“Dance Moms” recap part 2: A Big Baby Wrote Me A Letter

Lori Acken

Aaaaaand we’re back.

At the halfway mark, we’re finally in Chicago at the Co. Dance competition and convention, and — if Abby is to be believed — unofficial gathering of the Abby Lee Miller fan club, which is everyone. Sadly, she has traded out my dearly beloved lip necklace for a set that looks like slices of a bright blue geode formed themselves a chain gang for committing a crime of fashion.

• Missed part one? Read it here.

Yep-per, this does appear to be one fancy-pants competition. The stage is beautifully appointed and lit, which will make a nice change from the plain-jane stages in Pittsburgh and last week’s gymnasium floor.

Backstage with the Apples, Cathy makes sure that Kendall and Jill (who is alarmingly dressed down and wrinkled to the point of dinkle) still feel good about being Apples, even as she tells us that today is Justice the Technical Boy’s day, not Kendall The Globetrotting Girl’s, and that Maddie best be shaking in her little snow white shoes. The two little kids stand awkwardly side-by-side backstage, as 10-year-olds of the opposite sex are wont to do, and refuse to make even one second of eye contact. Boys, ew. Girls, ew.

Sigh. I appreciate that Maddie is a world class dancer for her — or any — age, but I really wish we would get to see that talent expressed in solos that don’t all look so much the same. Same reaching, same rolling, same leaping, same spinning, same yearning expressions. The lyrical dances are all lovely and perfectly executed, but it is like having your favorite meal over and over again. It still tastes wonderful, but you’re just not sure you want to eat it anymore. At least for a while. I’d really like to know what a jazzed Maddie looks like. I really, truly would. And I won’t hold it against her if she doesn’t come out on top.

Abby in her chain gang accessories takes a moment to assure us that if Mads does lose to Justice, it will not be because the cute and freckly little carrot-topped feller is the better dancer. It will be because he is a boy child and boy judges will do anything to keep boy children dancing.

Boy children who dance are apparently not taught to walk out in that sassy, sashaying fashion that girl children are, because Justice troops onstage just far enough to not be completely obscured by the curtain and plops down with his back to the audience. Cathy and the other trees from which the Apples did not fall too far hoot and holler one row behind Abby Lee, who looks likes she’s about to witness an execution.

Man, that stage really is a knockout. And as readers were quick to point out to me last season, Justice is seriously a fine little dancer. Not nearly as elegant or expressive as Maddie, but technically sound, and his leaps are downright thrilling. Even Melissa says so.

Melissa also says that if the trio bombs, it will be all Nia’s fault — which is pretty much the role we’ve given Nia for this episode, isn’t it? Expecting her to blend seamlessly into a trio with two kids who’ve danced together since preschool … in one week … for a massive competition in Chicago. From the little snippets we got to see, Nia did a heroic job but Christi can barely contain her disdain. And Abby? Well Abby says her favorite part was the ending pose — because it was oh-ver.

Hold up now, lady. ‘member just a couple minutes back when you were telling us what a legend you are to the masses gathered here? Shouldn’t someone of this caliber be able to train a dancer with Nia’s heart and spark and raw talent to do a three-minute trio? I would like to posit that the problem may not be the kid.

Come awards time, we’ll never know how Justice did because we only see first place and first place goes to Maddie. I suppose that that’s all we need to know:  Abby win, Cathy lose, goodnight, God speed, amen.

The trio is not just beaten, but beaten by Frankenstein’s Bride, Hidee Ho and what sounds like Spaetlze or maybe Scartzo. Ever the trooper, Chloe offers up a chipper “We’ll get ’em next time,” but Nia looks like she’s finally, completely and resoundingly tired of her lot in life at Abby Lee’s. I could not feel worse for the kid.

Neither, I’m sure, could Holly, who demonstrates this going out for drinks and lettuce with Christi and Kelly, who continues to blow my fashion-impaired mind by donning a traffic-cone orange sweater that I am pretty sure is a turtleneck — except the turtle has been beheaded. There is your basic long-sleeve sweater. And there is a thick, rib-knit turtleneck. But there is also an inch-wide gap of Kelly skin in between ’em. There’s no way you can call that thing a necklace. And I’m pretty sure the two pieces came together. Whatever it is, it goes nicely with her other long-sleeved shirts that have the shoulders cut out of them.

Ventilated Fashion. Alive and well in the house of Hyland.

In any case, the unfortunate defacing of Kelly’s sweater is the least of our worries, because all three reach into their purses and pull out matching letters from the missing Melissa’s attorney, ordering them to stop talking about the Gisoni nuptials or face legal action. You already know how I feel about this from yesterday. How Christi feels about it is this:

“She talks about sex all the time, but marriage is taboo. I thought it was the other way around.”

Solid point. I have no advice, except for maybe this: Everyone should just stick to talking about pissing like a race horse and we’ll all be fine. Instead they talk about how confused and offended they are and Christi wonders if Melissa is going to walk in all chipper like nothing happened.

Melissa walks in all chipper like nothing happened.

She was in a rush and running late and now all she needs is a drink, drink, drink. You have no idea, sister. The girls are on her like white on rice. She pretends to be flummoxed, gives the offending documents a quick once-over and offers this by way of explanation: “Wasn’t me.”

Was Greg’s attorney. God only knows where he got the idea.

Back at the competition, Abby is putting the girls, in simple pale blue dresses, through their paces on the group dance. Homeless Maddie is accessorized with a grubbied-up white pompom hat and a slightly torn pink sweater.

The Apples on the other hand are all decked out in spangly dresses, top hats and face paint with giant-sized scrunchies around their necks. I wonder if the neck scrunchies know Kelly’s sweaterfree turtleneck.

The routine is pretty and poignant and Holly looks like she may begin to cry. Abby is smiling so joyful that her mouth hangs open.

The Apples’ Ode to a Clown is creepy and really kind of cool — until one of the dancers has a Joe-Theismann-gross-out-injury moment in which her ankle does things that ankles really shouldn’t and hobbles off the stage. The other clowns soldier on and army crawl toward the judges, who I’m pretty sure may be seeing that in their sleep tonight.

“Somethin’s not right!” proclaims Cathy with a beaming smile that totally out-creepies her clowns. The Pittsburgh girls crowd around to console the sobbing dancer, whose name is Taylor. Taylor tries to explain to Cathy that she thinks her ankle is broken, but Cathy would rather know — and loudly — what on earth she was doing out there. Trying to dance on a broken ankle, dumbas …

An ambulance arrives to take Taylor away, as Cathy trots beside her, offering words of encouragement. Nah, she doesn’t. She hangs out in the dressing room wondering who the hell is going to replace whatsername with the broken whatever. I know. You know. Kendall. Who looks entirely fearful for her own little ankles.

In what is the weirdest group awards ever, we begin with first place. Which the Pitt Crew does not win. Neither do the Apples. We move on to second place. Which the Pitt Crew does not win. Neither do the Apples. And in third place … the Pitt Crew. So much for the Apples.

And that is all the Abby needs to be proud as can be of her dancers. She gives them their propers, grabs her plaque and her pizza and wanders off into whatever parallel universe this suddenly squishy Abby has come from. Another happy ending. Or not.

For Cathy Jean has come bearing gifts because some delightfully vengeful birdie (Jiiiiiiilllllllllll! You don’t want a letter, do you?) has warbled to her that Melissa is engaged. It goes a little sump’um like this.

Next week, Nia takes a tumble, Chloe crumbles … and Kelly is gettin’ a boob job!

1 Comment

  1. Oooooh boy did you hit it on the head Lori!! Abby flat out refuses to take responsibility that maybe, just maybe, she isn’t the best teacher in the known dance world, that possibly there MAY be someone who is better. She constantly tells the girls that they’re only as good as their last performance, the same goes for her, she’s only as good as her weakest dancer. And WTF is with that crap where second place is the first one to lose, that they’re the biggest loser on the stage??????? I seriously want to know who put that kind of crap into her brain, she’s not that smart to think of it all on her own. So what if she’s been involved in the “industry” for 30 years, that does not make her God’s gift to the dance world. I checked out the ALDC website, and frankly, I didn’t recognize any of her “professional” students who went on to perform professionally.

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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.