The Pitt Crew and, of course, its loyal Dance Moms Nation, is on its way to Nationals! With only a few weeks left, it’s going to be an uphill battle for our girls to earn themselves spots in that final competition. Last week, one select team member, Ava, was weeded out while Jade earned herself brownie points with Abby by sticking with the Pitt Crew. This week, 9-year-old Tea will compete with the Elite Team to prove her chops.
Things have already gone crazy before pyramid even starts. After a brush in with our previously departed CWAY, Gia is able to convince Abby to put little Sarah back on the team. Sarah is cute as a button and definitely holds her own against the other girls, but her mom Christy is on thin ice with Abby. One weighted word out of her mouth will take mom and daughter out of the running for nationals and possibly out of the ALDC entirely. Er, again.
Pyramid takes a new shape this week, one which Abby calls a “totem pole”. The results are the same. Jade is absent, Nia, Mackenzie, and Kendall take the bottom followed by Tea and then Chloe, who creep by on their winning Select group number. Of course Maddie, the competition’s overall high scorer, takes the top. As Abs gets down to assigning routines, she’s quick to reveal that the 9-and-unders are in a fight to the death this week. Mackenzie, Sarah and Tea will dance solo routines and the two lowest scorers will be “definitively” taken out of the running for nationals.
Tea’s mother reveals that Ava will be at this weekend’s competition, but will now be dancing with her mother’s studio. Abby, of course, takes this as a challenge. Because of the age division (10-12) at the competition, Mackenzie and Tea (both 10) will both be competing against Ava (12), but Abby reminds Maddie (11) to bring a costume along “just in case.”
Then we get the week’s big bomb. This week’s group number, lead by Nia, will be an “ethnic” number (of course it will) which Abby reveals by holding up an offensive caricature of a Native American headdress.
Although I am happy Nia finally gets a chance to shine and the children can’t really be held accountable for the choices of the adults in their lives, nothing can excuse the kind of racist visuals used throughout this episode. Abby, the moms and all of the producers of this show (you, Jeff Collins) should know better. To save time and space, I will never again discuss how culturally appropriative and irresponsible the entire number is, but I strongly encourage you to discuss and tear it apart below in the comments. I hope this is a reminder to always be an active audience and a responsible reader.
As the group rehearsal gets under way, the moms discuss Jeanette’s choice to bring Ava to compete against the ALDC. They are all appalled by how inconsiderate this is and then act like they haven’t been pulling the same shenanigans on one another for the last four years. Even Tea’s mom, who just last week accused Loree of betraying the Select Team by dancing with the Pitt Crew, seems to think she’s done nothing wrong and is entitled to a week of nothing but her daughter’s flawless dancing.
The group rehearsal goes about as well for Nia, as Mom Loft talk went for Jeanette. Abby wants the girls to be Las Vegas Show-y and for Nia to be the team’s Cher. But Nia has always struggled with expressions during dance and having so much attention on her acting doesn’t seem to be improving things. This routine will make or break Nia’s chances at nationals and only time will tell how she handles the pressure.
The solo routines go moderately better. Sarah’s lyrical number looks good, especially since she’ll be dancing in the younger age category, but she still struggles to get up to Abby’s acting standards. MackZ’s routine is “mature” and full of her tricks and gymnastics, but nothing less than her most ideal category is expected for a relative of Maddie.
Tea’s routine has the moms talking, however. Dancing in the Junior division is no easy thing, and they’re rightfully concerned that Tea’s Broadway piece is not going to be complex and competitive enough to hold its own against eleven- and twelve-year-olds.
Nia still doesn’t manage to impress Abby during the last group rehearsal which leads to a confrontation between Abby and Holly. Holls, ever the diplomat, tries to remain upbeat and encouraging, but nothing can stop the negativity train that is Abby, and Nia’s chance at a national title keeps shrinking.
As the Pitt Crew boards the bus for their Michigan competition, Sarah struggles to let go of her mother. CWAY has been banished far from the other moms to the front of the bus, but Sarah is expected to sit with her teammates. Her solo, entitled On My Own, is clearly a message from Abby about being more independent, but as the youngest girl on the bus, Sarah is hesitant to leave her mother’s side and starts crying under the pressure. Abby snaps and demands not to have any more crybabies on her team. The girls and the other moms encourage Sarah to sit in the back, and she eventually settles down with her teammates.
As the moms prep the dressing room, they discuss the day’s solos. Tea’s mom is more confident of her daughter’s solo now, but even Melissa is uncertain either girls’ solos can compete against a number Ava has probably been dancing all season.
The group number goes on first. It’s a physically demanding piece and the girls handle it well, looking clean and in sync. More importantly, Nia finally locks down her character and her facial expressions are on point the entire dance. Even Abby has to admit she looks good.
After the group number, our tiny soloists prepare to dance. Sarah will be in the Petite division and she nails her simple but effective choreography. The musical choice, a clip of a quiet, classical arietta, is also a refreshing change from Abby’s normal off-brand pop and certainly gives her an edge in a less mature division. Tea’s choreography does not have the same advantage. The dance is childish and the song is overdrawn; combined with some technical errors, Tea’s chances at beating out the more mature Ava are seriously lowered. That girl can definitely work a ponytail, though.
Mackenzie’s number is more mature and competitive, but although she delivers on sass, it’s still hard to measure up against a dancer nearly three years her senior and Abby looks nervous.
Ava takes the stage and, apparently made of nothing but muscle and a rib cage, blows both ALDC routines out of the water and a floundering Abby immediately has Maddie suit up and step in. Maddie does what Maddie does and dances flawlessly on stage, but the moms quickly circle Melissa.
Since Maddie and Ava are clearly going to top the competition, the other moms are understandably concerned that Melissa has just cost Mackenzie and Tea any chances they had at a national title. The question has been brewing for a while now: What will Melissa do when Mackenzie and Maddie can compete against each other? And today the answer has finally been made clear: Maddie’s success comes before everyone else. Even her own sister.
Awards stack up pretty much as expected. Sarah takes the gold in the Petite division and outscores both Tea and Mackenzie. Tea pulls a respectable fifth place (considering her choreography and competition) while Mackenzie takes third, justifying Abby’s backstabbing decision. Ava gets second and Maddie, of course, is the top scorer in Junior and the overall competition. The group number takes first, as expected.
Backstage, everyone waits for the final word on the which young dancer will go to nationals, but even though Sarah had the highest score, Abby still remains unclear on her plans. To be fair, she although she said the lowest scores would be cut “definitively,” she never said the highest score would get a routine either. Nia receives some praise for her performance, but Abby is still unimpressed with how long it took her to get into character. Maybe Maddie will be unexpectedly allowed to dance all the categories and then Abby will finally be happy with the Elite Team.
Based on this week’s performance, who do you think is going to nationals? Was Melissa a total jerkface to let her daughters compete against each other or is a little sibling rivalry healthy? And just “How” do you think the A+E execs let that supposedly “tribal dance” through? Have we all traveled back to 1950s Disney?
New episodes of Dance Moms premiere Tuesdays at 9/8 CT on Lifetime.