'Dance Moms' Recap - The Politics of Dancing: Maddie and Chloe Compete Against Each Other

Dance Moms stars Chloe and Maddie in rehearsal
Dance Moms stars Chloe and Maddie in rehearsal

On this week’s season 3, episode 15 of Dance Moms titled "The Politics of Dancing", the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) heads to Philadelphia, PA for a competition at which star pupils Maddie and Chloe will compete against each other. Teacher Abby Lee Miller escalates their rivalry by making the team vote for who they think is the better dancer. The ALDC’s tiny team members have some drama of their own: Mackenzie is sidelined with a foot injury and has to watch as new girl Asia Ray gets parts that would usually go to her.

This week new team member Asia Ray and her mom Kristie (from Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition aka AUDC) are the first to arrive at the dance studio. Jill (Kendall’s mom) says she doesn’t like Kristie because she’s “already positioning herself to be Abby’s favorite.”

Abby reveals her pyramid (the ranking system she uses for the ALDC) from the bottom up: Mackenzie (you’re injured, you didn’t dance, you stayed home); Brooke (you are 15 years old, we all make choices); Chloe (you part of a trio, that trio should have won, it was second); Kendall (also part of a trio that came in second); Maddie (you were part of the trio too, what went wrong?); Paige (if I give you the responsibility to be part of the group number, work harder); Nia (you’ve been flying under the radar). At the top of the pyramid it’s Asia (you’re our big winner, this is a reflection of your score, not your legs or feet, those things all need a lot of attention). At this point Mackenzie (she's a tiny girl like Asia, and has been sidelined due to a foot injury) starts to cry and tells Abby, “I feel dizzy.”

This week the ALDC will be heading to Philadelphia, PA, for the Powerhouse Dance Competition at the Temple Performing Arts Center. Asia will be doing a jazz solo called “Ready for War” in which she will portray Rosie the Riveter. Maddie will do a contemporary solo called “I’m Trying”. Chloe will do a lyrical solo called “Am I Here to Stay?”

The group dance will be a lyrical number called “Free the People”. It’s loosely based on the political system, but it’s more about what goes on behind the scenes in the dance studio and at competitions. Abby teaches the girls, “Politics is life because it’s about who you know. Hey whatever it takes, right?” Jill schools the rest of us on Dance Mom politics: “We’re all competing all of the time to keep our daughters on top.”

The action moves to Melissa’s house, where she discusses homeschooling with her daughters Maddie and Mackenzie, and then with a tutor who drops by. Melissa is interested in homeschooling so her kids will have more time for lessons and themselves. Later at the dance studio Melissa tells the other Dance Moms she's considering homeschooling, and they’re not keen on the idea. Holly (Nia’s mom), who is a school principal (on leave), says “Taking kids out of school is really serious, and I’m not sure Melissa is doing it for the right reasons.” Kelly (Brooke and Paige’s mom) is more succinct; she thinks it’s a “crock of s—t”.

Meanwhile, Abby has been having a hard time deciding how to use Asia in the group number, and decides that toward the end of the routine, Asia will run onto the stage carrying an American flag, then drape it over Paige, who will then hold it aloft (and then fold it?) at the end of the dance. (Later in the episode you’ll see that despite the fact that Abby thinks this is a crucial part of the number, they don’t spend much time rehearsing it until they are backstage at the competition).

The Dance Moms think that this makes Asia look like she can’t dance, but her mom Kristie doesn’t care; she says people – and the judges – know Asia can dance. The Moms, and most pointedly, Holly, say they didn’t even know who Asia was until she arrived at ALDC. Kristie is like, pfffft, whatevs.

With two days left before the competition in Philly, the Dance Moms ponder the group dance attire – they don’t want to deface the American flag to make costumes. Abby has a different trip going on – she offers, “In the history of the ALDC there has always been more than one top dancer, now there’s Maddie and Chloe. She plans on escalating that rivalry (and furthering the theme of politics) by making the team sit in the audience in Philly and vote for who they think is a better dancer. Abby is also pitting her two youngest dancers against each other – she makes Mackenzie sit and watch Asia during rehearsal.

I’m all for friendly, professional competition (more on Maddie and Chloe later), but like I said in last week’s recap, I think it’s ridiculous to take the position that a dance group can only have one small girl; there’s no reason Asia and Mackenzie can’t coexist on the same team.

With one day left until they hit Philly, the girls rehearse the group number. When Asia runs in with the flag the rest of the dancers are supposed to chase her, but they get bunched up and it looks like a few of them, including Kendall, are running ahead of her. Abby freaks and yells at Kendall, which is upsetting to her mom Jill because, as she says, “I walked her dog and bought her gifts and she’s still yelling at Kendall.” Jill tries to talk to Abby about it, but Abby shuts her down and says Kendall is a brat. Jill yells, “There are brats in there, and Kendall’s not one of them and you know it.” For those of you just tuning in to Dance Moms, to me Kendall has never seemed like a brat, but she is sensitive and easily brought to tears.

When the team arrives in Philly, Abby suddenly has dark hair. It’s a weird choice in terms of the show’s continuity, but she looks nice.

While the team gets ready for the show, Jill tries to prove Kendall isn't the only team member who cries by telling Abby, “Asia was crying in the dressing room the other night!” Abby doesn’t take the bait – instead she says, “I can’t believe you’re tattle-taling on a seven year old,” then adds, “We all know who the crybaby on the team is”.

The competition begins. The ALDC girls do the “Free the People” group dance in two-piece outfits festooned with bits of red, white and blue flag-inspired material. It’s a good routine that ends with a sharp salute, but the flag hand-off was a mess. Kristie was worried that if the flag went wrong Asia would be blamed, but Abby faults Paige, despite her mom Kelly’s protest that Asia put the flag over Paige upside-down.

Asia does her “Ready for War” jazz solo dressed as Rosie the Riveter in grey pants, a button down shirt and a bandanna. It’s a sassy number with lots of acro, and she does well.

Abby hands out ballots so the girls can judge Maddie and Chloe from the audience. I am actually not horrified that Abby is fostering the competition between these two – they will face this every day of their lives both on stage and off – and they are both wonderful dancers. Back when I was a young performer there was a girl who was my main competition – sometimes I won, sometimes she won: apples and oranges, chocolate and vanilla, night and day… it just depended on what a given group of judges liked on a given day. Be like ducks, little dancelings, and let it roll off of your backs.

Chloe performs her solo in a long red skirt and top embellished with rhinestones. It’s an elegant dance, and Chloe is wonderful, as always.

Maddie does her solo in a light blue two-piece costume. It’s a contemporary piece with a lot of turns, and Maddie is wonderful, as always.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Small Group Division, ALDC comes in 2nd place. In the Petite Solo Division Asia wins 1st Place, prompting Christi to say, “If you don’t know Asia, Holly, now you do.” In the Junior Solo Division Chloe takes 2nd Place and Maddie wins 1st Place.

Once they are backstage again, Abby counts the Maddie vs. Chloe ballots, and Maddie wins 7 to 3. There was one throwaway vote, because Kelly voted for Paige, and this hurt Christi’s feelings because Chloe could have used the vote.

Abby says, “That’s what your teammates thought”, and then tells at Chloe, “Take that sadness and put it into your dancing, use more emotion.”

Christi asks Abby, “Next time your kids go head-to- head are you gonna make them vote? Christi thinks the vote was yet another way for Abby to make Chloe feel bad about herself.

On next week’s episode of Dance Moms Abby tells the team that she’s been officially invited to be on The View.

To see all of our Dance Moms coverage click here.

Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime

Photos by ©Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime