|L to R: Abby Lee Miller and Cathy Nesbitt-Stein on Dance Moms season 4|
Previously on Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller presented her annual dance concert, and Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) members performed 45-second solos to audition for a spot at Nationals. This week, on the first half of the Dance Moms season 4 finale (episode 30) titled "Hollywood Here We Come, Part 1," the team is in Los Angeles to compete at Nationals, and Abby rewards Kendall Vertes, Chloe Lukasiak and Kamryn Beck with solos. Meanwhile, Maddie Ziegler is on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with singer Sia (Maddie stars in her "Chandelier" video); Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) challenges the ALDC to a dance-off; Abby announces she's opening a studio in LA.
When Part 1 of the Dance Moms season 4 finale (S4, E30) opens, the ALDC is in Los Angeles, CA, instead of their usual home base of Pittsburgh, PA. Abby boasts, "This city is all about stars, and I make stars." Both the Elite Team (the original girls) and the Select Team (new girls) report for rehearsal. The Elite moms aren't happy to see the Select Team; the Elite Team has won at Nationals for three years in a row, but the Select Team consistently beats them in competitions.
Abby reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the ALDC. The pyramid is usually based on how the dancers fared at the previous week's competition (if you missed the episode, read my recap for Dance Moms S4, E29 "45 Second Solos"), and Abby works from the bottom up:
Chloe Lukasiak: didn’t dance due to injury; has doctor clearance to dance at Nationals.
Mackenzie Ziegler: last week's performance was inconsistent.
Nia Frazier: was good and strong, but was better the week before.
Kendall Vertes: nailed her moves in group routine.
Kamryn Beck: projected to the back of the theater.
Maddie Ziegler: Abby has "seen her best, over and over again."
This week, Abby has Maddie, Mackenzie (aka Mack Z) and the rest of the Elite Team booked for a personal appearance inside the Hollywood and Highland Center complex. They are also entered in Intensity Dance Competition's Nationals; it's the ALDC's biggest competition of the year. The Elite Team will be doing a contemporary group number called "Amber Alert"; The Select Team will be doing a contemporary group number called "Hollywood Stars."
Next, Abby says, "After much consideration, I have narrowed it down to three soloists: Kendall (Elite) will be doing a jazz solo called "My Name in Lights"; Chloe (Elite) will do a contemporary solo called "Soaring"; Kamryn Beck (Select) will be doing a solo called "This is the Start." Maddie will not be doing a solo because she's going to be busy with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (it aired in July of 2014; she taught him how to do her routine from Sia's "Chandelier" video).
Holly objects to Abby's assignments because her daughter, Nia, has been with the ALDC for years and has never has a solo at Nationals. Abby tells Holly and Nia if they don't like it they can leave, but Nia, who has more grace than most adults, calmly responds, "I'm still dancing for you, there's nothing about that. It's just, some things are really hard because I've been here a lot longer than a lot of people." Nia rocks. In a talking head interview, Abby says Nia "choked" during last week's dance concert, and that she can "shape up or ship out."
Then, Abby makes a big announcement: next year, the Elite and Select Teams won't be competing against each other because she is opening a dance studio in LA, and she's only bringing her "star dancers" with her. Of course, Maddie will make the cut, but who else? That remains to be seen.
Gianna "Gia" Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer) enters the studio with a delivery. It's a large, red box that says, "Bite me" and "Cathy," so clearly it’s from Abby's nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein; she owns the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) in Canton, Ohio.
Abby pushes the box aside and is ready to get back to business, but Jeanette Cota and her daughter Ava arrive, and Ava is wearing ALDC gear. Abby asks, "How did Ava and Jeanette end up here at this rehearsal studio? Do they think I've lost my mind? That I didn't remember kicking them out?" Abby raises her arms and when Ava gives her a hug, Abby takes the opportunity to remove Ava's ALDC team jacket and says, "She's not part of the team... you were cut from the team." Jeanette won’t take "no" for an answer, so Abby dismisses Ava from the team again, and tells them to get out.
The action shifts to Candy Apple Cathy and the CADC team rehearsal. Cathy says, "The only reason that we are here is to beat ALDC and Abby Miller… I have spared no expenses to make this year the winning year." This is an ongoing problem with Cathy: she should be there for the betterment of her own students, not just so she can beat Abby. Anyway, Cathy has brought in Chehon, season 9 winner from So You Think You Can Dance, to choreograph the CADC routines. Cathy has decided to use Sia's "Chandelier" as the theme for the group dance, which will be a contemporary piece. What a jerk move, to use the song that made Maddie, Abby's top student, a star.
Meanwhile, in the ALDC's temporary studio, the moms decide to open the package Cathy sent. It's a chandelier with apples between the lights. Jill (Kendall's mom) guesses correctly that it's a message that the CADC will be doing a spoof on "Chandelier." Then, Cathy shows up, uninvited, of course, and Christi (Chloe's mom) suggests that she brings the chandelier to Abby. Cathy does, plus she makes several cracks about the fact that Abby didn't choreograph the "Chandelier" video, insults Abby's bracelet and calls her a monkey because she's eating a banana. On her way out, she tells Christi with an I (Chloe's mom), who is wearing a green dress, that she looks "like a big booger." It's the usual juvenile Cathy nonsense.
When the Select Team reports for rehearsal, Christy with a Y (Sarah Hunt's mom) carries in the apple chandelier and starts talking about it. Abby sees this as babbling and interfering with the rehearsal, so she tells Christy to shut up and an argument begins. Christy's daughter, Sarah, starts to cry, and Abby yells, "Sarah! No babies!" Christy responds, "All I asked was about the stupid thing in the box, don't take it out on her." And so, Christy and daughter Sarah H get dismissed from the ALDC again. Sarah Hunt getting cut from the ALDC is the Dance Moms equivalent of Kenny getting killed on South Park – it happens every week.
Abby says goodbye to the moms – she has a few meetings and then she's going to hang with Maddie at her Jimmy Kimmel gig. After she leaves, the Select Team moms discuss how Abby hasn't spent much time with the girls, and Tracey (Sarah Reasons' mom) says, "I think all of us have a lot to be worried about."
At the next CADC rehearsal, Cathy tells her team that they're going to crash the ALDC appearance at Hollywood and Highland. She says she's going to steal the spotlight and steal the win at Nationals. It's sad to see that every time Cathy makes an announcement, her students look tense.
Back at the ALDC's studio, Chloe rehearses her solo. Christi says, "It's Nationals week, and Abby is clearly not in our game. She's looking at new studios, she's leaving early to watch Maddie at Jimmy Kimmel, she's not even at the studio for rehearsals. Like, did she just use Nationals as an excuse to get out here a and kind of work on all of her other things, 'cause that's what it feels like to us." Christi is also not pleased with the routine – she tells Gia that they are "f-----g" Chloe with the choreography, but Gia responds that "there's nothing to worry about."
Jill (Kendall's mom) is also feeling Abby's absence. She says, "Again, Abby is missing in action, she hasn't spent any time with the soloists. Chloe, Kendall and Kamryn have only gotten a few minutes to learn their solos. At this rate, who knows who's going to win Nationals. Abby will take a look at the solos, decide they're not good enough, and throw Maddie in at the last minute. I would put nothing past her by doing that." To that end, the moms question Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) about Maddie is doing a solo, and she says "no," but they doubt that Maddie's calm response to not getting a solo was genuine because it was, as Holly puts it, "too neatly packaged."
The ALDC arrives at the Hollywood and Highland Center for their appearance. The event is emceed by dancer/choreographer Ephraim "E-Baby" Penn from the PennPoint Dance Academy (located in Bakersfield, CA). Abby tells the crowd that ALDC-LA will be opening in the Fall, and she asks E-Baby to teach a hip hop at the new studio. It would be a good deal for the ALDC; E-Baby's choreography is fantastic. E-Baby's students bust out some awesome moves, and then Cathy shows up. She gets on the mic and calls out, "Where's my good buddy Abby?" Abby starts to make a hasty exit, but then Cathy challenges the ALDC to a dance-off.
The kids take turns dancing, then E-Baby announces three finalists: Chloe and Nia from the ALDC, and McKenzie Morales from the CADC. They are judged by audience vote, and McKenzie is the solo winner. Cathy tries to get Abby to dance, but Abby just mouths, "kiss my a--." In Round 2 of the group dance battle, the crowd cheers loudest for the ALDC, so they win.
As part 1 of the Dance Moms season 4 finale closes, Abby tells the camera, "We won the group dance-off, now, we have to focus on Nationals. I need every single person on my team perfected in the routines that we're taking to Nationals. It's the end of the season, anything can happen."
Next week, on the second half of the Dance Moms season 4 finale titled "Hollywood Here We Come, Part 2" (season 4, episode 31), just as the moms anticipated, Abby considers pulling an ALDC solo and having Maddie compete instead; Abby threatens to cut the losing team from the ALDC; Christi and Chloe make a decision about their tenure at the ALDC.
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Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime
Posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2014