Michelle art teacher better than this "It's a tree, just like this one."
"Mmm—that's broccoli."

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Riley: Em, please don't do this.
Emily: It's done.
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"Rock and a Hard Place" is the 4th episode in Season 1 of The Next Step and the 4th episode overall. It first aired on March 14, 2013.


Kate asks Emily to hold dance evaluations for placements in the group dance.


The dancers are warming up in Studio A when Chris and Kate enter. Kate announces that they will be performing at a small dance competition on the weekend and that the line positions will be changed. They dancers will each audition for their spot in the line-up, which Kate and Chris will ultimately decide. This infuriates Emily, as such is typically a dance captain's job.

Chris kate season 1

Kate and Chris slowly realize that Emily should be picking the dance line-ups since she is dance captain.

Emily goes into the office to express her disbelief to Kate and Chris. Although Kate and Chris initially stand by their decision, they realize that Emily should retain the duty of choosing the dance line-up.

Tiffany approaches Daniel after having found out that he will be teaching J-Troupe. She is shocked, as he has just joined A-Troupe, and knows that the E-Girls cannot let him have that much power. Tiffany tries to scare him by saying that J-Troupers are crazy, which works to make Daniel paranoid. She confesses that she says this because E-Girl rule #46 states that one in A-Troupe must never look too good.

The auditions begin, the line-up being Chloe, Tiffany, Daniel, Eldon, James, Stephanie, Riley, Michelle, and West. The dance placement is an indicator of the hierarchy in the dance studio; the strongest dancers are in the front, the mediocre dancers in the middle, and the worst dancers in the back. As Riley dances, she fumbles and predicts that she will be in the back row. Michelle dances tremendously, although all Emily can do is unnecessarily criticize her. When the auditions are complete, Emily tells the dancers that she will run the placements by Kate and Chris and get back to them. Despite her promise, Emily and Stephanie do not actually get the opinions of Kate and Chris and only make it seem like they are.

Michelle west season 1

Michelle shrugs at West about her placement in the back row.

Emily returns with the line positions. Despite her terrible performance, Emily puts Riley in the front row alongside herself and Stephanie, and puts Michelle in the back. This makes Riley instantly suspicious. The placement proves biased, as Riley struggles in her position at the front and cannot pick up the choreography.

Daniel teaches J-Troupe. Tiffany confesses that she told the J-Troupers that if they give Daniel a hard time, they get to dance for A-Troupe. The J-Troupers act accordingly, exasperating Daniel.

In Studio A, James studies math just as Riley is leaving. James asks Riley a question and discards the textbook after her answer. He tells Riley that he got her something from the top of a mountain, which turns out to be a water bottle of natural spring mountain water. Reasoning that he will be the only person to give her an honest opinion, Riley asks him if he thinks she should be in the front row and he admits that Michelle should be, not her.

Daniel is still struggling with the J-Troupers when Tiffany enters. Upon her arrival, the J-Troupers attitudes completely change in favour of them being newly motivated and attentive. Tiffany is content, as she has reasserted the dominance of the E-Girls.

Riley enters Kate's office and asks Kate why she put her in the front row, to which Kate tells her that she never approved the line-up. Upset, Riley confronts Emily at Squeezed about the line-up, although Emily replies in a hostile manner and refuses to listen to her opinion. Riley confesses that she knows what she has to do but doesn't know if she can pull it off.

Riley james season 1

Riley confides in James about whether or not to go through with her plan.

In Studio A, James approaches Riley and Riley admits to James that Emily never got Kate's approval for the line-up. James confesses that he is not surprised, as Kate never would have approved the given line-up. Riley tells him that she has a plan and James urges her to do it despite not knowing what it is. Emily enters the studio and tells the dancers to take their positions and Riley switches positions with Michelle. Riley then reveals to the rest of the dancers that Emily's line-up never got approved by Kate and that Michelle clearly deserves to be in the front, not herself. Despite Emily's visible anger, Riley is sure that things will eventually blow over.

J-Troupe performs their routine in Studio A. As they dance, Tiffany comments that Daniel learned his lesson. After the performance, Daniel confesses that he is never trying a stunt like that again. Riley approaches the other E-Girls and instantly notices the tension. The E-Girls ultimately unanimously vote Riley out of the group, leaving her in tears.


  • E-Girl rule #46 is: never let anyone in A-Troupe look too good.
  • Riley is no longer a member of E-Girls.

Cultural references

  • The title refers to a song of the same name by The Rolling Stones.





Featured music

Featured dances


Main article: Rock and a Hard Place/Quotes


Main article: Rock and a Hard Place/Aftershow


Kathy Riley season 3 episode 13 "Look at that painting!"

To view the Rock and a Hard Place gallery, click here.