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dance moms kalani maddie

 Abby Lee Miller has taken the ALDC back to Los Angeles, which, for us dear viewers, means a week free from Candy Apples scripted craziness. That’s enough for me! It’s the little things. Last night’s episode of Dance Moms begins with the entire troupe in Lala Land, and Melissa brags that MacKenzie was chosen to go with Abby on a recent studio scouting expedition. All of the moms hope that this time on the West Coast will go much more smoothly than the last time. Jill reveals that Kendall wants to work on her music (she’s got the voice for it), and Abby has promised that she will focus on a music video for sweet Kendall. Of course, Jill knows not to rely on what has been said in the past.

At rehearsal, Abby is strangely chipper and excited for this week. Abby is ready to work on Kendall’s dancing, and Jill interrupts to remind her that she’s spread thin as far as contracts and deals go. Abby tersely reminds Jill that she’ll do her best. Holly understands Jill’s struggle (it’s real, y’all), and she apologizes in advance if Nia takes some time away to work on a music video courtesy of Aubrey O’Day. Abby is all kittens, rainbows, and unicorns about Nia’s opportunity, but she reminds her dancers that they have cell phones…if something comes up that she isn’t privy to, they should dial her immediately. Holly gets the message loud and clear, and Jill hopes the women’s relationship is on the mend.

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At pyramid, MacKenzie is on the bottom for a sloppy back tuck. Kendall, Nia, and Kalani make up the second tier for a losing group routine. Jill reminds Abby that for once, they weren’t the best number. MackZ pipes up (love!) that it wasn’t so much a competition routine as an fun, entertaining dance. Melissa braces for Abby to morph into the Shia LaBeouf wolf we’ve heard so much about and tear her daughter to shreds (Maddie’s face relays that she’s expecting the same), but Abby couldn’t agree more with her littlest protege. Score one for MacKenzie. Maddie graces her younger sister with a low-five. “That was close,” MackZ admits. JoJo shares the top of the pyramid with Maddie for earning the highest scoring solo. Of course, Abby poos on JoJo’s victory by saying that a win doesn’t matter if it isn’t for the group, oh, and, by the way, did y’all know Maddie was on Saturday Night Live? Jessalyn wishes that Abby would let JoJo have her moment, but she wisely bites her tongue.

dance moms jessalyn

Kendall and Nia are granted solos in this week’s competition to make up for sub par performances the last time they were in this spot. Holly seems relieved that Abby’s threat of no more solos didn’t last. Abby hints that both solos will speak to Nia and Kendall’s pop star aspirations. She assures the girls that the group routine will be totally Hollywood with a lyrical piece entitled “Together We Stand” before sharing that Demi’s Lovato’s sister Dallas will be coming to help the girls with an acting workshop. The mothers are beyond thrilled, but they should be leery about how positive and prepared Abby seems. That’s a definite red flag. Holly is relieved to move forward without rehashing their last trip to L.A. regardless of Abby’s multiple digs about back-stabbing mothers. Abby works with the girls on their group routine, and she knows that lyrical is the way to go when it comes to the ALDC. Holly plants a bug in Jill’s ear that it was disheartening how Abby dismissed Jill’s questions about Kendall’s contract. She jibes that Abby knows Jill will never challenge her if she doesn’t what she says she will. Jill concedes that she knows Abby is busy with negotiations since they share an attorney. The moms shake their heads, knowing that situation is sure to be a lose-lose for Jill. They urge her to research her side of the contract more than she is. Jill hopes that Holly isn’t just trying to cause a rift between her and Abby.

Abby enters and dismisses the other mothers so that she can speak with Jill alone. When Jill questions Abby about Kendall’s contract, Abby isn’t willing to budge. She will require Jill to wait on her hand-and-foot. Abby dismisses Jill with the ridiculous notion that Jill won’t require to have anything in writing on her side of the negotiations before exiting their chat with a condescending wave. Speaking of pop stars, Nia and Holly are meeting with the choreographer and producer of Nia’s first music video. He’s worked with the Pussy Cat Dolls, Usher, and the Academy Awards. He wants Janet Jackson’s make-up artist and Katy Perry’s hairstylist, stat. Both Holly and Nia leave the meeting starry-eyed. Back at the studio, Abby is working on Kendall with her solo. Jill hopes that Kendall is ready to show Abby she’s worth the effort. She further admits to the mothers that their contractual talks weren’t very solid, and the moms roll their eyes at Jill’s willingness to move forward without the concreteness of a contract. Abby focuses on Nia’s solo next, and she’s actually involved in Nia’s choreography. Holly is giddy sharing Nia’s upcoming video experience with the other moms. She brags that she’s in the know with the process. Melissa was too, with all of Maddie’s Sia endeavors. Jill? Not so much, but don’t remind her of that or she’s going to get defensive. Even Jessalyn finds it laughable.

dance moms judge abby

The girls are meeting with Dallas Lovato, and Abby warns the girls that if they embarrass her, they are finished. I’m not sure whether JoJo or her bow look more terrified. The following day, Dallas lists her resume, which includes shooting her sister and Selena Gomez to stardom. Dallas asks Maddie to share her favorite movie, and Maddie draws a blank. Jill loves anyone who can find fault with Abby’s perfect one. Dallas leads the girls in a round of improvisation, and JoJo is very confident in her ability to shine. Kendall, Kalani, and MacKenzie are fabulous playing off one another in an Eiffel Tower bit, but Dallas interrupts to make sure that Kendall was staying true to her chosen character. When I find out she was supposed to be Katniss, I may have spoken to soon on her improv abilities, but she was adorable nonetheless. MacKenzie calls the next scene. Nia, JoJo, and Maddie will be on a subway in NYC. Nia commits to her character as an urban diva, and JoJo works on her Korean as an elderly Korean lady. She is fabulous. Dallas questions whether Maddie is tired because, well, she seems tired…and distracted. Melissa looks like she just got punched in the gut. 

dance moms jill

At the competition, Abby is trying to use Dallas’ suggestions to motivate the girls. The judges will be providing their feedback after each dance. Holly reminds Nia that this is her daughter’s opportunity to showcase her ability while Jill espouses a similar pep talk to Kendall. Nia performs first, and she shines on stage. While I don’t know how difficult her choreography is (I’m a blogger, not an instructor), Nia is very expressive and calculated. The judges praise her commitment but suggest softer moments. Abby thinks that Nia left the door open for Kendall to outshine her. Kendall’s dance seems more technical than Nia’s, but she doesn’t seem to make as much of a connection with the audience. Kendall gains compliments for her turns, but one judge hopes that she can create more of a connection with the audience. Jill is so proud of Kendall’s performance, and she thinks it will be the perfect stepping stone for Kendall’s music video. As she and Holly discuss their daughters’ upcoming videos, Jill is floored to learn that Holly has no contract yet with Nia’s producers. Holly reiterates that she trusts him, and he gives her creative control. Say what? Jill is shocked to learn that Holly harped on her regarding her lack of contract with Abby, yet she’s in the same boat. 

dance moms mackenzie nia

The ALDC takes the stage for their group routine, and it is reminiscent of their normal (perfect) lyrical numbers. The girls are gorgeous, their lines are cleans, and it seems to have a level of difficulty and drama. Truth be told, it’s not one of my favorites, but they perform it almost flawlessly. The judges wishes the team had acknowledged each other more during the routine while raving about their technical skills. At the awards ceremony, Jill beams as Kendall’s single plays throughout the auditorium. Who needs a contract when Abby is pulling those strings? Nia places third in the junior soloist division with Kendall taking the top spot. The AlDC group number wins first, thankfully. I’d have hated to see Abby’s wrath if they’d come in any other place. Abby feels vindicated on their return to Los Angeles. Backstage, the girls rave about Kendall’s song. Abby calls out Nia’s technical ability for her third place finish, and both Kendall and the group’s win aren’t good enough in her eyes. This is L.A. 

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[Photo Credit: Lifetime]