Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dance Moms nation. If you’re not out there getting your corned beef and cabbage on, grab a green beer and let’s talk about what happened tonight.
We start in the Dancers’ Den where everyone is pretty cheery about beating the Candy Apples and what it might mean for pyramid. OK, almost everyone.
Let’s get her mind off her troubles and ask Jo Jo what she thought of Cathy, which should be entertaining. Jo Jo was expecting a little crazy, but she got THIS crazy instead.
Huh. It doesn’t appear to be the answer Melissa was expecting. Or maybe Jill tooted. One or the other.
Before we can think too hard about it, Abby bellows and the girls go running, mystery pieces of paper in hand. We relive our victory and slam Cathy a little bit more, with Jill leading the show.
Holly says yes, we won, but nonstop lyrical isn’t going to get our girls anywhere out in the real world of dance. And why did we start out the season by stepping out of our comfort zone only to head right back into it. Abby says Nia is the one who isn’t successful at lyrical is why. Jill steps in to moderate, saying that what Hol really meant was that we can’t always sacrifice expanding our horizons for the sake of a win.
Abby says it’s her studio and she can do whatever she wants. Which is to win. Which means lyrical. So shut it. Let’s move on.
Turns out the sheets of paper are the ladies’ homework assignment. They were instructed to write down positive reasons why Jo Jo should become a permanent part of the competition team on one side of the paper and reasons she shouldn’t on the other side. I’m going to wait to see how this exercise goes before I fully commit to hating it, but I’m pretty sure I hate it really, really much.
Abby prefaces the readings by saying that since Jo Jo doesn’t seem to hear criticism or correction when it’s coming from Abby, maybe it’ll sink in when it’s coming from her peers. Or maybe she’ll just feel bullied by the only friends she has in PA.
Mack goes first. And she starts with the negatives. Jo Jo is loud. Off in the group dances. A little too crazy. Melissa nods nervously. The good things are that she’s kind and a hard worker.
Maddie goes next. Bad things are Jo Jo’s timing issues and the loud thing again. But she is dedicated and hard-working. Clearly Maddie had help with her homework, because Melissa mouths along as she recites her list.
And back and forth we go between shots of Jo Jo, her composure slowly giving way, and her fellow dancers forced to do Abby’s dirty work.
Nia says Jo Jo takes opportunities from people who have been hear longer, but she is nice and a team player. Kalani says she lip-syncs on stage and we don’t get to hear Kalani’s good things.
Kendall says Jo Jo respects the other girls (good word, says Abby), but she’s still getting used to learning dances in two days. And also she’s pretty nuts in public.
Can we be done now? Please?
Holly says she’s impressed with how well Jo Jo took the abuse. And it pays off, when Jo Jo earns her ALDC jacket. At least for the rest of the season. Jessalyn solemnly swears to cause no trouble, legal or otherwise, so who wants to start the pool for how long until she breaks it? I call dibs on “this episode and maybe half of the next.”
The pyramid is actually a line-a-mid, because Abby says everyone did equally well on the group dance. Well, except that Maddie is at the top because of course she is. Maddie does her patented poker face.
This week we will be going to Philly for New York Dance Experience where Abby expects the competition to be fierce. Also, the judges will be critiquing the dances and dancers right there on stage. The girls think that sounds scary.
Three solos and a group dance will compete. The group dance is a musical theater bit (put ya hands up, victorious mothers!) called Decadent Darlings. A 1920s kind of thing.
First solo goes to Maddie — a contemporary piece called Mannequin. The news makes Melissa waggle her fingers in a way I cannot interpret
Solo No. 2 goes to Kendall. It’s also contemporary and will feature props. Abby says she’s doesn’t intentionally give Kendall all the mother-freakin’ prop dances … it just works out that way. This week, Kendall will be dealing with a steamer trunk.
Last solo goes to Nia and it is called The Color Purple. If she doesn’t place, she shouldn’t expect a solo for a long, long time. I don’t think Nia ever expects a solo for a long, long time … but anyway.
Moms are excused to the Mom Loft, where Jessalyn celebrates her entry to the Pitt Crew club, whether the others welcome her or not.
Abby (who has either resurrected the Flotsam Necklace for these last couple episodes or scored herself a new one — recap veterans, feel free to weight in) bops along to the ragtime-y group dance music and says it’s important for the girls to learn dances from the way, way back. Abby says they’ll probably lose because they only win with lyrical, but she’s willing to do that to make a point to the moms.
Melissa and Jill are summoned to go get props, which gives Jess the opportunity to commiserate with Holly about their kids suffering the most B.S.. “Is it because they can handle it?” she wonders, throwing in a little cray-cray face for good measure.
Kira says that even though Abby is nice to Kalani, she gets where they’re coming from and Holly says the new moms have her back more than the old, ass-kissing moms she’s known forever.
Things you can’t unsee:
Because Abby is going to milk this Sia thing as long as she possibly can, Maddie’s costume is a Chandelier-ian nude unitard and the dance features Chandelier-ian, robot-like movements. Melissa burbles that every week Maddie says her dance is her favorite, but she thinks she might mean it with this one.
Turns out Kendall has her steamer trunk because she’s Waiting On A Train to Paris. Is she doing well in practice? Huh uh. Huh uh. Huh uh. Huh uh. So sayeth Abby. Maybe some public humiliation in Philly will do the kid some good.
I know, Hol. I know. If it helps, I deeply love your sweater.
Also Nia hasn’t done one step of her solo yet. Let’s commiserate with Holly’s new besties. Kira says she, Jess and Holly are like The Three Musketeers of Pittsburgh! Jess-amis says the fact that Holl-thos has her back can only help her and Jo Jo.
Jill and Melissa return and Holl-thos freely admits that she and Jess-amis and Kir-athos were talking about the non-Musketeers, namely how weird it is that Holly’s now better friends with the newbies than with Jill and Melissa — especially with Jess, whom she labeled disgusting and an awful mother not too many episodes back. Water under the bridge. Jill says Jessalyn is temporary, but she and Melissa are forever. Plus, Jessalyn isn’t about Holly — she’s about what is best for Jo Jo.
Jess-amis says the Musketeers must reveal the All for One pact. Melissa says it won’t make a bit of difference because if Holly would just get off her high horse, maybe Abby won’t whip Nia so much. Plus, Jill says, she doesn’t believe there’s an actual pact to begin with.
Jess wants to know why they wouldn’t be part of a pact that would benefit everyone’s kids and Melissa, who clearly had a tough time in high school, says because it’s too much like high school. Like high school! High school! Now leave me alone to chew my gum.
Finally time to practice Nia’s The Color Purple solo, which is the kind of expressive, contemporary jazz piece that the girl does best. Except when she gets too caught up in the performance and forgets her technique, snarks Abby.
Kira and Jess assure Holly that Nia is a tough cookie and can take anything Abby hands out, and Jill says they’re just kissing Holly’s ass … and we all know that ass-kissing is wrong, ain’t that right, Jill? Downstairs, Abby tells Nia that she can’t keep rewarding her with solos if she doesn’t place … and also if Holly keeps giving Abby hell. Nia smiles proudly and asks Abby why she can’t put that aside when they are working together if she herself has done nothing wrong.
Abby responds with this: “So if somebody is a murderer, I should just put that aside and teach them a dance and forget that they murdered somebody?”
Congratulations, Abby. You just murdered common sense and good taste all in one exceptional kid-bashing bit of idiocy.
Nia shrugs it off and says Abby’s still bitter about what happened in L.A. with the singing thing and all. It’s water under the bridge. But Abby calls her out on it, anyway, and Nia says her time with Aubrey O’Day Recording Artist is separate from what happens here at ALDC. Abby gets in her face and says it is not either.
Nia and Holly talk it over in the hallway and Holly says that if Nia wasn’t a part of the studio for a full decade, she would pull her right now. I think it has more to do with contracts, but anyway … Nia says her fellow dancers keep her going, so at least there is that.
Holly tells her daughter that she should focus on how well she handles herself in the face of Abby’s negativity and use it to make The Color Purple the best dance Abby has ever seen her do.
Let’s go to Philly.
Abby says the only reason she is going through with this group number is to teach the moms a lesson, which begs the obvious question of why she herself believes — and is admitting, mind you — that she is a one-trick pony. If you say so, Tootsie. If you say so. And now we got it on film for posterity.
While the soloists prepare themselves, Abby says they also have to prepare themselves for the on-stage judging and to not lose their composure if the remarks are not kind and humiliate her in the process. The idea that the dancers might have to speak, too, gets under Nia’s skin, but her mom tells her to go out there and not leave the stage with an ounce of regret and she’ll be just fine.
Oh haaaaaaaay, judge Rachelle Rak, my Abby’s Ultimate, apple-biting favorite! This should be fun. You get to judge her dancers and Abby gets to sit there and take it. Look, Kalani, it’s Sas!
Nia’s costume and makeup are absolutely stunning and her solo is mature and powerful. Do I wish she had been allowed to perform this solo in a competition where she stands a chance of placing? I most certainly do. Do I think Abby would ever allow that? No.
Let’s hear from the judges. Judge #1, who shall be Red Dress Judge until I figure out her actual name, says Nia’s expressive eyes are gorgeous and she should use them more often. But nice work overall. Rachelle says Nia did great work, too, and her movements say, “Watch me and listen to my story.”
It’s up to some stagehand dude to tote Maddie out to the stage, which amuses Abby and Melissa to no end. The dance is even more Chandelier-ian than I suspected, but she dances the bejesus out of it.
In the audience, Abby grins fit to pee her pants.
Red Dress Judge, who is actually Lydia Haug, says she loves Maddie’s facial expressions, but she needs to watch her leg position on her chainés turns. Judge Jessica, whose eyebrows deserve their own show, says Maddie needs to relax her facial expressions and get smaller before she explodes … or something like that.
Abby looks miffed. Maddie’s smile lasts long enough for the host to loosen her death grip on her and then she solemnly marches off stage. Jill and Melissa bolt from the audience, but it’s not to comfort Maddie — it’s to assist the lady Waiting On A Train to Paris. Jill says she knows it’s only a matter of time until the other shoe drops on Abby’s kindness toward Kendall.
I’m a monster fan of this dance for Kendall, which makes the most of her body, her talent and her charming acting ability.
Judge Joshua Allen (who won So You Think You Can Dance in 2008) says Kendall has great stage presence and danced beautifully, but he would have loved a little more connection with the audience. Rachelle makes no sense whatsoever, in a very supportive way. And that’s about that. Melissa and Jill hustle out to remove the props.
In the audience, Abby’s lipstick is starting to bleed upward. Because I know you’d want to know.
Back in the get-ready, Jess decides to bring up the “little pact” again and Jill grouses, “Of all the times we have spoken up, you’re going to remember the one time we didn’t.” Holly says she’s completely missing the point. But at least she admits it, Hol. At least that.
The argument is broken up by the arrival of the girls who must sew some really unfortunate wigs into their hair. Abby says she hopes that she and Gia don’t hear the same old same old from the judges.
The dance is so blasted adorable that I watch it three times in a row, part to cleanse my emotional palate from the mom nonsense and part because it’s just so blasted adorable.
Rachelle, whose Farrah Fawcett hairdo thrills me to no end, says the girls breathed new life into the old-timey dances.
Lydia compliments their teamwork but reminds them not to rush the accent moments and use the floor a little more.
Awards time. Nia looks remarkably composed given that nothing good will likely happen here.
The first four solo awards go to no one in the ALDC, spelling some kind of bad news for Nia and Kendall (and speaking to the quality of the field, given the quality of the girls’ performances). Maddie takes the win and even she looks surprised for it.
The group gets third.
Let’s make it worse. Back in the get-ready Abby enjoys herself a big ol’ “told ya so” and says it’s back to no solos for Nia and all lyrical for group dances and that is that. She is the queen. The naysayers are mere dance moms, so “Get in your car, go home and make dinner.”
Let’s make it worse still. Since she got in a little trouble about the lyrical deal, Jill decides now would be the perfect time to tattle about The Three Musketeers’ pact. Explain it, won’t you, Holly? Jill can’t quite find the words. Holly realizes that nothing she says would get her out of this fix, so she half-heartedly takes a stab at it and then waits for hellfire to rain down.
Abby keeps herself in check and says either you support her unfailingly (and then go home and make a pot roast) or you find another team. Simple as that. Holly pushes back and says she supported Abby through losses and various other humiliations in L.A. and even through the lawsuits, but when Abby compares her kid to a murderer for going on a go-see that has nothing to do with dance, that’s another matter entirely.
The ridiculousness of the situation seems to be catching up with everyone. Well, not everyone —
— but almost.
Unable to suppress a smile, Abby says she may perhaps have been going to extremes and Melissa says no duh — Abby always goes to extremes. Holly’s had her fill. She gets up and walks out, smiling all the way, and a stressed-out Jill — perhaps realizing that that leaves her alone in the line of fire — implores her not to leave. I love you! I hate you! I love you! I hate you! You are an emotional murderer … even if I started it. On purpose. Don’t go!
Melissa and Jill follow Holly into the hall, but she doesn’t really even need words to shut them down. Do what you will, ladies, but don’t expect Holly to support it. Or you.
Next week on Dance Moms, we’re headed back to L.A. soon — squee! — but not before we go one more round with Cathy (and yet another version of the Candy Apples).
So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Was Abby not expecting what she got in the City of Brotherly Love? Which appalled you more — the group teardown of Jo Jo or Abby’s assessment of Nia? How long will the All for One and Three for Five pact last? What else is on your mind about this episode? Sound off in the comments section below!
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