'Dance Moms' Premiere Recap S5 E1: 99 Problems but a Mom Ain't One

Abby Lee Dance Company banner
The Abby Lee Dance Company begins its 5th season on Dance Moms

Last season, Dance Moms closed with teacher Abby Lee Miller announcing she was opening a studio in Los Angeles and dismissing her new Select Team because they came in 2nd to her original Elite Team, who won their 4th consecutive National title. Also, sadly, the lovely Chloe Lukasiak and her mother Christi left the show after several years of discord. On the Dance Moms S5, E1 (season 5 premiere) titled "99 Problems but a Mom Ain't One," Abby and the dancers of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) deal with Chloe's absence, a lawsuit from former student Paige Hyland, and the return of Kalani Hilliker.

Before I begin this recap I have two things to address. First, my screener for Dance Moms season 5, episode 1 doesn't include the theme song; I do hope we're all still "living on the dance floor." Second, I am usually against discussing weight and looks in my recaps, but since it was included in the episode, I will mention that Abby - who has always been fabulous - has lost some weight, and the moms, noticing this, compliment her.

On the season 5 premiere of Dance Moms, the mothers and daughters report for rehearsal for the first competition of the season: Jill and daughter Kendall Vertes; Holly and daughter Nia Frazier; and Melissa with daughters Mackenzie and Maddie Ziegler.

Christie and daughter Chloe Lukasiak don't show up for rehearsal. Maddie says she misses Chloe and that she had texted her, but didn't hear back. When the girls line up in the studio and question Abby about it, she says that Chloe was welcome to return, but without her, the show must go on. Then Abby announces, "ALDC-LA is going to happen" in four weeks, and the girls won’t just dance, they'll act and sing, too. "We're preparing for you to become stars in Los Angeles," Abby says.

Next, Abby reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the girls of the ALDC. The pyramid is usually based on how the girls fared at the previous week's competition. In this case, it is based on Nationals, which were shown on the season 4 finale. From the bottom up:
Kendall: She came in 9th place at Nationals.
Chloe: "I don't blame her... but I can't deal with Christie."
Nia: "I think you did a great job."
Mackenzie: Abby compliments her acting in the group number.
Maddie: Excelled on TV (Jimmy Kimmel) and at Nationals.

This week the ALDC will be traveling to Niagara Falls, New York, for a Sheer Talent competition. Nia will be doing a jazz solo called "Street Star"; Kendall will be doing a contemporary solo called "Victorious." Abby says a third solo would have gone to Chloe – more on this later. The group dance will be a musical theater number called "Freak Show." At the group rehearsal, Abby tells them that the piece is dark and scary and "should make people uncomfortable." Nia lays the Strongwoman, Mackenzie is the Contortionist, and Maddie and Kendall portray Siamese twins.

The moms are shocked that Christi and Chloe didn't come back. Jill decides to phone them, but her call is automatically forwarded to a machine. Jill opines, "I don't understand why Christi and Chloe haven't gotten back to any of us. The kids, the moms… these kids are a team, and more than that? They're really good friends. So, something is going on." Holly says, "It feels like such a loss… We're just a small portion of what's left of this incredible team that once was. This is not the way you want to start off a season."

Meanwhile, it is odd to have a team with only four people, so Abby asks Kalani Hilliker to re-join the ALDC, much to the delight of the girls and Gianna "Gia" Martello (Abby's assistant choreographer). It's a smart solution on Abby's part; Kalani is an excellent dancer and she works well with the team. It's an odd choice for the moms, though, since last season Kira (Kalani's mom) pulled her daughter from the ALDC because Abby wouldn't allow her to compete against Maddie. When Kalani arrives, Abby says she is still angry with Kira, but she wants Kalani on the team. Also, she gives Kalani Chloe's solo, a jazz number called "Dance Till I Die."

In a talking head interview, Holly is annoyed because Nia had to wait a long time to get a solo, but Kalani got one right away. Holly tells the camera, "Already, the preferential treatment has begun." Holly voices her displeasure to Kira's face too, telling her that it's not fair. Kira tells Holly to take it up with Abby, but Holly says she's holding Kira accountable and says, "How dare you just waltz in and then well, 'It's not my problem.' It's wrong!"

With one day to go until the competition, the girls discuss Chloe. Maddie says, "I'm sure Chloe would love to come back and dance with us," and Kendall offers, "I'm sure she wants to come back, but now she's doing her own thing."

The moms also discuss Christi and Chloe, or more specifically, Christi and Kelly Hyland and things they posted on Twitter - they're concerned that their former teammates want revenge against Abby. Holly fears that if they come after Abby (through social media) that it will ultimately hurt the girls who are still on the team. Holly states, "Very clearly, the line has been drawn and it's a bloody war." (This seems to be quite a dramatic take the situation, but remember, this was filmed over the summer closer to when Chloe left the team, so the emotions were more raw).

When the team meets the next day to board the bus for Niagara Falls, the news has broken that former student Paige Hyland (Kelly's daughter) is suing Abby (if you are unaware of the history between the Hylands and Abby, read this recap about the physical fight between Abby and mom Kelly, and this post about some of the lawsuits that followed). The moms are shaken up by this turn of events, but vow to stick together as a team and rally around Abby. They worry about what type of response Abby will get when they arrive at the competition, and are relieved when she receives a warm welcome and the crowd chants her name.

The competition begins. Kendall goes first with her "Victorious" routine; she wears a sparkly bronze and gold two-piece costume with matching headband and she carries a spear. Just a few bars into the number I find myself remarking, "Man, she got good." Her turns are impressive! Nia is next with her "Street Star" routine; she wears a yellow wig, a red sequin top and a yellow skirt with the word "Pop!" written on it comic book style. Nia rocks the cool music and choreography, and ends the number with her signature "death drop." Kalani competes third with her "Dance Till I Die" solo; she wears a red chiffon thigh-length dress with an embellished bodice and neckline, and she dances in heels. Kalani is a fluid and flexible dancer, and her routine looks elegant and effortless.

Backstage, the girls get ready for their group number and Kalani surprises them with her "Freak Show" makeup; she's playing the bearded lady. No sooner does Jill say, "I'm so glad we're starting the year off with something fun like this," when Abby gets a text, starts to cry and leaves the room. Melissa goes after her and they talk behind closed doors, but the screen captions reveal that the media is at Abby's house due to Paige's lawsuit. When Abby returns to the dressing room, the moms tell her they support her. Abby composes herself and gives the girls a pep talk.

The ALDC takes the stage for their "Freak Show" number; they wear a variety of costumes relating to the characters they are playing. It's an interesting routine and their timing is wonderful. Abby says she was "blown away" by the girls.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Pre-Teen Solo Division, Nia gets 2nd Place; Kendall wins 1st Place. In the Teen Solo Division, Kalani takes 2nd Place. In the Pre-Teen Group Division, the ALDC wins 1st Place. After the awards are announced, the emcee alludes to things being said on social media, he calls Abby "a friend," and says that Sheer Talent supports her. Then he calls Abby up on stage and she speaks to the audience: "As a dancer, there's always going be a critic, there's gonna be a newspaper or a television station or your best friend saying something negative, something bad, something horrific about you, but if you love what you do and you believe in what you do, keep doing it. If you believe in yourself you will succeed in life."

Next week on Dance Moms S5, E2 titled "Abby Got Served," Abby Lee Miller is served with legal papers.


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

To see all of our Dance Moms recaps click here
For Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition recaps click here.
To follow Glamorosi Magazine on Facebook click here.

Posted on Wednesday, January 7, 2015