Dance Moms 8×02 Recap: Isn’t It A Little Early To Crack Under Pressure?

As part of the season 8 premiere, Dance Moms 8×02 aired immediately after the season’s first episode and the hour-long special about Abby Lee Miller’s cancer battle. So, apparently, the Lifetime staff thought that we’d missed Abby and the ALDC enough to want to binge watch. Jury’s still out on whether or not that was a smart way to continue introducing us to the new team, but here’s what we can definitely confirm: Pushing Lilliana Ketchman into an early lead role, thanks to her status as the only (current) veteran on the team, may have been a bad idea. Isn’t it a little early to go with the “cracking under pressure” narrative? No? Ok. Then, let’s get down to business.

The queen judges her subjects. Fresh off a major win in their first competition, Abby Lee Miller’s newest batch of dancers were back at the studio for week two and just a wee bit on edge. And can you blame them, when this was the look that Abby started off Dance Moms 8×02 with?

Despite a win, queen Abby Lee Miller surveyed her subjects with disdain at the beginning of Dance Moms 8x02.
Despite a win, queen Abby Lee Miller surveyed her subjects with disdain at the beginning of Dance Moms 8×02.

Although the ALDC won their first competition, Abby still looked a little bit mad as she entered the studio and circled her prey…all before proclaiming, “we won!” and engaging in the world’s shortest post-win celebration. (This is Dance Moms, after all. Victory never lasts.)

Echoing her previous warnings, Abby told the dancers that what she saw was “not an ALDC performance.” She saw seven soloists onstage—not a cohesive unit. And with that, it was time for the first pyramid of Dance Moms season 8. Or, well, the first real pyramid. Whatever.

Pyramid problems. The pyramid’s bottom row featured Hannah Colin for her weak turns, followed by Pressley Hosbach for needing a correction on her acro. (Cut to her mom, Ashley, who felt the need to let the ALDC’s fans know that she’s not just a dumb, cute face even though she was a Knicks dancer. Lady, we all love dance here; we know dancers can be smart. Dance moms, on the other hand…? Eh.)

Also on the bottom row? Lilliana Ketchman, who absolutely did not deserve any of what was to come in Dance Moms 8×02; for the record, she didn’t earn it either. Abby’s reasons for putting Lilly on the bottom were valid—she was the lead in her trio, yet made rookie mistakes—but Stacey Ketchman decided to jump into the Original Mom Bully role anyway. As if we hadn’t already heard it enough in the Dance Moms season 8 premiere, Stacey reminded everybody that Lilly deserved better than an actro number. Abby asked Lilly whether we deserve or earn things in this world, and she replied, quitely, with “earn things.”

Kid’s not wrong. But I could’ve done without the heartbroken look when she also told Miss Abby that she felt like she’d let her down, only to receive a typically-blunt “you did” from the woman in question.

Savannah Kristich rounded out the bottom row because she had neither grown nor improved enough; and from there, we moved up to the middle. Sarah Georgiana “has that Pittsburgh work ethic,” which was apparently a compliment(?); and Brady Farrar was denied the top slot because he didn’t have enough onstage attack.

That meant Gianina “Facts” Paolantonio, who “focused and performed” well, was Dance Moms 8×02’s pyramid-topper…But she didn’t earn a solo with that great accomplishment; instead, Lilly and Savannah would each have an extra chance to prove their worth to the ALDC. Abby also announced a haka as a tribute to New Zealand, and I just really wish this was a thing that never happened.

Rehearsal time! Erin made sure Savannah felt the pressure of being a soloist, telling her she had to “dance perfect” (it’s perfectly—you’re describing an action!) to beat Lilly…And then Dance Moms 8×02 took a detour into making me feel old telling us all about how Savannah Kristich has watched the ALDC since she was a 5-year-old. Um…and Erin has a “mommy drink” flask disguised as a sunscreen bottle.

Speaking of mothers. Abby wanted to make sure Lilly understood the inspiration for her “Mommy Dearest” solo, which like. We know Abby has disdain for all the moms? So, obviously???

“Why would I give you a routine about a psycho mother? Because I think your mother is acting like a crazy person since she got to Pittsburgh.”

Also, Abby was not remotely wrong, and the behavior continued in Dance Moms 8×02. No surprise there. Stacey even managed to accuse Abby of sabotaging Lilly by not giving her a “beautiful” (ahhh, “pretty lyrical” has gotten an upgrade!) lyrical solo and costume like Savannah’s. Anyone else tired already?

Also, was anyone else having an allergic reaction, somewhere around the leaky eye area, when Abby worked through all the port de bras in Savannah’s solo with her prop?

No worries for Stacey, though: She’s still not the most obnoxious person here—not by a longshot. At one point, during the group rehearsal, Hannah Colin snagged her foot on the floor and injured her toenail. This prompted Overbearing Mother of the Century, Ann, to demand that someone call an ambulance. How is this woman a dance mom? Imagine turning every damaged toenail and drop of blood into an international crisis when your kid’s a dancer. Can’t relate. Like, has Hannah never put on a pair of pointe shoes, or????

This is my child, not a tv show.

Who wants to tell her???

But then, the drama was back in Lilliana Ketchman’s lap, when she had some sort of panic attack. Abby’s disgustedly shook face was basically my reaction to the “ambulance” request for a ripped toenail, and it’s definitely my mood whenever Starbucks tells me they’re out of cold brew. But anyway.

On the plus side, Abby didn’t blame the ALDC’s former baby for the drama; she knew it was Stacey’s fault for “putting far too much pressure on the kid.” Can confirm. Even after those scary few moments, Abby was confident that Lilliana would have her solo ready for competition; she was not, however, very certain about the group dance.

Competition day! Remember when I said Stacey wasn’t the craziest person in Dance Moms 8×02, no matter how much she reminded me of Regina George Jill Vertes? Let’s talk about Erin telling Michelle not to fuck with her daughter before competition? Like, completely out of the blue? And then, Michelle decided to…do just that?

The other moms in the Dance Moms 8×02 dressing room: “I don’t know what’s happening right now.” Me: Same! Savannah Kristich, when her mom dragged out of the dressing room: “Abby’s gonna yell at me!” Me: Probably!

During this entire totally-not-made-up fight, the rest of the ALDC split their time between furiously applying makeup and sitting back like, “wtf, man.” And then, blessedly, it was time for an Abby Lee Miller pep talk and some solo performances…But not before the moms managed to screw that up, too: They actually wished the dancers luck. What even?

Break a leg! Break a leg! You just cursed them!

…in which Abby Lee Miller and I are one, and it’s only the second episode of Dance Moms season 8.

In case you didn’t know, it’s the Abby Lee Dance Company. They dance here!

  1. “Metamorphosis,” lyrical solo performed by Savannah Kristich. Let’s discuss the turns in arabesque. I mean, every single turn was gorgeous, but especially those. And since our fearless leader is all about the face, let’s talk about how Savannah’s was spot-on from the first second. Result: First! (Drink every time Savannah reminds you that she’s watched the ALDC since age 5.)
  2. “Mommy Dearest,” contemporary solo performed by Lilliana Ketchman. Past!Lilly used to do weird crunch things with her toes when she got nervous, but they were otherwise gorgeous. Can confirm that, at least as of Dance Moms 8×02, that tendency to mess up the feet is long gone. She did, however, have kind of some sloppy knees happening in her leap coming out of her pirouettes. I expect better, which is what most of the solo was. Abby Lee Miller was disappointed because Lilly chose to only do a single turn in attitude instead of the triple she’s capable of. But least she did something clean instead of slopping through, when she might have been off, just to prove she can? That’s called maturity. Result: Second…and a renewed chance for Lilly to feel like she let Abby down. Someone protect her. 
  3. “Haka,” open ALDC group dance. To quote Abby, “this is not seven soloists. This. Is. A. Team.” Unfortunately, the dancers aren’t there yet. You have kids with oodles of talent and disgustingly good technique (way better than the old team—fight me), but there’s nothing resembling cohesive style. Some of those leap positions, in particular, were all over the place. And then there was the bad timing on Hannah Colin’s penche. Honestly, if they were going to air Dance Moms 8×02 right after the season premiere anyway, they should have played like this was the first week because the week one contemporary was way better. And I’m still cringing at the whole “tribal” idea from Abby…Result: Another win anyway.

Wtf even happened after awards????? So, Stacey somehow managed to cut off part of Lilliana’s hair; and then, the Ketchmans stormed out of the dressing room. Bonus mama drama points for the threat of a lawsuit if they were followed.

Spoiler: They were followed.

Abby’s always saying second is the first to lose.

Dance Moms 8×02 caught plenty of Lilliana’s supposed “cracking” under pressure before Abby herself went in search of the girl. First, Lilly claimed to be freaking out because of the hair incident; but Abby reminded her that she still had plenty, whereas chemo had forced her to lose it all. It was at that point that Lilly admitted that her real problem was losing and letting Abby down, which Abby (and literally everyone else) already knew.

It was at this point that Abby reminded us that she cares. She told Lilly that she wasn’t really let down, but everyone just expects more when they see Lilly because she’s been with the ALDC before. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, Abby even offered up tips for removing makeup, complete with a shot at Stacey for aging gracelessly.

Dance Moms 8×02 ended with Abby Lee Miller telling the audience that she’s “really starting to worry about Lilly.” And so are we. If the entire season is going to be about a 10-year-old “cracking” and “losing it,” this is not going to be the mom-hate funfest we signed up for. As Gia said earlier in the episode, let’s just “let Lilly be Lilly.”

Dance Moms airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.

4 thoughts on “Dance Moms 8×02 Recap: Isn’t It A Little Early To Crack Under Pressure?

  1. You forgot to mention the backlash of Anby’s interpretation or based on the Haka dance that is forming due to the ignorance of Haka & labeling it Haka. It was not a Haka dance & the judges were also ignorance of “Haka.” Right down to the African costumes, Abby’s story, music choice, the dance itself was more African contemporary not passion stance bold challenge of Haka.” To New Zealanders & Maori it’s a unifying identity like a National Anthem (how special is your National Anthem to you? How would you feel when someone through ignorance challenges it? That is how people feel about “Haka.”) So due to ignorance & lack of study an apology is due especially to Maori. Did you know that your own Hawaiian culture has a Haka, not even mentioned. Yes Kiwis are protective of the essence of “Haka.” also due to the respect factor & the Mana of it. It’s never treated trivially. Is Abby ever going to apologize for leading those striving dancer astray towards a unique culture. The positive is the outcry showing how special & respectful to the Haka New Zealanders have shown & to show this side to Abby. Abby don’t trivialize it for your story. Come to New Zealand & learn the form of Haka which would be more of an acknowledgement & your horizons expanded for future dancers. I challenge you to take this on as I believe it would be uplifting gift to you to.


    1. I appreciate your comment and had a bit of an uneasy feeing about Abby doing a supposed “Haka” but wasn’t educated enough to really rip into that. As for my National Anthem, I couldn’t care less about it at this point (and that apathy grows more into hate every day), but I absolutely get the comparison anyway.


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