Dance Moms Season 4 Episode 23 recap: Whose gonna be Maddie when Maddie ain’t around?

Lori Acken

What’s up, Dance Moms Nation? Have you been paying attention to the almighty ALDC? If you have, you’ll know that the select team beat our Pitt Crew in the first episode of this half of Season 4, but they couldn’t be bothered for a third appearance the next week.

You’ll also know that Christy-with-a-Y has stuck around longer than anyone wanted and has trolled her way through everyone’s patience with her bad attitude and the occasional fist fight. You should also know that Mackenzie is now Mack Z and had a hit summer single and yes, that was Maddie featured in Sia’s latest music video.

You might also have noticed that last week we killed the Candy Apples once again even though Gino couldn’t carry Maddie’s performance and Abby went home pleased as punch with herself and her choreography. So you all did know that? Good, then we can get right to this week’s sass, backstabbing, and slander…

It’s pyramid time and guess who’s missing!? If you guessed the select team, you are absolutely right! If you took the less beaten path and guessed Maddie, congrats! You’re also right! The select team’s absence isn’t surprising considering they were talent-poached from all over the U.S. and have to return to their normal lives eventually.

Maddie, however, is off on The Ellen Show to recreate her performance in the Sia video.

Although she will be back in time for the competition, Abby’s taking this chance (as with all such chances) to remind the other girls that they need to be more like Maddie in case Maddie isn’t around to fill the role of Maddie.

The pyramid itself (which is technically a rectangle even though there’s six girls … which is enough to make a proper pyramid. I mean, come on) sees Maddie at the bottom for not being present, Chloe second to last for her epic fall in last week’s ballet number, and Kendall on top for… not sucking?

This week’s group number is Broadway-style and the big kicker is that no one will get the lead until Abby thinks they’ve earned it. Solos go to Kendall, Nia, and Chloe who will all be competing in the same age group, with Chloe expected to pull a win in Maddie’s absence, as is tradition.

Our dearest CWAY can’t go too long without causing a fuss, however, and has to open her mouth and complain about Sarah not getting a solo. Abby takes no drama today, however, and simply reminds Christ-Y that Sarah is a guest on the team and that too much drama from this Drama Queen will result in Sarah getting pulled from the group number.

dance moms season 4 episode 23 group

As rehearsals start, the Moms head up to the Mom Loft and Christ-I drops the day’s bomb: The producer who hooked Maddie up with the Sia video made a general call to the studio, but was only every given Maddie’s availability. They drop the issue then, but you can bet we’ll hear more on that soon enough. Especially since Melissa claimed that Maddie scored this opportunity all by herself and not through the ALDC.

Meanwhile in rehearsal, Abby forgets all about her Pyramid Comments about “earning” the lead and just hands it off to Kendall. But nobody has forgotten a similar time last season when Kendall got the lead and was replaced by Maddie at the last minute — least of all Abs herself. As rehearsal ends for the day, she remarks to the girls that if Maddie walks in and is still better than all of them, she’ll get the lead. Big surprise.

And day two of rehearsals does indeed bring the return of Maddie. Since she’s not doing a solo, Abby has her helping instruct and choreograph the other girls, which bothers all the moms who are not Melissa. As they watch rehearsals unfold, they dissect how Maddie’s presence affects the girls’ dancing and how Abby compares each girl to Maddie in a different way. Kendall needs Maddie’s faces. Chloe needs Maddie’s movement. Nia needs Maddie’s ability to play a character … which in this case is a dog. Maddie’s done a lot of characters for Abby over the years… wait, I said that wrong. Maddie’s done the same touching, lyrical character for Abby for years with a few tap routines thrown in. So it’s hard to compare that to Nia’s literal interpretation of an underdog.

The group rehearsal is even less positive in the Mom Loft. CWAY starts with words I assure you are not worth repeating. Then Jill lays into Melissa about Maddie’s homeschooling. She points out that all the other girls sit in school for eight hours and then learn the dances while Maddie learns them beforehand during the day. Melissa fires back that it’s perfectly reasonable for Maddie to ask to catch up on the group dance during her private lessons. Questionable parenting choices aside, Melissa does have a point. If Maddie dances eight or more hours a day and it gives her a leg up in competitions, that was their choice and the other moms could do the same thing if they wanted. Which makes me wonder if we’ll have six homeschooled, half-literate dance-bots by the time this show gets shelved.

Day three of rehearsals sees the solos in pretty much the same Maddie-comparing place as day two, except with the addition of a collar to Nia’s rehearsal which makes absolutely everyone uncomfortable.

Then things go down in the group number. Abby decides to keep Kendall as the lead even though Maddie could do it, which is cool and whatever … but then costumes come. Everyone’s excited except Sarah, whose costume is still being shipped since she wasn’t originally scheduled to be in the number in the first place.

dance moms sarah doesn't

CWAY is livid.
She calls Abby garbage that needs to be taken out and demands Sarah get a costume now.

dance moms christy 1 dance moms christy 2 dance moms christy 3 dance moms christy 4

When she’d done, Abs is also done with her and pulls Sarah from the team.

dance moms episode 23 abby

dance moms sarah

Then Sarah — bless her tiny, precious heart — does the thing. The thing we’ve all wanted the girls to do from day one of the show. She asks Abby to let her stay even though her mom is annoying as all get out. Okay, so she doesn’t use those words, exactly, but you get the picture. And so does Abby, because Abby agrees to let Sarah dance — as long as her mom lets her travel on the bus alone.

Melissa offers to take Sarah under her wing and help her through the trip, but Hoverparent activates and even though Sarah cries and asks to be allowed to go, CWAY remains unmoved. Her baby has been with her since birth, not even allowed to go to public school, and she’s not about to let her out of her sight now. Abby says CWAY can drive herself to the competition, but she’s not about to do that either. Abby is upset that she’s losing a talented dancer, but there’s nothing she can do about it without a parent’s permission to let the kid go.

We arrive at the competition in the Shenandoah Valley, sadly without Sarah. Joyously, we are also without her mother, so it’s kind of a wash. The girls prep for their solos and Kendall and Nia look characterized and fabulous, respectively, while Chloe wears a black leotard with ALDC across the front. Gee, I wonder if her number, called I Should Have Known, is supposed to be a message.

Even though her choreography is more hip hop than jazz and her costume is as weird as Abby gets, Nia kills it. She takes a lot of criticism in studio, but Nia always brings it on stage. Chloe, meanwhile, focuses on her technique and completes a clean, challenging performance.  So Jill is nervous that Kendall will choke with the pressure.

But all that drama is for nothing because Kendall looks fabulous and nails her choreography. As far as anyone can tell, it’ll be a toss-up come awards time.

Although everyone’s unsure of how Kendall will handle the pressure of having a group number lead, she defies expectation once again. The group number looks phenomenal, despite the offensive “gypsy” stereotype in the costuming, and the girls really prove how much they’ve matured. Without Sarah to balance her out, Mack Z looks pretty small in comparison to the other girls, but that’s hardly her fault. And something we’re used to.

Nothing truly shocking occurs when it’s time for awards. Poor Nia only comes in fourth, but considering she had a routine Mackenzie could have done last year and a costume to match, I’m surprised she placed that high. Chloe gets second, despite her uninspired choreograph. And Kendall got the top spot — with a routine designed for Maddie.Talk amongst yourselves.

The group number wins not only their division, but gets the highest score of the competition. This may not have been a big week competition-wise, with no select team or Candy Apples, but nobody can criticize Kendall’s stunning performances.

Back in the dressing room, the moms discuss this week’s solos and Abby’s less-than-subtle messages to each dancer: Be Maddie. Abs enters and comments on the girls’ performances and then drops the bomb: maybe next round it’ll be just the five of them… maybe it’ll be seven. With this threat looming on the horizon, we must sit back and wait to see what fresh horrors Abby has planned for the Pitt Crew next week. Which apparently includes this:

So what do you say, Dance Moms nation. What did you guys think of Chloe and Nia’s solos? Did they ever stand a chance against Kendall’s choreography? And how about that Sia video anyway? Do you think the ALDC will be able to keep Maddie for much longer or will her star burn out before she has her first boyfriend? Let me know in the comments below, then come back to deconstruct next week’s episode!

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


  1. No matter if the show is scripted or not, Maddie is by far the best dancer! Her facial expressions sell the number along with her techniques. Abby does make things unfair, but Maddie is the best dancer hands down. Chloe is incredible too. She trumped Kamryn in her Lucky star solo. It was breathtaking!

  2. It’s Who’s.
    As in, “Who IS going to be Maddie when Maddie Ain’t Around?”

    Who’s, not Whose.

  3. August 24th 2014 MTV VMA Video of the Year Nominees:
    Iggy Azalea (featuring Charli XCX) — “Fancy”
    Beyoncé (featuring Jay-Z) — “Drunk in Love”
    Miley Cyrus — “Wrecking Ball”
    Sia — “Chandelier”
    Pharrell Williams — “Happy”

  4. Sia was the one that said that she personally contacted Maddie for the video over Twitter. Not through Abby.

      • It sounds like what happened was someone from Sia’s camp contacted Abby and was told Maddie was the only one available, then Sia reached out to Maddie. Even so, Maddie really was the perfect ALDC/Dance Moms dancer for that job. She executed the choreography beautifully AND she looks younger than she is, which really makes her performance even more effective. Lia Sophia would’ve been a great fit, too, but the other dancers really wouldn’t have fit that part.

  5. Hello again Sara, good to be reading another recap from you!

    Kendall’s solo was gorgeous, and she absolutely deserved the first place. This is supposed to be her only time winning 1st overall solo at a competition since she’s been on Dance Moms, and I’m surprised there wasn’t too much whoop about it. But, also her 1st place win was a lie. Kendall has won 1st before, once; a long time ago. Back in the first episode of Season 2, Kendall’s solo ‘Bring on the Boys’ took home first in some age division that wasn’t shown, but look at that solo to now and she’s come a long way.

    Didn’t like Chloe’s solo at all… it was just meh. It was like Chloe knew she had something crappy to begin with, and then didn’t try to rise to the occasion and make the best of it, like Jill said in an aside. Choreography was no way comparable to Kendall’s movement. Song… was alright I guess and just… that horrible costume. *shudders*

    Nia was enjoyable and I loved the moments of slight break where she pounded that stage like a bulldog. I think the awards were shown as overalls because Kendall is only ten. She could be moved up into the teen division if wished, but she would dance up by two years. Chloe has been competing as a teen for awhile, given the competition. So I think Kendall had 1st place overall and 1st place Junior, Chloe was 2nd place overall and 1st place Teen, and Nia was perhaps if possible 4th place overall, 2nd or 3rd place Teen.

    The group dance was great, Kendall was a fab lead and my favorite part was the beginning where she did a front aerial down stage and the music started and the girls behind her all burst into movement. It took 1st, but it probably would of. Did you see how many kids were up on stage? It looked pretty bad, only three or four rows of kids, small rows at that.

    I think Sarah did herself a favor when she spoke to Abby about staying, as if she showed Abby; “Hey, don’t punish me.” You know that Abby has been wanting the child to stand up, and she did. CWAY really should of let her go.

    Poor Mackenzie in the preview. She’s getting laughed at??? And Studio Blue is returning, probably going to best the ALDC again and then Jade arrives with my favorite Select Ensemble mother, Loree.

    Great recap Sara, and I’m still eyeing that collaboration with Lori Acken over anything, but definitely Dance Moms.

  6. I thought Nia should have placed higher than Chloe, her expression was off the charts. Kendall absolutely deserved that win, she was stunning. I think she’s actually more graceful and elegant to watch right now than Maddie and Chloe, her lines get better and better with every dance she performs. I was very surprised that Abby agreed to let Sarah travel with the team, albeit without her trap-flapping mother. If it had been any other kid, with the exception of Maddie or Kenz, she would have said no way in hell. She would have made sure the punish that kid along with the mother. CWAY is worse than Lesley ever was.

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