much stress. Abby says it was OK enough, but she should have blown the other two out of the water, given her good summer habits.
Group dance time. Ally reminds me of Madison from AUDC. I’ll stop talking about AUDC now. It’s a beautiful, goose-bumpy dance, no matter who you’re watching — the angel or the demons.
Abby gives a two hands in the air clap and Maddie coaches Ally that that means it was really good. Abby says that is, indeed, the case, but Christi grumps that she is giving Ally all the credit.
Abby decided to make some changes to Mac’s solo about three seconds before the kid has to do the routine, at the same time warning Mac that if she forgets it she’s in deep doodoo. That doesn’t seem too fair to me. The girls all join hands and pray for her good memory. Mackenzie tumbles her head off — and her bow right out of hair. It trips her up momentarily, but she finished the dance. Still Abby is livid — seems Melissa should have sewn that bow right into her head — and Mac is horrified.
Before Abby comes into the get-ready room, Melissa gathers her littlest in her lap and tells her not to cry when Abby yells. Abby doesn’t yell … exactly.But I don’t think Mac will be top of the pyramid. Or maybe she will. Despite the mishap, Big Mac wins first place mini acro, which comes with a $100 prize and a full scholarship to some sort of intensive.
Kendall gets fifth in the junior solo division. Chloe gets second place. Wait, Christi just said third. Which did she get? Anybody? Which? Maddie wins. More cash for the Zieglers and another intensive scholarship. The group wins, too.
Backstage, Abby asks the girls if they see how wonderful it is to have someone aboard who works so hard and is so inspiring — unlike Brooke and Paige. Christi says maybe the other girls would have worked hard and been inspiring, too, if Abby wasn’t always tearing them down. Two points for Christi. Abby, who clearly doesn’t feel that way at all, goes off like an S-word-saying bomb, howling that what she really deserved was a thank you from Kelly and not her kids S-wording all over their titles. The entire room is aghast.
Abby apologizes for swearing in front of the girls, but privately wishes she could rid herself of Christi, too. Really, Abby? You really want Chloe to dance for another team?
All Abby really wants right now is dinner with her reclaimed boy toy.
Coming this season, another new dancer, this one named Sophia — and it looks like the war with Christi comes to a cop-calling head.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9pm ET on Lifetime.