|L to R: Abby Lee Miller and Mackenzie Ziegler on Dance Moms|
Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller welcomed Kalani Hilliker to the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC), dismissed Payton Ackerman, and argued with Christi Lukasiak because she wouldn't call former teammate Kelly Hyland about returning costumes. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 14, "Family Comes First," Abby spends time away from the team to be with her mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller, who, at the time this episode was filmed, was in declining health. Before she leaves, Abby cuts Nia Frazier from the group routine and auditions dancers for Mackenzie Ziegler's upcoming video shoot.
As Dance Moms S4 E14 "Family Comes First" opens, we learn that Abby won't be traveling with the team to this week's competition because her mother – dance teacher Maryen Lorrain Miller – is in declining health (she passed away on February 8, 2014).
Abby congratulates the girls on winning their twelfth competition in a row last week, and then she reveals her pyramid, the system she uses to rank the girls of the ALDC. The pyramid is based on how well each dancer did at the previous week's competition, but other factors such as ego, favoritism and clashes between Abby and the parents sometimes color the results. This week's pyramid, however, is a true surprise: instead of ranking the girls individually from the bottom up, Abby puts Maddie, Mackenzie, Kendall, Chloe and Nia on the same level. Abby explains that this is because last week when they couldn't hear the music, every single one of them "did exactly what you're supposed to do," when they kept going. Kalani takes the top spot on the pyramid because she "stole the show" and had the overall high score.
This week the ALDC will be traveling to Columbus, Ohio for the Dance USA competition. Kendall will do a jazz solo called "Dream It"; Nia will do a musical theater solo called "Damsel in Distress"; Kalani and Chloe will do a contemporary duet called "For You Too"; the group routine will be an ethnic number called "Bollywood and Vine."
Abby tells the team that this week she'll be auditioning in-house for dancers for Mackenzie's music video, and reminds them that she's in the final stages of building her new competition team. She says the new team will be competition for the current ALDC girls, and they'll give Abby the opportunity to double her wins.
The main focus for everyone though, is the fact that Mrs. Miller is, as Abby tells them, dying and not going to get better. Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) thanks Abby for letting her be a part of Mrs. Miller's life, and the girls, moms and Abby all cry and hug each other. Abby tells them, "Every dance teacher has to love children… there are a million jobs you could do besides this."
Up in the Mom's Loft, they watch their girls rehearse and talk about how their kids have all known Mrs. Miller since they started dancing at the studio. The moms feel terrible for what Abby is going through, and Christi (Chloe's mom) says, "There are some things that trump dance, and I think Abby is doing absolutely the right thing by being with her mother." It's really nice to see that despite the fighting that often takes center stage on Dance Moms, they all seem like good, decent, people who care about each other.
The girls rehearse their solos. Holly thinks Nia hasn't had her best season, and Jill says the studio has a hierarchy, so Kendall needs to beat Nia.
Next, Abby and Mackenzie audition dancers for the upcoming "Mack Z" video for the song "It's a Girl Party" (this will mark Abby's first endeavor producing music and the accompanying video). It's an in-house audition, so the ALDC regulars are among the hopefuls. When Chloe is cut, Christi says it’s because Abby doesn't want anyone cuter than Mac in the video. Kendall is also cut, but Kalani and Nia make it through. Mackenzie almost cuts her own sister Maddie when she tells Abby that Maddie might be better as an assistant during the shoot than a dancer in the video, but she quickly changes her mind. By the way, did you notice that ama@inc logo on Abby's shirt? It stands for "Abby's My Agent at Impressive New Children" – it's her new talent agency, you can read about ama@inc here.
Then we learn that just like last week in Dance Moms season 4, episode 13, there aren't enough costumes for the whole group to dance, so Abby makes the "executive decision" to cut Nia, and says it will give her more time to work on her solo. Holly is upset that Abby is making Nia the "sacrificial lamb," and the other moms are upset for her. If this was a different week, I'm sure Holly would defend her daughter to Abby, but this week, Holly and all of team members have compassion for Abby and respect for Mrs. Miller, so there are no arguments.
The moms do notice one thing though; while the team rehearses with Gianna "Gia" Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer) they realize Abby left a board with the pictures of all of the potential new girls in the studio, and they think it's psyching their daughters out.
Gia and the team board the bus and head to the Dance USA competition in Columbus, Ohio. They talk about their happy memories of Mrs. Miller, and Holly proposes a moment of silence. After the ALDC arrives at the complex where the competition is being held, Gia calls Abby and tells her the team sends their love. Abby says "I don’t need their love, I need them to win." Abby doesn't sound mean when she says it, it sounds like she's trying to be tough. Melissa gets on the phone with Abby to offer words of encouragement, then she tells the camera that the moms are more relaxed without Abby present, but that the girls need her there.
Before the ALDC heads to the stage, Gia tells them, "This new team is coming whether we like it not… prove today that there is no new team, you guys are the team." She also tells them that she's taping the performance for Abby.
The competition begins. Chloe and Kalani dance first with their contemporary duet. They both wear their hair up and thigh-length chiffon dresses; Chloe's is a cranberry color; Kalani's is teal. They are so evenly matched and graceful, their performance is gorgeous; I'd love to see more duets from them. After their dance, Chloe and Kalani hug in the wings. Kendall does her jazz solo in black pants with stars at the hip and a gold and black embellished bikini top. She does a very good job. Nia dances third. She wears the same pants as Kendall, but with a black and white striped top and a white headpiece. Nia's dance is energetic, animated and whimsical; she is wonderful.
After those performances, the team heads backstage to change their hair and costumes for the group routine. It's sad to watch Nia watch the girls, but still, Holly leads a group prayer for Mrs. Miller, and then at the end she slips in a wish for the team's winning streak. Later, Nia and Holly are in the audience cheering on the team. Holly is an awesome dance mom and a great team player, and she's teaching Nia well.
The ALDC takes the stage for their "Bollywood and Vine" number; they wear two-piece, light turquoise costumes with gold embellishment and fluttery handkerchief skirts. The choreography is cool with neat hand and arm work, and the unison work is spot-on. It's good to see the ALDC do something different, and did you notice Mackenzie? She's really catching up with the older girls skills. The only thing that kept "Bollywood and Vine" from being my favorite group dance this season is that Nia was missing.
The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Solo Division, Nia gets 3rd place and Kendall gets 2nd Place. In the Junior Duo or Trio Division, Chloe and Kalani are awarded 1st Place. In the Junior Small Group Division, the ALDC takes 1st Place, bringing their winning streak to thirteen victories in a row. The girls call Abby and tell her the good news, and Abby says she's going to tell Mrs. Miller that they won.
Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 15 titled "Lights! Camera! Dance!" the Abby Lee Dance Company performs in tribute to Abby Lee Miller's mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller; the team feels pressure to continue their winning streak; Mackenzie shoots her music video; Christi and Melissa argue.
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Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime
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Posted on Wednesday, April 2, 2014