'Dance Moms' Season 3 Finale, "The Big, Not So Easy": Chloe, Asia, Payton Leave

Chloe Lukasiak, star of Dance Moms on Lifetime
Chloe Lukasiak, star of Dance Moms on Lifetime

Previously on Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller and the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) shuffled off to Buffalo to compete in the Masters of Dance Arts Regionals. This week, on the Dance Moms season 3 finale titled, “The Big, Not So Easy” (episode 37) the ALDC is at Nationals in New Orleans; it’s the biggest competition of the year. Before they get a chance to perform, Chloe and Payton are sent home after their mothers, Christi and Leslie, get in a physical fight, and Asia Monet Ray leaves the ALDC forever to accept offers in Los Angeles. Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) also compete at Nationals; this week they're working with choreographer Blake McGrath.

The season 3 finale for Dance Moms titled “The Big, Not So Easy”, opens with our dancelings in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA), at the Off Broadway Dance Studio. It is here that Abby reveals her final pyramid of the season – it’s the ranking system she uses for the ALDC. From the bottom up:
  • Paige: Abby told her to pull in her knees during her tuck, but she didn’t
  • Nia: Strong in partner work, but bad foot and knee placement on certain moves
  • Brooke: Her headpiece fell off on stage.
  • Kendall: Abby starts to tell her, “You have some great attributes…” but before she could get the “BUT” out, Jill (Kendall’s mom) interrupts her saying, “Abby, they (Kendall and Maddie) were the highest score of the day of duets, the duet is two people, why would she be on the bottom of the pyramid?” Abby responds, “Kendall, maybe your mother should keep her mouth shut.”
  • Abby continues, “And next we have Payton! Welcome to the team…for this week.” Abby goes on: “Why Payton? She wants to be part of this team, and she’s gonna do everything she can to help us win.”
  • Chloe: “You know that you were a better dancer two years ago.” At this point in the episode, Chloe is still the reigning National champion.
  • Asia: Abby says she was great as the doll in her duet with Chloe, but was a “hot mess” in the group routine.
  • Mackenzie: Won her division last week, but fell in the group routine.
  • Maddie: “Overall high score on the duet, it was excellent, I feel that you could have done it as a solo.”
After the pyramid, Abby discusses this week’s assignments for Nationals. The group dance will be a tribute to Hurricane Katrina victims; the music is called “Home Again” and was written specifically for the ALDC. Abby says to be fair, everyone will be learning a solo, but there’s a catch: she is going to pair off the girls, teach them the same solo, and then pick one to perform in the competition. This is how Abby teamed the dancers:
  • Brooke vs. Payton: Leslie (Payton’s mom) is “excited” because “my daughter is a star, and she can beat Brooke.”
  • Chloe vs. Kendall : Jill looks thrilled, so Chloe’s mom Christi says, “I’m not really sure why Jill is looking so smug? She thinks that Kendall is going to beat Chloe out for this solo at Nationals? Chloe is the reigning National champion, she beat Maddie last year, I’m pretty sure that she can take on Kendall.”
  • Asia vs. Mackenzie: Kristie (Asia’s mom) looks confident; Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie’s mom) says, “Mackenzie has better technique, but she doesn’t perform the same way Asia does, so Asia will probably be the one that gets picked.”
  • Nia vs. Paige vs. Maddie: Melissa looks pleased; Kelly looks like she over it all. Holly (Nia’s mom) says, “I just want Nia to have a fair chance, but once I heard Maddie’s name I knew it wasn’t going to be a level playing field.”
While the girls rehearse, the moms discuss this week’s assignments. Jill is happy that everyone gets to learn a solo, but Kelly has a problem with it because half of the girls will be “wasting practice time” on a solo they won’t get to perform. Then the talk turns to the Candy Apples team, and Leslie asks who is choreographing for them now.

Over at NOLA's Dance Quarter studio, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and the dancers from the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC)are discussing the same topic. Cathy tells them that Anthony Burrell decided “he was going to play big-time diva and leave (in reality, Anthony is back on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition), so I went out and I got the crème de la crème… this is Blake McGrath. If you don’t’ know who he is, you need to.” Blake has choreographed and danced with big stars including Madonna, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears. The group number Blake puts together for the CADC is a contemporary piece called “Voodoo”; he says it’s a hard number that he would give to a senior company, so it’s going to be challenging for the CADC kids.

Back at the Off Broadway studio, the girls rehearse and the moms hang out. Melissa asks Leslie if she’s excited about the prospect of Payton getting a solo, and of course, she says she is. Christi, however, is not thrilled with what’s going on. First, in an OTF (that stands for "On the Fly"; I learned from Dance Spirit magazine that's what the interview segments are called), Christi tells the camera, “Things are insane here right now, it is the week of Nationals, we’re competing against Cathy, and Abby won’t even tell us who are soloists are.” Then Christi tells them all, including Leslie, that she doesn’t think it would be fair if Payton got a solo, because she isn’t really a member of the team. Leslie responds, “I thinks it’s official that we ARE on the team”, and as Christi protests, Leslie adds, “Let me re-word this then. I don’t give a crap if I’m on your team or I’m not on your team, we’re here, and if she gets a chance to do a solo, let her do a solo”

Abby’s assistant choreographer, Gianna “Gia” Martello, comes in and calls Asia and Mackenzie into rehearsal for their “Dance Doctor”routine. Abby starts their practice by telling them to improv, because she wants to see what they hear in the music. Asia steps right up and starts doing her thing, but Mackenzie lags back, and when Melissa tell her “Just dance,” Kenzie says, “I’m not good at improv dancing.” Melissa quickly becomes exasperated with Mackenzie and says, “If you don’t want to dance, then sit.” Then, Melissa grabs Mackenzie’s arm and tries to drag her to the chair, then she's yelling at her, “That’s ridiculous! Improv!...You do it all the time at home, you’re adorable… Just do it!”

This continues for a minute with Melissa yelling at Mackenzie to dance, then Abby says, “Melissa saw first-hand that Mackenzie doesn’t have it” when it comes to improv. Abby asks Mackenzie what will happen of she sends her to LA for a commercial audition and they ask her to improv? Then she tells Mackenzie, “Right now, put on the spot, you failed.” I don't recall ever seeing a scene on Dance Moms in which the mother was disappointed in her child. It’s one thing when your dance teacher is angry with you, but when your mom agrees with her, it’s awful, and Mackenzie looks crushed. This is truly one of the sadder scenes this season, and I’m surprised by Melissa’s actions. In the middle of it all, Kristie tells us that Asia has won seven times for Abby, and that it would be a no-brainer to have her dance at Nationals.

Kendall and Chloe rehearse their solos, and Jill says she can see the choreography is geared towards Chloe. Then it’s Brooke and Payton’s turn to dance, and then Abby works with Maddie, Paige and Nia. Kelly and Holly know their kids won’t be getting the solo over Maddie; Melissa says “Maddie is a lock this week.”

The rest of the moms are in another room, where Christi shares her theory that Abby is spending more time on Maddie’s group because that’s the only dance she really cares about. Christi also thinks Abby is still upset that Chloe beat Maddie at Nationals last year.

Kelly, Holly and Melissa enter the room. Kelly says there’s no chance in hell Paige is getting the solo, and Holly quickly adds, “or Nia”. Leslie asks Melissa if she thinks Maddie is definitely getting the solo, and Melissa answers that she doesn’t know.

Then, Leslie stirs the pot, and tells Melissa, “While you were in there (the rehearsal room), Christi said that her Chloe was definitely not going to get this solo,” but Christi says that Leslie is twisting her words. Leslie says she feels that Chloe gets every opportunity that Maddie gets, and that “Payton would love to have the opportunity that your daughter gets… You might cry it all the time, but your daughter is not always the victim.”

In the next scene, the Dance Moms head out into NOLA’s French Quarter area, and wind up at Muriel’s Jackson Square Bistro, where they toast to New Orleans and Nationals, among other things. They have voodoo dolls (a popular item with tourists in NOLA), and name them Abby, Cathy and Yvette (she is Candy Apple Hadley's mom, and Kristie's nemesis from season 1 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition). Melissa yells over the balcony, “Does anyone have any beads?,” and then she pulls down one side of her strapless dress to flash a boob (it’s the tourist custom to show your boobs for beads). Then they throw their voodoo dolls off of the balcony.

Kristie interrupts the revelry because she has an announcement: “Asia will be officially done with being a competitive dancer ” after this weekend. Apparently she’s been offered opportunities in LA that will take up all of her time. As they are leaving Muriel’s, Christi and Leslie, who have both been consuming alcohol, start yelling at each other, and wind up in a physical altercation with drinks, voodoo dolls and fists flying. A man runs in to break it up, and Leslie hits him too (I think he may be part of the show’s production crew because he has a walkie talkie).

The next day in rehearsal, the moms disagree about what happened. Jill says that Leslie started it, Kristie says it was Christi’s fault. Kristie is suddenly angry and says, “I’m not playing this stupid game that you guys like to play with the manipulation.” Christi tells her she needs to settle down, but Kristie answers, “No I don’t, because I hate effing liars.” Kristie tells Christi she’s lucky it was Leslie she got in the fight with and not her.

Kristie leaves the room and bumps into Abby, and tells her she’s leaving because she can’t take the lies anymore. It’s a bit disingenuous on Kristie’s part, considering we know that she was already leaving because Asia has offers in LA. Abby is upset because she thinks Asia is a shoo-in to win at Nationals, but she’s surprisingly calm about the news. Kristie tells Abby about the confrontation between Leslie and Christi, and then they both go to tell the team about Asia. Abby begins with, “Girls, it is with great sadness, I have an announcement to make,” and her voice breaks when she delivers the news about “Saying goodbye to a superstar.”

Kristie and Asia leave, and then Abby reads the rest of the moms the riot act for running off Kristie and Asia, and for brawling in the middle of Bourbon Street. Christi says the fight had nothing to do with the ALDC, but Abby reminds her that they are all in NOLA because of the ALDC. Then Abby says, “To say the least it was unsportsmanlike behavior. Christi, you’re out. Chloe is gone for this week. Leslie, you have to take Payton home – you’re gone.

Abby does an OTF: “I would rather take a loss at the National Competition, than to let these two women stay here one more minute, and now I am down three dancers with 24 hours to go before Nationals.”

Abby talks to the team, and tells them how upset she is about the Mom's behavior. There is no time to rest, and she gets to work re-blocking the group number. Then Abby assigns the solos: Maddie, Kendall, and Mackenzie. Melissa is relieved; she thinks with Asia gone, Kenzie will be able to relax more. Abby doesn’t give Brooke, the reigning National champion, a solo.

Finally, it’s the day of the Masters of Dance Arts Nationals. Abby and the team arrive to cheers from the assembled crowd, as does Cathy, who enters the arena right behind her.

Both Abby and Cathy talk to their teams in their respective dressing rooms. Abby gives a pep talk; Cathy asks her group of any of them did a head count when the ALDC was walking in, and points out that Kristie Ray, Christi Lukasiak, and Leslie were all missing, AND there was no-one new walking in with them. Cathy thinks this puts them on an even keel, and says the CADC is going to give the ALDC a run for their money.

Mackenzie, who won her division last year, is up first with her “Dance Doctor” jazz solo. She wears a white two-piece outfit with sparkly hearts on the halter top and skirt. Cute facial expressions!

Kendall goes next with her musical theater solo called “Voodoo Doll”. She wears a black and white one piece costume with green trim. This solo is Kendall’s best performance of the season.

Maddie does her lyrical solo called “Amazing Grace”. She wears an angelic, white costume with short, feathers across her shoulders and matching fascinator. Maddie gives an outstanding performance.

The CADC takes the stage with their contemporary piece called “Voodoo.” They wear all-black, and their choreography is sophisticated with lots of angles, dramatic moves, and interesting lifts. Cathy enjoys the number and thinks her team did well; Abby has a skeptical look on her face.

The ALDC perform their “Home Again” contemporary piece. They wear pale, pink lace costumes with knee-length skirts with ribbon sashes at the waist, and matching headpieces - they look lovely. The piece ends with Maddie alone on stage.

*Editing to add: Several readers have contacted us - publicly through comments, and privately through email - to inquire about the mystery 7th dancer in the ALDC group routine. I believe it is Ally Serigne; she was one of the girls who auditioned for the Abby Lee Dance Company when Abby was looking for replacements during the walkout. I mention Ally in our double recap for Dance Moms Season 3 Episodes 1 and 2. 

The awards ceremony begins, and everyone in the auditorium – the dancers onstage and the audience – all sing “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

In the Elite Mini Solo Division, Mackenzie gets 2nd Place; she does not keep her National title. Abby and Melissa both look shocked, but Melissa does say the girl who beat her was fabulous.
In the Elite Junior Solo Division, Kendall gets 2nd Place. Maddie wins 1st Place, and succeeds Chloe for the National title.

Then it’s time for the group awards. Abby says, “Here we go, this is it. If we don’t win this group number we’re gonna have to walk out of her with our tail between our legs. I am literally shaking. My heart is beating a million miles a minute.” In the Elite Junior Small Group Division, the CADC gets 2nd Place; the ALDC win 1st Place and retain their National title.

Abby says a weight was lifted from her shoulders, and she smiles as she walks backstage with an over-sized check (like the ones you see on game shows) for $1000.

Cathy says, “I have no idea what the future holds; I guess its back to the drawing table.”

The ALDC dancers run into the dressing room and hug Abby. She congratulates Maddie and says the title was an honor that has been deserved all year, and she tells Kendall that she’s “nipping at Maddie’s heels.” Then Abby reminds Mackenzie, “You didn’t win; we would have had a clean sweep.”

Abby addresses the entire team, and informs them that especially now that her mom, Maryen Lorraine Miller (who founded the studio) isn’t well, and that she’s glad they ended their season as National champions. Abby cries when she says her last words of the season 3 finale: “I don’t know what the future holds, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this again. We have to wait and see.”

So what did you all think of Dance Moms season 3? What was your favorite or least favorite moment or episode? What dances were memorable to you? Would you (or your child) like to study dance with Abby? Which mother-daughter duo would you like to see more or less of? Leave a comment and tell us how you feel about Dance Moms.


Next week on the season 3 Dance Moms Reunion Show (September 17 on Lifetime at 8/7c), Christi and Leslie confront each other, Kristie and Jill have words, and it appears that Abby walks out during an argument with Kelly. The reunion will be followed by a new episode of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition 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 Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2013