'Dance Moms' Recap Season 3, Episode 12 - The Apple of Her Eye: Nia Plays Rosa Parks

Abby Lee Miller Dance Moms
Studio owner and teacher Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms

This week on the season 3, episode 12 of Dance Moms titled “The Apple of Her Eye”, the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) prepares for a competition in Ohio with a group number that is a tribute to Rosa Parks. Chloe is finally off suspension and back on the pyramid; Mackenzie is benched but gets to be the team's makeup artist. In Ohio the girls will be going head-to-head with Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC); Cathy brings in Anthony Burrell, choreographer from Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC), to work with her all-boys team.

As always, the episode begins in Pittsburgh, PA, with studio owner Abby Lee Miller revealing the pyramid, her ranking system for the ALDC. From the bottom up it’s Mackenzie (she didn’t stay off of her possibly injured foot like Abby directed, and she is benched - she will not be performing), Paige (Abby wants more than “good” or “fine” from her), Brooke (almost lethargic, moves slow, no zip or energy), Chloe (Abby hopes she’s learned her lesson after being on suspension), Maddie (has been in second place two weeks in a row), Kendall (Abby uses the new headshot Kendall had taken last week, much to he annoyance of the other Moms), and in the top spot it’s… Nia! Abby tells her that she looked great last week, and says, “You were Beyoncé up there!” You go, Nia!

This week the ALDC is headed to the Powerhouse Competition (part of in10sity Dance) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Kendall is assigned a jazz solo called, "Look At Me Now"; Maddie will do a lyrical solo called "Breaking Down Walls"; Chloe and Paige will have a jazz duet called "Broadway Blondes". Abby points out that Paige has wanted to do a duet with Chloe for years, but was never good enough, but now that Chloe has “slipped down" to her level, she can dance with her. Paige’s mom Kelly is unhappy that Abby ruined the moment for the girls, and doesn’t want Paige to do the duet.

Holly and Nia from Dance Moms
Holly and Nia
The group dance is a number called “Rosa Parks” based on the iconic civil rights pioneer. Naturally, Holly believes that because daughter Nia was at the top of the pyramid, and also happens to be the only African-American member of the team, that she'll dance the lead role of Ms. Parks. However, Abby says, “Don’t assume anything; I have no idea who will play Rosa Parks.” But of course.

Then Abby calls Holly out on her fashion choices – she's been dying to "spruce" her up – and off camera she invites Holly to go shopping. Holly says she normally wouldn’t take fashion advice from Abby but she wants Nia to have a shot at playing Rosa Parks, so she’s going along with it. Jill finds out about the shopping trip and invites herself, because as the team’s number one opportunist, she can’t miss the chance to talk to Abby about casting Kendall as Rosa Parks. Abby says she doesn’t know who will play Ms. Parks yet, but gets in a dig that Maddie is the strongest dancer. Abby throws both Moms out of the store so she can surprise Holly with the things she’s buying for her.

After the shopping trip, Abby takes time alone with Kendall to coach her on facial expressions, which have been a problem for her in the past and have kept her from portraying the emotion of her dances properly. They practice making faces in the mirror. That Abby took this time with Kendall is annoying to Christi and Kelly, because their daughters Chloe and Paige haven’t been given choreography for their duet yet.

Then Holly fills the Moms in about how Jill pitched Kendall to Abby for the role of Rosa Parks. They think Jill is “delusional”, and they convince her to go down to the studio and tell Abby she thinks the role should go to Nia. Jill tells Abby that Christi and Kelly are “going berserk”, and that Nia should have the role of Rosa Parks. Abby makes a big deal out of telling Kendall that Jill took her out of the running for the part, but the fact is, the role was always Nia’s, Abby just wanted her to work for it. Abby makes it official by announcing Nia will play Rosa Parks.

Paige and Chloe on Dance Moms
Paige and Chloe on Dance Moms
Abby thinks Kelly’s feelings about how Chloe and Paige’s duet was presented during the pyramid (telling Paige she wasn’t good enough to dance with Chloe) is affecting the routine, so she tells Kelly, “Don’t sabotage your kid with negativity”. Chloe’s mom Christi wants Kelly to stay calm so the girls won’t have the dance taken away. Christi tells her, “Quit stealing their joy, that’s Abby’s job.”

After they rehearse, Abby dismisses Chloe, but tells Paige to stay behind for a talk. She tells Paige that she has it all – she’s tall, lean, and gorgeous – but that she skips over the steps it will take to be a better dancer than Maddie, Chloe, Kendall, or her sister Brooke. Abby tells Paige she has two options: quit, or prove her wrong and make her eat crow. Then they hug.

While Maddie rehearses her solo, we find out what her little sis Mackenzie has been up to. Melissa tells the Moms that Kenzie has been locked in her bedroom filming makeup tutorial videos (see below) and uploading them to the internet. Holly is skeptical that Mackenzie did this on her own, and incredulous that Melissa would let her young daughter be locked in a room without knowing what was going on. Melissa proves that Kenzie has this know-how by telling them that Kenzie figured out how to use her credit card on iTunes. Awesome. When Abby finds out Kenzie likes to do makeup, she gives her the job of doing all the ALDC faces at the competition in Ohio.

Abby hands out the costumes for the Rosa Parks piece – all of the girls will be in royal purple except for Nia, who will wear white (they also have hats, but this time Abby doesn’t threaten to throw them off the team if they drop them). The real surprise comes later in the episode when Chloe and Paige get their skimpy pink and black duet costumes, which the Moms accurately describe as being more Vegas than Broadway.


Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from Candy Apples Dance Center
Cathy Nesbitt-Stein
Over in Canton, Ohio, Abby nemesis Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is at her studio rehearsing with her all-boys team, the Candy Apple Core (I still think they should be the Candy Apple Corps). Cathy does her pyramid: from the bottom up it’s Brandon, Nick, Gino, and at the top Jalen, the little boy who can spin on his head. Zack Torres from Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC) is missing from the team, and he isn’t mentioned.

The CADC boys are also getting ready for the Powerhouse Competition. As a group they’ll be doing a “Gangnam Style” routine called “Candy Apple Style”, and Jalen will have a hip hop solo called “Working 9 to 5” in which he plays three different roles and has to perform with break-away costumes.

Cathy brings in Anthony Burrell, the choreographer from AUDC, to work with her team. They clash because Cathy hovers and interrupts while he teaches (and later in the episode, so does Jalen’s dad Rick). Cathy has issues with Anthony’s style of teaching – he is a “tough love” coach and doesn’t coddle the kids (at one point he almost makes Jalen cry, but tells the young dancer he just wants him to be the best he can be). During this power struggle Anthony decides to step out and Cathy tells him to “go count to ten” - he retorts, “Maybe you can take ten dance lessons.” He tells Jalen’s dad Rick, “This lady is tripping.”

There are a few odd scenes with Cathy’s cute little girl Vivi-Anne. Cathy says she wants to spend more time with Vivi because now that the team is all boys she not with her as much - she spends a few minutes with Vivi doing barre work, then leaves. She also has Vivi stand in for Jalen at Alterations by Shelley, where she tries on costumes. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Vivi so it’s hard to tell, but it seems like she doesn’t really care if she’s on camera or not.

Candy Apples Dance Center
Candy Apples Dance Center
There is also a segment in which Cathy reveals that she’s given her studio a facelift – a new exterior paint job – and we see her get a plaque from Greg Hawk, City Councilman, for beating ALDC at the last competition. Then there’s a ribbon cutting and they enter the studio. When our Dance Moms see this on their phones, Jill says, “Everything Cathy touches turns tacky”, and points out that the apple paintings "look like tomatoes", and the dancers "look like they have antlers."


On the bus trip to the Powerhouse competition, Nia shares Rosa Parks facts with the team and shows them a poster she made. It’s a nice moment and Abby is impressed with Nia, so of course Jill tries to one-up her by giving Abby a necklace.

They arrive at the competition location. Candy Apple Cathy is already there, and despite the fact that she’s the one who initiated the physical fight between ALDC and CADC the last time the teams faced off at a show, she's traveling with two bodyguards. Christi says the only way Cathy can get men to hang around with her is bribe them with a team or hire them.

The team heads to their dressing room to prepare for the show. Mackenzie, the newly christened “Official Makeup Artist for the Abby Lee Dance Company” works on faces, and Abby presents Holly with a bag containing the clothes she brought for her. Holly changes, and the outfit is striking: a long black skirt and white shirt accessorized with a zebra shawl and black and white necklace. Holly looks stunning and polished. Nice work, Abby!

Then it’s time for the competition. This week they show a lot of dance – the routines seem longer – and the camera work is less abstract so you can really see the action.

Kendall does her jazz solo in a two-piece chartreuse costume with a sparkly top and an asymmetrical skirt. The routine is snappy and has a lot of tricks – Kendall is a good acrobat and she works her facial expressions – and the judges bop along at the table while she performs.

Maddie goes next with her lyrical solo. She wears a beige and white costume with a tattered, fluttery hem and a matching head scarf. It’s an emotional piece and Maddie executes it beautifully.

Then Jalen is up with his hip hop solo, a number called “Working 9 to 5”. He wears a costume with tear-away pieces so he can portray three different roles. He starts out in a police uniform, but the costume change doesn’t go as planned and seems to get stuck, which makes Jalen go off time. He finishes the number but takes it hard and runs off, with his Dad Rick chasing behind him. Jalen says, “There’s no way I’m going to win with that stupid performance,” and Rick does a good job of comforting him.

Chloe and Paige do their jazz duet in the aforementioned pink and black costumes and black fishnets. They dance well together, and look like they’re having a great time.

As the teams exit the auditorium and head for their dressing rooms, Cathy picks a fight with Jill by baiting her with, “If I were you I'd get tired of my kid falling short of Maddie.” Jill points out that Cathy’s own daughter Vivi doesn’t even dance anymore. Cathy, who obviously has no problem trashing everyone’s kids, says to Jill, “Next time you say something about Vivi will be your last time.” Thankfully, it a short scene that doesn’t escalate.

The group numbers are next. The Apple Core goes first with a K-Pop (Korean hip hop) routine – they all wear black pants, two boys wear red shirts, two wear blue – and they have red chairs as props. It’s a strong piece and they do a good job with it.

ALDC’s Rosa Parks number is next, with Nia in white and the rest of the girls in purple. The choreography is filled with symbolism, including a moment where Nia as Rosa kneels on the floor and Maddie steps on her back. Toward the end Brooke totally forgets the choreography and meanders a bit, but it’s not completely obvious. Abby says she thought they had the competition in the bag until Brooke’s mistake.

Awards time! In the Elite Junior Solo Division, Jalen comes in 6th place, Kendall is awarded 2nd place, and Maddie wins 1st place. In the Elite Junior Duet or Trio Division Chloe and Paige are awarded 1st place. In the Elite Junior Small Group, CADC takes 2nd place, and ALDC’s Rosa Parks routine wins 1st place.

The Moms decide to go over to the Candy Apples area and gloat. They do that for a minute, but the real action is in their own dressing room: Abby is so happy she doesn’t even yell at Brooke for messing up, instead she jokes, “Brooke, were you just waiting at the bus stop?”, and everyone shares a laugh. Abby hugs Nia and tells her “Rosa Parks would be proud.”

The episode ends with Abby saying, “Cathy’s mish-mash apple sauce is no match for a fully functioning ALDC”, and tells the Dance Moms “If you’re going to bad-mouth me in your house wait until the kids are safe asleep”.

Who made you roll your eyes more this week, Jill or Cathy? Who do you think is a tougher coach, Abby or Anthony? Does anyone know where Zack is? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of this episode.

To see all of our Dance Moms coverage click here.

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

Abby Lee Miller photo ©Lifetime
Holly and Nia photo ©Lifetime
Paige and Chloe photo ©Christi Lukasiak
Candy Apple Dance Center photo ©Cathy Nesbitt-Stein
Mackenzie makeup tutorial video ©Melissa Gisoni

Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013