'Dance Moms' Recap Season 3 Episode 24: An Apple a Day Keeps Abby Away

Cathy Nesbitt Stein from Dance Moms
Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from Dance Moms

On the season 6 premiere of True Blood, a character named Lafayette who talks to the dead and lives in a town with vampires, faeries and werewolves, described watching a shape-shifter transform as, “the strangest thing I’ve ever seen on TV, and I watch Dance Moms.” Is Dance Moms strange? It’s so close to what my childhood as a competitive performer was like that none of it seems odd to me. Abby Lee Miller is a ringer for one of my teachers – right down to the blatant favoritism – and all of the Dance Moms, even Candy Apple Cathy and her drama mama pals “Black Patsy” and Yvette, the focus of this week’s season 3, episode 24 titled “An Apple a Day Keeps Abby Away”, remind me of my teammates' parents. For me, watching Dance Moms is just like another day on the road.

You know what is strange to me though? That for this episode Abby was away (it seems this was filmed when Abby was in LA shooting season 2 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition), and we didn't see the ALDC girls dance.

This week there is no pyramid (the ranking system for the Abby Lee Dance Company aka ALDC), and we see very little of our dancelings because Abby and her friend John are in LA while she films AUDC 2 and looks for new studio space. The first property they visit is equipped with stripper poles and Cirque du Soleil-style silks hanging from the ceiling. We learn that Abby is having her Pittsburgh studio outfitted with silks because they are prevalent in choreography now, and she feels it’s a skill well-rounded students must learn. We also hear that Abby is considering a permanent move to the West Coast, and that she thinks her favorite students, sisters Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler would follow her, but not the others.

So, with Abby out of town we don’t see the fallout from last week’s show in which Chloe was stripped of her win and it was given to Maddie due to a scoring error that was pointed out to the competition directors by Abby. Instead, we see brief shots of the ALDC girls practicing with Abby’s second-in-command, dance teacher Gianna. Most of this episode centers on rival studio Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC), and its owner Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her quest to rebuild her team after last week’s loss to the ALDC.

Candy Apple Cathy welcomes her students, and tells them she had a horrendous week. Choreographer Anthony Burrell is there, and says he likes the challenge of working with Cathy and wants the team to be a contender against the ALDC. Cathy sent little Gino packing last week – she didn’t think his father Mickey was loyal to her – so the candy Apple boys who are left are Zack, Nick, and Jalen. This week there are also three new girls: Hadley and her mom Yvette (pronounced “Yuvette”) who were on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC) with Zack and Anthony; Campbell and her mom Alli; Mari and her mom Gina. They are all happy and excited to be on the team, but this is short lived, because Cathy tells them that she’s going to cut one of them. Apparently she prefers to have an odd number of dancers on her team so she can highlight one and still have even number performing on either side of them.

The news of a cut immediately ignites a rivalry between the parents. While Anthony rehearses with the team, Mari’s mom Gina fans the flames and tells Dance Dad Rick that his son Jalen, a break dancer, is the one who should go because all he does is spin on his head. This fuels a break dance vs. ballet fight – Gina thinks anyone can break dance – but Rick puts that fire out when he tells her, “this conversation is over” and leaves the room. Then Nick’s mom Donna tells Gina that Rick is crazy because he’s “from the street.” The moms come off looking uninformed about dance – break dance is not an easy style to learn – and misguided in their elitism.

The next scene has the Dance Moms from the ALDC at a restaurant in Pittsburgh called Mohan’s, where they drink a toast to Abby being out of town. Jill says it’s “such a relief to go to dance and not having Abby scream at the kids.” When she expresses her doubts about Abby’s personality and her ability to make it in LA, Asia’s mom Kristie says, “They love her out there,” and points out that there are a lot of people like Abby there. It’s true. If these kids continue to pursue careers in the entertainment business, they will meet people who make Abby look like a pussycat.

Then Nia’s mom Holly asks if they think Candy Apple Cathy will continue to pursue the ALDC at competitions, and the action shifts back to the CADC. After being on the team for only one day, new girl Mari has called out sick, and Cathy doubts her commitment. She also thinks Campbell isn’t cutting it in rehearsals. With their next competition at Dance USA fast approaching, Cathy decides to bring in another dancer, so she calls Kaya Wiley aka “Black Patsy” (a nickname she gave herself to mirror Jon Benet Ramsey’s mother) and her daughter Nicaya.

Black Patsy and Nicaya arrive, and Mari’s mom Gina is annoyed that Cathy called them. Alli winds up upset too, when Cathy cuts her daughter Campbell from the group number a day before the competition and tells her she can be the understudy, leaving the young dancer in tears.

Nick Daniels photo by Anthony Burrell
Nick Daniels performs his solo
Then, when Cathy assigns solos to Zack (a contemporary routine called “The Puppet”) and Hadley (a jazz number called “The Golden Couch”), Nick’s mom is portrayed as being miffed about Hadley, because she thinks the newbies should pay their dues and earn a place in the spotlight. However, if you pay attention to Twitter, there is controversy over this, because it turns out Nick did have a solo in the Dance USA competition called "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and he won 1st place with the overall high score. Anthony Burrell took a gorgeous photo of Nick in flight during his number, and both he and Nick posted “WTH” Tweets. Editing! I don’t imagine Lifetime can see all of this unfolding and not be thinking “Spin-off!” – I know I am.

Nick Daniels Twitter
Nick Daniels Tweets his surprise that his dance was cut

Anthony Burrell Twitter
Choreographer Anthony Burrell calls cutting Nick's dance "wack"

Nick Daniels Twitter about solo being cut
Nick Tweets that he had the highest score of the competition

Next we see a scene in which Abby is in the chair in the AUDC makeup room, and her friend John comes in and convinces her that she should find out what’s going on back home, so she calls Jill and charges her with a fact finding mission at the upcoming Dance USA show.

Then it’s competition day, and the CADC gets ready backstage. Cathy and Zack’s mom Gina argue with Anthony about Zack’s costume, a puppet outfit with shorts that are reminiscent of Pinocchio. Cathy calls the shorts “Speedos”, Zack cries, and then changes into long black pants. Crisis averted.

ALDC moms Jill, Kelly and Holly arrive in the CADC dressing room, and try to pass off their presence as dance research. Then it’s time for the competition, and the ALDC moms take their seats behind Cathy, Anthony, and the CADC moms.

Hadley does her routine in a gold two-piece bikini-style costume with a white half skirt; Zack does his number in a vest, striped shirt, bow tie, and the aforementioned black pants. It’s nice to see Hadley shine, and Anthony worked very cool marionette moves into Zack’s dance. Kelly concedes that Hadley and Zack are “beautiful dancers”, but points out that “Cathy didn’t create those dancers.” Then we see Jill call Abby and she fills her in on Cathy's new team members.

Backstage, Yvette hugs Anthony. Mari’s mom Gina doesn’t like it that Yvette said the reason she was there was for Anthony (instead of saying she was there for Cathy or the team), and Black Patsy says Yvette is “up Anthony’s --- all day,” and that Yvette is living through her daughter. Even Zack’s mom Gina, who was one of the quieter members of AUDC, joins the argument against Yvette. Given that Anthony, Hadley and Yvette worked together before, for me Yvette’s loyalty to Anthony is a non-issue.

Anthony gives the team a pep talk, and then they perform their group dance called “First Kiss” for the judges. The boys are in pink shirts and white shorts; the girls wear white costumes with pink trim. What I like about this number, and all of Anthony’s work I’ve seen on Dance Moms, is that he choreographs every routine as if it were on a professional stage instead of a kid’s dance competition. That’s how it should be – it’s better preparation for the students who aspire to be working dancers.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Solo Division, Zack is 3rd. Anthony believes Zack would have placed higher if he had been wearing the puppet costume with shorts because the “judges would have seen the vision.” In the Teen Solo Division, Hadley takes 2nd Place. In the Junior Group Division, the CADC wins 1st Place. Even with the victory, Cathy is still determined to cut a member, but we don’t see it this week – she says she has to discuss it with Viv (her daughter Vivi-Anne) first.

There’s a quick shot of Abby calling home to her Pittsburgh studio to make sure her students are showing up for class (“When Abby’s away the mice will play”), and she tells Gianna she may have found a studio space in Beverly Hills.

Back in Youngstown, Ohio, as they are all leaving Dance USA, the ALDC Dance Moms run into the CADC crew, and words are exchanged. The ALDC moms ask why Vivi-Anne didn’t dance, and why there were four girl dancers traveling with the group, but only three on stage. Then Jill and Black Patsy, who have a history of bad blood since Black Patsy made a crack about Jill’s daughter Kendall not being a good dancer (for the record, Kendall is a lovely dancer), get into an argument. The episode ends with Black Patsy putting her pointer finger on the tip of Jill’s nose and pushing her backwards. Just another day on the road.


So, what are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Did Cathy make a good move bringing in Yvette and Black Patsy? Was Mari's mom Gina was out of line telling Rick his son Jalen should be cut? (I think so.) Would you watch a Dance Moms spin-off about Candy Apple Cathy and the CADC? Anyone have info on Abby moving to LA or the new space she found? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays 9/8c on Lifetime

Cathy Nesbitt-Stein Photo by Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime
Nick Daniels photo ©Anthony Burrell 2013

NOTE: In previous recaps I missed the fact that the Dance Moms special that aired after the mid-season finale titled, "The Mother of All Specials" was episode 19, so my last few recaps were a number off. I can't change them now because so many website linked to them, but beginning with this recap - episode 24 - I am back on track. My apologies for the confusion.

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2013