“Dance Moms” recap: Light My Ire

Lori Acken

Welcome to the very special No Competition Edition of the Dance Moms blog. However shall we have us a pyramid next week without a competition? How ever? Oh wait. We mostly do this by Mom behavior, not kid behavior, anyway. Problem solved.

After happy kudos to the group for beating Cathy’s various assemblages of Apples at Starbound Nationals — a feat that results in this awesome win-face from Abby — we launch right on into this week’s pyramid.

Bottom of the bottom is Paige – She’s injured. Well, and Brooke didn’t make Abby mad this week.
Maddie — She said no to a solo. People don’t tell Abby no. Not even you, little lady.
Chloe — Justice beat her by a tenth of a point when he really should have been mincemeat.

Row two starts with Brooke — Got that bonnet on Maddie’s head in the allotted amount of time. I can’t decide if she laughs because that’s just ridiculous or because, hey man, whatever it takes to get outta last row! I’m good either way.

Big Mac — Not only did our little gap-toothed charmer beat one boy, she beat two boys. Mince and meat. Mac sticks out her chin and nods boldly like she’d be happy to beat down boys for a living.

And top of the tops for a second week is Nia. The top slot doesn’t always have to do with dancing, explains Abby. Nia did her job as Dance Captain ably and for this she is rewarded. Now how’s about we give her a role that allows her to shine in a non-jokey way and get top of the tops for dance, too? But it’s steps. One step at a time.

Meanwhile, Jill is incredulous. Despite the fact that she gets told on a minute by minute basis that she and Kendall are still not officially part of the team, she can’t believe that her daughter is not on the pyramid. Listening ears, Jill. Listening ears. They’d prevent you and your poor hapless girlie from getting a dressing down like this:

Jill: “Abby, Kendall deserves to be on that pyramid.”
Abby: “Kendall is here because she is replacing Paige. The minute Paige is ready to dance, Kendall’s out of here.”
Jill: “Well you could have told me that three weeks ago, before we started.”
Abby — ohhhhh so serenely: “Why?

In other words, you ditch on me with no warning, lady, I’ll ditch on you, too. With puh-lenty of warning, starting with now. Unless, of course, you beg.

Jill isn’t going to beg. Jill is going to snivel. Aw geez, and Kendall is going to cry. Abby turns it into a teaching moment, unfortunately harping in the direction of the wrong Vertes. “The team part — that’s about commitment,” she admonishes. “Your mother is always ready to jump ship, just like she was just now. Understood?”

Kendall understands perfectly, Abby. She’s the one being shuttled from studio to studio and expected to acclimate in the midst of bickering adults. That kind of thing tends to stick.

In any case, there will be no competition this week because it’s time for the 2012 Abby Lee Dance Studio Concert, which I don’t remember at all from last year but which is equally important because it gives Abby the chance to use you little faithful-in-the-firestorm bozos to market her studio to the general public and maybe land some better dancers. So shine, dammit! Also, I always thought “concert” involved the performance of music, but I guess not. At least not in Pittsburgh. At least not at the ALDC.

In addition to performing all of the dances the girls have done in the past year, they will be doing a new group number called Light My Fire. No, not Jim Morrison performed by little girls in dashikis and buckskin sun bonnets. Hip-hop! Maddie is terrifically excited about this, except for one thing — none of them can hip or hop. Dear God, please let Abby demonstrate. Oh please.

Also, because hip-hop involves, you know, hopping — which is just an excellent workout for a broken foot — Abby says Paige will perform in the group number, too, bootsky and all! Take heart, Jill and Kendall! Your time in the spotlight just got extended by who knows how long right here!

And even more good news for Kelly! Because she is a former ALDC dancer, Abby has a project for her. She wants Kelly’s former dance-classmates at the concert for a special little reunion. Kelly looks skeptical, but Abby wants “those people” to see that the Abby Lee Dance Company is alive and healthy and strong and continuing to educate children. Er, why would those people think otherwise? OK, says Kelly looking like it really isn’t OK at all.

And here’s the super-biggest news of all! After the dancing concert, one student from each age group will be chosen to receive a Very Generous Cash Scholarship to continue their dance education, courtesy of the Abby Lee Dance Company Parents Association. This makes Chloe look like so.

I am not sure if that’s because she is hoping to actually wrest the Very Generous Cash Scholarship away from shoo-in Maddie, or if she better than anyone knows the likelihood of whomever does collecting their Generous Cash.

So with visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads, it’s time for the lyrical ladies to learn some hip-hop. Abby says the sudden interest in bringing the funk is because she wants people to realize that her girls can do it all. This here’s a full service dance studio, where we recognize that “urban” goes well beyond “LaQueefa.”

Well, we do now, anyway.

Settling into the Mom Loft, the mothers are feeling prickly — Kelly because her girls hate hip-hop and she hates being in charge of the alumni wrangling; Christi and Holly because annual-concert-time is fun like a root canal; and Jill because of that whole Kendall-pyramid deal. Jill wants to know why it was OK for Brooke to abdicate the competition team for cheerleading and come right back, but not OK for Kendall. Kelly points out that Brooke got permission to give cheer a go and never left the studio outright.

Christi just sit backs and enjoys the dulcet tones of her buddies’ voices.


Next day, two white cars pull one after the other into the parking lot and out pops Jill — in yet another ponshirt — and Leslie with their girls. Leslie wants to know what her frenemy is doooooing here! Her frenemy says what. Leslie wants to know why her frenemy is dooooooooooing that. Her frenemy says why.

Leslie warns that if she continues this nonsense, the other mothers will chew Jill up and spit her out. Jill says she’s willing to be spat out if it means Kendall can rejoin the team. Not worth it, says Leslie. She did the same thing for Payton, realized it wasn’t going to work in their favor and left the studio with her head held high and is still slogging away, snatching bits of camera time here and there. But this is not about Leslie; this is about Jill. And Christi who is a snake. And Melissa, who is a liar. And Kelly, who is a snake. And also their poor maligned husbands. They’ll throw away everything including their mens to get their daughters ahead.

Jill makes little grumbly-mumblies like she might not want to get caught telling tales out of school, but Leslie has the deets on the Melissa Marriage Mystery and she’s about to lay them on us right here in the car park.

The story begins last October with a supposed shopping trip to the corner drug store for special trick-or-treat bags. But then she and Melissa drive right past the pharmacy where you buuuuuy the special trick-or-treat bags and head for a driveway instead! And in that driveway is the man Melissa is in love with, who is somebody else’s husband, not hers!

Trick or treat! And now you know!

Not surprisingly, the story mostly serves to make Jill think Leslie is a worse weirdo that she did in the first place and does not budge her one bit in her mission to make Kendall a star.

And then we’re in Ohio. No sign this time; we must settle for a goat. Ohhhhh, Cathy magically got tickies to Abby’s recital! Now how did THAT happen? Surely she won’t waste her time on something so plebeian. Surely, she will. And she’s bringing the other mothers to take notes. Cat’s always up for a laugh! HA!

Back in Pittsburgh, Abby’s effort at turning her little lyrical dancers into fly girls is going poorly. Don’t you watch any videos, she wants to know. Of course they do, Abby, but Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez aren’t especially crunk. This is a problem. Because if those kids can’t look hot on stage, Abby is just going to have to get someone who do. Like Payton. Is Payton here? Of course Payton is here. She busts a few white-girl hip-hop dance moves, then, while Abby extols her virtues, casts a nervous glance up at the mothers. Luckily for her, without her braying mother to set them off, the ladies barely glance up from their cell phones.

And now it’s time to really stick it to that audacious little Maddie. Since she decided to obey her mother instead of her dance teacher and not do a last-second solo last week, she will not be the featured dancer in Trapped, so there. The part goes to Chloe. And to make matters worse, Maddie has to teach Chloe the role. This is clearly new territory for Melissa, who looks oddly at Christi like she’s so much the puppet master to an unwitting Abby.

The others mothers are unmoved. “Everyone’s replaceable,” they chant wearily. Especially when you cost Miss Abby a win. Especially, especially when there’s scholarship money for grabs. Which, by the way, I don’t believe for a minute. I mean the “up for grabs” part. I think we’re giving Chloe the featured role because we’re giving Maddie the cash. I’ll bet on it. Even though we share the same bank account AND I talk about him to excess — Leslie — Hubby Rik won’t bet me on it. That’s how sure this is.

Time to find out, because we’re at the Herman Center for the Performing Arts. Or maybe the Merman Center for the Performing Arts.The Herman Merman Center for the Performing Arts. I can’t quite read the building. Abby is all aflutter trying to make sure that things run smoothly, so no parent better say a single word about anything. Problem is, Payton is in 15 numbers. Unless she piles on 15 costumes, one atop the other, and just peels them off as she knocks off a dance, even the quickest of changes is going to hold up the show. And Leslie wisely decides to interrupt Abby in the “light box” to tell her what she already know-wuhs.

And the light box is now a ‘rent-free zone.

Staying safely downstairs, Kelly tries to let Abby know that Paige’s participation in the hip-hop number pretty much guarantees one of two things: one) she will play it safe and look ridiculous, which will make the dance look ridiculous, which will make Abby look ridiculous or two) she is going to overdo the dance and re-break that foot. I know which option Jill votes for. I know which option Abby votes for. But what’s a Kelly to do?

Get her stripey tuchus handed to her by Leslie, that’s what a Kelly’s to do. Why is Paige even dancing, Leslie wants to know, ramming a pin into poor Payton’s head while looking squarely at Kelly. Because Abby wanted her in the dance, says Kelly. But there’s too much hipping and hopping for a broken-footed girl to handle, wails Leslie. She’s only supposed to dance from the waist up, Kelly says. “She was the Vivi,” Christi adds by way of helpful example. Still, Leslie argues on.

Is it just me, or does Payton look like she’d prefer for the hat pin to go straight through her skull right about now? I kinda know how she feels.

So does Kelly. When Leslie takes her bitchery all the way to AA meetings and calling Paige a liar, Mrs. Hyland decides to grab her kids and go. The usual dust-up ensues until Leslie weirdly announces that leaving has given Kelly the upper hand, and thusly she’ll leave, too. Except she doesn’t. She returns to the ‘rent-free light box and tattles on the ditcher. Abby is unfazed.

Oh boy! Drinks with the mommies! God, how I miss drinks with the mommies! And I think I remember something about this outing — they invited the public to come out and join in. And much to Hubby Rik’s territorial consternation, a surprising number of men have taken them up on that, affording Jill the faithful-marriage expert to expertly yank a bill out of a college boy’s waistband with her teeth.

Here, Jill. I saved the moment for your scrapbook.

She shoots:

She scores!

Recital day begins with a Dance Moms Fashion Moment in the form of Melissa wearing anklets and tennies with her cobalt dress on her way into Herman Merman Hall — which I am still too thunderstruck by Jill’s hidden talents to properly capture. You’ll have to take my word for it..

And here comes the Ohio contingent to infiltrate the show. Cathy’s dress makes her look like a fancy head of silk shantung Bibb lettuce.

Vivi looks like first communion. And expectations for any sort of cohesive performance are just very very low. Especially where the hip-hop number is concerned. Cathy is not thinking of Abby as a Grandmaster Slam, you know. Me either, mostly because I have no idea who Grandmaster Slam is.

But apparently Cathy called it, because Abby says she told every one of those girls out there that she wanted them to be already on fire during Light My Fire and all she got was lukewarm. The grandmistress of beef jerky says nothing is worse than little girls trying to pass off jazz as hip-hop. Christi says Light My Fire proved to Pittsburgh that if you want to learn hip-hop, don’t come to the ALDC.

And though it’s up to Chloe to redeem the lukewarm hip-hoppers by being brilliant during Trapped, it’s Kendall who’s feeling the pressure. The poor little bugger is yanking at her hair and fretting about how she hates Jill right now — seemingly out of the blue. Um, did someone text you pictures of Mommy last night, Kendall? I feel horrible for the kid.

Up in the nosebleed seats, Cathy and her lackies — why are they standing up? I thought they had legit tickets? — are duly taking notes on various other recital offenses such as the lack of backdrops and other distractions, but Trapped is still a winner and ends the concert-cital on a high note. Backstage, Abby in her candlelight pantsuit is effusive. Chloe tells her she put on a mighty fine show and Jill forks over a couple dozen long-stemmed white roses. Those symbolize honor and reverence and new beginnings, you know.

At curtain call, all the dancers take a snazzy bow and then it’s time to dole out the cash. We only see two awards. Shockingly, Maddie is the junior winner. Oh wait. That’s not shocking. And if all the interwebs rumors about Melissa’s boyfriend bailing Abby’s studio out of financial ruin are true, it’s basically getting her own cash back, so there’s that. Nia gets most improved.

At the gala after party on the Herman Merman veranda, we learn that Kelly did indeed scare up some fellow survivors from the ALDC Class of ’95. Also, we learn that Kelly was absent, late and naked a lot. Surprisingly, given that last part, her classmates stop short of calling her fun.

The recruiting is going nicely, too — for Abby and for Cathy, who has crashed this party, too. As the rival dance teachers jockey for a St. Louis import named Nicaya, Jill lets it spill that it was she who sent along the invites to Ohio.

There ya go, Jill! That’ll land Kendall that spot on the pyramid. Especially since it looks like Nicaya Wiley and her mouthy mama Kaya are both here to stay, in the episode that Christi promised me brings a whole new level of the cray-cray …

New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesdays at 10/9CT on Lifetime.

Images and video: Lifetime



  1. Lori, how could you forget the previous year’s recital? The mom’s “danced” and Cathy turned it into a geriatric, gyrating, scarier than Liza Minelli drunk out of her mind solo that was burned into my eyeballs for weeks after…..

  2. Always love the recaps! Just wanted to let you know that I actually attended this “concert” (it was just called a Showcase on the tickets). I live semi close by and have been watching the show faithfully since the beginning of Season 2, so I jumped on the chance.

    Me and my group ended up in the “nosebleeds” as Cathy called them, so (lucky us!!) we were RIGHT next to where her and her posse was standing. And let me tell you: this stuff is STAGED. I mean, we all knew that, but it was very, very apparant after being there. I only realized that Cathy was there because I happened to look behind me for a minute. She was standing very calmly, not saying anything, just watching. Then the Lifetime cameras came in, and she was just “blahblahblahblahblahblah” nonstop until they went away. When the camera went on, she started acting and saying things as if they had just walked in, when they clearly had not. They’d been standing there for at least ten minutes. And of course, her presence seriously distracted practically everyone in the auditorium from the actual performance. It was dark in there, naturally, so Lifetime had to shine an enormous light on her. And she was LOUD. Like, loud enough to hear over the incredibly loud music. I felt really bad, because no one was really focused on the performance while she was being filmed. Every head in that auditorium was swiveled in her direction (props to the young man performing a solo to “Someone Like You” by Adele who got the worst of it). And she was saying really dumb stuff, too. They performed “Where Have All the Children Gone” and she kept saying “Oh my God, this is last year’s dance! What the heck! This is from last year!” Even I knew that they were doing that again! All you have to do is look at Twitter! So, I’m not saying Cathy is a saint, but let’s just say she DEFINITELY plays it up for the cameras.

    And I don’t believe for one minute that Jill really sent her those tickets. They only watched the show for about twenty minutes total and never even sat down. Why on Earth would they drive hours to do that if Lifetime hadn’t arranged it?

    Oh, and I didn’t even realize when I saw “Light My Fire” that it was supposed to be hip hop. I just thought it was what Abby would refer to as a “hot, high energy jazz routine”. So don’t worry, Ab, your rep is safe!

    I also think this footage was a combination of shows. There were three shows, Friday June 22nd at 7PM and Saturday June 23rd at 1PM and 7PM. I was at the Friday night one, and that’s when Cathy was there. However, the scholarships were not given out at this show. I’m guessing they probably saved that for the last one. So either Cathy did her acting again, or they combined the two. Either way, Abby Lee was wearing the same outfit.

    And all the girls were fabulous, of course. I got to see Maddie tap and Kendall do acro and Payton be in like 700 DIFFERENT DANCES. Seriously, they weren’t kidding, she was in practically every single number in the show.

    No sight of the mommies, though! Guess they were all busy backstage.

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About Lori Acken 1156 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.