'Dance Moms' Recap S4 E15 Lights, Camera, Dance: RIP Maryen Lorrain Miller

Abby Lee Miller, star of Dance Moms
Abby Lee Miller, star of Dance Moms
By REESE AMOROSI

Previously on Dance Moms, the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) won their thirteenth competition in a row, but studio owner Abby Lee Miller wasn't there to see it because she stayed in Pittsburgh, PA to be with her mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller, whose health was declining. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 15 titled "Lights, Camera, Dance," Abby once again stays with her mother, and the ALDC's competition dances are a tribute to Mrs. Miller. Also this week, Mackenzie Ziegler shoots a video for her song "It's a Girl Party."

As Dance Moms S4 E15 "Lights, Camera, Dance" begins, Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) stops by the studio's front desk after visiting Maryen Lorrain Miller at the hospice. Melissa tells Abby she was shocked that Mrs. Miller is on oxygen. Abby is visibly upset, and says "We're expecting the worst," but keeps up a tough exterior saying that her mother "doesn't need me to sit beside her, she wants me to go to the studio, that's my job."

Abby congratulates the ALDC on their thirteenth win in a row, and then tells them that with Mackenzie (aka Mack Z) is shooting her video, and the new competition team coming soon, so it's going to be a tough week.

Abby reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the dancers in the ALDC. The pyramid is based on how well the girls did in the previous week's competition, but sometimes ego, favoritism, and personality clashes between Abby and the moms figure into the equation. This week Kira (Kalani's mom) says "This whole pyramid thing has nothing to do with what you did at the competition at all," and a little later in the episode, Holly calls this week's rankings "totally arbitrary." Here is this week's pyramid from the bottom up – since Abby cut Nia from last week's group routine, she is the first photo revealed:

Nia: "You weren't in the group routine; this is a wakeup call." Holly (Nia's mom) is infuriated.
Kendall: "You were second, you know how I feel about second (the first to lose).
Kalani: "I'm still seeing technical issues; I want you to work your way back up to the top."
Mackenzie: "You went out here and you looked great."
Chloe: "You worked with Kalani; it was victorious."
Maddie: "Once again you proved yourself… made a lasting impression on the judges."

Next, Abby goes over this week's assignments. The ALDC will be traveling to Buffalo, New York, for a Masters of Dance Arts competition, and all of the routines will pay tribute to Mrs. Miller and her success stories as a dance teacher. Maddie will do a musical theater solo called "Come To the Cabaret"; Chloe will do a 50s-inspired musical theater solo called "Friday Night"; the group dance will be a lyrical piece called "Amazing Grace" - it was formerly one of Maddie's solos, but the choreography is being re-worked into a group number. Mackenzie (aka Mack Z) will not dance with the group because she's going to be shooting a video for her song, "It's a Girl Party."

Abby reminds the girls that this week they have a busy schedule: she and Mackenzie are going to shoot her video, Chloe isn't in the video so she's going to stay at the studio and work on her solo with assistant choreographer James, and next week the new team is coming. Holly asks Abby, "Is this just your way of coping by doing [too much]?" Abby says she is going to submerge herself in her work. Holly thinks, "It's very clear that Abby's taking on more than she can handle," especially with a new team, and that last week "Nia was the sacrificial lamb when Abby couldn't get her job done." The moms don't know how Abby is going to handle two teams, because she's having a hard time managing one team.

Meanwhile, it's bogus that Chloe was excluded from dancing in Mackenzie's video, but Christi tells her that it gives her an advantage because she can spend more time working on her solo. All of the girls who ARE in the video – girls from the ALDC Elite Competition Team, and some of Abby's younger students – meet at Melissa's house for the shoot with a director named Andrew. There is some antagonism between the two sets of moms – they think their girls are just as good as the ALDC regulars. Melissa is especially unhappy with "Christy with a 'Y'" whom she calls "frickin annoying." Abby is "appalled," that the moms are arguing, and says, "the video has gone too smoothly to let a bunch of ignorant moms mess it up." When "Christy with a 'Y'" tells Abby that her daughter could be the next Maddie, Melissa tells her and her daughter Sarah to get their shoes on (she must have nice floors) and to get out of her house. Melissa also dials 911, but we don't see any police arrive. Later, Melissa admits she feels bad she asked them to leave, and says she wouldn't do it again.

Once the ALDC moms and kids get back to the studio, the moms head for their loft, and Jill (Kendall's mom) remarks to Christi, "So, I'm assuming Chloe knows her number because she has been here when we've been at the video shoot," but that is not the case. Christi informs her, "Chloe has not been here learning because both of her privates were cancelled this week because the teachers were unavailable because they were busy, and today her private got cancelled 'cause they had to learn the group dance."

During the rehearsal, Abby is especially hard on Nia again this week, and eventually she tells Nia to bring her mother Holly to the rehearsal room. Before she heads down, Holly tells Nia, "Let me be very clear with you, I will come downstairs, I'll be up front. You're not in trouble. What Abby is doing right now, she's yelling at you and trying to get you distracted so you lose your place and your focus in the dance. She can say you don’t know the dance. This is her game. Ignore her. You got it?"

Abby tells Holly, "I don’t want you to assume anything sitting up there, Nia's in the group, Nia has a costume, Nia needs to pull her weight... I want you to hear the corrections." Holly tells the camera that she is "sensitive to Abby's situation," but that she's not going to be a doormat, and neither is Nia. Holly observes Nia in rehearsal, then, as she exits the studio to head back to the Mom's Loft, she calmly tells Abby "Thank you for inviting me down here, I saw a noticeable difference. Nia apply those corrections."

Up in in the Moms' Loft, Melissa gets a text from Kelley Larkin of Studio Larkin that reads, "Hey Melissa, it's Kelley Larkin. I wanted to make sure you got my message on Instagram. I am coming to Buffalo this weekend for the competition with you guys. Can't wait to see you guys. My dancers are all excited to see you girls. See You Saturday."

The Dance Moms talk about how great the dancers from Studio Larkin are; apparently they are tough competition. Holly says if the ALDC loses, "heaven help us next week." It is especially worrisome because the ALDC wants to win first place with the dances they do in tribute to Mrs. Miller, and because with the new team coming next week, they want to face them as undefeated champions. They also want to win to lift Abby's spirits; Melissa reports that now that Mrs. Miller's death is imminent death, Abby has been "crying" and "hysterical." When Abby arrives to watch the girls rehearse the "Amazing Grace" group routine, she is in tears, and Holly tells the camera, "As difficult as Abby is to work with, she hurts like anybody else, even though she pretends she doesn't. She is a real person."

Like last week, the ALDC travels to the competition with Gianna "Gia Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer), and Abby stays in Pittsburgh, PA to be with her mother. Backstage, the moms worry about dancing against Studio Larkin, who are doing a group number that beat the ALDC in a previous competition. Jill wonders why Abby is taking on a new team when she already has a team that is 150% dedicated, and has won thirteen times in a row. Christi disagrees and says the team they have now isn't that same team because sisters Brooke and Paige Hyland are missing. I agree; I SO wish the Hylands were still on the show.

Then, Christi and Melissa get into an argument over some cattiness that Maddie may have directed at Chloe. It seems that ever since Maddie and Kalani did the "Two Sapphires" dance (that led to the physical fight between Abby and Kelly Hyland and caused the Hylands leaving the studio and show), Maddie and Kalani have become best friends. Christi says that Maddie told Chloe, "you're not that good." Christi tells Melissa, "I don't need your daughter to be friends with my daughter out of pity, I just would appreciate if she didn’t say rude things to my kid."

Christi elaborates that once Kalani arrived "it's Maddie and Kalani, and everybody else got pushed to the back, and unfortunately it's not just for dance, it's the friendship now." Then Christi asks, "What the f--k am I doing here if my kid is going to be treated like @#$%?" Holly understands exactly what Christi means, because there are times Nia feels like the "fifth wheel." Holly says, "She was like The Jackson 5, and where's Tito?" Christi says they ceased to be a team the day Kelly left, adding "We might pretend we're a team, but we're not."

The competition begins. Maddie does her "Come to the Cabaret" solo in a black costume with a sheer, embellished panel in the front, a low, bare back, and a short carwash skirt. It's unusual to see Maddie do a musical theater style number – she does a great job. Chloe dances next in black pants with white polkadots and a turquoise waistband, and a matching halter top and headband. Christi says Chloe believes that if she doesn't beat Maddie, that Abby will replace her on the team. Chloe is wonderful in the 50s-inspired musical theater number, but I agree with Christi when she says the choreography doesn't have enough in it to compete with Maddie's solo. Still, once they get backstage, Gia tells them she thinks Mrs. Miller would have liked these solos more than any others.

Before the group heads to the stage, Gia calls Abby, who tells the girls to "Just go out there and perform, don't worry about the judges. Entertain the audience and make everybody love you." Holly concurs, and tells the team today's dance is about more than a win, "it's really about Mrs. Miller and tribute to a legacy." Gia, interjects, "But that new team is coming, and you guys need to win today to show her that you guys are her dream team. Abby took a little bit of pressure off, but I'm putting a little bit back on 'cause this is a winning routine and we want nothing less than a winning routine, right?"

Studio Larkin does their lyrical number called "Tears of an Angel" in beautiful white feathered costumes. They are very good, and their unison work is completely in sync. Next, the ALDC does their "Amazing Grace" routine with each girl in a pastel colored chiffon costume and floral headband. They dance very well, and the a cappella music is effective.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Elite Junior Solo Division, Chloe gets 5th Place; Maddie wins 1st Place. Christi says Abby is never going to let them hear the end of it. In the Elite Junior Small Group Division, the ALDC gets 2nd Place; Studio Larkin wins 1st Place. The ALDC's winning streak is over, and Holly worries that Nia will be blamed for the loss. Christi says that they're facing a new team as losers. When Gia calls Abby to report the results, Abby responds, "Girls, it wasn’t about the competition this time, I am not disappointed in you. I am so proud of you." Melissa says next week will be a "different story" and that Abby is "gonna be mad at the girls, and she's gonna have this amazing new team of dancers ready to take our kids' place. We're definitely gonna feel the loss next week." Gia thinks it was crazy this week, but "next week is gonna be a whole different kind of crazy. I think it's just going to be chaos."

The episode ends with a black screen and this message: "In loving memory of Maryen Lorrain Miller, August 6, 1927 - February 8, 2014. Our sincerest condolences to Abby Lee Miller, and to all of the students and parents whose lives were touched by Mrs. Miller.

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Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 16 titled "Presenting My New Team," Abby Lee Miller and her students deal with the death of Abby's beloved mother, dance teacher Maryen Lorrain Miller; Abby introduces her new competition team; Kira (Kalani's mom) get into a fight with one of the new moms.

Reese Amorosi (aka Glamorosi) recaps Dance Moms and Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition:
To see all of the Dance Moms recaps click here
For the Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition recaps click here.
Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime

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Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014