'Dance Moms' Double Recap: Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2

Abby Lee Miller and students from Dance Moms on Lifetime

Dance Moms is a hit show on the Lifetime network that focuses on Pittsburgh, PA-based instructor/studio owner Abby Lee Miller, her young students and their Mothers. Each week Abby unveils the student pyramid, a ranking system that shows where each student in the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) stands, and then the action that follows centers on the drama surrounding the rehearsals and competitions. This is a double recap: season 3, episodes 1 and 2.

As I wrote in my first recap for Abby’s other series, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC), she "is loud and occasionally obnoxious, she is hard on her dancers and rude to their parents, she plays favorites, and she puts too much pressure on everyone around her.  She is also a beloved coach who turns out winning dancers.  As someone who studied dance and competed in national talent shows as a kid, I find that Dance Moms is nearly identical to my experience, and I can say wholeheartedly that if I were still in the game I’d want Miss Abby as my teacher." Later as an adult I worked as a judge and director so I got to see it from the other side; nothing on this show surprises me.

I missed recapping last week's season 3 premiere of Dance Moms because Django, our greyhound, had a medical emergency between January 1st and 3rd and he had to have surgery. Thankfully he is fine. Oddly enough though, it was a series of visits to the veterinary hospital over the summer that led to some background info on Dance Moms. Back in July a stray cat jumped out from behind a car and onto Django's head (completely unprovoked) and punctured his cornea, so we had to go to the hospital to see the ophthalmologist every week for five weeks (his eye healed perfectly). There was another patient we saw there on several occasions, and during our lengthy waiting room stints I found out she was a choreographer working on a movie that was filming here in Philly. Not that it was a huge revelation to hear this, but she said Dance Moms is mostly staged and that one of her students was at a competition with Abby’s girls, and they had to repeat walking casually through a scene several times while the Dance Moms crew filmed an argument over and over.

While I’m aware that even the realest of reality shows need to do re-takes here and there, the two episodes I watched of Season 3 do seem more contrived than the first two seasons. The storylines seem implausible (for example, there’s just no way Abby writes off her favorite student Maddie so easily), the Dance Moms all seem hyper-aware of the cameras, and Abby - whose fame and ego has gotten an even bigger boost over the summer with the success of her second show, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition – is so comically dastardly I can’t help but picture her twirling her mustache when she delivers her lines. Still, the dancers are completely likable, the competitions are fun to watch, and I am definitely willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy the madness every week. So, let’s begin! This recap will be a little long because to bring us up to date I’m going to start with a few plot points from the first episode of season 3 titled "The Beginning of the End"…

Mom Kelly with Paige and Brooke
When season 3 opens, Dance Mom Kelly and her daughters Brooke and Paige have left the ALDC for greener, less abusive pastures. Abby is angry with them, and also the students who took time off over the summer to do family things (on this point, she is particularly upset with Chloe). We see Kelly and her daughters in their kitchen discussing whether or not they’ll return to ALDC.

Abby holds open auditions to replace Brooke and Paige. She chooses a girl named Ally, whose Mom is named Shelly. Ally is a lovely dancer, who, like Chloe, is long-limbed and graceful. Fan favorite Chloe is supposed to have a solo in the group number “Angels and Demons”, but Abby gives it to Ally instead (without Paige there, Abby’s main girl to pick on is Chloe). Abby also threatens to pull all of the girls out of the group number and make it a solo for Ally. Of course this upsets everyone, but especially Dance Mom Holly who doesn’t want to travel to the competition in Denver if her daughter Nia (who doesn’t have a solo this week) isn’t performing.

The Dance Moms want Shelly to tell Abby she doesn't want Ally to dance alone, but she says she doesn't want to tell Abby what to do. Shelly probably isn’t going to be a pushover for the regulars because A) she isn't new to the dance scene (her older daughter has been through the competition circuit) and B) Abby schools her on how to handle the other Moms. The advice includes "never let them see you sweat", and to always speak in statements, not questions.

Cathy from Candy Apples Dance Studio
There are several sub-plots: On-again, off-again Dance Mom Jill is jazzed because her daughter Kendall finally gets a solo, but Abby yells at the girl during rehearsal and makes her cry. Candy Apple Cathy (Abby’s dance teacher rival) and her daughter Vivi-Anne are in the episode for a few minutes - they are in an ice cream parlor discussing the possibility of Cathy starting an all-boy dance troupe.  Mark, who knows Abby from high school, shows up to take her to lunch. We all heard about Mark last season – did he leave Abby for Kelly? Whatever. During this episode, for Abby’s benefit, he pretends to not remember Kelly.

The team competes in Denver in a competition called In10sity Dance. The girls do the group routine (and y'all knew the threat that they wouldn’t was just a mind game on Abby's part anyway, right?) and they win their division. In the solos, Mackenzie wins her division despite losing a hair bow during her number (and she says, "Ha ha Abby, I won anyway!"); for the older girls Kendall takes 5th place, Chloe comes in 2nd, Maddie wins first place.

Despite the studio’s victories, episode 1 of season 3 ends badly. Abby and Christi have a heated argument, and Abby tells the camera "if I could just think of a way to get rid of Christi..." Then Abby ties Christi to the railroad tracks and twirls her mustache as the train approaches.


Sseason 3, episode 2 is titled, "Out With the Old, In With the New". It begins with the Dance Moms still missing Kelly, so they decide to give Abby the silent treatment and refuse to attend the unveiling of the pyramid. This is going to go over well. Abby says "If they're trying to piss me off, mission accomplished." Then Abby calls Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie’s Mom) and reads her the riot act.

With no-one else in attendance, Abby moves on and starts working on new girl Ally’s solo. Ally’s Mom Shelly is freaked out that "the whole team’s gone, they’re just gone!" Then we hear ominous piano chords while Abby asks Shelly if she knows what’s going on. She doesn’t.

In the next segment, the Dance Moms are staging a sit-in in the parking lot. Abby goes out and yells at them, then she makes a few phone calls: first she asks the police to remove the Moms from her parking lot, then she dials some of the dancers who were at last week’s open audition, and finally she rings Jackie, mom of Sophia Lucia, a well-known 10-year-old dance prodigy. Abby has heard Sophia is "ten times better than Maddie."

Jill stops by the Candy Apples Dance studio to talk to dance teacher Cathy, who calls her a "studio hopper" and tells her to go back to Abby. She also makes fun of Jill’s "awfully little Louis Vuitton." Oooh, snap!

The new dancers begin to arrive at Abby’s studio. So far the new team is Marcia and her daughter Bella, Gloria and her daughter Kaeli, and Shelly and daughter Ally from last week. There’s still one more mother-daughter duo coming.

The regular Dance Moms all gather at Christie’s house, and they decide to have their girls choreograph their own routine and talk it up on social media.

Yvette and daughter Hadley
Then – are you ready for this? –  Yvette, the Mom (who is also a dance teacher) who played the mean lady on AUDC, and whose daughter is Hadley – calls Abby and tells her Hadley will be doing a solo at the upcoming competition, and that she also has a group entered. We find out that she pronounces her name “Yuhvette” (before last night I had been calling her “E-vette”), that Hadley is still upset that Abby called her “road kill”, and it still makes Yvette cry. During the call we see Abby doing the twirly finger by her ear.  This is, of course, not the same as AUDC judge Richy Jackson’s “squirrely finger” to show love. Abby does it to indicate she thinks Yvette is wacky.

Mom Jackie and her daughter Sophia, arrive. Abby says, “She is definitely my Maddie replacement”. Sophia is in fact, amazing (scroll down for a video of her dancing), and she has the cutest little helium voice. It bugs Abby though - she wants Sophia to take voice lessons.

Sophia Lucia
Sophia’s Mom Jackie asks if the others if they brought their girls solo costumes, but they say “no’ because they don’t have solos. She says “I brought mine!”, and Abby has indeed given Sophia a solo. It’s called “New Reality”, and Abby says replacing Maddie is her new reality.

The group rehearses their routine, a number called “Cry”. Abby calls it “elegant and feminine”, and says it’s about welcoming new experiences which is “exactly what the Abby Lee Dance Studio is doing – we are moving on.”

Then we see our regular girls rehearsing their self-choreographed number. This is a big deal for the girls and their Moms because they want to show Abby she needs them more than they need her. Nia’s Mom Holly schedules a performance at a local mall.

Abby talks to her new team about Yvette and Hadley, and says they don’t like her because she called Hadley “roadkill.” Then she says, “So I called your daughter roadkill, get over it lady.”

Heading into the Xpression Dance Competition, Abby bumps into Yvette and Hadley. She makes Hadley give her a hug, and then busts her chops by asking if she’s been working on her feet. Oy! When explaining to Yvette why she has new girls, Abby says, “Every once in a while you have to put the trash out.” Ouch!

Ally from Dance Moms
The competition begins.  Ally does a beautiful job with her lyrical solo; her movements are fluid and her side aerial is effortless.

Next Hadley does her solo in a bright lime and purple costume. I like Hadley and she has some cool moves, but (without knowing her training schedule) I think she needs more ballet work to fine tune her technique.

Sophia describes herself (in a bit of a lower voice) as “a little bit of a head-case sometimes” and then we see her solo. She has way above average flexibility and phenomenal turns.

There are only three ALDC entries in this week’s competition: Ally’s solo, Sophia’s solo, and the group routine. Gloria wants her daughter Kaeli to have a solo too, so she goes over Abby’s head and signs her up for one – she even fibs and tells the registrar that she’s doing it FOR Abby because Abby is busy. Mercy me, woman, haven’t you ever watched this show? Abby is going to flip, and I’m not talking acro here. Then, Bella starts crying because now she’s the only one without a solo. So, Bella’s Mom Marcia totally tells on Gloria! From the argument that ensues, it seems Gloria is the one who called Marcia to be on the show, and she is furious that Marcia tattled. Upon witnessing the fight Abby asks, “These new Dance Moms are acting a lot like the old Dance Moms - why do I attract all the crazy ones?”

Then we see the group performance from Thrive, Yvette’s team. They do a routine called “Criminal of Love”. They look cool in their black outfits with red gloves. Next, Abby’s new team does their group number – they do well for their first time dancing together, but it’s not perfect.

The awards are announced. Ally wins 2nd place in the Teen Solo division. Sophia wins first place over Hadley in the Junior Solo division, prompting Abby to say that Hadley “wasn’t roadkill, just the road, and Sophia drove right over her.”

Yvette’s group wins first place. Abby tells her it was a great routine, and Yvette says, “Your kids were great as well.” Then she tells Abby, “I think we make a great team” and Abby replies, “You scare me.” Frankly, the thought scares me as well.

A short time later the Moms start to talk and Shelly says, “Might want to zip it in front of the kids”, then she leaves to “get some space”. Abby tells her new girls she is disappointed, and says, “Thank God for you, Sophia.”

Meanwhile at the mall, our girls have drawn a huge crowd of adoring fans. They dance well and look nice in their edgy black costumes. As Holly pointed out though, it was not as good as when they are directed by Abby, and she realizes that the girls need a lot of discipline.

In the previews for next week’s episode it looks like Abby has dismissed everyone but Sophia, and we see the regular Dance Moms telling Kelly the only way she is going to get her girls back in the studio is if the girls themselves talk to Abby.

Will Abby listen to Brooke and Paige? Would you like to see any of the new dancers stick around? Were you glad to see Yvette and Hadley? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays 9/8c on Lifetime.

To catch upon who Yvette and Hadley are, read our coverage of the first season of Abby Lee Miller’s other hit show, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, by clicking here.

Photos ©Lifetime
Video from DancingWithYT on YouTube

Posted on Wednesday, January 9,  2013 4:40 PM