'Dance Moms' S3 E34 “On Again, Off Again Abby”: Clean Sweep for ALDC

Mackenzie Ziegler and Asia Monet Ray duet on Dance Moms (Lifetime)

Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller was a no-show, so the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) went to a competition without her. Abby's assistant chroeographer, Gianna “Gia” Martello, led the team to victory, AND, Kelly Hyland and her daughters Brooke and Paige (who walked out a few weeks ago after an argument) returned to the ALDC without having to deal with Abby’s anger. This week on Dance Moms season 3, episode 34 titled “On-Again, Off-Again Abby”, Abby is back (sort of), and so is her nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, and she's determined to get her Candy Apples team to number one. Also, Payton doesn't dance with the ALDC this week, and Anthony Burrell doesn't choreograph for Cathy. 

Dance Moms “On-Again, Off-Again Abby” S3 E34 opens with Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie’s mom) stopping by Abby’s house to see why she was missing last week, and to ask if she’s coming to the studio this week. Melissa tells Abby that Maddie needs her back because Nationals are coming up, but Abby sets her straight with, “What Maddie needs and what Abby needs are two different things.” Abby tells Melissa she can “rest assured” that Maddie will have a solo at Nationals.

Abby also reiterates what she said last week: “As long as Kelly is at that dance studio causing everybody stress,” that she won’t be there. The last thing Abby needs now is stress – her mom (Maryen Lorrain Miller) is ill, and she wants to be there for her. Abby says that when her dad was dying and in intensive care, they kept him on life support until her recital was over, and that she never spoke to him again. Abby says she needs time.

So, due to Abby’s absence, her assistant Gianna “Gia” Martello will be running the studio just as she did last week. In lieu of using a pyramid (Abby’s system for ranking the dancers and assigning them routines), Gia holds a quick meeting with the Dance Moms to lay out who will be dancing at this week’s Masters of Dance Competition in Charleston, West Virginia.

The group will do a contemporary piece called “Black and Blue”. Maddie won’t have a solo this week, but she’ll be featured in the group number; it's about how Maddie deals with being picked on. Chloe will do a lyrical solo called “Too Late”; Asia and Mackenzie will do a modern jazz duet called “Cat Fight” (or “We Hit Harder”). Jill is happy for the other girls, but  “really mad” that her daughter Kendall doesn’t have a solo because “this week she needs to prove to Abby she can handle competing on a national level.”

While the girls rehearse, the Moms hang in their den, and Kelly asks what Abby told Melissa about Nationals and who will have a solo. Melissa fudges the truth and tells them Abby said Maddie will “probably” have a solo. They moms don’t believe her, and they squabble over it.

Next, the Moms head out to lunch at The Wooden Nickel, where they talk about Abby and celebrate Kelly’s return. Last week Abby said she wouldn’t come back to the studio until Kelly and her girls leave, so during the lunch, Kelly tells the other moms she’s willing to leave again so the other girls on the team won’t be denied training with Abby.

With two days to go until the competition, Abby shows up at rehearsal. She’s smiling, which Jill points out “should have been the first tip-off that something was wrong”, and Kelly says, “I think my kids are terrified.” Abby turns to Brooke and Paige and asks, “What are you two doing here?”, and then proceeds to tell them if they stay, “You two will be doing solos every single week,” and that they'll have to learn them as fast as Maddie does. Abby says she’s going to work Brooke and Paige so hard they’ll wish they never came back. I believe the sisters Hyland have the talent to meet Abby's challenge. 

After she runs the group routine, Abby motions toward the Mom’s Den, and summons the parents to the rehearsal floor. When Jill asks, “Where in the world were you?”, Abby says she was “at Starpower [Dance Competition] judging”, but when the Moms press her for additional details, Abby says it’s none of their business.

Next, Abby turns her attention to Kelly and asks, “Why are you here?”, and Kelly answers that she’s part of the team. When Abby says Kelly has “an ugly, pathetic mouth,” and that she broke her contract with the ALDC, Kelly tells Abby that SHE broke HER contract to provide students with a “nourishing, healthy environment.”

Abby asks the Moms why they let Kelly go on, and Kelly answers that it's because they agree with her. Abby asks them if this is true. Melissa says “of course not” (no surprise there), and Kristie with a K (Asia’s mom) refuses to be involved (no surprise there either). Only Christi (Chloe’s mom) steps up to defend Kelly. There is some yelling, and for minute it seems like all heck is going to break loose (some "eff-bomb"s and middle fingers fly), but then Abby decides it’s time for Asia and Mackenzie to rehearse, and she tells the Moms they need to “figure out if Brooke and Paige are the best two suitors for the team.”


Over in Canton, Ohio, Cathy meets with her team at the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC), and this week, Zack Torres is back; Cathy says he’s “been off working professionally.” However (and much to my chagrin), choreographer Anthony Burrell isn’t in the studio. Cathy feels that without him there, she can focus more on the upcoming Nationals instead of playing referee with Anthony and the parents.

Cathy does her “Apple Tree” – it’s her version of Abby’s pyramid. From the bottom up it’s Zack (“it’s hard to be at the top when you aren’t with us performing); Mari (Cathy mentions an issue with her arms; her mother says Mari's place on the tree is "an insult to the dance community"); Nicaya (she doesn't have the training the other dancers have); Hadley (Cathy tells her to be more aggressive this week); and in the top spot it’s Lucas – Cathy wants him to lead the team.

The CADC will also be competing at Masters of Dance, and predictably, Cathy’s main goal is to beat Abby. The CADC group dance will be a contemporary piece called “Phoenix Rising". In terms of solos, Cathy thinks that the ALDC’s “Chloe isn’t as strong as she used to be” (for the record, I totally disagree with Cathy, Chloe is more lovely than ever), and chooses Zack to dance against her. Zack’s solo is called “Rescue”, and he says he’ll be able to dance better without Anthony. I think all of these parents and kids who think Anthony is too hard on them should toughen up. Anthony Burrell is a highly sought after professional dancer and choreographer, and working with him is a privilege.

Cathy and the team begin working on “Phoenix Rising”. Cathy says, “Who needs Anthony anyhow, it’s my dance studio and I’m perfectly capable of leading this team to victory.” Yvette (Hadley's mom) is also a dance teacher, and sees Anthony being gone as her chance to “step up and help this team”. Yvette says, “I want this group number to be perfect, because nothing would make me happier than beating Abby after the way she treated Hadley.” Abby infamously called Hadley “roadkill” when she was a contestant on season 1 of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. Yvette puts the team through their paces, then later after watching Zack rehearse with an un-named coach, she tells Zack it's his time to shine and to “dance for a cause, not the applause.”


The ALDC travel to the competition in their usual bus; the CADC arrives in a huge white limo. On the day of the show, the ALDC has to walk through a crowd of Cathy’s supporters to enter the auditorium, and there is almost an altercation when Kristie casually touches Cathy's arm as she navigates her way through the crowd, but the situation is diffuses quickly.

But where is Abby? Though she travels on the bus to West Virginia with the ALDC, she doesn’t show up on the day of the competition. Gia's phone rings, and it's Abby.  Gia asks, “Yeah, hi Ab, are you coming?” and Abby answers, “No, I gotta go”,  and then she hangs up! Why is Abby hanging up on everyone lately? Gia once again takes over: she gives the team a pep talk, then guides them through the show.

From her seat in the audience, Cathy attempts to start a fight with the ALDC moms. Cathy tells Melissa, “By the way, I have had no face lift.” I believe she is referring to a comment Melissa made on one of the Dance Moms Chatter reunions. At some point, Cathy must have said Melissa’s boobs sag, because Melissa threatens to take of her bra so Cathy can see how perky they are. Thankfully, the competition begins before that happens.

Asia and Mackenzie are up first with their “Cat Fight” jazz duet.  They wear hot pink and purple color-blocked costumes with tulle bustles. It’s a cute number with lots of attitude and acro.

Zack goes next with his contemporary “Rescue” solo. He dances shirtless in dark slacks, and is absolutely marvelous with his technical skills and long lines.

Before Chloe takes the stage, Christi says her daughter is more confident without Abby in audience, and that “it’s a winning day for Chloe no matter where she places.” Chloe does her lyrical solo called “I Know it’s Too Late” in a pale pink (or is it white?) skirted costume with red trim. She is elegant and her facial expressions elevate the piece.

Prior to the CADC group number, Yvette is in tears because she wasn’t given proper credit for co-choreographing the routine. She says she crying because, “It’s a piece of me that’s on stage.” Cathy is annoyed and says that “Getting rid of Anthony traded in yelling for tears.” I don’t believe Cathy “got rid” of Anthony – I think he’s not there because he busy working on season two of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition – it premieres at 9/8c on Tuesday, September 3 (see below for detailed scheduling information).

The CADC does their “Phoenix Rising “routine. The boys wear black slacks and the girls wear red and gold costumes that represent fire. I really like this dance; the choreography is very cool.

The ALDC takes the stage for their “Black and Blue” routine. Their striking, unadorned costumes feature asymmetrical skirts, and all of the girls are in black except for Maddie, the featured dancer, who is in royal blue and sports a huge makeup shiner over one eye. Maddie does a lovely job with her turns.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Elite Mini Duo or Trio Division, Asia and Mackenzie win 1st Place. In the Elite Junior Solo Division, Zack gets 2nd Place, and Chloe wins 1st Place. In the Elite Junior Small Group Division, the CADC takes 2nd Place, and the ALDC wins 1st Place.

Backstage, Christi tells Zack’s mom Gina that “Zack is amazing, Chloe’s better technically”. A little later, Christi says she’s glad Cathy flew out to the competition on her broom “because I really needed it for the clean sweep.”

When Melissa calls Abby to tell her about the ALDC’s wins, Abby says she already knows, and then she hangs up!

Over on the CADC dressing room, the adults are upset. Yvette says they were “robbed”, and Cathy says, “We don’t have a winning team… there’s no Nationals for us.” The episode ends with Cathy crying on Yvette’s shoulder.


Before we close out this recap, we have important scheduling notes for Dance Moms that come direct from our sources at the Lifetime Network:
  • Next week on Dance Moms season 3, episode 35 titled “Diva, Las Vegas” the Abby Lee Dance Company goes to Sin City.  This Dance Moms episode will air airs on Tuesday, August 27 at the show's regular time,  at 9/8c on Lifetime. 
  • On Tuesday, September 3, and Tuesday, September 10 - the Dance Moms season 3 finale - the show will be on one hour earlier, so be sure to tune in on both dates at 8/7c. 
  • The reason Dance Moms will be on earlier, is because season 2 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition premieres September 3 on Lifetime at 9/8c.
To see all of our Dance Moms recaps click here
For our Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition recaps click here

Photo courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2013