'Dance Moms' Recap S4 E24 Abby-phobic: ALDC vs. Studio Bleu

Sisters Maddie Ziegler and Mackenzie Ziegler from Dance Moms
L to R: Sisters Maddie Ziegler and Mackenzie Ziegler from Dance Moms

Previously on Dance Moms, Maddie Ziegler was away taping an appearance on Ellen, so Abby Lee Miller turned to other members of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) to perform winning solos, and Christy with a Y antagonized Abby so her daughter, Sarah Hunt, was cut from the team. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 24 titled "Abby-phobic," Jade Cloud, a member of the Abby's Select Team, is invited to perform with her Elite Team. Jade competes head-to-head with teammate Chloe Lukasiak, and the group goes up against one of their toughest opponents, Studio Bleu.

As Dance Moms S4 E24 "Abby-phobic" opens, Abby says that with "Maddie's star on the rise she could be called away at any moment," and explains that Maddie is getting a lot bookings since starring in the video for the song "Chandelier" by Sia. So, in order to have a back-up in case Maddie is busy, Abby brings in "Select Team" (Abby's 2nd team – they are currently on hiatus) member Jade Cloud to dance with the "Elite Team" (the original ALDC girls). Jade's mom is Loree Cloud; she owns two studios called the New England Dance and Gymnastics Centers in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Abby reveals her pyramid, the system she uses to rank the dancers of the ALDC. The standings are usually based on the results from the previous week's competition (if you missed last week's episode read my Dance Moms S4 E23 recap), although sometimes other factors such as ego and favoritism color the results. The Dance Moms S4 E24 pyramid from the bottom up:
Chloe: came in 2nd Place, and "second is the first one to lose."
Nia: came in 4th Place.
Mackenzie: needs to stand up straighter.
Maddie: was great in the group dance and was on Ellen.
Kendall: won 1st Place overall high score.

This week the ALDC will be traveling to the Imagine Dance Challenge in Woodbridge, Virginia, where they will be competing against Studio Bleu, a popular and talented team that has beaten the ALDC in the past. In fact, Abby tells the girls that she doesn't think they're going to win this week, so she's shelving the planned group dance (she wants to save it for Nationals), and they will instead do an as-yet-unnamed number. Jade will do an acrobatic solo called "Far East"; Chloe will do a contemporary solo called "They Don't Want My Kind around Here."

While Abby and assistant choreographer Gianna "Gia" Martello brainstorm ideas for the group dance, the parents head up to the Mom Loft, the mezzanine where they hang out, gossip, and talk about studio business. They discuss the fact that Abby has no group routine, and all of them, especially Loree (who left her two studios behind so Jade could dance with the ALDC this week), want her to do "the great number she was going to put together" so they have a chance against Studio Bleu. Christi (Chloe's mom) is ticked off that Abby is making Chloe, age 12 (at the time) dance head-to-head with Jade, who is 15. Loree thinks Christi should take it as a compliment, but Christi, who has "103 weeks" experience dealing with Abby, doesn't agree.

Abby decides to do a group dance with the theme of phobias (and as the episode progresses, we learn it's a contemporary piece called "There's Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself"). Abby directs the girls to do 16 counts of improv about their fears, but Mackenzie (Maddie's sister) isn't keen on "winging it" - she runs out of the room and then returns in tears. Abby is annoyed and sends her to the Mom Loft, then shortly after, she benches Mackenzie, so she's not in the group routine.

However, the moms say that benching Mackenzie is a strategic move on Abby's part: with 9-year-old Mackenzie out of the number, the ALDC can move up to the Teen Division and not have to compete against Studio Bleu because they'll be in the Junior Division. Hmm…

Jade and Chloe rehearse their solos. Abby seems to put more time into Jade's solo, and when the girls talk amongst themselves, we hear that Chloe's solo is only partially choreographed. Christi says, "Abby stacks the deck completely against Chloe, like if she ever does win it's in spite of Abby, not because of her." Later, Christi elaborates: "I think that Chloe knows that whenever Abby brings in a new kid she always has to dance against them, and history has proven that Abby always spends a lot of time with the new kid and she's really excited for it, and her [Chloe's] solo's always kinda like the throwaway dance of the week."

Abby and the team arrive at the Imagine Dance Challenge, and discover that Studio Bleu will be competing against the ALDC in the Teen Division. The moms attempt to question Abby about it, but she pretends to read a book, and then says she has online banking to do and leaves the room. The moms want Abby to reinstate Mackenzie and move the team back to the Junior Division, and they nominate Loree to plead their case because she's a dance teacher and Abby considers her a colleague. Loree gives it a shot, but Abby doesn't budge.

Jade competes first with her acro solo; she wears a two-piece hot pink and black costume with a fan as a prop. Loree mentioned that Jade hasn't done an acrobatic routine since she was 7, but that's not evident and she does a great job. Chloe dances next; she wears a long, white chiffon dance dress with silver trim. She gives a lovely, emotional performance.

As the ALDC runs the group number in the dressing room, Chloe comes out of a turn and accidentally smacks Maddie in the mouth. Maddie is not hurt and the girls continue to practice, but Christi and Abby squabble over it: Christi points out it was an accident, Abby points out that Chloe needs spatial awareness. Abby tells Chloe to apologize, Christi yells that Abby is a witch.

Studio Bleu performs their contemporary group number in unembellished, black, two-piece costumes, and they are fantastic. The ALDC does their group number; they wear gorgeous blush colored lace dresses with a lined top and sheer skirt, and they are also fantastic. Studio Bleu is clearly older and more experienced, but I prefer the ALDC's routine.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Solo Division, Chloe takes 6th Place; Jade gets 3rd Place; Kaeli Ware from Studio Bleu wins 1st Place. In the Teen Group Division, the ALDC scores 2nd Place; Studio Bleu wins 1st Place.

Backstage, Abby advises the girls, "You're gonna get older, and you have to get better." Abby congratulates Chloe, who humbly replies, "Thank you." When Abby congratulates Jade, Loree says "I'm not happy with it… I'm used to Jade scoring much higher than that," and she voices her displeasure that Abby made Jade do acro. Abby is unhappy that Loree is challenging her authority and asks, "Are you saying that you don't want Jade on the team?" Loree answers that she's "definitely questioning it." Abby responds, "So be it," and adds, "there's lots of kids that want her spot." As Abby exits the room, she announces that she's going to start working on Nationals.


Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 25 titled "Chloe Gets Revenge," both ALDC teams are featured. Abby swaps Chloe and Christi from the Elite Team for Jade and Loree from the Select Team, and Ava Cota gets to compete against Maddie.

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Dance Moms airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Lifetime
Photo courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014