Couple things right out of the gate, Dance Moms nation. Today’s recap will be screen-capture-free, because the events of its last twenty minutes are currently a matter of litigation in the New York City courts, so no press screeners were made available. So much the better if you ask me. There’s not much that happened this evening that I’d care to commemorate in pictures or in words.
In light of the weekend’s news of Maryen Lorrain Miller’s death, I was really hoping we might have something, anything I could write positively about — even though I knew better from the preview alone. But several seasons’ worth of dismay over the direction Dance Moms has taken came to a savagely unpleasant head this evening and it’s going to take some good, hard thinking in the next few days to decide if I can continue to watch this show and support what it has become.
I love how passionate you, the fans and readers, are about the show and the dancers and I learn a lot from your comments. I love the ALDC girls and watching them dance and support one another, regardless of the words and actions of the adults around them.
But it should not be commonplace to see them cry and look stricken and incredibly rare to see them smile.
In the simplest terms, you aren’t fun to be with anymore, Dance Moms. You never were nice, but now you’re only the worst kind of bully to the very children who made you a thing. And I don’t know that I’d choose to be a part of that any more.
Here is the long and short of what happened tonight.
We start out at ALDC where Abby can’t be happy with last week’s group dance win because everyone else did so badly. Jill and Holly want to know if Abby regrets bringing in New Chloe, which impinged on everyone else’s time and resulted in mediocre dances.
Abby says she enjoyed working with the girl and her mother. And anyway, she’s not just replacing one dancer anymore. She’s decided to assemble a whole new junior elite team to compete with the Pitt Crew. Except maybe Maddie, who could possibly be part of the chosen ones.
Bottom row of the pyramid, from left to right, are Mack, Nia, Kendall and Chloe.
Row two is Paige and Brooke.
Top is Maddie.
ALDC will divide and conquer at two competitions this week. Paige, Chloe and Brooke will attend Sheer Talent in the Bronx, and also — along with their mothers — accompany Abby to her open auctions in New York. Paige and Brooke will do solos, Paige and Chloe will duet and all three will reconvene with the rest of the Pitt Crew for a group dance called Beautiful Revenge.
Kendall, the Zieglers and Nia will be dancing at NUVO in Pittsburgh. And — we knew it was going to happen, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans — Maddie will also be dueling with “her friend” Kalani Hilliker, Abby’s beloved pet from AUDC Season 2.
While the mothers discuss the unsettling turn of events, Kalani and her mother Kira appear in the studio.
At the NYC auditions, the crowd chants for Chloe and Abby informs us that she has sent oh so many students to Broadway success. Christi and Kelly ask Abby why their children weren’t taught the audition combinations before being called on to perform them for the crowd. When they wonder if Abby deliberately planned to embarrass them, Abby says the real embarrassment is that the girls are wearing ALDC clothes. Chloe cries. Kelly has her girls change.
Abby is beside herself about the talent in New York, and we get the requisite audition mother making a scene, this time at Paige’s expense.
Come competition day in New York, Christi says she is sure Abby is up to something, but she’s not sure what just yet. It doesn’t take long to find out.
Paige’s solo, Ooh La La, is adorable, but after spending much of her practice time having what is left of her confidence reduced to rubble by Abby, her legs are not straight and her gymnastics are wobbly. Abby says Paige is forever a disappointment for not taking her corrections.
Brooke is next with Purple Rain. She does very well, but Abby says she is incapable of learning anything new and performs with zero energy.
Instead of watching Chloe and Paige’s duet, Abby tells the mothers that she’s going to watch other dancers, but she really heads off to enter Maddie and Kalani’s duet, 2 Sapphires — which won at NUVO — into Sheer Talent. Melissa asks Abby to enter it as non-adjudicated, so as not to steal Chloe and Paige’s thunder, but Abby says she needs a big win in New York.
In the dressing room, Maddie tells Chloe that she and Kalani will not be doing their duet here in New York, even though Kalani has made the trip. It is — obviously — not the truth.
Even though there is a considerable size difference (Kalani, did we have a growth spurt since AUDC?), Kalani and Maddie dance beautifully together. In the audience, Christi and Kelly call out Melissa for lying to them and for having Maddie lie to Chloe. Melissa looks flustered, but Abby laughs and calls Kelly an idiot.
Though their dance, Wishbone, is not as intricate as Maddie’s and Kalani’s duet, Paige and Chloe dance beautifully, too. If these duets would not have been afterthoughts to all of the unnecessarily unpleasantness, they would have been lovely to watch take shape and to savor.
In the hallway, Melissa, Kelly and Christi argue about who knew what when where the dueling duets are concerned, and the fact that Maddie lied outright to Chloe. Melissa says Maddie was told not to tell anyone about performing her duet and was just trying to do as she was told. Avoiding the truth is not the same as a lie, if you will.
Then Melissa delivers a splendid line of bull in a laughably twitchy aside, and Maddie attempts to backpedal in the dressing room, saying she thought she and Chloe were discussing NUVO, not Sheer Talent.
Christi comforts a clearly shaken Chloe by telling the girl that she knows who her real friends are. That gets to Maddie, who shows a rare bit of off-stage emotion, tearing up and huffing, “I guess we’re not friends anymore.”
In an aside, she tells us that this shouldn’t be such a big deal, because it’s just a dance. Just a few minutes of her life. Hardly the end of the world.
Well, yes. But it’s also a matter of character and integrity and maturity and fair play, Maddie, and how you should be taught those things with exactly the same level of commitment with which you are being taught to dance. And have examples of those traits set for you by the adults in your life.
When Abby announces that Kalani might be improvising a solo, as well, the mothers ask if Kalani will be doing the group dance, too. Kalani says she doesn’t think so. Abby says well maybe … if Brooke doesn’t show more enthusiasm about her role.
Between the debacle that was the auditions, her children’s phoned-in solo choreography and the duet trickery, Kelly has had all she can take. She hands Kira a group-dance costume and announces that she and her daughters are leaving. Abby retorts that she never said outright that she was replacing Brooke with Kalani, advancing on Kelly in a fury. Kelly shouts back, pointing a finger at Abby — who opens her mouth wide and aims it at the finger in her face.
Unnerved by the display, Kelly slaps Abby’s face then grabs a fist full of her hair in an attempt to stop the charge.
The other mothers recoil, some children begin to sob and Holly shepherds the girls from the room. Abby heads off to call the police. Holly tells Kelly to pack her things so they can get her out of there.
When New York’s finest arrive, Abby tells them she does not need an ambulance, since it was only her head that took the abuse. Kelly and her children are driven off in a black van.
The remaining kids do the group dance, which wins its division.
Paige’s solo gets fifth. Brooke gets fourth. The other girls accept their trophies for them.
Paige and Chloe gets second.
Maddie and Kalani gets first.
Christi says she hopes it’s all been worth it for Melissa.
Asked how she plans to proceed with Kelly, Abby says the face of the team has changed. It’s business. Her business. Her rules. Her show.
But the decision to keep watching it — and what continues to happen to these poor girls at the hands of people who should know so much better — is entirely our own.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.