The “Dance Moms” cast wrapped up Season 7 on the East Coast over the weekend, but their big nationals routine was far from the only surprise the Lifetime show had planned. 

International Business Times was present for all the action at Starbound National Talent Competition in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on Nov. 11. Find out what went down between the ALDC and Candy Apples, and that one surprise cameo everyone is buzzing about.

Lifetime pulled out all the stops for the Season 7 finale, having Starboard, an elite organization in the dance world, host the affair. After charging a $20 entrance fee, all of the profits of which went to charity, fans were welcomed into the Paramount Theatre to watch Abby Lee Miller’s elite junior team duke it out with their longtime rivals, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein’s Candy Apples.

The solos kicked off the competition, with two of Abby’s remaining minis going head-to-head. Elliana Walmsley was the first to hit the stage, performing her character solo “Munich.” Directly afterwards, fellow newcomer Lilliana Ketchman danced in the acro junior division with her routine “Dear Lily, Love Daddy,” which was titled “Away” in the program. Uncharacteristically to the show, Lilliana’s father was in the audience as he reportedly sung her solo song.

Dance Moms finale taping 6 Kalani Hilliker showed off her technical training in her “Dance Moms” Season 7 solo “Who Do You Think You Are?” Photo: International Business Times/Rebecka Schumann

Dance Moms finale taping 7 The “Dance Moms” cast was largely kept away from the crowd during the Season 7 finale taping, but coach Abby Lee Miller did make time for fans. Photo: International Business Times/Rebecka Schumann Much to the delight of the audience Abby’s powerhouse ballerina Kalani Hilliker and decided future star Brynn Rumfallo rounded out the ALDC solos. Kalani with the contemporary piece “Who Do You Think You Are?” and Brynn with the lyrical solo “Winner Takes All.” Cathy also showed off her students’ skills, having Chloe Smith dance to “Flying Solo.” While “Dance Moms” competitions typically see the dancers perform their routines twice for production purposes, Kalani was the only dancer to share a repeat performance. 

After a several hour break, the ALDC and Candy Apples reemerged from their secluded dressing rooms to watch the two groups show their best. The Candy Apples went first with dancers Chloe, Ava Cota, Tara Johnson, “Abby’s Ultimate” alums Haley Huelsman and Zack Torres and Cathy’s daughter Vivi-Anne Stein performing a dark open routine titled “Abduction.” The number, focused on human trafficking, even gave a slight dig to Abby’s group’s routine, which was centered on the varying forms of addiction.

Dance Moms Season 7 taping 1 The ALDC’s Season 7 nationals routine was about addiction in its various forms. Dancer Nia Sioux said each performer had a character that “spoke” to them. Photo: International Business Times/Rebecka Schumann

As usual, Abby pulled out all the stops for nationals, having her girls Nia Sioux, Kendall Vertes (who showed some serious emotion onstage), newcomer Camryn Bridges, Kalani and Brynn display their acting chops and technique in the contemporary small group “Is There Still Hope?” The number ended with a show-stopping, and slightly eerie sequence in which Kalani’s character appears to die from a drug overdose.

What followed was the award ceremony. Every number made for “Dance Moms” took home the competition’s highest honor of Elite Gold, but only a select few were recognized in the overalls. Lilliana surpassed her mini teammate, taking first-place in the junior solo division. Kalani did the same, placing first in the teen solos. Brynn was beat out by a “hometown favorite” and took third-place with Chloe placing fourth.

Dance Moms finale taping 4 Abby Lee Miller’s team hugged after their contemporary number won the overall high score at Starboard National Talent Competition in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on Nov. 11. Photo: International Business Times/Rebecka Schumann

The ALDC’s winning streak continued into the group awards with “Is There Still Hope?” bringing home the big win, first-place in the senior group division. (CADC placed fourth.) “We’re all going to cry for like hours now,” Kalani announced onstage after she and her team were showered with confetti.

While the happy ending will likely be more than enough for “Dance Moms” viewers, the biggest event happened after the cameras stopped rolling in the theater. One keen-eyed fan spotted a familiar face among Abby’s team after the competition: fan-favorite alum Chloe Lukasiak and her mother, Christi. While the mother-daughter duo parted ways with the series under turbulent circumstances in 2014, they were photographed on the Season 7 set.

Speaking to Lifetime, IBT was able to uncover what Chloe’s nationals appearance means for her future on the program. And while the network wouldn’t confirm the Lukasiaks are coming back full-time, they did share the duo was “Just visiting... for now.”

The “Dance Moms” Season 7 finale episode airs on Lifetime in 2017.