Dance Moms Season 3 episode 12 recap: Everything’s Coming Up Rosa

And it’s another two-hour marathon, Dance Moms nation. Everybody strapped in for the ride? We’re goin’ on the bus!

As we begin, Abby says she’s trying to figure out what they need to do to regain their former first-place mojo. Easy, Abby. Stop cosponsoring the competitions. Then she takes a swipe at Maddie for not finishing first, as well, and goes right on into the pyramid.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For those of you new to these recaps, I kinda do these pyramids backward and report them the way Abby uncovers the photos. So we’re basically climbing the ladder, so to speak.]

Bottom of the bottom is Mackie, which we all would knew happen after she was busted for turning cartwheels on a supposedly injured foot last week. Not only is she at the bottom of the pyramid, but she is also benched. No performing for her in this week’s competition. No Mac two weeks in a row? Something gives, but I’m not sure what. I’m kind of wondering if we can’t slot an 8-year-old in with the older girls in the competitions we are doing. Or maybe she hurt her foot, got benched and I should knock it off with the conspiracy theories.

Next is Paige. Kelly says Paige could win a Nobel Prize and still be at the bottom of the pyramid. Pretty much. Then Brooke. She wasn’t zippy in the group dance. And look who is back in the stack! Chloe completes the bottom row.

Row two begins with Maddie — her punishment for finishing second. Then comes Kendall. Abby points out that she used Kendall’s new head shot, much to the other mothers’ dismay.

Top of the top is Nia! Yay, Nia! Abby says her face was so off the charts that she was Beyoncé up there. Theoretically, Beyoncé is ON the charts, but whatever. I get the crux of the compliment. Ni-yoncé looks nervous in the way someone who has been around all three seasons and knows what generally happens to people at the top of the pyramid would. But Holly is downright blissed.

dance moms season 3 episode 12

This week, we are attending Powerhouse Dance Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio. AW C’MON, people! You knew I was going to Google that. And you knew I would find it classified under in10sity Dance. And that I would find another one coming up in Philadelphia, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be heading there in a week or two, too. Oh well. I guess we will test my theory about never being the prom queen when you’re sponsoring the prom, huh?

In keeping with Abby’s barrier-breaking obsession of late, the group dance will be about Rosa Parks. Dr. Holly looks happy about this little history lesson in a tutu. So do the girls.

OK, them, not so much.

Abby says she hopes that moving the judges and making them think will propel ALDC back to the top. Holly hopes that Nia’s top-of-the-pyramid status and the chance for her ethnicity to finally be used appropriately will earn her the role of Rosa. Surely you jest. Seems Abby’s newly colorblind status has rendered her so politically correct that who knows who might play Rosa?

“Really?!” says Dr. Holly with enough controlled incredulousness for the all of us.


Then Abby lets us in on a little secret: she totally intends for Nia to play Rosa. But because it’s the Big Main Part, Nia has to want it as badly as Rosa wanted to keep her seat on the bus. Then Abby decides to pour a little salt in Holly’s wounds just for sport by pointing out the length of her skirt and the fact that her hair has fallen in her face. Seems someone is still a little bitter about Holly getting an award for one of Nia’s costumes. Christi is bemused that Abby even dares to take on Holly’s style. She says her favorite part about Abby’s accessories is how everything is organized in shoebox by color: red plastic rhinestone crap, blue plastic rhinestone crap and so forth.

Oh Lord. Seems Abby has additional ulterior motives for keeping the casting of Rosa Parks to herself: she plans to use it to coerce Holly into letting her give her a makeover.Then we get back to business.

Kendall will get the first solo — a little number called Look At Me Now that is designed to force Kendall to work on her facial expressions. Like, say, her mother.

Maddie also gets a solo, which makes her … look completely miserable. C’mon, kid. ‘Member just a few weeks back when you were sobbing over Abby not giving you individual dances? The name of her routine is Breaking Down Walls. That makes her look nauseated, too. In a red, satiny, sparkly aside, she says she’s really happy to have another shot at the top. See? Really happy.

Abby, Queen of Insults, has one more routine to hand out. She’s finally going to give Paige the duet with Chloe she’s been begging for — not because Paige has become as good a dancer as Chloe. Because Chloe has become as bad a dancer as Paige. “So Chloe has to be bad to for Paige to get a dance,” groans Kelly. Then she does an aside that I’m not really listening to, because for the first time, I see what those of you who were asking if she got her eyes done were talking about. She still looks sleepy-tired in the studio, but, man, these ARE some wide-eyed confessionals.

The name of the girls’ jazz duet is Broadway Blondes.

Up in the Mom Loft, Christi expresses her pleasure that Chloe is back on the pyramid and that Nia is up at the top. That sets off a dissection of the Rosa Parks Conspiracy that I miss the first time because I am too busy wondering who the interlopers are. There’s mens up there in the Mom Loft! In any case, Christi wonders how on Earth Abby would make one of the Caucasian girls Rosa without resorting to, you know, like, blackface. She says anyone else but Nia playing Rosa would be inappropriate.

Downstairs, poor benched Big Mac is actually sitting on a bench. This sets in motion a lecture from Abby about what it means to be benched, and a pair of hilarious asides from Mac that make my whole entire day.

Being benched means …

Well, anyway, Abby is mad about her doing cartwheels on her bum foot.

But she wasn’t.

You dig?

Time for a field trip to Ohio.

Hey. Where’s Zack? There’s a mom among men in the parent group, but it’s not Gina. And there’s no Zack. Boooo! In any case, Cathy wants to know if they beat Abby last time because they were better or because they were luckier. (Or because the ALDC sponsored the … oh, anyway.) Then she moves onto the fancy digital pyramid of only four dancers. The bottom row is made up of Brandon, Nick — who was recruited to take Zack’s place — and Gino. Top is our little head-spinner Jalen.

Their group dance will be called Candy Apples Style — get it? A take on Gangnam Style? Get it? The boys look like only a middle-aged white lady would find that cool anymore (see also, Jill), but Gino and Jalen gamely offer up a little Gangnam action anyway. Jalen will be both the star of the group dance and the sole soloist.

Time for Holly’s makeover. Abby is disappointed to discover that Holly brought Jill along for “moral support.” Which in the Big Black Dictionary Of Jill means “to barge in on any extra curricular discussions that might happen about casting Rosa Parks.” Holly decides that she’ll take one for the fashion team, if it gets Nia any closer to the part she deserves. Abby has another secret. After all the huffing and puffing Holly has done about Nia being typecast in ethnic dances, Abby wants to know why this one should suddenly be handed to her without her having to prove herself worthy. Lori wants to know why when the dances were about aboriginal dancers and cross-dressers named Laquifa, there was no question — but now that the role is a woman of color who is also an historical icon, the dance is up for grabs.

While Holly tries on a long red tank, Jill moves in and asks about the possibility of Kendall getting the group dance lead. Holly is appalled, and Abby informs Jill that if Rosa goes to any of the little white girls, it will be Maddie.

In Ohio, we have a tender moment between Cathy and Vivi, whom Cathy says she is neglecting in favor of the Lad Apples. Cathy decides to give her baby some special ballet lessons. For about 3 minutes. The boys are waiting.

Back in PA, Abby is giving Kendall expression lessons. Surprise! Shock! Evil! Happy! Sad!


Up in the Mom Loft, the other mothers fuss a little about Kendall’s lessons and then move on to how the Rosa Parks dance is not exactly shaping up to what they were sold. Kind of like last week’s Don’t Ask, Just Tell thing that wound up being about … I’m not sure what it was about. Then they fight with Jill about her trying to sneak Kendall into the Rosa Parks role. Jill goes down and tattles to Abby. It backfires in a big way. Nia will be Rosa. Like we were ever really considering Kendall.

I think now is as good time as any to launch the “Rosa Parks” drinking game. From here on out, every time anyone says “Rosa Parks,” I’m having a drink. I wish I had some Rosé to be super thematic, but beer will have to do. And only small sips. This IS a two-hour episode, after all, and we do want to be conscious to find out if the Lad Apples beat the ALDC again.

Duet practice. Kelly says Abby is setting Paige up for failure, but Abby says the dance accentuates the girls’ long legs and pretty lines. She decides to change her tack and try to buck the girl up. Extra curricular toast to Abby for hugging Paige! Then it’s time to practice Maddie’s solo. It’s your basic Maddie solo, so it should go just fine. Assuming that that whole theory I have about dance prom can be disproven.

Meantime, Melissa reveals that sometimes Big Mac locks herself in her bedroom, so she went on the computer and discovered that Mac has been staging and starring in her own makeup tutorials. Holly doubts the solo nature of this enterprise, but Melissa says Mac is so independent that she even figured out how to get Melissa’s credit card number to use on iTunes. Just wait till she decides to buy shoes, lady. Then it won’t be so cute.

Costumes are in. Can I have an Amen, Lennon Sisters?


Well lookie who we have here. It’s Anthony Burrell, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans! Doing choreo for Cathy. Cathy says he’s being a bit of a diva, though. Anthony yells. Cathy kisses. The boys look petrified of the whole affair. Anthony says that when you invite him into your house, it becomes his house. Cathy is willing to share the house, at best. Anthony gives up and leaves. He has a little male bonding time with Jalen’s dad Rick and then decides to give ‘er another go.

Abby tells Kendall that she has to show her former teacher what a winner looks like, and right now her face is not a winner. The other girls join in a Nia-led expression session, which is a-duhhhrrr-able!

Oh fer the … what is this now? Seems a small throng has gathered for the unveiling of Candy Apples’ freshened-up façade, complete with font cribbed from Coca-Cola. Also, a nameless but official looking guy, who is not the Canton mayor because I checked, is presenting Cathy with a plaque for doing the whole town proud and vanquishing the ALDC. [“Rosa Parks.” “Rosa Parks.” “Rosa Parks.” Just keep drinking until this seems the least bit plausible.]

Then Vivi serves as Cathy’s model on a shopping trip to Alterations By Shelley for Jalen’s costume. Yep. Viv is officially the best straight man ever.

Back at the ALDC, Paige and Chloe get their duet costumes. What there is of them. Christi and Kelly protest that the outfits are more Vegas than Broadway, but Abby doesn’t care. Christi and Kelly worry that the judges will find them inappropriate. Abby doesn’t care. Everybody say, “Sleeeeeeaze!”

Christi says she will soothe herself by pretending that they are swimsuits and the girls are at the pool. Why is it that now that I’ve made it a drinking game, no one says “Rosa Parks” ever?

Jalen’s solo is called Working 9 to 5. He will be portraying Dolly Parton. Whoops. Nope. He will be portraying three different professions and wearing three costumes all at once. Poor Anthony still can’t get any respect — now Jalen’s dad is suggesting alternate choreography to keep his kid from bobbling his props.

Back at the ALDC, Chloe and Paige are running their duet, which looks to me to be perfectly in sync, but Abby still says that Paige isn’t cutting it. Probably because of Kelly’s bad attitude. Upstairs, Kelly is showcasing her bad attitude. Christi wants her to just hush and let the ladies do the damned dance.

Back in Canton, Cathy is having the boys perform their dances for the girls, which is not going especially well. Jalen looks like a tiny, adorable deer in the headlights. Oy. Anthony just made him cry. Now here’s a curiosity. Rick, who blew up in Abby’s face about how she treats her dancers, is suddenly reticent when Anthony goes after his boy. Cathy just hopes her crew can shake it off.

It’s Makeup With Mackenzie. Hey, Abby? How about actually making up with Mackenzie? By God, she does it, turning over her face to Mackie’s work. Then she says she’s so impressed by the way the kid dabs bubblegum pink lipstick on her pout that not only is Mac unbenched, but she is also the official makeup artist for the weekend’s competition. And she can start with Maddie. Maddie bugs her perfectly made-up eyes.

On the bus to the competition, we learn that Nia spent the night before making a Rosa Parks poster. She gives everyone a little history lesson based on what she learned. Then Jill gives everyone a brown-nose lesson. She gifts Abby with a little something that can go in the Silver Plastic Rhinestone Crap box. Abby is onto her motives, but pleased with the bauble all the same.

Cathy arrives at the competition first — so much the better to cause another scene when Abby arrives. Which she does. Seems she’s brought along some terrifically embarrassed looking bodyguards just in case anybody’s itching for another water-dousing showdown. Seems also that Cathy has forgotten that she was the only one who actually made any physical contact. But I suppose they could stop her from doing that, too. Christi says the only way Cathy can get men to hang out with her is to bribe them to be on her team or pay them to guard her body. Speaking of bodies, Abby is not happy with what Holly is wearing on hers. She hands Holly a bag and tells her to run along and change.

Wowzers. Score one for Abby. I totally covet this get-up.

Then Abby breaks the news to the moms that Mackenzie is the makeup lady. Everyone but Jill takes it with a sense of humor. Melissa is thrilled. Jill says Mackenzie put lipstick on Kendall’s nose.

Kendall’s solo is up first. The judges wiggle along in their seats to the music. Kendall makes plenty of faces without losing her technique. Abby is tickled.

Maddie goes next. In the audience, Melissa and Abby both appear on the brink of a nervous collapse.

I know some of you are beyond over it, but I stand by my assessment that it is so good to see this kid doing solos again. Would I like to see her and Chloe both doing solos again? No doubt. But there is no arguing that Maddie is a stunning dancer and watching her do what she does best is 100 times more compelling than watching grownups argue.

Little jangled Jalen goes next. He’s Officer Jalen first. Businessman Jalen next — or maybe Baker Jalen — except his costume is not cooperating at all and that throws him off his music. Cathy is perturbed. Jalen is bereft. Backstage, his dad tells him that he did great and it is entirely possible that no one even noticed the costume mishap. Or got what all those costumes were about in the first place.

Abby says the girls’ solos set the standard for the rest of the dances. Kelly wishes she could pull off the duet costume. Let’s see if Chloe and Paige can pull off the duet. It gets a tiny bit funky here and there, but I’m totally entertained and the girls look like they’re having a ball. Abby looks non-plussed.

Time for the hallway throw down du jour. Cathy decides it’s safest to razz Jill for Kendall always being in Maddie’s shadow at Abby’s studio. Then we debate who has taken the worst tumble down the ugly tree. It’s all over blessedly quick and the bodyguards are not forced to earn their keep.

Backstage pep talks for the group dancers! Anthony quotes Alvin Ailey: “There is nothing to prove, only to share.” Abby tells the girls that there is no more segregation. I’ll let all of you debate that one on your own. Holly just wants Nia to be present in the moment and make the most of this important dance.

Lad Apples go first. Jalen is a mini PSY. He does a sort of Exorcist backbend in circles that completely creeps me out, but the dance is a ton of fun.

Call them.

Time for Rosa Parks. Brooke frets that she might forget the steps. I am such a fan of this dance! The music is cool. The movements are cool. Nia is owning the daylights out of her role.

And then, sure enough, Brooke blanks everything. Oof. We only see it in slo-mo, so I’m not sure how much of the dance her little wander actually entailed. Abby says she hopes the judges didn’t notice.

Awards time.

Jalen gets sixth in the junior solo division. Kendall gets second. Maddie gets first. Lori stands corrected.

Duet wins, too. Eat your crow, Abby. The Lad Apples group dance get second. Rosa Parks gets first. And we are restored to our former glory. Backstage oughta be brutal. Christi wants Jill to go gloat all over Cathy, since Cathy targeted her. Jill says no thank you. Christi says she’ll go but she wants everyone else to come with her. What would Rosa Parks do, ladies? What would Rosa do? She’d remain a lady in victory…

…but not us. Um, Holly, you’re still wearing that hat, which makes you a less-than-imposing presence. Kelly goes straight for Rick, saying his kid can’t even manage a 2-minute dance. Rick says the ALDC kids just do all the same moves. OK. Did we get that on film? Everyone back to their own corners.

Back on ALDC turf, Abby gives Brooke a little grief for blanking the ending, and then cuddles Nia and tells her that Rosa Parks would be very proud of her. Candy Apples will never get the best of them again.

End, episode. End. End nice. Hosanna, it does.

Next week, Mack is still odd girl out, Melissa got married on the sly and Abby makes Chloe cry. Again.

So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Three cheers for an uplifting episode? Are you over Cathy — or keep it coming? Would you let Abby give you a makeover? Sound off in the comments section below.

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


  1. Good question about why Nia doing Rosa Parks wasn’t automatically a given for her. I think it was because Nia usually does character pieces a solos, so if she messes up, it’s only herself on the stage that she needs to worry about. For groups, a lead role is considered more prestigious, something you almost have to earn, and if you don’t pull it off convincingly, the group suffers for it as well. Not saying that Abby’s logic is right, but I can see where she’d want the part to go off without a hitch. It just happened that Nia was the only one who could pull off Rosa Parks from a visual standpoint, if it had been any other character, you can bet Maddie would have gotten it.

  2. I love abby lee the moms & their girls. All o ask is to get rid of that thing from cathy group that loves to argue with women. Doesnt make the show look good and before 1 of the husbands jump on him for talking to their wife any kind of way.

  3. I liked this episode so much better than the screaming, crying, bitching sessions of previous episodes! Abby seems to have mellowed or decided to try other methods to get her results! She was so awful at the first part of this season I could barely watch, something has toned her down, either her conscience, the producers, her date, etc. Whatever it was, THANK YOU!

    I’m also pleased that Holly is more involved in the program, especially since she is the only normal mom on there. She seems to have some control over her behavior, where as the others are so easy to freak out!! Cathy (and Christie and Kelly) behave like bullies/mean girls when their buttons get pushed!! Nasty, personal, inappropriate remarks spew out at each other, no dignity or class, just disgusting behavior for adults!!
    But aside from the usual bs from Cathy, last night was a very pleasant surprise!! I’m so glad ALDC won the night! Cathy needs to go back to the drawing board! Layering that little kid with a bunch of clothes, that overwhelmed him, was so ridiculous! Who could dance in all that stuff, no wonder he marched off mad!
    All in all, I enjoyed the program a lot!



  5. I likely stand alone but I am soooo over Maddie and that pained expression. Somebody please send Jill back to Cathys. Kendall can stay, just send Jill back to the falling down barn and pigs which represent Cathy so well.

  6. I’m with ya, Paula. I think Maddie is more than capable of handling a complete departure of the same old, same old solos — and judging by her expressions lately, I think she’s also more than anxious to give it go. I agree about Cathy, too. I’m a fan of my Twitter pal Jules’ idea — let Abby Lee put her moneymaker where her mouth is and try her hand at Dancing With The Stars. Put Cathy on the same season. Let ’em duke it out that way.

    • Lori that is brilliant! Abbe and Cathy on Dancing With The Stars! I would love to see that!

  7. Though Maddie did a beautiful job, I thought her solo was incredibly boring. Abby pretty much just had her run and twirl. I was really disappointed. Personally, I felt like Kendall got the better solo this time and should have won (just based on difficulty). I am soooooo over Cathy. She bores me to tears.

  8. I actually loved this episode, it was nice not having to listen to Abby scream at the kids (Brooke specifically this week) for forgetting the steps. Nia was absolutely AMAZING in the group number, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Kendall has come a long way too, and this was probably her best performance to date. Jill drives me nuts, as if Abby would have given the lead part of Rosa to anyone but Nia – but shame on Abby for leading that kid to believe she had a chance when there wasn’t one at all.

  9. These adults need to quit picking on the kids and putting them down, Abby needs to quit punishing those girls because of the sins of the mothers . It’s not fair,and they don’t perform at their highest potential.they need to have fun,fun with the training and fun with the competition…Cathy and her poor little viv toy, need to just fade into obscurity

  10. I kind of hope that the boys aren’t going to be on the show because I hate seeing them all upset. It was much easier when Cathy only had girls we had to watch suffer. Jalen is way too adorable to watch suffer. Same with everyone else -just Jalen specifically. All of the moms and Abby and Cathy are ticking me off this season. It used to be funny but now their students look miserable when they don’t win. I liked that Rick actually showed his son some affection after he forgot his dance. I respect him for that. Abby and Cathy are portrayed as really selfish and egotistical but I am sure half of it is incredibly staged. I say this is the calm before the storm and we better enjoy it. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Cathy in about 2 weeks.

  11. Kelly made me kind of upset in this episode when she said that Jalen couldn’t do a 2 minute dance. I lost alot of respect for her. I’m just praying that part was staged. Especially because Brooke is 14 and blanked out completely. But I still think she did a great job-I just thought it was rude. Kelly is not impressing me this season. I do suspect that part was staged but if it wasn’t I’m just glad Jalen didn’t hear!

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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.