Let me just get this out of the way right now, Dance Moms Nation, since I have been doing a horrible job of keeping you current on all of the legal crap between Abby and Kelly (because I could not care less about all of the legal crap between Abby and Kelly).
I actually did inquire into Abby’s reported engagement — because I think Dance Moms Wedding Special would breathe some kind of new life right into me where Dance Moms is concerned. OK, so I actually asked the show’s saintly publicist Theresa if she had, you know, any bridesmaid news she wanted to share with me. The official answer is: Nothing’s confirmed. But God bless the purported blushing groom for being willing to be, by his own proud admission, “Mr. Abby Lee Miller.” You’ll go far in this union, my friend.
The next thing I bet you want to know, even before we get to it in the recap, is WHAT IS THAT SONG?!! — the chill-inducing chant to which the ladies do tonight’s breathtaking group dance. It is Seth Glier’s award-winning “The Next Right Thing” and I’ll race you to iTunes to buy it.
On with the show.
We start at Casa de Melissa, where someone named Meghan is home-schooling Maddie and Mack, while someone named Jill is quizzing Melissa about it. You know, just in case Kendall needs to take that next, future-destroying step in her dance career.
Then it’s off to the studio where someone has finally jumped on the cold-shoulder-shirt bandwagon after everyone else has jumped off it.
Abby congratulates the Pitt Crew on last week’s victory over the Candy Apples, but lets us know that it still doesn’t mean she’s going to scrap her plan to make some changes. She tells the crew that she’s off to Atlanta to make it happen and — in case their mothers didn’t share — she’s already kept enough Orlando kids to make a whole new team. Where she is keeping them, I do not know. But she’s kept ’em.
A light bulb goes on in Dr. Holly’s head. Before she earned her Ph.D in Dance Mom with an emphasis on Reality Television, she was an admissions director and recruiter for a dozen years. Hence, she could be a big help to Abby in her search for the person who will replace her own kid and all of Nia’s friends. Abby takes her up on it. Free labor’s free labor, after all.
Not wanting to be left out, Melissa sullenly asks if Maddie and Mac are going, too. Abby says they can come along as her merch girls.
Let’s go to the Pyramid.
Kendall is bottom of the bottom. She was the only person who didn’t win. Brooke is next — her acrobatics weren’t lofty enough. Then Paige, who has to work on her posture. And rounding out the row is Mac. Her belly sticks out too much when she dances.
Last in row 2 is Nia. Holly is pleased she’s finally off the bottom. Maddie is next, which means Chloe comes out on top. Abby says she owned the stage and acted like a competitor.
Oh, well hell … turns out we’re all going to Atlanta, in order to take part in the Masters of Dance competition.
Paige, Chloe and Kendall will do a trio about Southern belles. Maddie will do a ballet solo. Mackenzie gets a solo, too — in the lip-sync category. I’m floored. We have an entire category for the thing we spent most of last season trying to get Asia to stop doing?! I thought lip-syncing when you dance is, was and shall always be b-a-d! Now it’s part of Abby’s big plan for Mackie’s future.
Abby has big plans for your future, Mackie.
I’m scared, too, dear.
Everyone except Mack will do a group dance routine called At Last. Nia will be the star of the piece because it’s about the civil rights movement and a young black girl finding her freedom. Up in the Mom Loft, Christi wants to know if the combination of Holly volunteering to work for Abby and keeping her mouth shut about Nia’s stereotyped part in the group dance means she’s willing to do anything to keep Nia a part of the competition team. Holly says she’s giving Abby the benefit of the doubt that At Last will be tasteful.
Maddie’s ballet solo is creatively titled Ballerina. Abby says it will allow her to show off all the technique she’s accrued and perfected since becoming home-schooled. It will also allow the mothers to go at it again about home-schooling and the extra advantage it gives the Ziegler girls at dance. Nothing new to see here, people. Let’s move along.
Abby tells Kendall, Chloe and Paige that all they have to do to portray perfect Southern belles is behave the opposite of their mothers. Who are, at the moment, discussing how Abby once, in Jill’s words, “sneezed her boogies in her eyes and in her hair” during dinner.
Show us, Jill.
And she didn’t even get up to wash her hands.
Back in the studio, Mackenzie is proving to be an ace at lip-syncing the music to her solo, which is called Love Overdose. Holly says Abby’s soft spot for Big Mac is endearing. We haven’t seen it in a while.
Then we see Maddie working with Lindy, the ALDC ballet instructor. Kelly says it’s fine that Abby praises Maddie for being home-schooled so that she can spend the brunt of her time at the studio, but she shouldn’t hold it against the other girls that their mothers choose otherwise. Melissa says they should just get over it.
As if on cue, Abby makes a rare appearance in the Mom Loft to berate Christi for not home-schooling Chloe so she can have privates with Lindy, too.
The next day, Christi and Chloe have a heart-to-heart about the subject. Chloe says she couldn’t imagine her life without dance, but she couldn’t imagine her life without school either, because it’s the most normal part of her day. In other words, the part where she’s away from Abby Lee and the ALDC and the television cameras and the pressure. Christi tells her girl that the path of her future is entirely up to her, and she will support her either way. But she doesn’t look entirely convinced of her words.
From the looks of it, there are about 4 million kids at the Atlanta auditions — a few boys, but mostly girls. Abby calls out one awkward adolescent for her haircut. Gad. Then, one by one, she begins picking off the other dancers, too.
Who else thinks this cringe-inducing moment was staged — by people who should be strung up by their toes?
That poor kid.
And why must all the mouthy mothers be Black-Patsys-in-training? Did no white mother get excitable, too? Not one? Holly calls the whole debacle “the Jerry Springer of dance.” I call it plain old mortifying.
These are the finalists from Atlanta. Discuss. In the meantime, I’ll take a moment to go bang my head against the wall until it bleeds.
Come competition day, Abby tells the soloists and the trio that if they have a bad performance, they cannot let it affect the group number. But they really need to be amazing to prime the judges for the final act.
Mackenzie goes first. I’m pleased to see that she actually has some solid technique in there with all the vamping.
Maddie’s ballet solo goes well, too.
The trio’s choreography is more burlesque than belle to me, but whatever. The dance is cute and Abby is happy with it. Which, for these three girls, is an outright miracle.
The gravity of the group dance has rendered everyone a nervous wreck. Abby says love it or hate it, it will make people think. And the whole thing rides on Nia’s shoulders. Holly tells the somber girl that she is playing a woman of strength and dignity and passion and she should own it. She does.
And Holly’s not the only one moved to tears.
That. Dance. Was. Stunning. That dance is the reason dance was invented. The reason you are here, people — not to bitch and fight and tear these children, who are capable of something this beautiful and powerful, down.
There are months worth of episodes left in this season. Oh that someone in charge of this show would actually take the song to heart and do the next right thing and the next thing right. Which is to let us and the girls feel like this more than once a season.
For a couple of minutes, anyway? No? No.
Come awards time, Mackenzie gets second, and Maddie, the trio and the group dance win. Backstage, Abby folds Nia into a hug. And that’s it for the good feelings. Next week, she tells the team, she’s back on the road, looking for something better than what she has.
Which, apparently, is a backup Chloe and her bitchy blond mom.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.