'Dance Moms' Recap, Season 3 Episode 14, Watch Your Back Mack: Asia Ray Joins the ALDC

Kristie and daughter Asia on Dance Moms
Kristie and daughter Asia on Dance Moms

On last week's episode of Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller brought in guest choreographer Rachelle Rak to work with the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC). This week on Dance Moms season 3, episode 14 titled, "Watch Your Back, Mack", Abby brings in a new dancer, young Asia Ray, who was a prominent contestant on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC). Meanwhile, Abby nemesis Cathy Nesbitt-Stein of the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) brings in choreographer John Culbertson to give her team a leg up in the Energy Dance Competition in Michigan.

This episode starts as they always do, with Miss Abby in her Pittsburgh, PA studio revealing her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the ALDC. Usually Abby does her pyramid from the bottom up, but this week she starts at the top with Maddie ("I gave you a job to do, that’s what you did"), then Paige (did a great job, it was darling), Kendall (3rd overall score in last competition), Chloe (1st overall score junior solo division), Nia (flew under the radar and didn’t draw negative attention to Abby’s eye), Mackenzie (Abby stands by her decision that Mac should not have been in the group number), and at the very bottom, Brooke (because she didn’t dance last week). There’s one more photo that Abby hasn’t turned over yet. Abby says, “We have a new member of the team – she’s made the commitment and now Asia will be joining the ALDC.”

Asia on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition
Asia on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition
A little bit of background on Asia Monet Ray... Asia is a young dancer a lot of us know from watching Abby’s other hit show on Lifetime, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. If you missed it, or need a refresher, you can catch up by reading all of our AUDC recaps. Asia was the youngest dancer in the competition, and she made it to the Top 4. Asia was a polarizing presence on the show though: some viewers thought she was only advancing in the competition because she gave great face and had swag, others thought she deserved to win the whole thing. Also, Asia’s mom went head-to-head with AUDC’s resident Mean Mom, Yvette, on more than one occasion, and she’s no pushover. For the record, I am an Asia fan - I think she’s a dynamite hip hop dancer, and I was hoping she’d turn up on Dance Moms. It took a while though - Kristie says Asia's been busy with television bookings in Korea.

Getting back to the action… this week the ALDC will be traveling to the Energy Dance competition in Highland, Michigan. The group, minus Mackenzie and Asia, will be performing a contemporary routine called “Return to Grace” – it’s about reincarnation. Chloe, Maddie and Kendall will be dancing as a trio with a high-energy jazz number called “We Believe”, and Asia will be doing a solo called “Rock That”. Abby informs the girls that Cathy Nesbitt-Stein her all-boys team from the Candy Apple Dance Center (CADC) will be competing against them at Energy Dance.

Meanwhile in Canton, Ohio, Candy Apple Cathy unveils the pyramid for her all-boys team. This time we go from the bottom up, the way we normally do it, starting with Brandon (Cathy calls him “well-rounded”), then Zack (“my Zack attack”), Gino (“my little fire and ice”), and at the top Brandon (“you’re a newcomer, but I’m impressed with skills I saw”).

For CADC’s routines for the Energy Dance competition, Cathy brings in choreographer John Culbertson (Mr. Dance of America), who is very good friends with Abby, and she also brings in a new girl dancer named Sam to duet with Gino. The boys will be doing a group number called “Machine Lines”; the duet will be a salsa dance. Cathy says, “This is going to rock Abby’s world.” It would be nice if Cathy had an obvious goal for her dancers beyond beating Abby.

Back in Pittsburgh, Abby summons Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie’s mom) to the studio reception desk and says she’s still trying to figure out what she’s going to do with Baby. She is referring to Broadway Baby, her beloved white poodle who passed away last December. Melissa suggests that Abby takes Baby to a taxidermist.

While the girls rehearse, the Dance Moms talk, and Kelly says she thinks Melissa is nervous about Asia joining the ALDC, and that Abby could be bringing in Asia as a permanent replacement for Mackenzie. This is a theme running through tonight’s episode (including the “Watch Your Back, Mack” title), and I think it’s ridiculous. Why should having two younger, smaller girls be any different than having two tall, pretty blonde girls like Chloe and Paige? If anything it should benefit Kenzie to have someone her size on the team because she’d have a steady duet partner.

Obviously though, anything can happen because this is reality TV, and oddly enough, Holly (Nia’s mom), who is generally not a pot-stirrer, brings up Asia replacing Kenzie too. However, as Asia and her mom arrive at ALDC, I’m more concerned about how our resident Christi will handle having a new Kristie in the house.

Jill (Kendall’s mom) says when she first joined the ALDC the other moms gave her a hard time, and she wants them to give Asia’s mom Kristie a hard time too. When they get on the bus to travel to Energy Dance, Jill makes Kristie move out of “her” seat, and says, “It’s important for me to maintain my status on the bus”.

Mackenzie doesn’t make the trip to Michigan because she’s still dealing with foot problems – Melissa says she has an extra bone in her foot – and she isn’t scheduled to dance this week. Abby isn’t on the bus because she's coming later, after she’s done with her appointment with the taxidermist. Of course Abby does arrive in time for the competition, and as she walks Asia to the stage for her solo, she runs into her friend John Culbertson, gives him a big hug, and calls him a “brilliant choreographer and one of my dearest friends.”

The competition begins. Asia does her “Rock That” jazz solo dressed as a puppy dog in a white lace costume with ears and a tail. Her routine has lots of acro, and ends with Asia exiting the stage on all fours. She’s adorable and does well, but mom Kristie admits Asia had a sickled (improperly positioned) foot. Abby enters the dressing room and tells Asia to “drop and give me 20” and says, “I cringed when I saw you roll up to that chin stand with those sickled feet.”

Next we see the CADC duo, Brandon and Sam, do a Latin number. Sam wears royal blue fringe pants (I so need a pair of those) and matching top; Brandon wears black pants and a royal blue shirt. They are both very good dancers and they give a solid performance.

AUDC’s Chloe, Maddie and Kendall go next with their “We Believe” trio. They wear pretty rhinestone embellished orange costumes with short fringe skirts. There are lots of turns and they dance well together. Abby compliments them with tells them “Nice job, ladies” and calls the performance “excellent.”

Chloe, Kendall and Maddie on Dance Moms
Chloe, Kendall and Maddie perform their "We Believe" routine
The Candy Apples boys perform their group number. No-one calls them the “Apple Core” this week, but I still want to know why they're not called the “Apple Corps” (it’s much more clever), and also, where was Zack last week? Why doesn’t anyone mention it this week? Anyway, the boys do their Depression-era themed “Machine Lines” dance, and it looks very good. They wear pants with suspenders and newsboy caps, and one of them carries a sign that says “Will Work for Food”.

The last dance we see is ALDC’s group number, a Contemporary piece called “Return to Grace”. They wear light blue costumes with chiffon skirts. The way the dance is filmed it’s hard to compare it to the CADC number, but it’s a pretty dance.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Petite Solo Division Asia wins 1st place. When they crown her in her puppy costume, Abby says it looked like “Best in Show”. Also, kudos to Maddie for being so supportive of the new girl – she was clearly rooting for Asia. In the Duet or Trio Junior Division, Abby’s trio takes 2nd place, Cathy’s duo winds 1st place. Then the emcee announces that in the Junior Small Group Division, the winning team had a perfect score of 300, and that group is… Cathy’s boys with their “Machine Lines” routine.

As the ALDC sit in their dressing room, Cathy and her entourage show up to gloat about their win. Cathy asks for a broom because of her “clean sweep”, and she gives the ALDC a backhanded compliment saying, “In spite of your loss, you did great today.”

One of the dance dads from the CADC suggests that Abby and Cathy should make up, but Abby isn’t having it. She says Cathy is, “dirt under my feet… she hit me and there is no going back… she does not walk in my circle, she does not live in my world.”

I’m with Abby on this one. Cathy’s been a jerk to Abby, and while Cathy has some great dancers and routines at her studio, she didn’t train them and she didn’t choreograph them. If Cathy ever wins with her own dancers and routines, that will be something to crow about. Until then, if she finds that broom she was asking for, she should use it to clean up her act.


What did you all think of this episode? Are you hoping Asia will be a permanent cast member? Do you think she's going to replace Mackenzie? Were you happy to see Candy Apple Cathy? Leave a comment and let us know!

To see all of our Dance Moms coverage click here.

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

Photos courtesy of Lifetime:
Asia and Kristie photo and trio photo ©Karolina Wojtasik
Asia AUDC photo ©Adam Taylor