'Dance Moms' Tell-All, Part 2 Reunion Focuses on Asia Ray, Sophia Lucia

Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller does Asia Ray's makeup while Kristie watches
Kristie watches Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller do Asia Ray's makeup

Dance Moms “Tell-All, Part Two” (episode 20) is the conclusion of the mid-season 3 reunion show. It is hosted by Executive Producer, Jeff Collins, and features studio owner Abby Lee Miller and the Dance Moms revealing the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding their hit show. “Tell-All, Part One” focused on the fights between moms Christi and Kelly, and Abby and her nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein. “Tell-All, Part Two” hones in on the group’s feelings about newcomers Kristie and her daughter Asia Ray, and Jackie and her daughter Sophia Lucia. Cathy makes a return appearance on this episode, they all field questions from the audience, and the dancelings from the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) perform. This is the last new Dance Moms footage until June, 4, 2013, when Lifetime begins airing the second half of season 3.

“Tell-All, Part 2” begins with Jeff Collins and Abby Lee Miller on stage, and they waste no time getting started.  Jeff asks Abby how newcomers Kristie (Asia Ray’s mom) and Jackie (Sophia Lucia’s mom) fit into the ALDC. Abby offers that, “They were nice, they were respectful, they followed my rules… with the other moms, I think there was a lot of jealousy.”

Jeff wonders if Abby thinks that what goes on in the Dance Moms mezzanine (the observation room where they all sit and talk while their daughters rehearse) may have played into running off paying customers? Abby responds, “Oh pffft, they’ve been running off customers for years – ridiculous.”

Regarding Sophia Lucia, the young dance phenom Abby recruited to replace ALDC star Maddie Ziegler during the infamous Dance Moms walkout of 2013, Abby is asked why Sophia and Maddie never compete against each other. She responds that she had planned for them to do a tap duet, but it didn’t happen after Sophia left the ALDC.

Jeff queries Abby as to who she thinks is the better dancer, Sophia or Maddie, and Abby answers that they are “very different dancers,” and “I’m not going to sit here and tell you one is better than the other.” She goes on to say that Sophia has had more opportunities and is dynamic, but that Maddie hears and feels the music - that’s why she never wanted them to compete; she wanted them to learn from each other. A little later she does admit that having Sophia as part of the ALDC “rocked Maddie’s world.”

I have mixed feelings about this answer. I think as a competitive performer it’s important to know who’s better than you so you can improve, so Abby’s not doing either dancer any favors by gilding her lily of an answer. However, I do wish Abby had taken this diplomatic approach with Maddie and Chloe instead of making the team vote for who they though was better in season 3, episode 15.  There’s a difference between constructive criticism and a contest designed to purposely make one student feel bad.

When Jeff asks Abby the same question comparing Maddie’s sister Mackenzie and “new girl” Asia Ray (a recent ALDC addition – she’s from Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition aka AUDC), Abby says that Asia is a “rock star” and a “absolutely a better performer,” but that Mackenzie knows more about Broadway and dance history.

An audience member asks Abby if she thinks the other moms were jealous of Kristie because of her physical attributes (Kristie is stunning: a less made up, less accessorized ringer for Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger), and without hesitation Abby answers “Yes! So am I!” Frankly, I don’t see how Kristie hasn’t been given her own show and/or a hosting or modeling gig – she’s gorgeous. 

Jeff brings Kristie to the stage – she’s in an elegant white gown. She’s asked if she was worried about fitting in with the other Dance Moms, and she answers that she and Asia joined the ALDC because they appreciate Abby, that as an outsider she knew she was never going to fit in the world of the moms who had been together for so long, and that since her only goal was to move her daughter forward in the business, fitting on wasn’t an issue anyway. She also says that Asia thrives in an atmosphere of tough love, and that Abby’s demeanor prepares her for the real world.

Abby thinks the Moms believe Kristie has ulterior motives for joining the team. From the green room Kelly points out that most people in the business want to leave Pittsburgh, PA for L.A., not the reverse, which is apparently what Kristie and Asia have done. Abby tells Jeff that in one 30-minute teaching session, she fixed things with Asia, and that she’s the right teacher for her.

When Abby is asked what Asia brings to the ALDC that the other girls don’t have, Abby cites, “energy, excitement and a whole lot of sass… she has a tremendous work ethic”. We see this first-hand when Asia does her “Ready for War” solo, a tribute to WWII icon Rosie the Riveter. It’s a fun jazz number that Asia performs in grey pants, a white button down shirt over a red tank top, and a red head scarf.

Kendall performs next, doing her “Look at Me Now” solo in a chartreuse, two-piece skirted costume. I think these kids are three inches taller every time I see them.

An audience member asks Kristie her side of the story regarding the fight between her and Chloe’ mom, Christie, and Kendall’s mom, Jill. This is referring to a multi-episode argument the moms had about whether Asia was crying in response to Abby’s criticism and/or because she was tired and overworked in rehearsal (Jill and Christi’s assertion), or because she was sad Abby yelled at her duet partner, Nia (Kristie’s explanation). Kristie thinks Asia’s strong nature bothers the other moms, and that they think she doesn’t let Asia cry.

Jill has a reason for wanting other kids to be portrayed as criers: her own daughter Kendall appears to be tender-hearted, and is often seen in tears (but she is getting stronger and tougher). It’s hard to say why Christi is pushing the issue. Anyway, they take their seats on the stage and they go round-and-round with this argument. Abby chimes in that the girls of the ALDC are privileged so they shouldn’t cry, and Christi points out that even though they have things to be grateful for, they are still human beings. Kristie says, “If they’re going to cry over what Abby says to them, they’re not going to make it in the world of dance,” and “if they’re crying too much, you need to pack up and leave.” Back stage, Melissa – mom to Mackenzie and Maddie –  tells Jackie that when Asia talks about Abby, it’s rehearsed.

When Jeff asks Kristi if she and her daughter will be returning to the ALDC, she says “Asia loves Abby… it’s all up to Asia.” Then, Jill asks, “Asia is a hot mess in the group dance, why would you bring her in?” (good grief, Jill!), and Christi says she’d like to see Asia come back and compete against Mackenzie. If you’ve been watching season 3, you’ll recall that Asia and Mackenzie never competed head-to-head due to Mackenzie’s foot injury. Some of the Moms believe that the foot problem was a ruse to keep mac from having to dance against Asia.

Sophia Lucia takes the stage to do her “Superstar” solo in a red two-piece costume and headpiece festooned with feathers.

Then Melissa comes on stage, and she’s asked how she felt when Abby said Sophia was “the new Maddie.” She says, "it is what it is," and that Maddie learned from Sophia. When Abby is asked how Sophia’s mom fits in with the group she responds with her own question: “Who cares?”

Sophia’s mom Jackie takes her place on the panel, and Jeff asks her if Melissa and Kelly ran her off the team.  She responds that she didn’t want her daughter exposed to the fighting and negative atmosphere, that dance isn’t about that. In terms of how her daughter handles competition, she says that despite what everyone thinks, Sophia doesn’t win all of the time, and when she doesn’t it lights a fire under her to do better. When she’s asked by an audience member if she thinks Sophia can out-dance Maddie, she says she doesn’t think they should be compared.

Then it’s Mackenzie’s turn to do her “Sweet as lemonade” solo in a yellow, two-piece ruffled shorts and top outfit. She does a good job.

When we come back from the solo and commercial break, Abby is back stage, and the moms continue to talk. Nia’s mom Holly discusses how she feels: “I invested a lot of time in Abby’s studio with my daughter… to have Abby talk so negatively about us…. we’ve been loyal customers and our children are products of her teaching, it is insulting.” When Jackie asks her why she stays, Holly answers, “Nia has improved and she continues to improve, that’s why I stay. Nia likes Abby and loves her team.”

Kelly takes issue with the fact that she is being portrayed as having run Jackie and Sophia out of the ALDC. She says, “I was nothing but nice to you!”, and Jackie says, “I left on my own fee will.” An audience member asks the moms that since it seems like Cathy has dominated the competitions this season,  are they worried about future competitions? Jill offers, “Those boys are older than our girls and they’re different dancers… it’s like comparing apples and oranges.” Kelly adds that the ALDC girls aren’t handpicked, they’ve been dancing together all along, so if they win or lose they’re a team. I want someone to come right out and say that Cathy didn’t train or choreograph her winning students and routines, but no-one does.

Cathy (Nesbitt-Stein, owner of the Candy Apples Dance Center aka CADC) takes her turn onstage, and is immediately asked by Jeff, “What’s your strategy?” She answers that the boy on her team are “very, very happy”, and that she can produce without screaming and yelling.

Then Jeff asks Cathy if she could have any dancer from the ALDC who would it be? She answers that it would be Chloe. First Christi deadpans, “Would you dress her up in a meat suit?,” which is exactly what Cathy did when Chloe danced in a commercial for Mr. Cathy’s jerky business (I’m not making this up). Then, when Christi says Chloe wouldn’t be able to simply walk away from her team, Cathy counters that it wasn’t a proposal, just a figurative answer to Jeff’s question, and finishes by praising herself for choosing Chloe: “I think it’s nice and noble for me to say that.”

Then an audience member asks Cathy who she would NOT have babysit her daughter Vivi-Anne, and she answers that it would be Christi, Kelly or Jill, but she would let Holly or Melissa watch Vivi.

Abby re-joins the panel, and Jeff tells her that Cathy says Abby ignores her at shows. Abby answers, “Cathy doesn’t exist in my world anymore. She struck me.” Cathy says that Abby is upset because she (Cathy) is “interfering with her thunder” and tells Abby, “You are carrying on like a brat.”

Cathy’s mom is in the front row of the studio audience, and a new volley of vitriol ensues:

Abby: “Look at your poor, pathetic mother over there, you disgraced her”
Cathy: “Did you just call my Mom ‘pathetic’?”
Abby says she did, and that Cathy is “a disgrace.”
Cathy’s mom point at Abby and says, “You’re a disgrace”
Abby says, “Crap like you should be shoved down the toilet’.
Cathy retorts that she beat Abby 2-out-of-3 times, “so that’s how crappy I am.”
It goes on for a bit, and then Abby says, “Look at your own kid!”
Cathy warns, “Don’t start on my kid Abby, because you are so obsessed with her,” then she insults Mackenzie's dancing.

At this point Kelly jumps in. The conversation shifts to how Cathy and choreographer Anthony Burrell were critiquing Kelly’s daughter Paige in the “Candy Apple Showdown” episode, and how Abby encouraged her to confront them. 

Regarding Anthony, Cathy responds that she didn’t stick her hand his “up his a$$ to make him a ventriloquist and make him talk”, and then advises her that if Paige is always behind and struggling with the choreography, Kelly should talk to Abby. The she calls all of the moms “tacky”.

Sadly, we find out that Paige declined to do her solo on the reunion special because she was still feeling the sting of the confrontation, which apparently took place only three days prior to the “Tell-All” reunion tapings. Kelly says her daughter Paige is “fabulous,” and I agree.

Jeff asks Abby if she regrets having Paige talk to Cathy and Anthony, and she doesn’t, she says Paige is “a hero” for standing up to them.

Cathy attempts to turn the conversation back to Abby calling her mom “pathetic,” and Abby shoots back with, “I don’t care, she’s nothing to me and neither are you,” Cathy answers, “well you're nothing to me but a big blob.” I wish with all of my heart that this will be the last time we are subjected to Cathy on any iteration of Dance Moms; her ongoing insults regarding Abby’s weight are repugnant.

The reunion show ends on a high note with the team from the Abby Lee Dance Company doing their winning “Rosa Parks” group number. They all wear purple costumes except for the routine’s lead dancer, Nia, who is in white. As always, they are talented, and they are lovely.

I second what show producer Jeff Collins says as he closes the show: “What an exciting season it’s been, I can’t wait to see what’s coming up next!”

Dance Moms returns to Lifetime for the second half of season 3 on June 4th, but until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this season.  What were the high and low points the season so far for you? Who would you rather have as your child's dance teacher, Abby or Cathy? Are you, like me, hoping Asia will return to the ALDC?

To see all of our Dance Moms coverage click here.

Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays on Lifetime

Photo ©Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime