|Cathy Nesbitt-Stein (left) and Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms|
Previously on Dance Moms, Kira was frustrated that her daughter Kalani wasn't allowed to compete against Maddie, studio owner Abby Lee Miller's favorite girl in the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC), and Dr. Holly (Nia's mom), published her first book. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 11 "Blame it on the New Girl," Abby introduces Fallon Chapman to the team; the girls dance at a nursing home to cheer up Abby's mom, the late Maryen Lorrain Miller; and Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) is determined to end the ALDC's winning streak. This one of the happier, sunnier episodes we've seen so far this season.
As Dance Moms S4 E11 "Blame it on the New Girl" begins, the girls arrive for class, and Abby introduces 11-year-old Fallon Chapman and her mother Cheryl to the team. Abby met them at her open audition in Orlando, Florida, and she's considering Fallon for her new Elite Competition Team. Fallon is a cutie pie who looks like a cross between Maddie and Sophia Lucia, and she and her mother are nearly identical.
Abby tells the team, "Kalani's not here this week, not because she's not a great dancer, the problem is the mother. She doesn't understand my rules." On last week's episode, Dance Moms S4 E10 "No Solo for You, Abby and Kira butted heads about Kalani not being permitted to compete against Abby's star pupil, Maddie.
Abby compliments the girls on their winning streak saying, "nine is fine, but then again, there's ten," and then she reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the dancers of the ALDC. The pyramid is mostly based on how well the girls did at the previous week's competition, although sometimes ego, favoritism, and issues between Abby and the moms figure into the equation. This week's pyramid from the bottom up:
Kendall: only placed 9th in last week's competition.
Chloe: disappointed Abby by repeating moves in the improv competition.
Nia: the first ALDC member to be cut from the improv competition.
Mackenzie: did a great job on character in the group dance.
Fallon: was outstanding at Abby's audition in Orlando, Florida.
Maddie: high score solo last week, one of her "best performances ever."
Holly doesn’t think Fallon should be on the pyramid – she thinks it should be reserved for members of the team – and I agree. Last week Abby said Maddie couldn't be at the top of the pyramid because she wasn't at rehearsal (she had a gig in LA), but Fallon, who wasn't even on the team or at the competition last week, is second from the top. It's nothing personal against Fallon; I just think it's odd.
This week, the ALDC will be traveling to Toledo, Ohio for In10sity Dance competition, and they'll be going up against Abby's nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) team. The ALDC group will do a contemporary group piece called "Red with Envy" - Abby says this number is too mature for Mackenzie, so she won't be in it; Fallon will do a contemporary solo called "Voices in My Head"; Kendall will do lyrical solo called "Just Rain."
Abby explains, "The only reason Kendall got another solo this week is she needs to redeem herself from her ninth place. Otherwise, there will never be another solo for her again; I will make sure of it." Before Abby gets to say too much about Kendall, Jill (her mom) inquires about Abby's mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller, who has been sick (when this episode was filmed, Mrs. Miller was in hospice care, she passed away on February 8, 2014). Jill asks Abby if a visit from the kids and a show at the hospice center would cheer Mrs. Miller up and take her mind off of things. Abby thinks it would be a good idea.
While the girls rehearse, the moms head up to their loft, and of course they grill Cheryl. Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) wants to know how old she is, and Christi (Chloe's mom) wants to know if she has fake boobs. Jill assures her she doesn't have to answer, but Cheryl tells them she's in her "middle-40s" and her boobs are real. Later, Jill tells Cheryl, "I'm assuming Abby's bringing Fallon in to beat Kendall," but Cheryl says, "I think she's bringing Fallon in to see how she's gonna do, to learn this routine in two days."
Abby and the ALDC visit Maryen Lorrain Miller at the Sterling House hospice care facility. Despite the fact that she's very ill, Mrs. Miller is lovely and elegant. She has the taxidermied Broadway Baby with her, and Abby brings her new poodle to see her too. Abby shushes the patients who've come to see the show, and then the girls take turns performing. Abby says, "Sometimes dancing isn’t all about competition, sometimes it's about putting a smile on somebody's face. That's priceless. That's worth all the trophies in my studio." Chloe dances with one of the other patients, and everyone is smiling and happy. It's a sweet moment.
With two days to go until the competition, Fallon and Kendall have solo rehearsal, and the moms hang in their loft and gossip. Christi is surprised to hear that Cheryl is in her mid-40s. Melissa thinks she's ten years older, and that she looks older than Jill. Christi, perhaps alluding to certain ahem... procedures, quips, "Jill also likes to keep herself fresh, let's be honest." Holly laughs and Jill smiles; it's a funny scene.
With one day until the competition, Fallon struggles to learn her solo, and as the camera pans to each of the ALDC girls, they look concerned. Melissa notices that Fallon doesn't pick up choreography like the rest of the team and says, "Abby wants someone that comes in and is better than our girls. This is not the one, this is not the kid." Holly points out, "They don’t bring home a win this week, they have to live with that the next week." Jill adds, "We've won nine times, are we gonna win again with her? That's the pressure I would feel as a mom and a daughter coming in to a winning team." Christi observes, "Not only are we up against the Candy Apples, but we're up against our own record, and clearly the only wild card in the group is Fallon." Holly advises Cheryl, "Abby's not going to give you anything; all of these kids have had to earn their space, blood, sweat, tears. Not only theirs, but ours as well."
Next, Abby shows up in the mom's loft to talk to Cheryl, and informs her that she's "wishing Kalani was here." When Cheryl asks why, Abby answers, "she's a much stronger dancer than your daughter, and she's gorgeous." Cheryl asks, "So you're calling my daughter ugly and weak?" Abby throws it back to her with, "No, you said that, not me. I'm just saying that I don’t think Fallon is helping the team. I think she may hurt the team." Cheryl disagrees, and as she wipes away tears, an incredulous Abby asks, "Are you crying?" Cheryl answers, "You're insulting my daughter," but Abby says, "I’m insulting YOU, it’s embarrassing."
Then, on the bus ride to In10sity Dance, Abby asks about this week's costumes, and Cheryl reveals that she left Fallon's costume back at the studio. Abby is understandably furious, and when they get to Ohio, she spends the morning looking for dresses for Fallon to wear onstage. Before she arrives with the replacement, the moms question Cheryl about what she's going to do, but she really doesn't have an answer. Holly seems particularly annoyed that they are "always playing catch up." When Abby mentions that Cheryl should know how to do all of this because Fallon's been dancing since she was three, Cheryl says Fallon started dancing when she was eight. Three years ago! Abby says, "That's your first failure."
Meanwhile, in Canton, Ohio, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is in the CADC studio with the Candy Apples team and her new choreographer, Erin Babbs. They too are getting ready for this week's In10sity Dance Competition; Cathy is "hungry for a win" and hoping to break the ALDC's winning streak. She calls the ALDC "the Pittsburgh Posse." Gavin Morales (he and his sister Mackenzie were introduced in Dance Moms S4 E4 "Chloe vs Kendall Round 2") will do a contemporary solo called "Better When You're There"; the CADC group will do a routine called "The Last Dance."
Gavin works with Erin while Cathy watches. When the rehearsal is over, Cathy air-kisses Gavin on both cheeks and Erin hugs him and says, "It's gonna be awesome." During group rehearsal, Cathy is unhappy that the kids aren't dancing full-out, and tells them "If you think that all you're ever gonna hear is wonderful comments, that's not how life is. It’s a maturity thing, but we don't have time for you to grow up on stage. Being number two is not the spot we want."
The In10sity Dance Competition begins at the gorgeous Collingswood Arts Center; it's a former rectory and it has high ceilings and grand arches. Gavin goes first with his "Better When Your There" contemporary solo; he wears black trousers. Gavin is a fantastic dancer – he's very flexible and his turns are advanced. He's going to be tough to beat.
Kendall dances next with her "Just Rain" lyrical routine. She wears a sparkly two-piece skirted costume. She does a wonderful job, and her front walkover is very good. It's so nice to see Kendall do well, and Jill is so happy – you go Kendall!
Fallon is next with her "Voices in my Head" contemporary routine. She wears a white dress and matching hair bow. She's a fine dancer, but her choreography has that lay-on-your-belly-and-kick-your-feet move that Mackenzie always does; I'm not a fan of it unless the performer is very young. Things are going well at first, but then she forgets her dance. While Fallon is still performing, Abby goes to the judges table and says that since Fallon forgot the whole dance, she wants her disqualified. This MAY have been to keep Fallon's solo score out of the equation for the overall high score in the competition. The judges say they can't disqualify Fallon for that.
Backstage, Cheryl tends to Fallon's bloody knee - it turns out she sustained a cut during her performance, and that's what threw her off. Cathy shows up and says, "…how noble of you to keep dancing… I would never run to the judge's station to try and have you disqualified, which is what Abby did." An argument between Cathy and Jill follows, but Melissa yells at Cathy to "Leave!" and she does. Abby arrives and tells Fallon, "I'm very disappointed in you." As Abby continues with her critique, she admonishes Fallon, "Don't cry, 'cause you're gonna make me feel bad for yelling at you."
In an interview, Cathy says that with Fallon's "disastrous" solo (which, by the way, didn't look so bad on TV, and at least Fallon improvised instead of running off stage), the CADC may have a chance to beat the ALDC, but first she wants to see their routine because if they are too good to beat, she's pulling her team from the competition. Erin asks, "If you're not gonna win and you're gonna take second, then don't dance?... What does that teach them?" Cathy says SHE'S calling the shots on this one.
The ALDC does their "Red with Envy" group routine. They wear red skirted costumes embellished with black collars and matching headpieces. They were outstanding; I like Maddie's fierce facial expressions, and the girls - including Fallon - danced well in unison. Abby thinks the number was "excellent," and says, "Bring on the applesauce!"
After watching the ALDC perform, Cathy does indeed pull the CADC's group routine, and it makes the kids on her team cry. It's awful to see the kids upset, and it's poor sportsmanship on Cathy's part.
The awards ceremony begins. In the Elite Junior Solo Division, Fallon gets 3rd Place; Kendall is awarded 2nd Place; Gavin wins 1st Place. There was only 1/10 of a point between Kendall and Gavin, and Abby says she is "thrilled" for Kendall. In the Elite Junior Small Group Division, the ALDC wins 1st Place. It's their tenth straight victory in a row.
Backstage, the ALDC is jubilant, and the girls join Abby for a "call and response" cheer; Abby counts it out, and the girls answer: "One, two, three… We're Abby Lee! Four, five, six… You should see out kicks! Seven and eight... We are really great! Nine and ten… We just won again!"
Abby gives the ALDC off until Monday, but asks Cheryl and Fallon to stay behind for a chat. As expected, she dismisses them from the team. Fallon stands up straight, listens to Abby speak, and handles the disappointment with grace. Abby tells the camera, "Forgetting costume, unforgivable. Doing your own choreography in place of mine, never gonna happen."
As the team exits the dressing room, they run into Cathy, and when Christi questions her about what happened to the CADC group dance, Cathy answers, "Nunya." That's not really what she says, but that's the gist of it. Then, Abby comes out, and she and Cathy get into an argument. Abby calls Cathy a coward, and Cathy takes her usual cheap shots at Abby's weight. Abby gets in the last word when she informs Cathy that her student's parents call her to see if they can join the ALDC, and then she commands, "Shut the door."
Compared to many Dance Moms episodes, and especially in light of the physical fight between Abby and Kelly Hyland (Paige and Brooke's mom) and the subsequent lawsuits, this week's installment was sunny and mellow. It was cool to see the moms joking with each other, and it was awesome to see the girls smiling again. I'd love to see the ALDC have more good times like this.
Speaking of good times, last week, on Sunday, March 9, I had the honor of representing Glamorosi Magazine as the first guest on the brand new Urban Woman Radio show; host Simone Perry invited me on to discuss Dance Moms. I'll be back on the show again this Sunday, March 16, at 10:10 AM to discuss what Abby Lee Miller and the ALDC were up to this week. It's a call-in show, so get your questions ready.
Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 12 titled "Sister Showdown," Maddie and Mackenzie compete against each other; Abby brings in "Miss Lola" to work with the girls; Payton Ackerman is back with the team; Christi considers home schooling for Chloe.
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For our Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition recaps click here.
Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2014