'Dance Moms' Recap Season 3, Episode 25: No Room for Rotten Apples

Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from the Lifetime show Dance Moms
Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from the Lifetime show Dance Moms

Last week on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller was away shooting season 2 of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC), so we barely saw our girls from the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC). This week we do see a bit of Abby and Maddie Ziegler, but most of Dance Moms season 3, episode 25 titled “No Room for Rotten Apples” is focused on Abby’s nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, and her studio, the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC). Cathy is planning to cut one member from her team, and while most of the talk revolves around dismissing a student, it’s starting to look like Cathy may be considering cutting choreographer Anthony Burrell instead.

This episode begins with Abby still in California shooting the second season of her other hit series, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, and she invites her star pupil, Maddie, to do a solo on the show. Abby insinuates that Maddie was the only one who wanted to fly to Cali to do the show, but it seems odd to me that the other team members wouldn’t jump at the chance. Is this when Dance Moms stars Christi and Chloe were busy getting appearance fees for Meet and Greets? Could this be one of the reasons Abby dislikes them so much? Hmmm.

Over in Canton, Ohio, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein meets with her team at the Candy Apples Dance Center. In last week’s episode titled "An Apple a Day Keeps Abby Away", Cathy said she wants to cut the team from six to five dancers, because she thinks having an odd number is better for staging. The two students most likely to be dismissed are Jalen, because he is a break-dancer and isn’t as versatile as the other kids, and Mari, because she’s new and Cathy isn’t sure about her yet.

Along with planning to ditch a student, Cathy ditches the pyramid – Abby’s infamous student ranking system – and starts using an apple tree instead. Cathy is branching out! Based on the previous week’s performances, Cathy rates the students from top to bottom: Nick, Hadley, Nicaya (she wasn’t present this week), Zack and then Jalen. Campbell wasn’t on the tree because she was dropped from the group number last week, but she plans on sticking around saying, “I’m not here to be friends.”

Cathy tells the team that they are heading to the Masters of Dance competition in Columbus, Ohio, then she assigns their routines. The Group Dance is a hip-hop number called “So Chic” in which they will portray club kids; Nick and Hadley will do a contemporary duet called “Tribal Affair”; Jalen will do his very first solo, a contemporary piece called “One Last Goodbye”; Mari will do a contemporary number called “Still, I Rise”.

Anthony begins rehearsing the group number, and tells the team that being a club kid is about expressing yourself, so he makes them improvise to the music. While this is going on, the parents continue last week’s back-and-forth over who Cathy should cut from the team. Dance Dad Rick thinks his son Jalen should stay on at Candy Apples and Mari should be cut; Mari’s mom, “Gina 2” (Gina 1 is Zack’s mom), obviously thinks the opposite should happen.

Then it’s time for solo rehearsals. Anthony says the challenge is to get Jalen to do a triple pirouette this week, or he’ll be cut. Cathy tells Jalen – a break-dancer known for spinning on his head – he won’t get to do any of his tricks in this routine. In the parent's “Kiss and Cry” room, Rick decides he wants to tape the practice (so he can go over it with Jalen at home). Meanwhile, Gina 2 thinks Mari is being set up to fail because she’s not getting rehearsal time with Anthony the way Jalen is, so she goes into the studio, uninvited, tells Mari to start stretching, and asks Anthony when Mari can start practicing. Nick’s mom Donna tells the camera, “if a parent busted in on my rehearsal, they’d be looking for a new studio.”

Next we see Cathy and her daughter Vivi-Anne at home, and they spend time together cataloging Cathy’s bunny figurine collection. Cathy compares the rabbits to Jill and Abby.

Back in the CADC studio, Mari works on her solo. Anthony, who has worked with BeyoncĂ©, Rihanna, Mary Blige and Katy Perry, says he knows what it takes to make a star, and that “Mari is under-performing because she’s not believing in herself… she needs to be pushed.” Gina 2 says Mari is nervous about working with Anthony, and in the middle of practice, this manifests itself in Mari as an asthma attack. Gina 2 enters the studio to help her daughter, then summons Cathy because she’s “more nurturing” than Anthony. As far as I could tell though, Anthony WAS being nurturing – before the camera cut to Gina 2 heading down the hall toward her daughter, it looked to me like Anthony was comforting Mari.

In the rehearsal for Nick and Hadley’s duet, Anthony says he is excited about the routine. In response to Mari’s asthma attack, Cathy says, “It’s clear to me I’ve given Anthony too much space… I need to have my input and some hands-on with these dancers.” So, Cathy decides that for this competition, she will choreograph all of the routines by herself. Just kidding! Cathy goes into the rehearsal room and tells Hadley when to breathe. No kidding!

During the group rehearsal, Anthony has the boys do push-ups. Cathy and Anthony get in a spat over it, then, when the practice resumes, Jalen, out of nowhere, tells Anthony that he’s making them do push-up “for no reason.” Then Jalen’s dad Rick bursts into the room and asks, “Why aren’t the girls doing push-ups?” Anthony says it’s because the girls “need softer, daintier arms – I’m not going to have the girls looking like He-man.” This is the first time I’ve disagreed with Anthony – I think the girls should do push-ups too, and that they can work out their upper bodies without looking masculine, BUT, since when is it okay for a dance student to refuse to do what a choreographer asks of them (provided it’s not something harmful or dangerous, of course)?

Next we see Rick in confessional mode, crying because when he was young he didn’t have anyone to support or defend him. Jalen cries too, and Rick tells him, “I cannot let someone treat you in that manner,” and also, “I have to protect him, as a parent.”

Cathy tells the camera that Anthony has helped establish her new Candy Apples team, then adds, “but what does it matter if he’s chasing kids away?” Anthony says that Cathy’s weakness is babying her students and, “You have to respect me in my space when I’m in there, that’s the only thing I require.” They argue, but it ends in a hug.

Having spent my childhood as a performer in an atmosphere almost identical to what’s shown on Dance Moms, I find it hard to believe that Anthony – the famous choreographer who has worked with huge names in film, TV, Broadway and the music business – is chasing kids away, let alone stage parents who would hop a shuttle to the moon on a minute’s notice for a good show biz connection.

The action shifts to Los Angeles, and we watch Abby coaching Maddie. She says Maddie has her work cut out for her because she’s walking in cold with no idea about the cameras or how slippery the floor is, and says Maddie has to pay close attention so she always hits her mark. “When this show airs,” says Abby, “we want her performance to be flawless.” A few scenes later, we see that Maddie dances like the pro that she is, and she looks beautiful in the footlights. Abby, who choreographed the number, boasts “Cathy needs to realize she is not in my league.”

Back in Ohio, the CADC arrives at the Masters of Dance competition. Cathy feels that for the second week with this team she has noticed “tension all over the board”, but probably not as much tension as the live rabbit she brings with her feels.

The competition begins with the Junior Solo Division. Mari performs her contemporary number, “Still, I Rise”, in a pretty robin’s egg blue two-piece costume with a tutu and fluttery sleeves. Gina 2 says Mari forgot a step and ad-libbed, and thinks Anthony won’t be happy about it. Jalen does his “One Last Goodbye” dance in black pants with a chair as a prop. What a great little actor Jalen is; he rivals Maddie in the facial expression department. After his performance, Jalen admits he messed up by not doing his triple pirouette. Cathy tells him that next time he has to do the triple, “if there is a next time,” and Anthony critiques Mari’s number saying “half of her dance she just walked around.”

As Nick and Hadley prepare for their performance, there is some minor drama because Hadley’s headpiece is heavy, and she fears it will keep her from dancing well. She sheds a few nervous tears, but ultimately she and Nick both do a great job with their “Tribal Affair” number.

Before the group routine goes on, Anthony brings his friend Malik So Chic (the recording artist who performs the “So Chic” song the CADC kids will be dancing to) backstage to meet the team. Yvette offers, “I’m attracted to Malik, and the reason is he’s so confident in himself.” When the CADC takes the stage to do their number in their colorful, club kid costumes, Malik dances in the audience.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Duo or Trio Division, Nick and Hadley win 1st Place. In the Junior Solo Division, Jalen gets 9th Place, and Mari gets 8th Place. In the Small Group Division, the CADC is awarded 2nd Place.

Backstage, Cathy tells her team that the studio that won first place was very versatile, and “We can’t afford to be average.” What Cathy doesn’t say, is who she’s going to dismiss from the team. In fact, the episode closes with Cathy saying she wants her choreographer to do some soul searching, and she asks, “Is Anthony the Apple that’s going to get cut?”

For real, Cathy? I am going to be very upset if Anthony leaves, although I’ve been wondering how long he can stay with the CADC given his status as an in-demand choreographer.

I don’t think we’ll find out next week though, because episode 26 is a sit-down with the show’s executive producer, Jeff Collins, called “Dance Moms Chatter, Part 1.” Expect some fireworks – Kaya Wiley aka Black Patsy is going to be there.

How did you all like this week’s Dance Moms? Do you think Anthony Burrell is too tough, or do you think his style of coaching is just what Cathy and the Candy Apples need? Who do you think should be cut from the Candy Apples team? Are you enjoying these episodes without Abby, or do you want the regular Dance Moms crew back. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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

Cathy Nesbitt-Stein photo ©Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013