'Dance Moms' Recap: Rotten to the Core - Chloe Suspended, Abby and Cathy Have a Showdown

Abby Lee Miller (in black) watches a performance on Dance Moms

The official description for Dance Moms season 3, episode 7 titled “Rotten to the Core” is, “Abby suspends Christi and Chloe, keeping Chloe from competing against Cathy's new all-boy team; Nia and Holly must deal with a painful medical condition; Sophia returns.” What this fails to mention is the scene the internet has been buzzing about since the previews were shown last week: the big fight between Abby and Candy Apple Cathy in which water is thrown, a purse is wielded, and Dance Mom Jill yells the line at Cathy we’ve all been waiting to hear: “Get lost bitch!”

Christi and Chloe
This week’s super-sized episode – 90 minutes instead of the usual 60 – begins with dance teacher Abby reversing how she normally does the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) pyramid (the rating system for the dancers), by starting from the top instead of the bottom. Kendall is number one, followed by Maddie, Nia, Paige, Mackenzie and at the bottom, Chloe, whose headshot has “suspended” written on it. Abby informs the group that Chloe was suspended because of her Mom Christi’s “deplorable behavior” last week. To illustrate this point, Abby puts Brooke’s headshot over Chloe’s.

This week the Pittsburgh, PA-based ALDC will be traveling to the Wild Dance Intensive hosted by Starpower International in Detroit, Michigan (it’s sort of like a dance boot camp). Kendall will be doing a solo, as will Maddie (FINALLY). Abby lets Maddie know she’s getting a solo “by default” because she needs someone who can compete against Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, owner of the Candy Apple’s Dance Center (CADC), and her all-boy team. Paige and Nia will duet, and of course there will be a group number. Abby says if they don’t win she might replace everybody.

Holly and Nia
Paige and Nia practice their duet, a number called “The Wild Child and the Wallflower” with Nia in the shy role. While the Dance Moms watch rehearsal, Holly tells them that Nia has RND – Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy – a pain management disorder brought on by stress. Holly says that perfectionist, type-A kids are predisposed to it. Later in a scene filmed at Holly’s home, we learn that three years ago Nia was in a wheelchair due to RND, and she has been fine for two years now, until last week’s competition when she started having foot pain. Holly worries that the stress brought on by the solo will make Nia’s foot worse. Holly asks Nia where her pain is on a scale of 1 to 10. Nia gives it a 7, and reveals she’s nervous because she’s “afraid her best isn’t good enough.”

Over in Canton, Ohio, Cathy is in the studio with her boys team, aka her Apple Cores (does she mean Apples Corps, perhaps?). Cathy does her pyramid from the bottom up: Brandon, Jalen, Zack, and then Gino at the top – he’ll be doing a solo. Cathy coaches the boys on their mission for the competition (beat Abby, of course), and tells them “We are an army.” Their group dance is a jazz/hip-hop/acro number called “Top of the World” in which the boys will be“oogle-ing” (as opposed to ogling) a girl in a magazine.

Back at ALDC our dancelings rehearse the group routine; it’s a piece called “Avalanche” about being buried alive. The back-story is that they are ski bunnies going up and down the mountain, and then one takes a wrong step and causes and avalanche that buries them all. One makes it out and to the top of the mountain (a prop that looks like an IKEA coffee table), then looks back at all of the people who are no longer with her. While Abby is explaining the routine, young dance phenom Sophia Lucia arrives with her Mom Jackie – she's been gone for a few weeks but has an open invitation from Abby to dance as part of ALDC whenever she has time  – and Abby gives her a solo. While the girls rehearse the group number, Kelly (Paige and Brooke’s Mom) hits up Jackie for LA show biz contacts, and fills her in on the latest studio gossip.

We see a private moment in which Jackie explains to Sophia that Abby may take a solo away from one of the girls, and tells Sophia that when it happens she wants her to go over to whoever it is and say she’s sorry. Shortly after, Abby informs Kendall and Maddie that now that Sophia is back, one of them may not be doing a solo.

In the next segment Jill starts fussing with Abby over Kendall’s solo routine not being done. Abby says it’s because she has to “go over things and over things” with Kendall. Abby thinks Kendall is buckling under the pressure of competing against Maddie and being on the top of the pyramid. Kendall starts crying and Abby calls her a ”baby” and says she can’t coach a crying dancer - “I’m not teaching you, it’s disrespectful to me”. She sends Kendall out of the studio and starts working with Sophia instead. Holly wonders if the reason Sophia and Jackie aren’t at the studio more is because Jackie is uncomfortable with Abby’s teaching style.

The next day, we see Paige and Nia working on their duet again. Jackie and Sophia still haven’t arrived at the studio, and Holly thinks they are on a job (Sophia does commercials, films, etc.). A few scenes later Abby tells the camera she has no idea where Sophia and her Mom are, but she suspects they flew back to LA.

Meanwhile, not only does Abby think the duet is a “hot mess”, but she notices Nia’s foot is bruised, so she makes Holly take her to see a doctor and a note stating she’s okay to perform. She does get the doc’s okay to dance, but is also told to rest it more when she can.

Then it’s time to head to the competition. Candy Apple Cathy surprises her team by hiring an SUV limo to take them to Detroit. They arrive the same time as ALDC, and Cathy immediately begins taunting Abby with, “Did you come in the big, crappy bus from Pittsburgh?” Abby tells her to “go to hell”. Then the boys start chanting “Who are we, apple core” (again I have to ask, do they mean Apple Corps?) and one of the CADC Dance Dads, Rick, starts shouting in Abby’s face. This takes place in the middle of a crowd of dance kids. I know Abby bullies the Moms and her dancers, and it’s not okay, but they all have a long-term relationship, and it’s part of their dysfunctional dynamic. You can call me sexist if you like, and I know ALL bullying is wrong, but to me, it’s a different level of intimidation to have a strange man yelling in Abby's face. Abby stood up for herself when it happened, but I found it jarring.

Then in the dressing room, seemingly out of nowhere, Holly and Abby wind up in a fight – Abby thinks Nia needs to grow up, Holly tells Abby Nia’s pain is real. Abby says Holly has an ugly mouth (because of the things she says), Holly calls Abby “a monstrosity of evil”, Abby responds with, “No duet” and adds, “Abby giveth, Abby taketh away. Nia is in tears.

Kendall on Dance Moms
The competition begins. Kendall from ALDC and Gino from CADC both do their solos. I think Kendall was lovely; Abby thinks Kendall was okay but needs to work on her facial expressions and emotions. Abby also explains that judges give boys higher scores to motivate them to stay in dance. Despite being cut by Abby, Paige and Nia dress for their duet in the hopes that Abby will change her mind and let them perform. She doesn’t. Maddie performs lyrical solo called “Quicksand” (right before she goes on Paige yells, “Come on, Mad Dog!”) and does a wonderful job; her mom Melissa cries happy tears and thanks Abby.

The groups go next. CADC’s boys get a “no-one is your friend in competition” speech from Cathy and Dance Dad Rick, and do a number similar to last week’s routine. ALDC performs “Avalanche” – they dance well to the dramatic, ominous music, and they are better than the boys.

The results are announced. In the 9-11 Solo Division, Gino comes in 8th place, Maddie wins 1st place. In the 9-11 Small Groups Division, ALDC comes in 3rd place; Cathy’s boys take 1st place.

As they head back to their dressing rooms Cathy sees Abby and asks, “So Abby, how ya feelin’?” and then says, “Let talk about 3rd place, these boys have you rattled.” She also riles Jill when she makes a crack about having a dance-off between Kendall and Vivi-Anne (Cathy’s daughter).

Cathy goes into the ALDC dressing room and won’t leave, and Abby flings some bottled water on her – she says she didn’t realize the cap was off, and also that she thought “the witch would melt”. Cathy over-responds by hitting Abby with a giant purse. Then Jill, who is still upset that Cathy called out Kendall earlier, jumps in and she throws water on Cathy too. There's lots of yelling, Cathy’s wet hair goes flat, and the Dance Dads separate the women and escort Cathy from the room. Cathy is a sore loser, and she is a sore winner too - this altercation is all her fault.

The episode closes with Abby on the phone with her Mom, and she’s in tears. She says Cathy crossed the line, she also admits she was wrong, and she sobs about Dance Dad Rick yelling at her. We’ve all gotten used to Abby as a (most likely, at least partially staged) villain, and I guess some will see this and think it’s about time someone turned the tables on her (including Holly, who says, "What goes around comes around… karma's there when you need it."), but for me, seeing the normally bombastic coach reduced to tears this week is sad. Abby seems genuinely rattled - she says she has had enough, and she's leaving.

I know Dance Dad Rick’s actions are what reality show people do to get camera time, I have no problem with the boys team, and I’ve read that Cathy and Abby are actually good friends in real life, but I think this storyline stinks. I like it even less than the first few episodes when our ALDC girls were replaced due to Mama Drama. This show needs more dance and less drama, or at the very least, it needs less Rick. I’m dreading the thought of a Papa Drama show called Dance Dads.

Did you think Dance Dad Rick was out of line with Abby? Do you think the boys team deserved to win? Did you think Christi and Chloe's suspension was fair? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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The Abby Lee Dance Company in Avalanche costumes on Dance Moms
Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime

Photos by Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013