“Dance Moms” recap: Secrets, Lies & Leslie

Lori Acken

Is it just me, Dance Moms Nation, or was this the feel-bad episode of the year? So much so that I changed my mind about what this blog should be called about 18 times in the first ten minutes alone. Abb-niss Eats The Children. Everyone’s Replaceable. Bully For You — whoops did that one already. Hush, Little Leslie, Don’t Say A Word. Go For The Silver (Anniversary).


And given the various horrors of last week’s trip to Michigan, I expected Abby to spend at least the whole time I decided what to call this thing ranting about how much the choreography children failed her. Not so much. Instead, she holds forth mildly for maybe 20 seconds about what a disappointment the group’s second-place finish was and then pretty much drops it.

Isn’t it funny that the other children are regularly handed their teensy spandex-clad arses for scoring anything other than first and yet she is not completely stroking out that Maddie got fourth? Fourth! Mmm, yeah, no. It’s not funny at all. Speaking of which, it’s time for The Pyramid.

At the bottom, say it with me now — Paige and Brooke. Abby’s still trodding that whole “didn’t do your solos” thing from a couple weeks back. They should have come to Abby, defied Kelly and asked to pretty please do their solos, says Ab. Why yes! Because Abby’s Paige’s and Brooke’s biggest supporter! She would have had their backs and cheered them on no matter how they did! And put them atop the pyramid for their bravery!

<And Dance Moms Beer #1 is gone right there. Sorry, Christi — I didn’t get the official drinkie words until much too late.>

Nia is next. She performed the hell out of that choreography in her solo last week and still placed ninth, but Abby says her problem is really that she needs to apply her technique and remember her corrections. Nia just looks over it. Lori doesn’t blame her.

Row two begins with Chloe. Abby says she did a great job in the duet and had a good weekend.

Ah. No wonder we didn’t say anything about Maddie getting fourth. When Maddie gets fourth, it’s outstanding! Abby, do you watch these things back? Do you get the transcripts? Because I’m putting “fourth is outstanding” right here on the interwebs for all the world to see and we will revisit it if we have to, sister.

Top of the crop is Miss Mackie for getting first place for her solo and being named Junior Miss Energy Dance. She LOVES being at the top of the pyramid. I HEART her and her heart shirt, too!

And on the subject of attire worth loving, you are really working my nerves, you Dance Moms. Again, everyone looks splendid — and also I’m pretty sure that Melissa has discovered her local White House/Black Market. All her dresses are black and white and chic all over these days.

Important Dance Moms Fashion Moment Update: My wondrous Twitter pal Christi Xandrick of Belldini Fashion took it upon herself to gift me with my own, ridiculously exquisite cold-shoulder shirt. I am officially a cold-shoulder convert. And given that the trend is now guaranteed to end in the next five minutes, I apologize to all of you who already own and love them.

Anyway, this week we are attending Star Power in Woodbridge, VA. This. Is. The Largest. Dance. Comp. E. Tition. In The. United. States. Not only that, but it’s their 25th anniversary. Oh, the pressure, says Christi. And both Abby and Christi say that this gig has the most dancers and the most acts of any comp.e.tition in the U.S., but I just cheated right now and looked at the results and it appears that only ALDC and some super-studio called Studio Bleu Dance Center — where they must start feeding their children ground up dance shoes from birth —attended. Oh no. There are some more down there … along with something else that’s puzzling, but we’ll get to that much later.

Abby has been preparing the group dance for weeks and guess what! Because of her multiple victories, Mackie has been promoted to One Of The Big Kids and will take part! She looks a little worried.

Maddie’s solo will be called “Looking For A Place Like Home,” and since she nailed being Helen Keller last week, she gets to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz this week, all powder blue and click your heels, but modern.

Chloe is doing a solo called “What Goes Around Comes Around” and we don’t have to do too much thinking to know who that message is aimed at, especially since Abby throws a big ol’ dramatic look right at her.

If that’s truly the case, says the recipient of said dramatic look, Abby best be keeping her eyes peeled for the Mack Truck of Fate. I’d say they’re pretty evenly matched.

Whoopsie, Brooke wants to bail on this week’s competition, because she has a formal dance at school. Her 8th grade farewell. Awwww! You go, Brookie. Do the Cupid Shuffle instead of whatever Abby had in store for you. And yes, I did put that in there for the purpose of giving myself another Dance Moms Blog Dance Break. I walk it by myself, yeah, walk it by myself.

Bonus points to those of you who added “Now kick, Paige, kick, Paige, kick, Paige, kick!”

And, oh boy, what Abby has in store for the group dancers. Someone either went to the movies or is up on her young-adult fiction! Or both. Because the group dance she’s been working on for weeks is called The Huntress, based on the Hunger Games, and it’s about children killing each other in order to survive. Yessir. Abby likes killing off her dancers a lot.

A lot a lot.

Also on the subject of missing children, apparently the addition of Mackie is not enough to fill in the blank left by Brooke. Because look who’s back as The Huntress.

It is not a happy reunion. Rumor has it that Payton has not outgrown her bad-girl, bullying ways. She even knocked Paige down on purpose. Well that does kinda make Pay Pay the perfect choice to play The Huntress. The other girls shall be her dinner. Oy.

To lighten the mood a little, Kelly and Christi — in more utterly adorable frocks — take the child who got away from The Huntress shopping for a dance dress. They settle on a fitted, sparkly, sapphire blue, strapless beauty. The sight of her daughter all grown and dolled up makes Kelly cry for missing Brooke’s first grown-up event.

Aw! Owie heart! So sweet.

And here’s Leslie. Oh goodie. Everybody remember Leslie? If you don’t here’s a refresher. We’ll wait for you.

Leslie is clearly unscathed by her last encounter with this group of moms and says she will deal with whatever they dish out as long as Payton gets a chance to be on the TV team. Like the mothers had anything to do with the reason Payton got exiled in mouthy-ville in the first place.

And now The Huntress hath hurt her mighty trigger finger. She holds up a big ol’ metal splint in Abby’s general direction. Abby is dubious. She doesn’t want that splint digging into and injuring the other little girls when Payton lifts them up to eat them. That IS a problem. You don’t want to bruise the apple before you eat it, now do you?

Leslie pooh-poohs Abby’s concerns, tells Payton to suck it up and dance, then heads for the Mom Loft and attempts to make nice. For about 11 seconds. Then she tries to tell Melissa how delighted Maddie looks that Payton is in the dance and Melissa says nuh-uh! Payton has been bullying the bejesus outta Maddie by telling her that she is doing stuff wrong.

Melissa and Leslie proceed to differ on what bullying is. Leslie says telling Maddie she’s doing stuff wrong is not bullying. It’s telling-the-truth-ying. And besides, why did Melissa tell Christi about it before she told Leslie. Because Melissa does that, Leslie. Were you not watching last week’s episode when we found out she told Kelly that Maddie practiced dancing to botched up music? Melissa just tells. In any case, says Leslie, it’s all lies anyway. Because if you know what the word bullying means … aaaand she just got sent to Dr. Holly’s office.

Dr. Holly calmly explains that bullying is an imbalance of power, be it physical or verbal or otherwise. Leslie decides to demonstrate verbal. I think she took etiquette notes from Susan Kennedy during Dance Moms Miami. To call her aggressive is to call the sky blue. She goes off like a $2 bottle rocket.

“Listen …” interjects Christi. “Shut your face!” says Leslie. What ARE the odds that Payton’s a bully?! What can they possibly be!

Things aren’t going much better down below. THIS. IS. THE. BIGGEST. COMP.E.TITION. IN. THE. UNITED. STATES. And despite that, Mackie’s running around like a little kid instead of a warrior who is fighting for her country. Melissa thinks she may be overwhelmed. Ya think. Mackie just wants to love on Justin Bieber, not be chased around by a big bully who wants to kill her and eat her.

Abby doesn’t know why they are all so confused. It’s the largest competition in the United States. Also, did you know it’s the largest competition in the United States? Because it is.

Time for Maddie’s solo practice. Surprise! It’s lyrical. Abby says that every dance that Maddie does is a great dance (there were three better last week, lady) and she portrays characters so well. Which is good because this is Star Power and it’s the largest competition in the United States. Three different levels and everything. And she is in the highest, most advanced level. And the other kids have been practicing their routines for an entire year!

And how is that Maddie’s fault?

Dance Moms Fashion Moment to this faceless ALDC dancer in blotchy sky blue Doc Martens, with bonus points for being able to dance in them. I feel like handing out bonus points today.

Chloe’s solo is contemporary lyrical. Another dark one. About her mother being evil and disrespectful and therefore bad things will happen to Chloe. Er, Christi. Because she is evil and disrespectful, Christi says the choreography appears to entail a lot of walking around and posing and not a lot of dancing. And she’s pretty sure that whatever choreography Maddie is doing, it will not entail that.

Speaking of which, as a new day breaks over the Abby Lee Dance Studio, Maddie is already there dancing. Oh oh. That’s because Abby has a seeee-cret. This isn’t it: She’s always looking for new opportunities for Maddie. This is: Star Power is so big that it is split into two competitions at two different venues, and Abby plans to enter her star pupil in the second one, too. She’ll do a past winner of a solo called Cry. Now hushie hushie, Mommy! It’s our little secret.

I’ll give it to the next commercial break till someone spills it, Melissa.

On the other hand, maybe not. After the last couple weeks’ cheating fiasco, maybe Melissa has tired of all of this secretive B.S. She looks a little tired.

Back to group practice. Man, Payton really does look huge amid all those little girls. And the littlest is still struggling with her choreography. She shall not get a pass; Abby thinks too many people treat her like a baby and it’s not doing her any good. “Everything in your head should be about surviving,” Abby instructs Mack and the other dancers. “‘How can I get out of here alive?’”

And it’s Hubby Rik for the spit take!

Out in the lobby, Pay Pay is really complaining about her ow ow, but she also really wants a spot on this team. Leslie wants it worse and tells her kid to wrap it up, suck it up and get through the dance. I think the mothers of the kids Payton’s going to lift with a wonky hand might have a little something to say about that. Kelly? You’re right there behind her …

Holy Hannah, we’re at the competition already, half way through the episode. It’s the biggest competition in the United States. Did I mention that? 25th anniversary! And there are crowds outside waiting for the bus! Aw! Yay for our little superstars!

In the get-ready room, Abby checks in on Payton’s finger — because it’s the largest competition in the United States and their 25th anniversary — and Payton isn’t feeling so great about it. Oh now, Leslie decides that she isn’t feeling so great about it either. I see what you’re doing here, lady. You got your kid to the the largest competition in the United States on their 25th anniversary, but now that the dance might be botched because your kid is injured, you’re covering your keister. Clever!

Eh, no it’s not. Abby is unmoved. So the finger’s going to hurt. Throw some ice on it. If Payton looks bad in her wedding pictures, oh well. [Note to self: revisit wedding pictures to see how much of a role fingers played in them.] Once more displaying her vast knowledge of cinema, Abby wants to know this: “Didn’t some guy survive on some cliff and he ate his arm? He’s fine.”

So … eat your finger instead of the children?
The Splintress?
127 Hours of Payton?

On a happier note, Kelly gets a texted photo from Brooke in her dance dress, and everyone crowds around. Kelly is happy with her decision to let the girl stay home and go to her dance. Me, too, Kelly. Brooke also sent a text that says, “I miss you.” Christi says now she’s going to go kiss somebody and not miss Kelly at all. Suuuuuhhmooch!

Meanwhile, Abby reminds Payton of her sassy-pants lip last time she danced with this group. She may go out there and kill children in the dance, but even if she does it perfectly, she may not come back and kill Abby’s ego by pointing that out. Understood? Yes.

Group dance goes first. Mackie does a decent job of hanging with the big girls but doesn’t quite make a leap onto Payton’s back. And The Huntress herself kills all of the other girls, but misses her turns. Just four turns. Four. Payton is 14 and should be able to master 8 turns and yet she botches four. Let’s see if the judges notice.

One. Tenth. Of a Point. Separates. First and second place. Is it required. To. Talk. Like This. When we’re dealing with Star Power? The Splintress is on the short end of that tenth of a point.

“Maybe that tenth was one knee staighter,” laments Abby. “Maybe that was one more turn.” But she’s not ungrateful. Until next wee’s pyramid.

Backstage, everyone celebrates their fine showing until Abby shows up and goes right for Payton. The Huntress says she thinks she did good, but more importantly how did Abby think they did? This makes Abby happy that Payton has matured enough to realize that she should just shut her mouth and let Abby TELL THEM THE DAMNED TRUTH, WHICH IS THAT THEY DO NOT WANT TO WORK AND DO NOT EVEN WANT TO BE FIRST.

Abso-frickin’-lutely, Abby. They live to listen to what miserable failures they are week after week after week. They secretly aspire to be second, just to give you something to discuss. Just look at Mack. She’s in paradise right now.

Time for the solos. Chloe has a stunning eggplant purple costume, but she’s nervous and teary. She’s freaking herself out. Abby helps by suggesting that the best way for Chloe to win is to gather all of the 11 year old dancers in her division and lock them in the bathroom.

I say send The Huntress after ’em.

Chloe looks beautiful and the dance shows off her grace and long legs to full advantage, but Christi is right. There is a lot of walking around daintily on those long legs. I’d really like to see Chloe do one of Maddie’s past dances just to compare. And Maddie one of Chloe’s.

Maddie’s turn. She does look like Dorothy, with a little Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island thrown in, and does predictably well. The heel clicks are a super-cute touch.

Chloe gets second runner up for Jr. Miss Starpower. I think that’s third. Christi thinks that’s a coup given how bad the choreo was. Maddie wins Jr. Miss Starpower during their 25th anniversary at the biggest competition in the United States. And she hopes she can win another crown, too … in the other competition that no one knows about.

Backstage, Leslie decides to toss out some bait and opines that Chloe’s solo was actually very technical. Christi calmly begs to differ and Leslie calls her a sore loser. That’s the end of calmly.

Oh, see, now you know something is rotten in Woodbridge, because Abby just came back and told Chloe she did a wonderful job. And you, Maddie — unbelievable that you won that title, but you’re only as good as your last performance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Abby Lee Miller starring in “The Spur of the Moment Decision That I Made Days Ago.”

She makes like it came to her  just now that she’s going to enter Maddie in the other competition. “What?” gasps Melissa, totally believably. You mean you want me to grab that other costume that I just happened to bring for the very dance that you JUST NOW decided you want Maddie to do? Wellll, okaaaaaaay. Let us run for the car we also mysteriously have even though we came here by bus.

Actually, even though I think this ruse was a total waste of time since the other mothers have been onto these two since the beginning of time, Melissa is sorta helped along here by the fact that harboring her secret has left her looking frazzled. Or maybe it doesn’t help at all. Maybe she should be sparkly jubilant about Maddie’s one victory and not look like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders.

I need a minute to think this over. Oh, no I don’t. The mothers aren’t fooled for a minute. But we can’t worry about that now. DRIVE, mystery car driver! DRIVE!

I think Leslie is seeing a way to suck up to Abby in this whole situation. We’ll have to see. Does anybody else besides me miss the crap out of Cathy Jean right about now? She, too, was a major pain in the ass, but oh the humor she injected into the show! Bring back Cathy! I want to go bobbing for Apples! Welcome me back to Ohio!

I need another moment.

Maddie’s second solo goes equally well and then she’s is all alone without her comrades up there on the stage for results, a teensy pink blob in a shrieking sea of other colors. But she wins again. And here is where I get a little perplexed, having peeked ahead at the results. The official tally says that Cry actually got second in the Power division — hence, I bet, the trophy sitting in front of her. But Maddie won another Junior Miss Star Power title anyway. I don’t get it. Someone? A little help? TV B.S. or the way the dance world goes?

But Abby is triumphant. Within two hours, that child won two titles at two different dance competitons. Who does that?! The child who is prepped and preened and entered in two competitions, Abby. That’s who.

Next week — a retrospective of all the dances thus far. Well huh. That will be hard to blog. So coming up next Wednesday — the first-ever Dance Moms Blog Rank-A-Dance! Get ready to chime in, people!

New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights on Lifetime.

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


  1. Also she walks out of the first competition in braided pigtails, and yet has a totally different hair style when she gets in the car. And if she was rushing, how did she put on her costume?

  2. Man, the stuff I am learning! Thanks, dancemum! I guess even if it is teetering dangerously into scripted territory, it’s still one of the most entertaining shows on TV. And good for all of the kids, as long as they are happy.

  3. Lori and Robin!
    That is amazing! And I have gotten information (I sound like a spy…so dumb) that Kendall and Jill never left the studio and the whole Candy Apple thing was just to keep Cathy relevant on the show. If you look at the current photos Christi and Kelly post, Kendall is all over the place. Hmmmm, reality TV? I’m not so sure. But you know I will continue to watch. I just can’t look away! If nothing else, just to see the fashion moments!

  4. Holy cow, Robin. I had no idea. Makes sense, though. I really have to rent a kid to put into dance so I can get this stuff figured out. And so I have a place to wear the shirt Christy sent me. 🙂

    Thanks to you both!

  5. Titles at most dance competitions are very subjective. Subjective meaning bought. You can choose to enter the title competition for an additional fee. So, even though your child gets third or fifth place, if the girls with higher placement didn’t pay the fee, your kid wins. The fee can be anywhere from $30 to $90.

    Also they make a HUGE deal out of having Little Miss StarPower or Petite Miss StarPower, but every competition awards one. So if a competition has 40 different regionals there are 40 different Little Miss StarPowers. THEN most competitions hold at least two (or three) Nationals, so there are two (or three) National Little Miss StarPowers

    Hope this helps!

  6. Yes, that’s me she talked about in her Important Dance Moms Fashion Update! I am a die hard dance Moms fan and a lover of Lori’s amazing blog! I watch the show, read the blog then watch the show again to catch all of the funny things she mentions. I am on Twitter @ChristyXandrick or follow our fashion company @BELLDINI. Abby Lee and Dance Moms forever!

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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.