“Dance Moms”: From Ballerinas to Showgirls to sour grapes and daffy apples

Oh you crafty, crafty Lifetime people!

You’re finally onto me. You’ve finally figured out that I watch each premiere episode of Dance Moms pen and paper free in order to stay deeply in touch with my own personal moments of elation and revulsion, to track the number of times my husband drapes himself over the back of the sofa, gapemouthed, to watch … and mostly to save my hands for holding a beer and a bowl of ice cream, which just go really well with Dance Moms.

Come morning, I return to the online episode to fill in exact quotes, color commentary and make sure I saw what I think I saw. So today, when I clicked on over to your web site to fire up the online episode — nothing. Nada. Just me and my memories and the remnants of a beer-and-ice-cream gut ache.

Think. Think think think. Red X over Vivi. No solo for Maddie. Chloe … Must …Win. The children will be sins set to music for the group number  (O! The Wonder of the Dance of Sloth!). Girls eat ice cream while hearing the daily diatribe about their horrible, unsupportive mothers. Horrible unsupportive mothers wear white furry hats and drink shots companionably out of glasses embedded in a single ski.

I got it. Let’s do this thing.

The gang is in Vegas this week doing a “Thunderstruck” competition. I’m thunderstruck every competition, so I feel good about their odds of nailing this sucker. Nonetheless, Abby feels compelled to tell them how she may never get over the disappointment of their Brandon and the Beach Babes debacle not even placing in the top ten dances in Orlando and orders everyone to be flawless. Then she reveals a photo of 6-year-old Vivi-Anne Stein — guilty of naught but being her daffy mother’s child and a prop in Abby Lee’s dances — with a big ol’ red circle and slash drawn across her face. The mothers look appalled. Maddie lights up like she’s just seen Jesus and he has another gigantic trophy and Justin Bieber on a stick just for her. Then comes another lecture about how if you prepubescent tootsies don’t control your damn mothers, there’s hell and a big red slash to pay.

With Vivi in exile, Abby tenderly informs MacKenzie that she will nonetheless get the chance to perform! Maddie’s baby sister immediately lets us know how important this is to her! “I don’t care if I’m not dancing,” she beams. “I just like to hang out at the pool.”

What?! No! No, Child of Ziegler! You love dancing! And pools are horrible places where others seek to hurt you in the guise of taming a Crisco’d watermelon! Clearly Melissa has some work to do here. Clearly.

Other solo winners: Last week’s big winner Nia. Brooke and Paige — whose city Abby keeps insisting this is. Las Hyland, you long-legged, Cirque du Soliel lovin’ buggers! Chloe, having sat out last week’s competition, is — surprise! — now at the top of the pyramid d’solo. Why? Because Maddie — surprise! — will not be dancing a solo at all this week. Angst flickers through the tot’s perpetually made-up  eyes, but Melissa, looking somewhat sedated, tells the cameras she is glad that Maddie doesn’t have a solo this week because maybe she can hang out at the pool or something. What! After the non-injury the child endured last week, you want to just … just … throw her back in the water, possibly with other people who act like boys? Or people enjoying the water? Okaaaaay.

Group number time! Brooke correctly guesses that another name for Las Vegas is Las Hyland … whoops, nope … Sin City and sure ’nuff, that’s what the theme of the group dance is. Since we saw how well “Lust” worked out for the team last week, and we don’t have seven girls to be deadly anyway, Abby has kind of homogenized the whole deal into a routine called “Sinful.”

The mothers, looking as though the charm of the cameras and pseudo-celebrity is beginning to wear off a little, gather in what looks like a costume room to lament Abby’s newest batch of cruelty, the pinnacle of which was the defacing of Vivi’s photos. “What if Cathy saw that?” declares Holly. “I don’t think we’ll ever see Cathy again,” says Christi.

Guess who we see next?! I mean right after a look at a Welcome To Ohio sign so long and loving that I may never forget that John R. Kasich is the governor of the state with so much to discover. There’s Cathy driving her C-Class back home. And then to the fabled Candy Apple Dance Studio. Fresh batch of moms who look like they’d be waaaaaay more fun to follow around, assuming they don’t kill Candy for abandoning them first. Fresh hodgepodge of dancers. And no lame-o chalk board pyramid for this high-tech operation. Cathy has a flat screen computer screen on which appears … an apple pyramid. Three apples. Out of the dozen or so gathered here, but three dancers will be going to Hollywood to take on Abby Lee and her little band of trophy thieves.

Guess who’s one?! An un-ex’d Vivi! The other little apple is a flame-haired feller of about ten named Justice whose red-haired Amazon Mom scares me just a little. And the big apple at the top is Taylor, whom, along with her mother, looks mildly terrified. Now Taylor looks to be in her teens, so when Abby says she is going up against one of Abby’s finest, I’m hard-pressed to imagine it is anybody but wonky-shouldered Brooke. “Is it vengeance?” says Cathy to the cameras. “I would say it’s ‘artistic vengeance’ because I want Abby Lee to see what Vivi is capable of.”

Lori would be way more interested in seeing what Cathy is capable of when it comes to, say, beating Maddie’s teflon winning streak or doing a group dance number that shows Abby’s decidedly erratic collective crew how it’s done. Right now, I can’t fathom who here is going head to head with anybody there. But whatever. Cathdy Apple’s back and she’s bringing the drama to Tinsel Town. For she has a plan where they can say, “We came, we saw, we kicked apples.” Except you’re the apples, Cath. You’re the apples.

Back in Sin City, it’s time to assign some sins. Brooke gets Sloth — and the instruction to dance badly. Kelly’s eyes make several laps around their sockets. Paige gets “Gluttony.” “Is that the one that’s fat?” she squeaks. Abby is unamused. Lori is amused. Nia is assigned Greed. Maddie is Wrath. And Chloe — taaaadaaaaa — is Envy.  Talk amongst yourselves. You don’t need me for this.

Then Abby’s friend Liz Lieberman shows up to teach the girls to walk like Showgirls and whips out a trunk-full of feathered showgirl headwear that the girls fight over like nekkid chickens. Then a real showgirl shows up and stands there as Liz goes off on some tangent about sometimes having to dance topless … aaand we’re pretty much done with Liz.

That night, Abby takes the girls out for ice cream so the moms can go out Real Housewives style. The moms opt for some crazy, ice-encased place called Minus Five where you put on courtesy fur hats and coats that give me the willies the way that rental bowling shoes do, and then companionably feel up naked ice torsos and drink their ski shots.

Then its daytime and the Moms are drinking at the pool when they’re collectively shmooozed by three martini-swilling dancers from something called Peep Show. When Kelly informs them that Holly has her doctorate from Penn, one of the little charmers exclaims, “The tennis ball people?!” Yes, Peep Show, Holly has her Ph.d in tennis ball.

Cut to a tender moment in Christi and Chloe’s hotel room, where Christi is assuring her daughter that she is under no pressure to win and that she will always, always — except the last eight episodes — protect her from Abby. Then she leaves Chloe ostensibly alone in a Vegas hotel room while she goes to throw down with Abby. Has Christi always been missing a tooth on the bottom or did I just notice this now? Anyway, Abby says she alone is responsible for Chloe’s success. Abby says there is nothing wrong with her telling the others to want to be like Maddie, because she herself wants to be like Maddie. Then she yells at Christi for being jealous of Maddie.

Um kay.

Group competition time. The girls do their best to be Slothlike and Gluttonly and to conquer Maddie’s wrath and the result is a 7th place showing. Abby has greed for the six other groups who came out ahead. Kelly has envy for people who actually get a decent-fitting, lovely-looking, appropriate costume for their children. The other mothers circle the wagons and throw Abby off her game. Paige’s number is pulled. Abby says it’s because Paige doesn’t want to lose to Chloe, so she’d rather not dance. Abby says Kelly will now have her own costumes made. Kelly says if she’s paying for them, she will also sketch them. Abby says oh no you don’t. Kelly says oh yes she does and earns herself the freedom to hire her own choreographer, too.

In the meantime, a harlequin-dressed Brooke goes and pops her shoulder all kinds of out while toughing it through an acro routine called Metamorphosis that earns her third place. Looks like Nia did a snappy little samba number, but we’ve been leaning a little heavy on the whole ethnic-kid story line lately so no mention of how she placed. And Chloe went out there in her little pink French traveler outfit, danced beautifully … and didn’t place at all.

‘member?!! ‘member back at the hotel room blowout where Abby said she alone was responsible for Chloe’s success? Abby doesn’t. Not one little bit. Abby would like everyone to just shut up now about how Maddie always beats Chloe (and also to have a second chance to put Maddie in a solo so somebody would do something worth doing around here, even though it’s all her costume design, her choreography and her instruction). Lori has a better idea. Lori would like to see Maddie do Chloe’s solo in Hollywood and show us how it’s done winningly, because surely, surely these two children are being given equal, equally choreographed opportunities to shine. Lori would like that a lot.

Next week, Hooray for Hollywood … and the return of Mrs. Crab Apple, with her truth, her Justice, her Taylor. And Viv.

Watch full episodes of Dance Moms online at http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/dance-moms/video

Photo credit for all :  Scott Gries/Lifetime Television © 2011 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, 


  1. The ONLY one worth watching is Chloe. And candy apples are full of worms all the way to the top.

  2. Ok as far as Justice goes he is adorable and an awesome dancer and his mom happens to be my friend she is drop dead gorgeous!!!! Maybe take a look again. Also remember this is scripted tv

  3. How long is this freaking article. I skipped most of it and only read the Candy Apples sections because it’s the studio I danced at for 13 years, and still return to every summer for classes. So, no Candy Apples is not fabbled, and “We Came We Saw We Kicked Apples” has been our slogan for a years. Justice’s mother is not an Amazon, she’s gorgeous, and Justice himself is Jr. Mr. Dance of America.

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.