'Dance Moms' Recap S4 E26 No More Crybabies: Nia Rocks as Lead Dancer

Nia Frazier, star of Dance Moms on Lifetime
Nia Frazier, star of Dance Moms on Lifetime

Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller temporarily moved Chloe Lukasiak from the Elite Team to the Select Team, and moved Ava Cota from Select to Elite. Chloe wound up in the winning group, but Ava struggled and was dismissed from the Elite Team (but, apparently, not the Select Team). This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 26 titled "No More Crybabies," the three youngest Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) members do solos to determine which of them will compete at Nationals; Jeanette Cota missteps by entering daughter Ava in a competition without consulting Abby; and Nia Frazier dances the lead role in the group routine.

As Dance Moms S4, E26 "No More Crybabies" begins, Christy with a Y and her daughter Sarah H (there are currently two Sarahs with the ALDC, Sarah Hunt and Sarah Reasons); are seen entering Abby's Pittsburgh, PA studio. Sarah was dropped from the Elite Team after Christy with a Y called Abby "garbage," but she still takes lessons there. This week, Gianna "Gia" Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer) tells Abby that Sarah is doing well in class. With that news, and the all-important Nationals coming up, Abby decides to give the young dancer another chance.

The ALDC regulars from the Elite Team plus new girl Tea (from the Select Team) report to rehearsal. Abby congratulates Chloe and Tea on last week's win (they both danced on the Select Team - if you missed Dance Moms S4, E25 titled "Chloe Gets Revenge" click this link for the recap), and also Maddie Ziegler, who had the overall high score at the competition. Then, to the surprise of the group, Abby summons Christy with a Y and Sarah H, but warns Christy that she's not allowed to talk or they'll be dismissed again.

At this point of the show, Abby normally reveals her pyramid – the ranking system she uses for the ALDC that is usually based on the previous week's competition results – but for this episode, in honor of a number she has planned, Abby refers to it as a "totem pole." From the bottom up:
Nia Frazier: she needs to become one with the character.
Mackenzie Ziegler: pulls focus due to timing issues.
Kendall Vertes: needs to work on her turn out.
Tea Adamson: part of winning team, but not the best dancer.
Chloe Lukasiak: was the lead dancer the on winning team.
Maddie Ziegler: had overall high score at the competition.

This week, the ALDC will be traveling to the Energy National Dance Competition in Waterford, Michigan. Abby is having the three youngest team members compete against each other, and whoever loses will be out of the running to do a solo at Nationals. Mackenzie will do a jazz solo called "Out of My Mind"; Sarah H will do a lyrical solo called "On My Own"; Tea will do a musical theater solo called "No Crybabies." The group will do a Native American-inspired jazz routine called "Tribal Council" - Abby got the idea for the number after seeing Cher in concert. Nia will be the lead dancer; Sarah and Tea will not be in the number so they can focus on their solos.

Tami (Tea's mom) says "the word on the street" is that Ava Cota (whom Abby dismissed last week) will be competing against the ALDC at Energy Dance. This means Abby's 10-year-old students – Mackenzie and Tea – will be in direct completion with Ava in the 10-12 division (Sarah H is in the 9 and under category). After hearing this, Abby tells Maddie to have a costume ready "just in case."

While the girls rehearse, the parents head up to the studio mezzanine, aka the Mom Loft, where they gossip and discuss studio business. They talk about how Jeanette is only entering Ava in the competition in the hope that Abby will see her and invite her back to the Elite Team. Holly is excited that Nia has the lead role in the group dance because it means she's being considered for a solo at Nationals. Nia struggles in rehearsal though, and Abby gives her one more day to work on it.

Abby works on the three little ones' solos. Christi (Chloe's mom) says she doesn't think Tea's solo has enough "quality choreography" to bring home a win, but Tami says they'll take what they're given and Tea will rock it. However, in a talking head interview, Tami admits she's a little nervous.

With one day until they leave for the competition, we see the team rehearse their group routine. Abby says she knows Nia can do the stunt work, but wonders if she can deliver the emotion of the piece. Abby tells Holly that Nia isn't doing enough, but Holly disagrees and they take turns saying "Alright, whatever."

The ALDC boards the bus for the Believe competition. Sarah H is in tears because she wants to sit with her mom, but Christy with a Y and Abby both want her to sit with the other girls so she can learn to be more independent. Abby yells, "No crybabies!"

In the competition dressing room, the moms talk about Jeanette and Ava. Since Tami and Jeanette are friends, they made a pact to tell each other if anything was said about either of them, so that's what Tami does. She tells Jeanette, "Heed my warning, stay away; it's not going to be good."

The group competes first with their "Tribal Council" routine; they wear two-piece costumes that are red with gold trim, except for Nia, who wears gold with red trim. They all wear face paint and headpieces, Nia wears a full headdress, and they all take turns dancing on a large drum. This is, of course, culturally inappropriate, and I'm surprised it got by the producers, but I do not fault the girls. Nia rocks as lead dancer in the number.

Sarah H does her "On My Own"solo; she wears a striking, plain black costume with a long, asymmetrical skirt and matching head scarf. She does well, and it's funny watching Christy in the audience mirroring her daughter's facial expressions during the number. Tea is next with her "No Crybabies" solo; she wears a pale pink costume with ruffles. She's a cute dancer and it's a cute number. Mackenzie follows with her "Out of My Mind" solo; she wears a black and silver one-piece costume. It is the most difficult of the three routines and she gives a sassy performance. Still, Abby isn't sure if any of them did enough to beat Ava.

Ava does a lyrical solo; she wears a two piece turquoise costume with a handkerchief skirt. She is a talented dancer with long, graceful limbs, and Abby says she "rose to the challenge." So, Abby tells Maddie to suit up and she enters her in the competition. This is good strategy on Abby's part, but it means that Tea and Mackenzie probably won't have a chance to win the division because Maddie is a stronger, more experienced dancer.

The moms are upset about this development, and think that Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) should have told Abby that she didn't want Maddie to compete so Mackenzie could have her moment in the spotlight. Regardless, Maddie dons her pink costume and performs her "Happiness" lyrical solo that we first saw in last week's episode. She is, of course, lovely.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Petite Solo Division, Sarah H wins 1st Place, and she is also crowned "Miss Energy." In the Junior Solo Division, Tea gets 5th Place; Mackenzie takes 3rd Place; Ava is named 2nd Place; Maddie wins 1st Place and is crowned "Miss Energy" for her division. So, Abby's strategy paid off – Mackenzie would not have beaten Ava, so entering Maddie didn't rob her of a victory. In the Junior Small Group Division, the ALDC wins 1st Place.

Backstage, Abby tells Nia she's proud of her and her hard work, which is nice, but then praises Nia by saying "How" (like the dialog written for Native American characters in classic Western movies), which is ridiculous. When Holly asks if Nia passed the test to go to Nationals, Abby says it takes Nia too long to get from cookie ingredients to the finished cookie. Holly counters that in the end, it’s a cookie you really want to eat.

When Christy with a Y asks if Sarah H has a chance to solo at nationals, Abby answers that if the age division is 9-11, she'll be entering Maddie and not Sarah H. In an interview, Abby says she doesn't think Sarah H is strong enough because she can't go to a competition without her mother.

Jeanette and Ava appear in the ALDC dressing room. Abby tells Jeanette that since Ava is a member of the ALDC's Select Team, she should have been consulted before Ava was entered to dance against her teammates in the Believe competition. Abby tells her, "I think you made it quite clear today that you are not really what I'm looking for for the Select Team. You're done." Jeanette says she hopes Abby doesn't really feel that way, but Abby assures her that she does.

Tami asks Abby if she can be excused to use the restroom, but instead goes to talk to Jeanette. Tami warned Jeanette that showing up at this competition would blow up on her, and it did, but Jeanette says she felt like she didn’t have a choice because she wanted to prove to Abby what Ava could do.

As the episode closes, Abby reminds the girls that they still have two competitions and their dance concert before they go to Nationals, and she tells them, "I mean business." In a talking head interview, Abby says, "I'm not so sure who's going to Nationals. It’s the Abby Lee Dance Company; I'll make those decisions."


Next week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 27 titled "The Understudies" Abby assigns Chloe and Kendall to be Maddie's understudies; the moms keep a score card detailing the amount of times Abby compares one of their daughters to Maddie; and the ALDC competes against Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples Team.

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

Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014