“Dance Moms” recap: A Tale of [Those] Two [Other] Studios

I’m troubled, Dance Moms Nation. No, not about the overall feeling of discord and dread that seems to have permeated Pittsburgh. No, not about the conspicuous lack of attention my beloved Ohio sign is getting thus far. Not even about how much sleep Maddie is getting, which I don’t think is enough.

While all of those things do worry me, what is weighing so heavily on my mind is how fashionable everyone in the Pitt Crew has become. I mean, accessibly fashionable. So that even I can understand it. Fashion for TV Writer Dummies, if you will.

Witness Kelly’s lovely floral off-the-shoulder blouse and taupe skinnies. Holly’s form-fitting orange dress. The proliferation of pretty, neutral, ruffled shirts and frocks on everyone this season.

How’s a girl supposed pull Dance Moms Fashion Moments outta that? <sigh>

Anyway, let’s talk about dancing. And fighting. And lying. And flatware.

Missed the full episode? See it here for free.

Abby starts out by giving everyone props for how well the zombie group dance did last week, but the warm fuzzies end right there. It’s Pyramid time. And there are precious few surprises to be had, given what all went down last week.

Bottom of the bottom are those wayward little soloists Brooke and Paige for being caught in the middle of their mother’s [justifiable] throw-down with Abby. Brooke doesn’t find this terrifically fair. None of us do, honey. None of us do. But “fair” and “the pyramid” parted ways … well, pretty much since its advent.

Kelly protests that her girls didn’t do their solos because of Abby’s unfair treatment, not because they were unprepared. Abby agrees that they aren’t bottom-row dwellers because of the dances; they are down there because Kelly dropped the F-bomb on her, baby. She dropped a bomb on her. So woe, woe, woe, woe on Paige and Brooke. And The Gap Band for the equally tragic way I just dragged their song into Dance Moms.

Since the pyramid seems epically based on the sins of the mothers, I can’t imagine that last week’s other mama drama bodes too well for Chloe. And it does not. She’s next in the bottom row for going to the doctor and the movies instead of going to the doctor and the dance class.

Uh, Ab? If that’s how we’re going to roll today, shouldn’t the whole freakin’ class be the bottom row, then? Because Abby would not have known that Chloe and Christi went to the movies if Melissa wasn’t a whiny-baby tattletale. That shouldn’t work to her advantage. But oh how it does.

Row two begins with Mack, who did just swell as the Adorablay Lion in last week’s circus duet, but needs more ballet classes. Well, OK. Nia holds her spot at one-below-tops for the second week in a row and even gets more praise from Abby. Some may have said Nia’s role was way too immature for her, says she, but she made it her own and made it a winner. Indeed.

Top is Maddie for dancing on through her arsed-up music. Abby says she has no idea how such a thing could have happened, but Kelly suspects otherwise. She says that when something like that happens in the dance world it’s an insta-win and Abby knows it — so the second the song skipped, Kelly knew what was going down. I can see her argument. But Maddie didn’t actually win and she did dance beautifully, so it wasn’t a complete float to the top on a river of B.S.

This week, we are heading back to Energy Dance in Waterford Township, Michigan. And guess what! Gina The Owner of the Competition was gracious enough to inform Abby Lee that two studios called up to say that they were coming specifically to beat the Abby Lee Dance Company. Uhhhhh, I’m pretty sure that ALL of the studios are coming there specifically to beat the Abby Lee Dance Company — and every other company, since you don’t really go there to lose, do you? But whatever. Abby’s got secret intel, so let’s play along.

I’m going to prognosticate that one of the approaching enemies is coming from Kasich Kountry and is named Cathy Jean. I’d love it if the other was winging northward from down in Miami where they dance so hot to take a shot at ALDC, but that’s probably too much to hope for.

RELATED: Dance fans, don’t miss Channel Guide‘s Q&A with Bunheads star Sutton Foster!

The group number is called Silver Spoons. Again with the Spoiled Little Ninnies theme, even if Abby says it’s really about the finest quality flatware — hence, a big, giant spoon for a prop. You know, the world really doesn’t have enough dances about flatware in my estimation. Oh. It’s also about the country club and the finest schools. Not just gigantic flatware. Abby says this is going to be a pretty dance. Somehow I can’t quite make “pretty” and “big, giant spoon” go hand-in-hand, but maybe that’s just my lacking imagination.

For the individual dances, Maddie and Chloe will be doing a duet. Maddie lights up and beams at her partner. Chloe avoids eye-contact, futzes with her bike-a-tard arm and cracks the merest hint of a smile only when it looks like someone off camera told her to do it. Nonetheless, Maddie says they are really good friends and always in sync and thus this will be wonderful.

Nia has a solo! Well, yay!
Nia’s solo will be called “Bound.”

Let’s all say what Holly is thinking: “It will be called what?”

Bound. It’s about being held back while you’re trying to chase your dreams. Nia looks as perplexed as her mom, but in that signature “whatever it is, I’ll work it out” way that makes “Nia” a human abbreviation for “Awesome.”

And the circus act triumphs for a second time — Mackie gets a solo, too! It’s called Daisy Chain and it will be about “he loves me, he loves me not.” But, Abby warns, we ain’t talkin’ Justin Bieber love, here. We’re talking about the judges. Mackie wishes Justin Bieber WAS one of the judges.

If he was your boyfriend dance judge, he’d never let you go, Mack.

And yes, you have my permission to die of cute right now, but not permanently, because I ain’t writing these things if no one’s going to read ’em.

Maddie will be doing a solo, too — a past award-winner in which she must play Helen Keller with a rag doll. She’s excited about that! Look:

While the group dancers warm up, Abby takes Kelly out to the lobby for a little Come To Jesus And Your Contract moment about last week’s throw-a-chair-drop-an-effer fiasco. Abby says she can’t have any more acting out from Kelly when there are other customers in the studio. Does that mean when it’s just Kelly and Abby, it’s game on?! Can someone try to catch that on film?

In any case, Kelly reminds Abby that it was she who started the brawl by throwing the stopper-less chair and scaring the bejabbers out of Paige, so the bad behavior goes both ways. Oh. Abby looks momentarily confused by the facts. Then she remembers that she’s queen of this particular universe, points to the highlighted paperwork on the counter and tells Kelly that, well anyhow, the contract doesn’t goes both ways, so there. And if she opens her filthy mouth one more time, her guilty-of-nothing kids will be shown the door.

Up in the Mom Loft, the discussion has turned to how the heck Abby knew that Christi and Chloe went to the movies, anyway — or as Kelly says, who would possibly rat out a 10-year-old. Ooh! Ooh! Over here, Kel! Us! We know! We know this one!

Eh, they don’t need us. Melissa could not possibly look more guilty. And anyway, she just fessed up. Christi would like to know why Melissa didn’t just come to her with her concerns. “I was just … pissed off,” Melissa stammers. Oh honey… the door you just opened right now.

Well, says Christi, since we’re on the subject of lies … seems like Melissa’s and Kelly’s clandestine conversation the other day went a little beyond Chloe’s trip to the movies. Seems that Melissa told Kelly that Maddie’s music skipped in practice, too, and Mads was schooled in how to continue the dance sans sound. Ohhhhhhhh. Oh, Melissa, why? Why would you admit that to anyone, much less to a frenemy?

So make my kid look bad again, sighs Mrs. Busted.
Oh we’re not saying your kid looks bad, lady, corrects Christi. We’re telling you that you look bad.

Melissa tries to massage her comments a little to make them appear not so incriminating … but Melissa may possibly be the worst liar on this and every other planet. She manages to look guilty of things she’s never even heard of. Holly says if someone DID coordinate said faux disaster, it would be pretty despicable. Nooooo, says Christi. If someone set that up, it would be CHEATING. CHEEEEEEE-TING!

Melissa isn’t letting the accusations stick to her, deciding instead that the other mothers are actually accusing Abby Lee of the wrongdoing. And Detective Gisoni must get to the bottom of this. Because she is not happy about it.


Back to practice. Chloe and Maddie’s duet will be called “Inside of Me” and Chloe appears much happier about it now. Abby wants to see partner work. Abby does not want to see her partner in crime, who just busted in on practice looking all haughty and put out. Melissa dismisses the girls and confronts Abby with as much intestinal fortitude as I’ve seen Melissa display since way back in the “those women are accusing me of being engaged” days. Which, I guess, wasn’t really all that long ago.

In any case, a grinning Abby Lee totally looks like the cat who ate the canary and messes with her shirt instead of looking Melissa in the eye when she bellows her denial. She’s been doing this for 32 years, women. So she would know to check her music to see if any of the discs are wonky! Whoops. Not that. She would never intentionally send a child on stage in less than ideal circumstances. Love me a qualifier.

Well good, crabs Melissa, because that would totally ruin her 9-year-old’s career. Er, what?

Which is kind of what Abby says, only way louder and more focused on her own name and rep. Then she tells Melissa she has just “fallen into the same pot” as the rest of the mothers and turns her back. Oh, they’re swimming in some real crap right now, but it has nothing to do with a pot. Well, sorry, but you know what I mean.

Melissa has maxed out her capacity to be testy and is sputtering to a halt with a feeble, “I … don’t want you to give her special treatment [yes, I do!]” and an “I’m pissed” that totally reminds me of when my kids were little and decided to lay the p-word on us for the very first time. “I’m pissed … please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.”

Smelling weakness, Abby drops her voice way down low and croons to her minion. They’re just jealous, minion. Don’t you get it?

Melissa gets it, but she’s not going to say so where They can see her. She blurts out one more “I’m … not happy” and leaves the studio, satisfied that she has put on a good enough show to divert the wrath of her detractors.

Oh Melissa. How many times are you going to force me to say Oh Melissa? If we were playing the Oh Melissa drinking game this season, our livers would already be on the brink of failure. Oh Melissa declares in an aside that she believes in Abby Lee’s innocence, but she keeps that to herself in the Mom Loft.

Holy mother ducks, what is this that Abby is wearing? And just when I was starting to worry that everyone has gotten so ridiculously fashionable that Dance Moms Fashion Moments might become a thing of the past! Or a Thing of Beauty and a Joy Forever, which isn’t nearly as fun.

What the hell is all on this thing? A beheaded baby octopus clinging to a bunch of shiny bird eggs, maybe? But I must not be distracted. The group dance is a mess, the Two Studios of Mysteriousness are gunning for us, and we must fix things and fix them fast.

Paige is really nervous for the Silver Spoons dance, because she doesn’t want to drop the 3-foot-long spoon. And just like that, someone drops the spoon. Good God, it sounds like someone dropped a church bell! What is that sucker made of? It’s made of problems is what it’s made of, because all these wispy little critters can barely lift the enormous flatware, much less dance gracefully while clutching it. Abby subs in a trophy instead. Much better. Maddie’s able to achieve liftoff once again.

Time for Nia’s solo practice. Abby must still be stinging from the blogosphere’s criticism of the age-appropriateness of the circus duet, because Nia’s solo has a maturity level that her mom thinks could prove a defining moment for the girl here at ALDC. I hope so. But it’s going to take some effort, because Abby points out that this is Nia’s first solo since the debacle in Miami when she forgot her solo, ran offstage in tears, asked for another chance, got it and did fine. An awful lot like Maddie just did in New Jersey. In fact, exactly like that. Mrs. Selective Memory says she has to prove that she is a competitor and can handle the tougher choreography.

• MORE: Check out adorable photos from Chloe’s and Nia’s birthday celebration!

Maddie is such an overachiever that she brought TWO rag dolls to practice today instead of one. The boy doll gets the boot — apparently Helen Keller would never have danced with a boy doll. For this routine to be a success, Maddie must know where the doll is at all times. Well, duh! Time spent looking for the doll is not time spent dancing. Even I know that.

Abby doesn’t want the same thing to happen to Mackie this time around that happened last time around — which she says is Mackie falling and running off the stage and I say is Abby putting fabric in the palms of a child doing acro. Cross your fingers, Abby says, or that kid is gong to be mincemeat. OK. I crossed them. Leave the cloth off the kid’s fingers this time, yo.

Still fearful that the other mothers don’t believe her that she had nothing to do with the Maddie And The Mucked Up Music mystery, Melissa opts to lunch with the most rational of the group. Or the least likely to bite off her head, at any rate. Dr. Holly does her Dr. Holly thing and calmly explains that the adults must work as a team and be trustworthy or there can be no peace. Who else smells some foreshadowing?

Back in the studio, Abby has found a smaller silver spoon, but she isn’t so happy about it. Or anything else. “Smile!” she howls at her concentrating dancers, at a volume level that suggests they’re actually somewhere over in a neighboring state. “SMILE!”

“Smile when I yell at you!” cracks Holly in the Mom Loft. Holly! Sabbatical suits you!

Melissa opines that the group dance is lame-o and looks like something that they would do to head off to piddly little Ohio, John R. Kasich, Governor, not booming Waterford Township, Michigan, where Those Two Other Teams lie in wait.

Costume time. Nia’s is made of rope, which thrills Holly for some inexplicable reason. Well, I’m sorry but that thing is pretty goofy. Maybe it’s better in person. Mackenzie is a little green and yellow blossom. Oh … dear. The group dance girls are Alice in Wonderland in quintuplicate. Yes, that is a word. Google it.

Problem is, there are two pink dresses, two blue dresses and one green dress. The green dress fits willowy little Paige perfectly. But we can’t have Paige standing out, now can we? Noooooo. Much swapping of dresses ensues for the purpose of finding a proper Cinderella — I’m mixing my fairy tales — to fit the enchanted emerald dress. Actually, Abby decides that, since Chloe is first onstage, she should wear the green dress, even though it’s too small. Paige gets a pink dress that’s way too big.

And baby bear gets a costume that is juuuuuuuuuuust right.

Actually no one does. Chloe comes upstairs to the Mom Loft toting the offending green dress and tells her mother that it is sure to tear if she dances in it and she wants Paige to have it. Paige just slumps in her mother’s arms. Kelly says she knows Abby is switching the costumes to hurt her. “And you know,” she sighs. “It worked.”

With that, we’re off to Michigan, where the girls get ready to dance and Abby goes in search of Those Two Other Studios who’ve come to take them down. She says there may be trouble; the other kids are fierce. Oh please, let it be Angel and Victor. Oh please, let it!

Chloe’s and Maddie’s duet goes first. The girls are wearing tasteful charcoal-colored dresses and they dance beautifully, astoundingly in sync. It’s like they’re magnetized. They do wonderfully and they know it, beaming genuinely at one another. Loooooooooove! Moments like this are really, truly what this show should be about on a much more regular basis. They just should be.

Then it’s time for the pretty girls in their ill-fitting dresses to take the stage for Silver Spoons. It IS very pretty — airy, ballet-inspired and whimsical. The substitute spoon looks very nice in its white bow, too. Abby pronounces it a breath of fresh air. I’m hard-pressed to argue.

The duet gets second. What? Someone was more perfect than that? It was one of Those Two Other Teams, wasn’t it! Who are you, defilers?! Show your faces, superior interlopers!

They will not. Something called Don’t Cha is declared the winner, but I profoundly doubt that the Pussycat Dolls are actually here in Waterford Township to take on Abby Lee … so whomever they are, they shall remain a mystery for now.

Group dance gets second, too! Show your faces, One of Those Two Other Teams! Christi says whomever they are, it was a trip well worth it because they beat the ALDC groups hands down. And it gets worse: They also entered three junior solos.

• Read Channel Guide‘s exclusive interview with Christi Lukasiak

I tried to cheat here and look up results on the EnergyNDC website to see who we’re dealing with, to no avail. I did, however, find out that they have a judge named Tim Miracle and one that’s an LL Cool J backup dancer.

And just like that, the Abby Lee who was just all smiles and huzzahs following the performances is saying the girls are not behaving like winners. OK, now I’m really annoyed. Really annoyed. Really super annoyed. They went out there and did your choreography perfectly, and — in the case of the group dance — in ill-fitting costumes. You were pleased with them 10 minutes ago. And now you are calling them so sloppy that they should just hand the other teams their trophies, Dr. Jekyll of Dance?

Turning on them now that someone has beaten them — nay, for when they are winning, it is you who is winning, so when they are losing (and second isn’t losing), it is you who is losing — makes you look petulant, irresponsible and immature. Even more than usual. Huff, huff, huff.

Abby goes on to tell her three soloists that if they came here to get second place, they should just save themselves the effort and skip the stage. Then she leaves in a huff, huff, huff.

Everybody’s looking pretty beleaguered, so Christi tries to lighten the mood and says she hopes Maddie’s music is intact this time. Yep. Melissa takes that well. But things are looking up. Abby returns in a better mood and tells her kids to either win or lose big. “What?!” says Dr. Holly. “What?!” says Lori. Well, at least if they do lose big, they can say that Abby told ’em to.

Maddie’s Helen Keller solo is creatively titled Helen Keller. Huh. Either I’m remembering Helen Keller wrong or Abby’s got her mixed up with the Little Match Girl … because Maddie’s all smudged and grubbied up. I remember the well part, where Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan got all wet, but I don’t recall her being a little ragamuffin in general.

But I digress.

Nia! Solo! Awesome! It’s about damned time we get to see what a great, mature, disciplined performer this kid is. Aaaaaand Abby doesn’t see it. She says it wasn’t great and probably won’t even place. But backstage, everyone else is jubilant. Holly calls her little dancer Sheeka Meeka! Aw!

Abby isn’t taking any chances on Mackenzie — she’s going to watch her dance from the wings and if that kid forgets her choreography and runs off the stage, she’s going to roll her right back out there like a bowling ball. There’s two sides to the stage, Mack. Run the other way. Keep running. I’m 99% sure you’re faster than she is.

But Mackie remembers. She doesn’t need to run. Far from it! She gets a first in petite solo and named Miss Energy, to boot. She even gets a little crown.

Nia gets ninth.
Maddie gets fourth. Ohhhhhhh boy. If Abby was ticked about second-place finishes for the group dances, this could be the Dance-pocalypse.

Abby briefly appears backstage, then stalks back out. Kelly chases her through the halls of the building, intent on discussing this latest chapter in her teardown of the Hylands. Abby is fed up. She returns to the room, dressed in the same feathery coat she wore to depart Jersey, and tells the moms that if they have any further questions about the integrity of Abby’s music CDs they can come straight to Abby … and she’ll tell them what they can do with the discs. Ouchie!

You pay her for this, ladies! You give her your money! Melissa is pleased with this outcome, though, because now she’s pretty sure that the issue has been put to bed and all is right with the world.

Oh Melissa. <drink>

Next week we’re attending the largest dance competition in the country, except that Brooke — who keeps on insisting on having a normal adolescence — would prefer to go to her school’s formal dance instead. Uh-oh. This may not end well, because Leslie and Payton AND Jill and Kendall are back. And it doesn’t look like they’re dancing for the Apples ….

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

Images and video: © 2012 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. All rights reserved.


  1. Aw, you guys are nice AND helpful, too! Rachelle, Kelly and Minime, thank you. Kathryn, I agree completely. And Lara, you’re clearly somewhere in this office, because that’s pretty much how I go through every day. “?”

  2. Here are instructions for finding Energy’s comp results (just in case you need to “cheat” and look up the results for another week. 😉 ):

    Energy http://www.energyndc.com
    (This link takes you to the Energy main page. Once there, click the “competitions” tab, select “regionals, ” “competition,” name of competition (Waterford is listed as Detroit), then “awards”.)

    And to save time:
    Energy Waterford Results

  3. I am still sick about Chloe not getting to go to the Joffrey. It is so clear that if it had been Maddie, we would all be going to the Joffrey, but poor Chloe. She will flounder with A.L. never allowing her to outshine Maddie and her beautiful, natural talent and grace will be sucked out of her prematurely. I still can’t understand A.L. expecting to win with dances that have only been rehearsed for 2 or 3 days against dancers who are training for weeks and then blaming it on these mega talented kids.

    • Does it seriously always have to be about outshining maddie? Got a person to shine they have to do that on their own,it’s nt something taught. Therefore,if Chloe is not shining in your eyes now,she never will.

  4. I love reading your re-caps. Hilarious! It’s got so that I look forward to the recap as much as watching the show! Really well done – great writing!!

  5. Yay! Thanks, Michelle! We must laugh, lest we go after each other with giant spoons, instead …

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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.