|Abby Lee Miller and her team from the Lifetime TV show Dance Moms|
Previously on Dance Moms, the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) was in the Sheer Talent Competition, and only came in third place. This was a letdown for teacher Abby Lee Miller, especially since her girls are the current National Champions. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 2 titled, "Two Can Play this Game," the ALDC competes against Abby's nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples team, and Abby assigns Chloe to dance against Kendall for the #2 spot, a move that leads to mama drama between Christi and Jill. However, it's Payton and her mom Leslie who have it toughest this week; Abby thinks Payton's too tall for the team, and publicly tells Leslie to "shut up".
As Dance Moms S4 E2 begins, the ALDC reports for rehearsal, and Abby is still unhappy about the previous week's competition results (season 4, episode 1). In a voiceover she says, "Last week was a disaster," before remarking to the team, "One day, national champions, the next day, third place," and reminding them that at this week's Believe Talent Competition in Columbus, Ohio, they'll be going up against Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples team. Abby admits, "I am not as confident as I should be, let's just say that."
Cathy is Abby's nemesis and tension is always high when they compete, so this prompts Christi (Chloe's mom) to say, "Oh goody, we're gonna see Cathy this weekend, and that just means that Abby's level of crazy is gonna go from here to here (motions from her chin to over her head), and now that Abby is having these whole open calls, that means if our kids lose to Candy Apples they're next on the chopping block for Abby to replace them."
Abby then reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the ALDC. It is almost always based on the results from the previous week's competition results, although sometimes other factors such as favoritism or issues with the parents color the results. This week though, the pyramid is straightforward; here it is from the bottom up:
Payton: Abby was unhappy that she was crying in the dressing room last week.
Brooke: missed a whole four counts of the routine.
Nia: was good, but Abby thinks she needs to work on performing the choreography.
Mackenzie: was fooling around in the dressing room.
Paige: was part of the winning trio, but could have done a better job.
Kendall: same critique as Paige; she was good, but could have been better.
Chloe: has the look and her technique shines through; she can nail it no matter what.
Maddie: had the overall high score winning routine at the last competition.
Then Abby chides the dancers: "I told every single one of you over the break that this is not going to be another year of Maddie working her butt off and you all sitting around." To that end, Maddie will not be doing a solo this week, but both Chloe and Kendall will be doing jazz solos so that Abby can determine who her number two girl is. Chloe will be doing a Katy Perry-inspired dance called "Hear Me Roar," and Kendall will be doing a Lady Gaga-inspired routine called "Demand Applause". The ALDC group number is a lyrical piece called "Just Another Number" because in Abby's eyes, each of the dancers is "just another number, easily replaceable."
While the girls rehearse, Abby talks about "Just Another Number," and says she's "trying to teach the children if they were clones, if everybody did what Maddie did, then the routine would be perfection." Abby also points out how Payton's size and maturity make her stand out, and not in a good way, especially with this week's clone vibe. A little later during rehearsal, Abby again voices her concern "about Payton even being in this number," because she doesn't look enough like the rest of the girls, and says that her height makes her look like "Land of the Giants."
Up in the mom's loft, they discuss how once again, the girls are dancing to a theme with the message "you could be replaced" and "you are not special." There is a bit of mama drama when Christi lets on that she knows that Jill's daughter Kendall had a private lesson with Gianna Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer) two days prior to Abby giving out the assignments, and that the dance she was working on is the solo she's doing this week. This means that Jill knew Kendall was getting a solo going into this week's pyramid, although Jill says she didn't know it would be this particular week. This bothers Christi though, because it means that Kendall has the advantage over Chloe in this week's competition due to having an extra half-hour class and two extra days to practice.
Meanwhile, at the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) in Canton, Ohio, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is preparing her team to compete with the ALDC. This week, Cathy is determined to unseat Abby as the "Queen of Lyrical" dance, so the CADC will be doing a lyrical number called "I Believe" by Cathy's new choreographer, Blake McGrath.
Nicaya (even taller and prettier this season) and her mom Kaya (aka Black Patsy) are still on the CADC team, as are Hadley and her mom Yvette, and Zack and his mom Gina (the latter two are from the season 1 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition), and Lucas and his mom Brigette.
Cathy begins her dance assignments by pulling a bait and switch, first praising Nicaya and making it look like she would get a solo, but then saying, "…but I wanna win this week, so Lucas, you have a solo." Kaya is justifiably annoyed by this, and cracks that she respects that Brigette "slept her way to the top," as in, hung out with Blake every week since Nationals. A minor back-and-forth between the moms begins to unfold, and Cathy takes the easy way out saying that they are "all big girls, so I'm gonna let you work this out on your own, but I have one thing to say that's very, very pivotal: what Blake does on his own time is Blake's business."
Later, during rehearsal, Kaya tells Blake she thinks he's "over-choreographing" the group number. He snaps back, "So you would like me to dumb it down for you?," and Cathy dismisses Kaya's concerns with "we are totally wasting time right now so let's get back to business," so Kaya walks out. Season 3 Kaya would have stuck around and fought her point, but maybe she's choosing her words and her battles more carefully this year.
Finally, it is the day of the Believe Competition.
First up is Candy Apple Lucas; he performs a Spanish-inspired contemporary dance in a plain black button down shirt and black pants. Lucas is a very natural dancer, and his extensions are beautiful.
There is some confusion because Jill thought Kendall was dancing last, but she actually goes up next, and dances in a white two piece costume with shorts and halter top covered in multi-colored flower appliques. Early in her routine, she falls out of a turn sequence, but she recovers well and does a good job with the rest of her number. In the audience, Abby and the moms discuss what made Kendall stumble, and whether the floor is sticky or slippery. Abby says Maddie did ten turns backstage, and down the row Leslie says, "They're using jazz shows too, Maddie is using a half sole." This angers Abby, who tells Leslie to "shut up." Leslie is a tough mama so it takes a lot make her cry, but this does it; it's sad to see her sobbing.
Chloe does her number in an orangey-red and gold costume with a cut out waistline and a ruffled tulle halter neckline. It's a cute routine, and she does a wonderful job. Chloe always looks like her mother, but this week it's almost like watching Christi dance – they are twins now.
For their group number, the ALDC girls wear shiny charcoal colored skirted costumes, and they have barcodes on their backs. It's a cool routine without mistakes.
The CADC goes last with their group dance – the girls wear pretty petal pink costumes with long chiffon skirts; the boys are shirtless in black pants. There's a lot going on in this number, but it all ties together for a nice routine.
The awards ceremony begins. In the 9-11 Solo Advanced Category, Kendall is awarded 5th Place; Lucas gets 4th Place; Chloe gets 2nd Place. In the 9-11 Small Group Category, the CADC is awarded 2nd Place; the ALDC wins 1st Place.
Backstage, only Yvette cheers for the Candy Apples when they enter the dressing room. Cathy is busy going over why the Candy Apples only came in second, and concedes that maybe Kaya was right when she said the group number was over-choreographed.
There IS cheering in the ALDC dressing room, but it's short-lived, as the team quickly gets a reminder from Abby that it's just the beginning of the season, and that she's holding open auditions, so any of them could be replaced. Abby tells Chloe that she was supposed to dance before Kendall, but that the mix-up in their order gave her a leg up and she made it work to her advantage. Then, Chloe, receives rare words of encouragement from Abby, who tells her that she has earned her spot as the number two girl behind Maddie.
Payton doesn't fare well though: Abby tells her she has had "countless opportunities to be part of this team, but your mother's behavior today is unacceptable, and I don't want you to follow in her footsteps." Leslie stands up for herself again because it's not okay that Abby told her to "shut up," but Abby just yells at her, "stop fighting, I'm not the enemy, I'm your kid's best friend." Leslie doesn't back down though, because she was disrespected, and she says, "You were wrong, Abby, you were wrong." They fight a little more, and then Leslie walks out, perhaps sealing her daughter's fate. Abby says, "Payton, it looks like you were just another number." Payton is shown in the previews for next week though, so we'll see…
Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 3 titled "Abby Strikes Back" (January 14, 9/8c), we see the open call open call auditions for the AUDC in Orlando, Florida; Jill accuses Christi of lying to give Chloe an advantage (maybe about the lineup switch in this week's competition?); Abby assigns Brooke, Paige and Chloe a trio that challenges Brooke's pop star credentials.
Important scheduling notice: before episode three airs, there will be a one hour Dance Moms Cares Special (January 14, 8/7c) in which Abby deals with her mother's cancer (Abby's mom is dance teacher Maryen Lorrain Miller), and the ALDC competes in a competition that benefits the fight against cancer.
Did you like this week's episode of Dance Moms? Did it shock you that Abby praised Chloe? What would you have done if you were in Leslie's shoes? Were you surprised at how mellow Kaya was? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
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Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime
Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014