'Dance Moms' Recap S4 E3 Abby Strikes Back: Orlando Auditions

Studio owner and dance teacher Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms

Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller made Chloe and Kendall compete head-to-head to determine who would be her #2 girl (Maddie is #1) in the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC). Chloe won, but Kendall's mom Jill thought Chloe had an unfair advantage after the lineup was changed and Kendall danced first instead of last. Meanwhile, Abby and Leslie (Payton's mom) argued, and Leslie walked out. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 3, titled "Abby Strikes Back", Abby holds ALDC auditions Orlando, Florida. The moms (except for Melissa) worry that their daughters will be cut from the team, and it looks the worst for Payton after she suffers an ankle injury and leaves the competition on a stretcher.

Dance Moms S4 E3 "Abby Strikes Back" opens with the girls and their moms arriving for rehearsal. Leslie, who fought with Abby last week says, "Payton's back to dance. I know I walked out but, you didn’t throw me out." Abby responds, "I didn't throw you out, and I don’t want to throw you out. I just want you to realize you go off, and you take all these things so personal…"

While they are talking, Jill comes in and hands Abby a little gift bag and proceeds into the studio. As Abby opens the bag and squeals over the gift – hoop earrings – Leslie deadpans, "I guess Kendall gets another solo, right?" In a confessional, Abby refers to Kendall's scores in last week's competition and says, "I guess she realized that 5th place has landed her kids butt in the hot-seat."

Abby announces that this week she's holding auditions in Orlando, Florida, and she's looking for the next big thing. Jill (Kendall's mom) and Christi (Chloe's mom) are both nervous that it's their daughter that Abby is looking to replace. Abby asks Melissa if her daughters Maddie (Abby's favorite) and Mackenzie can travel to Orlando early to help with the auditions. Leslie, not content to leave well enough alone, begins to lodge a complaint saying that Payton could do it too. Abby chastises her, but luckily, the situation diffuses quickly.

Next, Abby reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the dancers in the ALDC. The pyramid is usually based on how well the girls did at the previous week's competition, and sometimes, like this week, factors like ego and Abby's issues with the moms color the results. This week's pyramid from the bottom up:

Payton: Is at the bottom due to her Leslie's standing up to Abby, who says, "You knew that was coming and it's sad because you're not there because of your dancing."
Kendall: Came in 5th at last competition, Abby is "looking for #1"
Nia: "I'm still seeing technical issues."
Paige: "Nice job in the group routine, and your mother didn’t interrupt."
Mackenzie: "I almost pulled you out of the number."
Brooke: Abby wants her to be able to do her singing and dancing, not just one thing.
Chloe: Abby thinks she's playing it safe, holding back.
Maddie: "Outstanding work". Maddie is the only one who is safe on the team.

After the pyramid, Abby assigns the routines for this week's competition, the In10sity Dance Invitational in Orlando. The group routine is a lyrical piece Abby calls "Losing You," (because she might be replacing one of them), but later she says it's called "Team Spirit" (and then at the competition it's announced as "Smells Like Team Spirit"); Maddie will be doing a lyrical solo called "Down My Spine"; Mackenzie will do a jazz-acro solo called "Take it to Go"; Brooke will be the lead dancer in a jazz trio with Chloe and Paige called "Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil".

Rehearsal begins, and the Moms head for their loft to observe and gossip. Holly (Nia's mom) thinks Abby is more excited about the auditions than the competition. Leslie baits Melissa and says that in Orlando Abby could find two dancers just as good as or better than Maddie and Mackenzie, but Melissa says they'll cross that bridge when they get to it. Jill is annoyed with Christi about the lineup in last week's competition being switched, and tells Christi it was "sneaky." Christi says that Chloe simply asked the backstage manager if she could go last. Jill is upset that they broke the rules (no-one is supposed to change the order that Abby assigns), but Kelly (Brooke and Paige's mom) points out, "We know here nobody follows the rules." Then, Leslie tells them how Jill gave Abby a present.

On the rehearsal floor, Abby says that if Brooke wants to be a pop star, she needs to learn how to sing and dance at the same time. Jill sees it differently though – she thinks Abby is so desperate to be involved with Brooke's music career that she's revolving a routine around it and teaching her to lip sync. Kelly adds that the reason she doesn't have Abby as Brooke's manager is because they want to handle her career their way.

While Maddie runs her solo, Abby makes Mackenzie wait on her hand and foot so she gets into character playing a waitress in her solo. Kenzie points out that waitresses get tips, so after she rubs Abby's feet, she gets paid.

In Orlando, a large crowd of dancers and their parents cheer as Abby arrives to conduct the auditions. "Today is the big day," says Abby, "I am gonna find kids who want to get better, who want to attend Booty Camp, who want to give me their very best."

Maddie runs the dance combination with the hopefuls, and they do it over and over while Abby makes cuts. Fans of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition season 2 will notice Haley Hulesman in the group: she's wearing a pink top with black trim and a white or silver scrunchie in her bun. Haley is standing alone when Abby says, "It's going to get ugly in here," and she standing right next to Abby when she says, "Hold. Everybody else better be thinking, thinking, thinking. What did they do right what did they do wrong. How can I learn from them?" JoJo Siwa was also there too, and she was in the In10sity competition too.

A few girls and moms wind up in tears after being cut, and when one mother asks for "one more chance," Abby snaps, "Let me know when she's on Broadway, I'll get tickets." There were a few dancers Abby truly liked though, and she tells the camera, "Moms, be warned, the ALDC is about to change."

On the day of competition, everyone is backstage except for Jill and Kendall; they are late and Abby is angry about it. Abby states, "Remember, Kendall can be replaced, it’s as simple as that," but Kelly doubts Abby would really ditch Kendall, and Holly doubts that Abby found any amazing dancers in Orlando. When Jill arrives, Christi sticks it to her saying, "Nice of you to join us." Abby yells at Jill in front of everyone and says, "I saw 20 kids last night that would make mincemeat out of your kid."

The competition begins. Maddie performs first with her "Down My Spine" solo. She wears a nude-colored costume with a chiffon asymmetrical skirt. She does a beautiful job and Melissa gets teary-eyed watching her.

Mackenzie goes next with her "Take it to Go" solo. She wears a pale blue and yellow waitress outfit. Kenzie is cute as a bug, but it seems to me like she gets the same choreography a lot.

The trio does their "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" routine. The girls wear adorable red and white polkadot two-piece outfi ts (halter tops and boy shorts) and large white flowers in their hair. The choreography is so much fun that even Abby smiles during the performance.

After this round of performances, everyone goes backstage, and while Abby is giving Mackenzie her critique and a pep talk, Gianna Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer) enters the room and says that Payton fell, snapped her ankle and can't mover her leg. Abby asks her to rate the pain on a scale of 1-10, and Payton gives it a 9. Payton is carried out on a stretcher, and Abby instructs the girls to re-block the number without her. Leslie says that having an injury will make Payton even more vulnerable to being replaced. As the girls head to the stage, Abby reminds them, "Everyone is replaceable."

The emcee announces the ALDC group number as "Smells Like Team Spirit." They wear lovely powder blue costumes with knee-length chiffon skirts. Abby remarks, "The group looked good. The re-blocking definitely worked. They went out there and performed like professionals, they did their job and that’s what they're expected to do."

The awards ceremony begins. In the Elite Mini Solo Division, Mackenzie wins 1st Place; in the Elite Junior Solo Division, Maddie wins 1st Place; in the Teen Duo or Trio Division, the Brooke, Paige and Chloe win 2nd Place; in the Elite Junior Small Groups Division, the ALDC wins 1st Place.

Abby is glad her girls won but wants it to be by a larger margin, and she isn't thrilled that the trio was the only ALDC number that didn't take 1st Place. Then, Abby focuses on Kendall: "Your mom has said many times, maybe three or four, 'If you want us off the team just say the word'. I'm gonna think about it. Right now, come to pyramid, but we'll see. Don’t live a life of regrets."

So, it would appear that at least this week, Chloe has escaped Abby's wrath, and it is Kendall and Payton who are on Abby's radar to be replaced. Who knows if that will be the case next week though. Personally, I think Payton should move to the senior line because of her age and height, but for now, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that her injury is minor.

Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 4, Abby once again has Chloe and Kendall dancing head-to-head, we see Kendall in tears telling Jill "I don’t want to do it anymore," and Abby's nemesis Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is back with another all-boys team.

How did you all feel about this week's episode of Dance Moms? Were you surprised that Abby wasn't harder on Leslie and Payton?. Do you agree with Jill that Chloe had an unfair advantage over Kendall due to the lineup being switched? What was your favorite routine this week? 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 15, 2014