Tonight marked Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler's very last episode on Dance Moms, and while the show has been preparing us for this all season, it was hard not to get choked up when the girls danced with their team for the very last time. Surprisingly enough, however, the emotional punch of their departure paled in comparison to another deeply emotional moment: Areana Lopez's gorgeous solo.
Meaningful routines are nothing new on Dance Moms, and plenty of performances have left fans teary-eyed. But Lopez's dance was especially touching, as it was a tribute to her brother.
Early in the episode, Sari Lopez (Areana's mother) explained that her son had open heart surgery just three months after he was born and, a few days later, went into cardiac arrest. He was dead for nearly an hour, and while he was eventually revived, he is now unable to walk or talk. Sari added that, as hard as all of this had been on her family, her daughter's dancing ability made it easier to bear.
It was touching to see the adorable mini dancers rally around Sari as she got all emotional in the studio, but it was even better to see Areana support both her mom and brother onstage. Her solo would have been amazing even without the backstory, but the context made it that much better. She has a lot of potential as a dancer and, tonight, she showed that she has what it takes to lead a new generation of little ALDC dancers.
Not only did Areana's story line bring out the best in her and her mom, it also brought out the best in Abby Lee Miller. For all her faults, Abby really does care about the girls. Sari was touched by the dance teacher's willingness to create such a special dance for her daughter.
It's never easy to see a cast member (or two) leave, but based on Areana's latest performance, the ALDC will be just fine without the Ziegler girls. No, they aren't exactly replaceable, but there are plenty of other young dancers who will shine onstage.
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