|Dance Moms cast members react to meeting teacher Abby Lee Miller's new team. L to R: Christi Lukasiak, Chloe Lukasiak, Jill Vertes, Kendall Vertes, Holly Frazier|
Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller stayed in Pittsburgh, PA with her ailing mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller, while the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) traveled to a competition. The girls danced in tribute to Mrs. Miller, but sadly, their 13-show winning streak came to an end. This week on the Dance Moms midseason finale, season 4, episode 16 titled, "Presenting My New Team," Abby copes with her mother's death and introduces her new "Junior Select Ensemble" as challengers to the ALDC's "Junior Elite Competition Team." The big surprise though, is that Maddie Ziegler, Abby's star pupil, is moved to the new team. This is the 100th episode of Dance Moms.
As Dance Moms S4, E16 "Presenting My New Team" opens, the girls and their moms file into the studio and offer their condolences and hugs; Abby's mother, Maryen Lorrain Miller, passed away on February, 8, 2014. Abby tries not to get emotional because, "The show must go on."
Last week, the ALDC's winning streak – which made it all the way to 13 – ended when they came in second to Studio Larkin at a Masters of Dance Arts competition in Buffalo, New York. It was especially hard for them to lose right then, because their performances were dedicated to Mrs. Miller. Abby admits that perhaps they shouldn't have competed last weekend, but assures them, "in your minds, know that you went out and did a beautiful performance for my mom." She also cushions the blow of the loss by telling them, "If you keep winning, you won't get better." This is the Abby Lee Miller I tune in for; a tough but excellent teacher with a soft spot for her students. If we could just start this whole season over...
Abby reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the dancers of the ALDC. Normally, the pyramid is based on how well each girl did at the previous week's competition, but sometimes ego, favoritism, and personality clashes between the moms and Abby influence the results. This week's pyramid from the bottom up:
Chloe: Her solo came in 5th Place, but Abby heard it should have been 2nd or 3rd.
Nia: "You still have a long way to go."
Kalani: "You were beautiful in the group, you're kinda just there."
Kendall: "You hold your own in the group; it's that solo we have trouble with."
Maddie: "You went out there and did that solo like a rock star."
Mackenzie: "Did it all", including shooting a video.
Then, Abby tells the ALDC that it's time to meet the new team. "There will be one new team member to go up against each of you to challenge you. This doesn't have to be negative unless you make it negative." With that, Abby presents Ava Cota (mom Jeanette), Jade Cloud (mom Loree), Kamryn Beck (mom Jodi), Sarah Reasons (mom Tracey), Sarah Hunt (mom Christy with a Y) and Tealynn "Tea'" Adamson (mom Tami). Tea' is pronounced "Tay-a" and has an apostrophe after the "A", but we're going to drop the apostrophe so my possessives won't look like typos.
Upon seeing Tracey and Sarah Reasons, who are from the same hometown and pre-ALDC studio as Kalani, Kira (Kalani's mom) lashes out saying, "You brought our trash from Arizona." Loree shoots back, "Abby said she wanted a team of Maddies, not a team of Kalanis."
As it turns out, Abby didn't plan for Sarah R to challenge Kalani, she's going to go up against Nia Frazier, who is clearly not intimidated. Nia says, "I can do jazz, musical theater, ballet… Sarah? I'm pretty sure she can only do - what is it? Acro?"
Abby pairs each of the new girls with an original girl. Ava vs. Kendall ; Jade vs. Kalani ; two girls, Tea, 9, and Sarah Hunt, 8, will dance against Mackenzie, 9 – this is so Abby will have all of her bases covered for varying age divisions at different competitions. Sarah H is the only in-house dancer who was brought to the new team, AND, there is already animosity between her mom, "Christy with a Y" and Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom), as witnessed during Dance Moms season 4, episode 16 "Lights, Camera, Dance," so, it looks like Melissa's life at the studio just got more difficult (and it ain't over yet!).
Next, it's Kamryn vs. Chloe, who is so adorable and polite, she turns to her new competitor and says, "Welcome." Kamryn recites her impressive competition resume, after which Christi (Chloe's mom) remarks, "It's so obvious to everyone that Abby is putting Kamryn against Chloe because she won't put Maddie against her, so guess what? Sacrificial lamb is always Chloe."
Then, in a stunning move, Abby tells Maddie to step forward, turn around, and say "goodbye" to her ALDC teammates; she is going to be part of the new team. For a moment, it looks like Maddie is going to cry. Melissa just hangs her head.
This week, both teams will be traveling to Youngstown, Ohio, to compete at Energy Dance. For the group dances, the original girls – Abby's "Junior Elite Competition Team" – will do a jazz routine called "Royals"; it's a tribute to singing star Lorde. The new girls – Abby's "Junior Select Ensemble" – will do a contemporary routine called "The Good Life." Kendall and Kalani will do a jazz duet called "Rule the World"; Ava and Sarah R will do a contemporary acrobatic duet called "Birds of a Feather Flock Together." Chloe will do a lyrical solo called "Lucky Star"; Kamryn will do a contemporary solo called "Fate."
There are a lot of girls and moms to keep straight this week, so for the rest of this recap, I'm going to refer to the original ALDC girls as the "Elite Team", and the new girls as the "Select Ensemble."
As usual, the Elite Team moms hang out in their loft and gossip while the girls rehearse; they are upset that Maddie was removed from the team. Privately, Melissa says, "All the moms complain about Maddie, and then when she's gone, they want her back"; publicly she agrees with them, stating, "I didn’t sign up for this." Then, when the conversation turns to Kira's run-in with Tracey, Kira says, "This lady lies about everything under the sun."
The Elite Team mom's gabfest is interrupted when the Select Ensemble moms arrive to claim their seats in the loft. The Elite moms all leave except, of course, for Melissa, because Maddie is on the new team. Melissa explains that it's hard for the Elite Team kids to see their possible replacements, but Christy with a Y says, "I think it's time for some new faces." Tracey reveals that her daughter, Sarah R, and Kalani are good friends, and calls the argument with Kira the result of a long-term, "deep-seated hatred" Kira has for her. She says they left a studio because of Kira.
Abby summons both sets of moms to the studio for corrections. Abby tells Christy with a Y that Sarah H's posture is "horrific," so bad that she needs a back brace. Christy responds, "That's a little bit harsh, don't cha think?" When Abby moves on to talk to Tea's mom, Christy interrupts and insists on talking more about Sarah H. Christy and Tea's mom begin quarreling, and the other moms cringe. At first, Abby yells, "We're wasting time," but then she laughs because the argument is animated and comical; at one point Christy with a Y says, "The Lord rebuke you." Holly points out that Abby's plan to have a team of perfect dancers with perfect moms is already backfiring, and as the Elite Team moms walk out, Jill tells Abby, "Have fun!"
With two days to go until the competition, Abby works on the Select Ensemble solos while their moms hang out. Melissa explains that since Abby's mom just died, they all need to be supportive and not fight. Christy with a Y doesn't agree, because Abby "has a very negative way of approaching what needs to be fixed, so I think it calls for a defense." Tami, meanwhile, thinks Abby's critiques were "spot-on." Christy tells the moms, "All of you are two-faced," and a fresh argument ensues.
Later, when both sets of moms cross paths in the parking lot, Tracey is happy that Sarah R was praised by Abby. Kira snaps, "That's great, but Abby hasn't seen her on stage, that's where she chokes. You know that, Tracey." It's really harsh. As yet another argument unfolds, the Elite Team moms make a hasty exit into the studio.
With one day left until competition, Abby is rehearsing both teams and planning her mother's funeral. Up in the Mom Loft, Christy with a Y starts another argument with Melissa. As Melissa is walking out, Christy yells, "God bless you," but she really means the opposite. Melissa winds up sitting with Maddie. "I know you're dancing with them this week," she tells her, "but it's not your team, you know that." Maddie asks, "Is there more drama than our moms?" Melissa says, "No, 'cause everyone likes each other except one, honey… you don't need to be involved in that, you're a kid."
The Elite Team moms hang out and discuss how Kamryn and her mom are positive they've got Chloe beat. This week Christi loves Chloe's music and choreography, and says that Chloe dances from the heart and that sets her apart. Melissa, who has taken on the role of spy, reports that the Select Ensemble moms are all going out for drinks, and that she was invited, but declined. Jill suggests that the Elite Team moms go out for drinks, too. Uh oh.
The Select Ensemble moms – minus Christy with a Y – go out to a bar (it looks like it was set up in an empty hotel room), and before long, the Elite Team moms show up and take the table next to them (the only other table?). In a friendly manner, Loree tells Melissa she should sit in the middle between the two teams, but Melissa says, "This is my team. Sorry." Tracey says she was hoping for more of a welcome, and this inspires Kira to launch a new round of over-the-top hostility at Tracey and her daughter. As Tracey starts to walk out, she yells, "Shame on you for talking about a little girl." Kira jumps up and gets in her face, warning, "Don't tell me 'shame on me' for saying anything." Tracey leaves in tears.
Competition day arrives. Ava and Sarah R. dance first with their "Birds of a Feather Flock Together" duet. They wear black and purple costumes and dramatic eye makeup. For their first time dancing together, they do well. Kendall and Kalani are next with their "Rule the World" jazz duet. They wear gold and black pants with matching crop tops and headbands. Abby looks unimpressed, but backstage, she tells the moms she thinks it's going to be a tight competition.
Then, Abby's nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, owner of the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) in Canton, Ohio, shows up. The CADC isn't competing, she's just there because one of her title winners will be passing out trophies. Cathy asks Abby why she has two teams, but Abby hides behind her purse and yells, "Get out!" Christy with a Y introduces herself to Cathy, and Jill cracks, "That's a match made in heaven right there." (Yikes, I just saw the ghost of recaps future.) To keep Cathy from sticking around, Abby pretends she's going to dump a trash can over her head.
Kamryn does her contemporary "Fate" solo in an aubergine lace costume with a flirty skirt and low back. She's very talented, and she's definitely competition for Chloe, but I don't think she's a lock for the win. Chloe does her "Lucky Star" lyrical solo in a pale blue costume with star appliques and an asymmetrical skirt. Abby says, "Chloe danced beautifully. She's tall, she's statuesque, she did an amazing job. She came out there like a pro."
While both teams prepare for their group dances, Christy with a Y enters the Elite Team dressing room and invites Melissa to attend a group prayer for the Select Ensemble. When Melissa passes, Christy informs her, "We’ll, we're going to pray over it anyway, even though you don’t want us to do very well." Abby saves Melissa by telling her she's not allowed in the Select Ensemble dressing room, so Christy with a Y asks, "Why are you protecting her?" Abby says it's because they need to run the routine, and Christy responds, "Just keep lying." Holy smokes! Abby rebukes Christy by cutting Sarah H from the group routine. Out in the hallway, Christy with a Y vows, "Sarah isn’t going anywhere, Abby... she is still going to fight to be on your team." Meanwhile, Tracey's nerves combined with the drama (and perhaps the constant sniping from Kira?) causes her to have what appears to be a panic attack.
The "Junior Select Ensemble" takes the stage for their contemporary "Good Life" number wearing black and white patterned dresses. They give a lovely performance. Abby's "Junior Elite Competition Team" does their "Royals" routine wearing black and white maid's uniforms and combat boots. The Select Ensemble has the advantage, because judges love lyrical and contemporary, and because it's harder to dance in boots. The Elite Team does a fantastic job though, and it's wonderful to see what a strong dancer Mackenzie has become.
The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Duo or Trio Division, Kendall and Kalani take 3rd Place; Ava and Sarah R get 2nd Place. In the Junior Small Group Division, the Elite Team is awarded 2nd Place; the Select Ensemble wins 1st Place. In the Overall Solo Awards, Kamryn gets 3rd Place; Chloe wins 1st Place. Congratulations, Chloe!
Christi beams and says, "I don’t know if there's ever been a bigger victory for Chloe, because it couldn't have happened at a better time, and she proved not only to Abby, but more importantly to herself, that she doesn't deserve to dance in anyone's shadow." Abby is pleased too, saying, "Chloe had a first place finish to the season, and that's where that kid belongs. I am so, so proud of her."
Backstage, Abby congratulates the dancers for their wins, then tells them she has to leave for Miami and her mother's funeral service. In her closing interview, Abby finally gets a chance to cry as she says, "This is her legacy that she left to me. Am I doing right by these kids? Am I making them the best that they can possibly be? Am I giving them the tools to go out into the world and make it on their own? My Mom and dad did that for me, and I hope that I can help change a child's life. This is not the end for these teams, this is just the beginning." Hopefully, it is the beginning of a kinder, gentler, show when the second half of Dance Moms season 4 returns.
Next week, Dance Moms season 4, episode 17 titled "Seeing Red" is a midseason reunion special hosted by the show's producer, Jeff Collins. There's sure to be mama drama, the girls will perform, and Cathy Nesbitt-Stein will make an appearance.
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.
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Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2014