Dance Moms' Season 3, Episode 36 Recap: Do Si Do and Do Si Don't

Kendall Vertes from Dance Moms on Lifetime
Kendall Vertes from Dance Moms on Lifetime

Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller and Kelly Hyland took steps toward reconciling their differences, and Abby made a point of telling Kelly’s daughters, Paige and Brooke, that she was hoping to see them in class on Monday. This week on Dance Moms season 3, episode 36 titled “Do-Si-Do and Do-Si-Don't”, it seems like they’ve moved on, but there’s still plenty of drama with Maddie being selected as the focus of a Dance Spirit Magazine article, and Abby and the team preparing for Nationals.

Dance Moms S3, E36 titled “Do-Si-Do and Do-Si-Don't”, begins in Pittsburgh, PA, with Abby revealing her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC). The pyramid is almost always based on the results from the previous week’s competition, although occasionally ego and favoritism find their way into the equation.

The pyramid from the bottom up:

Mackenzie (she didn’t dance with the team last week); Paige (“Although the solo didn’t work out too well, I thought you pulled it together and you did a nice job with the group routine”); Brooke (Abby doesn’t think what was in the number showed off her assets).

Next is Nia – Abby tells her, “I thought all through rehearsal you were outstanding, and then you stepped out on stage…” and she asks Nia what happened. Nia says her hat messed her up, and Abby responds by telling her that she was in a theater when a man’s hand was severed by a set coming down, and nobody missed a beat of their dance. Holly tell the camera that she expects her daughter to keep dancing if her hat falls off, but “if Nia’s hand gets chopped off, she’s going to stop dancing, and she's going to mess up the group routine.”

Then Kendall is named, and Abby says, “It was it was your big audition for Nationals - you blew it. Tell me what happened to that number.” Kendall admits she was nervous because she watched a few solos before hers, and Abby reveals one of her tricks of the trade: no matter how many mistakes you make in your performance, always exit the stage saying, “I nailed it” to psych out the competition out. Also, don’t watch the dancers right before you.

Chloe is next on the pyramid (Abby says, “You’re kinda flying under the radar this week,” but Christi asks “how is getting first place and beating Zack two weeks ago flying under the radar?”); right above Chloe is Maddie (“You came out of that curtain blazing and you pulled the focus”); at the top of the pyramid it’s “The invincible Asia”, who has “proven to be undefeated.”

This week the ALDC is going to shuffle off to Buffalo, NY, for In10sity Dance. It’s especially important that they do well at this show because this is Regionals, where it will be decided who qualifies for Nationals, and it’s the girls’ last chance to impress Abby and earn a spot in the competition.

Abby assigns the team’s routines: the Group Dance is a hoe-down called “Country Cuties”; Mackenzie gets a solo called “Reach for the Stars” (Abby tells her, “You don’t have too far to reach; the star is right next to you” – she’s referring to Asia); Maddie and Kendall will do a contemporary duet called “Bodies Electric”; Asia and Chloe will do a contemporary duet called “The Doll”.

Then Abby has some news: she informs the team that Dance Spirit Magazine contacted her about doing a story on a day in the life of an Abby Lee Dance Company member. Abby says she thought it would be unique if they did a piece about the whole elite competition team, but they only want to feature Maddie. No-one is surprised.

The team rehearses the group routine: it’s a difficult piece loaded with tricks and partner work, and it requires stamina. Kelly notices that there is a lot more acro in this number than usual, and as the moms watch from their den/loft, they oooh, ahhh, point and cringe along with the action. Melissa worries that Mackenzie will fall during the part of the routine that has her walking on her hands for 48 counts.

Rachel (reporter) and Nate (photographer) from Dance Spirit Magazine show up at Melissa’s house - they are going to follow Maddie with cameras all day. Jill shows up at Melissa’s house too, and fibs that she's there to pick up Kendall's dance bag, but she's really there to see if she can get Kendall in on the shoot. Melissa knows this, but seems unfazed. Jill pulls out Kendall’s magazine cover from Dance Track Magazine, and has an iPad with photos of Kendall on it. Jill asks Rachel how Maddie was picked, and it turns out that “Abby said “Maddie would be great.” Right in front of Melissa, Jill says, “Abby sometimes has blinders on for Maddie. Maddie, Maddie, Maddie [Marsha, Marsha, Marsha]. It is what it is, lots of studios go through that, and you know what? If Kendall can even be close to Maddie I’ll take it.” Jill may be pushy, but at least she’s not sneaky.

With two days until competition, Dance Spirit Magazine is in the studio to work on “A Day in the Life of Maddie”. The Dance Moms grill Rachel about how Maddie was chosen, and she tells them “it was a mutual decision” between the magazine and Abby. Then she says it’s going to be a “fly on the wall” photo essay that will show how crazy and hectic Maddie’s life is, but also show that these are just normal kids. Later, Christi says that Maddie doesn’t live the life of a typical dance kid because she’s Abby’s favorite, and Kelly says that Abby knows that by picking Melissa and Maddie, she can control what they say and what goes in the article. The moms agree that Abby is nicer when the magazine people are around, and they joke that the mag should write an ALDC article every week to keep Abby in a good mood.

Maddie and Kendall rehearse their duet, and Abby says if Kendall can’t keep up with Maddie, then Maddie will do the number as a solo. Abby calls Jill down to the rehearsal room to discuss Kendall. Abby wants Kendall to go on stage and rise to the occasion, and says that she won’t allow Kendall to go on stage and tarnish Maddie’s reputation. Jill asks if the routine is actually choreographed to be a winning number, a question Abby finds to be extremely insulting, so she yells at Jill and sends her back to the Mom’s Den.

Holly thinks the group dance “looks a hot mess”, but all Jill can think about is Maddie and Kendall’s duet. Christi tells Jill that Holly said all of Jill’s dreams have come true now that Kendall is dancing with Maddie. Jill says, “How stupid would you be not to want your child to dance with Maddie?” Holly says she just wants her child to dance. Christi says Chloe used to be Maddie’s dance partner, but she thinks that now Kendall will be Maddie’s new go-to. Christi repeats the question she asked last week: “Is this part of Abby’s grand plan to phase Chloe out?”

Abby calls all of the moms down to the studio, and Christi jokes that she hopes it’s so Abby can yell at them. She says she hasn’t been screamed at today, and she’s feeling a little empty inside.

Abby runs the group routine two girls at a time so she can check their timing. Abby tells the camera that the number should have been finished and clean on the first day of rehearsal. The moms think it’s a disaster. Melissa says she trusts Abby, and that hopefully the piece will be cleaned up by competition.

Then it’s time for duet rehearsal with Chloe and Asia. For their number, Asia plays Chloe’s possessed doll who comes to life and attacks her. Kristie with a K (Asia’s mom) says she’s “not feeling it,” and she doesn’t think the story is obvious enough for people watching the dance. Christi with a C says she isn’t feeling it either, and she’s not thrilled that Chloe’s shot at Nationals will be judged by this “odd couple pairing.”

Mackenzie rehearses her “Reach for the Stars” routine. Melissa is worried about Mackenzie because she knows how much she wants a solo at Nationals. Abby wants Mackenzie to have a solo too, but says she may have to use Asia, because she has to use her best resources so the ALDC can win. Because Abbi is basing her choices on how well the dancers do at Regionals, she tells Mackenzie, “Don’t let me down.”

The team arrives in Buffalo, and the competition begins with Mackenzie’s “Reach for the Stars” acro solo. She wears a sparkly red skirted costume with a rhinestone collar. Mackenzie does a great job, and I finding myself thinking about how much she has progressed since her “Killer Bee” solo that earned her a first place win at last year’s Nationals.

Chloe and Asia perform “The Doll”, their contemporary duet. They both wear “babydoll” dresses – Chloe’s is solid pink, Asia’s is a floral print. Asia stands out for her acting ability and they way she executes the doll moves. Abby says it was “a little rough around the edges,” and that “Chloe was out-danced by Asia.” I disagree – I think Asia just had a more noticeable role than Chloe did.

Maddie and Kendall perform in bright yellow and lime green costumes with halter necklines. There is a big to-do before they go on that begins when Gia, Abby’s assistant choreographer, corrects Kendall’s posture. Abby starts yelling at Kendall and saying she doesn’t look good in the halter because of her posture, and then Jill is yelling for Abby to leave Kendall alone so she can do the dance without being nervous. In the next scene, Jill tells the camera, “This duet could make or break Kendall’s chances for a solo at Nationals.” The fact is, their choreography is wonderful, and Maddie and Kendall dance very well together: they are in perfect unison, they both have beautiful lines, and they do an excellent job at interpreting the music. After they dance, Maddie and Kendall hug in the wings.

The team gets ready for their Country routine – they wear denim shorts and vests and have their hair in ponytails. Jill, who is wearing chaps and a cowboy hat, does a few dance moves she says she learned from Mackenzie. Considering how much Jill has been yelled at during this episode, it's nice that she still finds ways to have fun.

While this is going on, the team is in the hall practicing, and I tell my husband, who is watching with me, “I hope Mackenzie doesn’t tire her arms out practicing walking on her hands.”

The ALDC team performs their Country dance, and the worst thing that can happen to Mackenzie during this number happens: while she's walking on her hands she falls, and she knows Abby is going to be angry. She says she slipped on someone’s hair, but I think her arms were just tired and gave out.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Elite Mini Solo Division, Mackenzie wins 1st Place, but from the look on her face, it seems she’s too worried about her fall will affect the group routine scores to enjoy it.

In the Elite Junior Duo or Trio Division, Chloe and Asia take 2nd Place; Maddie and Kendall win 1st Place. It is at this point that Jill leans over to Kristie and Christi and says, “There were some good duo/trios, so for you guys, second is really good”. She means it as a compliment, but it’s hilariously rude. They get in an argument about it backstage, but Jill dismisses the whole thing as Christi being mad that Chloe’s duet got second.

In the Elite Junior Small Group Division, the ALDC wins! I’m happy for them, and especially happy that Mackenzie won’t be in as much trouble as she would have been of they had lost. Abby does yell at her a little, but she also tells her how great she was during her solo.

Abby congratulates all of the ALDC dancers on their wins and says, “Girls, one week till nationals - dream it, eat it, breathe it, live it…. you know what it’s going to be like for you guys if the Abby Lee Dance Company loses?”

Next week on the Dance Moms season 3 finale (episode 37) titled “The Big, Not So Easy”, the Abby Lee Dance Company heads to New Orleans to compete at Nationals. In the previews it looks like Christi and Leslie (Payton Ackerman’s mom) have a physical altercation. Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples team are also at Nationals, and this time, Cathy has hired choreographer Blake McGrath. The week after the finale, there will be a reunion show.


On Tuesday, September 10 - the Dance Moms season 3 finale will air on Lifetime at 8/7c, followed by a new episode of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition at 9/8c that will feature routines inspired by Lady Gaga.

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Photo courtesy Lifetime