Are you still on the edge of your seat after last week’s dramatic episode ender, Dance Moms Nation? If you’re looking for any sort of resolution, you’re not going to find it here, but you will find increasing drama at every turn.
The girls fail to line up for pyramid on time because the moms have decided to confront Abby about her behavior for the billionth time this season. To recall last week, the moms (spearheaded by Holly) decided to obviously count how many times Abby criticized each individual child on a whiteboard. It went about as well as you’d expect. Holls and Abs had a screaming match and the group number was pulled at the last minute. Today, Holly continues to insist that Abby needs to “change her teaching style” but Abby has never been a fan of change and when the girls run in everything’s back to how it was two weeks ago.
The “pyramid” this week is actually a straight line which Abby unveils without ceremony or explanation (except to note that Maddie is still the “top”of the line). This is retribution for last week’s debacle and also apparently the extent of it. Abs fails to follow through on last week’s threat to pull Nia’s solo and announces that Nia’s dance is a tribute to Maya Angelou (keep in mind that this was filmed during the summer and would have been shortly after Ms. Angelou died so it was actually appropriate). Abby also announces two more solos this week. Kendall will be dancing the routine she understudied for Maddie last week and Select Team dancer, Sarah (not CWAY’s daughter), will be proving herself for the nationals team.
Sarah’s mom, Tracey, gets filled in on old drama while group rehearsal gets underway, but Chloe has to leave early for an unexplained MRI. The group number is a musical theater piece entitled Seven Little Dancers but even with the addition of Sarah, the Pitt Crew only has six members and Abby makes a big deal about calling in a brand-new dancer. The new girl is going to have to get there soon, however, because they only have two days of rehearsals left before they hit the road to the competition in Orlando, Florida.
The second day of rehearsal is primarily about solos. Sarah’s piece goes well but she might be struggling to keep up with some of Abby’s more difficult tricks.
Nia learns her piece entirely with Gia and James, two of Abby’s best choreographers, but without Abby herself and Holly thinks Nia is more relaxed because of it. Whether or not Abby did this intentionally is left ambiguous, but Nia certainly looks good.
Kendall already knows her choreography. so instead of scenes of her rehearsing, we just get Jill reiterating how much pressure her daughter is under to win just like Maddie.
As group practice, starts we finally meet our seventh dancer. Kayleigh was runner up for the Select team and now that Ava got the boot for having competed against ALDC a few weeks ago, Abby wants to try out someone new. Tracey goes into full Mean Girls mode (“does she even [go] here?”) and verbally attacks the newer new mom Kate the second she steps into the studio. No one is sure where Kayleigh is going to fit on the dancer hierarchy and the Pitt Crew begins to interrogate her. We learn that Kate is a dance instructor, too, and Kayleigh’s specialty is musical theater.
Abby finally clears things up when she explains that Kayleigh is going to be Ava’s replacement rather than Sarah’s but there’s still a lot of animosity in the Mom Loft.
On the third and final day of rehearsals, Abby takes control of Nia’s solo again and brings Holly onto the studio floor to listen to the criticism Nia receives. The routine has spoken-word elements and Nia has to learn to project her voice. When Holly returns to the Mom Loft she is actually pleased with Abby’s treatment of her daughter and is convinced the whiteboard did its job. And really, who are we to take that victory from her?
As group rehearsal ends for the night, Abby has to remind everyone that this is the last competition before nationals. Even though they will be in Florida in the summer, Abby edicts that there will be “no swimming, no sun, and no fun” until they’ve finished dancing.
The girls arrive to the competition an hour late and Abby’s already in a bad mood when they realize that Cathy is also in Florida — not as a competitor but as a commentator. Choosing to ignore the Wicked Witch’s overdone insults, Abby rushes the girls into the dressing room to get ready.
Solos compete first. Sarah’s dance, although well performed, is a bland lyrical piece and it will certainly have difficulty standing up to a death tribute and a Maddie Dance.
Nia’s contemporary, spoken-word number is a great break from the ALDC’s usual choreography and she looks strong and proud as she dances in honor of Maya Angelou.
Still, I somehow doubt any of the girls are in school often enough to know who Maya Angelou is. Remember when Nia had to make a poster to prove she knew enough about Rosa Parks to perform a dance in her honor? Those were the days, readers, those were the days…
Kendall dances Maddie’s number beautifully, but Cathy still can’t keep her comments in her pocket. She and her cohort bash Kendall’s performance and Jill calls them out after the number. This leads to a boring shouting match in the hallway which proves nothing but that Cathy will never stop her crusade to be crowned World’s Most Annoying Human Being.
The girls prep for the group dance and I hope I am not the only person who is genuinely confused. Was there a budget cut? Don’t they normally have hand-tailored dance costumes prepared well before the start of the season?
The flesh-colored, oversized beanies and bedazzled t-shirts over white leggings look like something out of a cut rate children’s theater production than a Broadway performance of Snow White.
The dance itself is equally cheesy and obnoxious, but the girls perform it with pep and smiles which is more than anyone can say for Cathy. Unable to shut her overly-lipsticked mouth, Cathy has a running commentary on the performance and everyone leaves annoyed.
After the break we get to awards. Sarah only earns fourth place overall which is a bad sign so close to nationals. Kendall, despite all efforts, places second and this week she can’t blame it on bad choreography. The good news, however, is that Nia finally takes first in overall solos! Holly literally jumps for joy and Nia beams with her well-earned, first-ever overall win.
Even Abby cheers for Nia and there’s hope that she actually will dance at nationals. It’s almost like she does better dancing edgy, intricate choreography than she does dancing a weird dog costume, which Abby seems to believe is her calling. Kendall’s spot is less assured, however, and it shows on her poor little terrified face.
But Kendall’s problems are nothing compared to Sarah’s. Kayleigh’s mom is allowed to give her “critique” of Sarah’s solo and offers up nothing nice or polite. When Tracey tries to defend her girl, however, Abby takes it as yet another personal attack on her teaching style and cuts Sarah from the Select Group. It all happens so fast and gimmicky I have to wonder if they’re just trying to cull the numbers … and prevent everyone from getting the Sarahs mixed up next week.
Sarah and her mom leave crying and we’re back to just the Pitt Crew in the dressing room.
Of course we couldn’t end an episode without at least one more Close Encounter of the Cathy Kind. The wicked witch herself flies into the dressing room and begins harassing everyone and demeaning the girls’ admittedly awful dance. She then begins to allude to the awesomeness of the Candy Apples’ national routine, but the moms don’t take her bait, instead performing a perfectly choreographed eye roll and maintaining an upturned silence.
This week it’s Abby who is fed up. She chases Cathy into the hall where they have an increasingly loud and pointless shouting match. They bandy ridiculous and obvious insults at each other (“You’re washed up!” “No, you’re washed up!” quote, both of them, probably).
The episode ends on that particularly screeching note and we leave once again with nationals up in the air. Next week is the ALDC recital and with hints of a Chloe injury and the return of CWAY, nationals performances are anyone’s game.
What do you think, DM nation? Was Nia’s dance the most powerful thing you’ve seen on Dance Moms in a long, long time? Are Sarah and Ava gone for good or are they just biding their screen time? Is Chloe closing this season or is Christi going to pull her for the last time? We’ve only got two weeks left so you’d better get your feelings out now!
New episodes of Dance Moms premiere Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.