by Kylene Hamulak
Dance Moms hope to get lucky in this episode, as they head for Las Vegas where, as Abby notes, "You either hit the jackpot or you LOSE."
Abby really likes Vegas, which is probably why, after two weeks of playing hooky at the studio in Pittsburgh, she's finally decided to stick around for the girls. The Moms march in to greet her, still demanding a better explanation.
Abby starts out with a pretty respectable reasoning - she didn't want to have to get in a fight with Candy Apple Crazies. But then she drags Kelly into it again, claiming she made a spectacle in Orlando that the judges noticed.
You know what's so confusing about Dance Moms? I can never tell who is craziest. For example, for a hot second right there, I was on Team Kelly. But then Kelly starts squawking about how Abby should've let her sit in that seat, and Abby points out there were a thousand other seats, and then - this is the good part - Kelly asks why ABBY doesn't have to do things. The pause as Abby looks around - because we all KNOW why Abby doesn't have to do things when it comes to ALDC - earned a chuckle from me.
It's true. Abby's shirt even says "ABBY LEE DANCE COMPANY." So when it comes to the studio and the team, I guess Abby sort of DOES have a little bit more of a leg to pirouette on. "It's all about me," Abby reminds her.
Well, for me, it's all about our dancers, so let's get to them, even if it is for pyramid. Dr. Holly's got a good question - how exactly has Abby gone about creating pyramid if she hasn't even been around for the last two competitions? She's like Santa, Holly. She's got helpers watching. So don't pout.
Paige is lowest on the pyramid, next to Brooke. Kelly's obviously pissed because she thinks Abby's being tough on her kids. Nia's on the bottom too, next to Kendall, both needing to work harder and be more consistent.
Mackenzie isn't with the team this week, but she's on the middle row of pyramid, where she should be learning that she can't let Asia outshine her. In Las Vegas. While she's in Pittsburgh. Asia's in the middle too, next to Maddie, who is always annoyed when she gets kicked off the top of the pyramid. Abby wants to see her work harder and set her goals higher.
You know, I know that Chloe is the only girl left, but part of me, until Abby revealed her headshot, was still a little nervous that maybe someone else's head would be under that paper. Gianna's maybe? Chloe deserves it, and hopefully it helps develop her confidence.
Solos this week go to Asia and Kendall, along with Brooke and Paige. The twist, however, is that Abby tells Kelly's girls that none of the Abby Lee teachers want to work with them (probably because they fear for their jobs/lives), so outsider Ricky Palomino will be coming in to choreograph for them. The group routine will be "The Brat Pack", though it will not include Asia.
The Brat Pack routine will pay homage to the original Las Vegas Rat Pack, and Abby is challenging them to be COOL, not cute. Holly thinks everyone will be surprised to see their "beautiful little girls" come out dressed like men. Someone needs to tell Holly that dance pants, brightly colored shirts, and fedoras do not equal "dressed like men." Abby has very specific instructions for the girls this week: "No sun. No fun. No chlorine. No swimming."
Boy, this sounds like a great trip!
Meanwhile, Kelly gets a call from Brooke's manager that she's got a couple of opportunities for appearances in Las Vegas while they're there. Sounds great, right? Oh, except that Brooke will have to miss practice. I'm sure Abby will be fine with it.
(Note: There's a complete double standard, of course, because Abby WOULD allow Asia to just flit off and do an "appearance," but we all know damn well this is going to be an issue for Kelly.)
Paige is rehearsing her solo with Ricky, and Abby, so far, is not impressed. She has an "upwards of $500" costume being made for this routine, which she tells Ricky, who, so far, is not impressed. Paige appreciates Ricky's teaching style, but she is nervous about how it's going to turn out. The routine, that is. Not the costume. Anyway, cue to a montage of Abby making Paige miserable.
Brooke already seems pretty confident but also stressed out because she has a tv interview this week in addition to her solo. Ricky thinks she seems a little nervous, but Brooke tells us, "It's definitely not Ricky that's makin' me nervous." Here's a hint at the culprit: it's NOT the tv interview.
In her solo, Asia is becoming a pink flamingo, strutting around with her nose in the air "like she owns the strip." Kristie thinks she's hitting everything, yet all I hear is Abby's voice yelling commands.
So cue to Kelly and Brooke in the limo, en route to the big tv interview. Brooke is nervous...nervous that her mom is going to embarrass her. Seems like a plausible thing to be worried about, actually. Honestly, no matter what anybody/Kelly tries to tell me, I am still not convinced that Brooke wants a music career. She always looks uncomfortable and embarrassed, and she doesn't always have Kelly to blame.
Also uncomfortable: Paige, whenever she's with ALDC. Despite her insistence that she wants to be there, Kelly thinks it's unhealthy for her, since her relationship with Abby is stressing her out to the point of being sick.
Case in point, as the group begins rehearsals by having each girl perform it individually, Paige notes, "I wish Ricky could teach the group rehearsal because he gives you nice critiques. Not screaming at you." When it's her turn, Paige has what Kelly describes as anxiety, leading to tears and difficulty breathing. Kelly sticks around ALDC because she thinks Abby's going to get her kids somewhere. That's great. I hope some of those connections include therapists, because Paige is definitely going to need one if this continues.
She's not the only one crying this week. At the competition, Kendall gets nervous backstage and seems on the verge of tears as Jill comforts her. Abby is making all these girls anxious about dancing. Dancing don't create problems, Kendall! It SOLVES them! (Shout out to the Hip Hop Kids for that quote.) I really enjoyed her "Luxor" routine, even though Abby was coaching her throughout it. If I was Kendall, I probably would've stopped dancing and been like, "Whaaaa? I can't hear you - look at WHOM?"
Asia, "The Flamingo," moves so quickly, I can't even tell how the routine is going. She's skilled, no doubt, but I think she could benefit from a little more finesse. Still, there's no one on that stage who can out-sass her, and that's exactly what the pink flamingo called for.
Brooke comes out for "Now Is My Time" with Kelly telling us that she thinks her daughter holds back because of Abby. Brooke looks nice dancing, but the choreography wasn't all that impressive. Abby says, "Ricky doesn't know what Brooke is capable of." Sometimes it seems like she wants them to do well, and other times, I can't figure out why she's got to beat them down so much.
Paige, meanwhile, tells Kelly that she's terrified for Abby to watch her dance. Kelly just wants her to get out on stage, but shortly after Paige begins, it's obvious she shouldn't have. You can almost see the routine fall out of Paige's mind as her face falls and she stops dancing, despite Kelly's coaxing to "keep going." Melissa's despair tells the story we all felt. If you didn't want to run up there and either give Paige a hug or start dancing like a fool to detract attention from her as she panics and leaves the stage, then you probably shouldn't be watching this show.
Paige isn't embarrassed. She's not pissed off. She's not crying because she forgot her routine. She's crying because she's afraid she's going to get in trouble. That's how you know it's time to find a new dance teacher. Kelly tells the girls, "She's horrible - and you're trying to do your best for her? We're all crazy!"
Meanwhile, Abby leaves the auditorium telling the crowd she passes, "Just so everyone knows, I did not choreograph that routine. I would not do that to a child." Yeah, except? Except you DID do that to a child.
Abby claims she's the best thing for Paige, but Kelly tells her. "Now my kid is having ATTACKS because she is afraid of you and afraid of what you are going to do to her." Abby tries to blame it on Kelly, and that's the breaking point. Kelly literally breaks down, which disturbs Abby.
"When I look at Kelly, I don't see the mom of two dancers in my company. I see my own student, when she was 12 or 13 years old, crying her eyeballs out. That's when she stopped dancing," says Abby. She hopes Kelly doesn't do the same to Paige and Brooke.
Abby then tells Paige that when she gives her a dance to do, it's because she KNOWS she can do it. That seems to help Paige, at least for the moment, and gives her what she needs to join the group number. Then Paige tells us she DOES want to dance for Abby. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND!
The group takes the stage dressed up like men, and OH GAH WHY DOES CHLOE HAVE A HAT ON AGAIN? I thought we all agreed MONTHS ago that Chloe doesn't wear hats anymore! Now I have to spend the entire routine willing that damn thing to stay on her head! The routine is super cute, and they make a great Rat Pack. Oh, and Chloe's hat did NOT malfunction.
The awards begin with Asia taking 1st Place for her flamingo routine. Kendall places 6th in her division, while Brooke comes in 3rd Place. Luckily, of course, the group is awarded 1st Place.
Back in the dressing room, the Moms are processing Kelly's "conversation" with Abby. Dr. Holly notes that their relationship can only move forward with trust, and Kelly is all like, "I don't trust her."
For what it's worth, I do think that Abby felt bad for Paige's reaction and may have recognized her role in that breakdown, regardless of her feelings towards Kelly. When the girls come in, Abby is very supportive of Paige in particular, reminding her that "Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
Let's hope she wasn't referring to that supportive attitude.
Catch Dance Moms every Tuesday at 9/8c on Lifetime!
(Image Courtesy of Lifetime)
Follow Kylene on Twitter at @keepingupwithky!