'Dance Moms' Recap S4 E17 "Seeing Red" Reunion Show

Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms S4 E17 Seeing Red
Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms season 4, episode 17, "Seeing Red"

Previously on the Dance Moms midseason finale, we said "hello" to studio owner Abby Lee Miller's new "Junior Select Ensemble," and "goodbye" to the tumultuous first half of season 4. It didn't end with a bang though – it was, despite the mama drama (I'm looking at you, Kira and Christy with a Y) – a softer show, with members of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) offering Abby hugs following her mother's death. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 17 titled "Seeing Red," executive producer Jeff Collins hosts, Abby discusses her mother, the wronged moms rehash, and Christi talks about former cast member, Kelly Hyland. The ALDC performs, and rival dance teacher Cathy Nesbitt-Stein visits.

As the Dance Moms S4 E 17 "Seeing Red" reunion show begins, I am struck by how many men are in the audience; in previous reunions, it seemed there were more mother-daughter duos. Dance Moms' executive producer, Jeff Collins of Collins Avenue Entertainment, is the host for this reunion. He gets the action started by introducing studio owner and dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, who wears an artistic black, purple and green ensemble. He offers his condolences on the death of her mother, beloved dance instructor Maryen Lorrain Miller. Abby reveals that her mother was buried in Miami, Florida with her husband's ashes and the taxidermied remains of their poodle, Broadway Baby. Abby talks about what it's like to realize her entire family was in that casket (hugs to you, Abby). Abby says that although her motto is "Save your tears for your pillow," when there is the death of a loved one, you cry.

Then, Jeff jumps right in to season 4's most devastating episode, in which Abby and Kelly Hyland had a physical fight that led to still-ongoing lawsuits. Collins says, "Kelly slapped you and pulled your hair…," and then he asks, "Did you feel incredibly betrayed… as a person and a human being...? Abby answers, "I didn't sign up to be physically hit… I'll scream and yell, and can I be curt? Yes. Can I be sharp? Yes. Is my tongue sometimes tainted? Absolutely. And I take full credit for that. When you touch somebody, that's a whole different story."

Christi Lukasiak (Chloe's mom) and Kelly Hyland (Brooke and Paige's mom) were best friends, so Jeff wonders if the Hyland's absence from the show has improved what has always been a contentious relationship between Christi and Abby. It hasn't.

Christi joins them on stage; she wears an elegant, one-shouldered, red chiffon gown. Christi says she doesn't feel alone without Kelly, and that she used to be upset because the other moms saw more than they spoke up about, but she has in fact, become closer to them.  She specifically mentions Holly (Nia's mom) and Jill (Kendall's mom), because now that Kelly is no longer a target and "Abby's spreading her misery around a little more, she's targeting Holly and Jill… so I think they're seeing what Kelly and I have been talking about the whole time."

Regarding the fight, Christi says Kelly was in a defensive position; Abby says that's ridiculous. Jeff says that since the fight and Kelly's exit, Christi seems more empowered to stand up to Abby. Christi says she has "nothing to lose" at this point because she – along with Kelly – was the one who always stood up to Abby. Jeff asks them both, "Is it possible for you to find a way to work together for Chloe?" Christi answers, "She doesn't care about Chloe, she's made that perfectly clear since day one." Abby says that Chloe is a beautiful dancer and a beautiful girl, but Christi argues, "Everyone in America sees how you treat that kid," and also how Abby treats Nia and Kendall.

Next, there are two performances: The ALDC does their "Kinky Boots" routine from Dance Moms season 4, episode 12, "Sister Showdown," and Chloe does her "Seeing Red solo from Dance Moms season 4, episode 6 "Clash of the Chloes."

The reunion continues, and Jeff asks the question the cast and many viewers want to know: "Why haven't you brought anyone on to compete with Maddie?" Abby answers that during her nationwide talent search, the kids she found were usually either 13 or 9 years old, so they weren't in Maddie's age group. Christi isn't buying it and says, "I can't wait for the other mothers to get out here and call you out on all the things you make up about our children." Then, Abby and Christi argue about Chloe's attendance record for dance class: Abby says Chloe missed class 13 times, Christi responds, "Liar, liar pants on fire," and adds, "See how envious she is of a 12-year-old little girl?"

Jeff asks Christi, "How do you think Melissa factors in into this..?" and Christi answers, "I said Melissa was a liar from the beginning." Christi says that Abby brought Kalani to NYC to dance with Maddie, who is being taught how to lie, "and that is a shame, because she's a good kid."

Before we move forward with this recap, here's some background information: it was during the episode that Kalani was brought in to the ALDC that Abby and Kelly had their terrible fight. There was some cloak-and-dagger moves regarding bringing Kalani to NYC to perform the "Two Sapphires" duet with Maddie in direct competition with Chloe and Paige. Some of the moms believe that young Maddie wasn't truthful when Chloe asked point-blank if she was doing a duet at the competition in NYC. When Maddie and Kalani did turn out to be competing, it escalated the tension in the group. Then, backstage, the physical fight between Abby and Kelly occurred during an argument that followed after Abby compared Kalani and Brooke in a way that was unflattering to the latter.

Melissa Ziegler-Gisoni (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) comes out in a sexy, sleeveless, form-fitting, deep blue-purple dress. Annoyed at the thought of being outnumbered, Christi exits to bring Holly and Jill onstage to back her up. From the wings, you can hear her say, "It's a team – I'm done fighting that woman on my own." Holly Frazier (Nia's mom) takes the stage looking gorgeous in a black sparkly dress; Jill Vertes (Kendall's moms) is chic in a red chiffon one-shouldered dress. They all go back-and-forth about if Maddie lied, then Abby pronounces, "It's my dance company, it's my businesses, who dances is up to me. Period." Holly says, "That may be true…" but she objects to the fact that Chloe and Paige were "ambushed" by Kalani and Maddie's solo in NYC, because you don't expect that from members of your own studio.

Next, Maddie and Kalani perform the "Two Sapphires" number from Dance Moms season 4, episode 7 "Big Trouble in the Big Apple" that sparked the controversy.

Jill and Christi have a minor disagreement stemming back to Dance Moms season 4, episode 2, "Two Can Play this Game," when Abby had Chloe dance against Kendall. Kendall was supposed to dance last – the best position – but the order was changed because backstage, Chloe asked the stage manager IF she was last, not COULD SHE go last. Chloe won, and Jill thinks it was because of the change. Christi says it wasn't done in a malicious manner, but Jill counters with, "But it was premeditated."

The talk turns to Nia, and Holly is still upset that Nia was cut from the Bollywood number in Dance Moms season 4, episode 14 "Family Comes First," because there weren't enough costumes. Holly says costuming has been an issue for the whole season. Christi says, "Every Friday night, Abby hands us like, a roll of toilet paper, a square of tissue and a sequin and says, 'Here, MacGyver up a costume so your kid looks fabulous on TV.'" Then, Abby says she chose to cut Nia because she had a solo. Holly, who is perhaps the most even-tempered of the dance moms, has a flash of anger and asks, "Why does Nia have to have either /or? Why is Nia either/or? A solo or a group? Who else gets either/or? … That's outrageous!"

Mackenzie performs her "Cry" solo from Dance Moms season 4, episode 12, "Sister Showdown;" it's the routine she inherited from her big sister Maddie. She does a wonderful job.

During that same Bollywood number from which Nia was pulled, dancer Payton Ackerman was also cut following an argument between Leslie (her mother) and Abby. At the time, Leslie lost her cool and angered Abby by saying, "Abby, you are f---ing perfect, aren't' you?"

Leslie Ackerman is one of the more argumentative mothers, but, it's understandable that she's touchy because her daughter Payton is repeatedly brought onto the team as a replacement, and then dismissed in an episode or two – she never gets to join the team. Now, at the reunion, Abby says Leslie is "cray cray", then Jeff brings her out onstage. Leslie is pretty in a dusty purple dress with long sleeves and a flattering neckline. She says, "I am so tired of chasing the carrot on this Elite Team, I'm sick of it. Now, I question, 'Should we even be here?' But every time you ask us we let our guard down and we keep coming back because we want to be here. But you need to own up to the things that aren't great. You never allow her to be in a lyrical dance… I have to defend my investment in my daughter's dancing with you." Abby responds. "You're not gonna get anywhere with that."

Maddie performs her "Game of Love" tap solo from season 4, episode 12 "Sister Showdown," and it's very cute.

Jeff discusses Abby's nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, owner of the Candy Apples Dance Center in Canton, Ohio. Jeff asks Abby, "Cathy has competed against you four times and lost every time; what do you think she's doing wrong? "Everything," Abby concludes, "She's like the Candy Apple that turned into the prissy prune."

Cathy enters the stage in a nice nude-colored dress with a delicate, black lace top. "I think Abby's a joke," says Cathy. "She wins, yes, but I feel Abby's choreography is extremely elementary… are we doing dance or are we doing synchronized swimming? "

Then, Jeff brings up Dance Moms season 4, episode 11 "Blame it on the New Girl," in which Cathy pulled her team's group number mere minutes before they were scheduled to compete, because she saw the ALDC group dance, and knew she couldn't win. Cathy says she had never done that before, and the kids were upset (some of them cried), but she felt it was a good decision. Jeff plays a tape to show that even after Cathy's team had an extra week to rehearse that same routine, they still lost to the ALDC.

Jeff introduces an ALDC number that Abby choreographed to mock Cathy, "The Witches of East Canton" from Dance Moms season 4, episode 4 "Chloe vs. Kendall Round 2." Afterward, Jeff asks how it feels to have that dance choreographed in her honor. Cathy quips, "I get under her skin a lot more than she gets underneath mine," and Abby counters, "I think without me she wouldn't get a paycheck."

The final guest Jeff introduces is Kira Girard, Kalani Hilliker's mom, who arrives in fetching pink chiffon dress. Kira says she's been welcomed by all the moms, and that Abby's been amazing. When asked if she thinks Kalani and Maddie's "Two Sapphires" duet was the catalyst for the fight between Abby and Kelly, she says "no," and attributes it to their backstory (Kelly and Abby had been associated through dance for over 30 years). Christi disagrees, saying that bringing Kalani in was the catalyst to get rid of Kelly, "which Abby said was her goal from day one… she was as pleased as a pig in mud."

For the final topic, Jeff focuses on Abby's new "Junior Select Ensemble." The original ALDC moms are unhappy that Abby has formed a new team, and Christy says, "the 14 out of 16 wins that our kids produce aren't enough." Abby calls Christi "uneducated," Christi says Abby "barely graduated high school." Abby says that bringing Kalani into the ALDC made everyone dance better. Jill thinks having the new team to compete against is "gonna put a lot of stress on these kids, " and Holly states losing Brooke and Paige made the team feel "vulnerable."

Jeff closes the show by saying, "With two teams, the stakes are higher for everybody."


Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 18 titled, "No Moms Allowed," the show focuses on the dancers of the ALDC, and we learn their thoughts on the first half of this year's show.

Reese Amorosi (aka Glamorosi) recaps Dance Moms and Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition.
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Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014