'Dance Moms' Recap S5 E2: Abby Got Served

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Dance Moms season 5, episode 2 featured several backstage arguments
By REESE AMOROSI

Previously on Dance Moms, the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) learned that Chloe Lukasiak and her mother Christi quit the team, Kalani Hilliker re-joined the ALDC, and Abby Lee Miller found out former student Paige Hyland was suing her. This week Dance Moms season 5, episode 2 is titled "Abby Got Served" because a process server hands Abby legal papers, but that's not her only problem: she has a run-in with Jeanette Cota (mom of Ava Cota, whom Abby dismissed last season), and she has an explosive argument with Holly Frazier (Nia's mom) after Jill Vertes (Kendall's mom) reveals that Abby said that only Kalani, Maddie Ziegler and Mackenzie Ziegler will book work in LA.

Dance Moms S5, E2 begins with a process server delivering court documents to Abby in her studio, which reduces her to tears. The papers are for the Paige Hyland lawsuit against Abby. Paige's mother is Kelly Hyland – for more on the history between the Hylands and Abby read this recap about the physical fight between Abby and Kelly, and this post about some of the lawsuits that followed.

Abby says, "These women aren't like they were in the 50s or the 60s, or even the 70s, when they dropped children off at the dance studio and they trusted you to do right by them. Today they question, they contradict me." When Abby tells the team what happened, Holly (Nia's mom) advises her to refrain from making a statement to the press. Holly notes, "Abby's pretty good at digging her own grave… it's inevitable that Abby's gonna say something to tick somebody off."

Abby reveals her pyramid, the ranking system she uses for the ALDC. It is usually based on how well the girls did at the previous week's competition. This week's pyramid from the bottom up:
Mackenzie: wasn't weird enough in the "Freak Show" routine.
Maddie: didn't have a solo last week.
Nia: did well with her character portrayals in solo and group.
Kendall: solo was good; could have been stronger.
Kalani: high score at last week's competition.

This week the ALDC will be traveling to Detroit, Michigan for an Energy Dance competition, where they will be going up against dancer Ava Cota and her mom, Jeanette Cota, who owns the Broadway Dance Academy. The Cotas have an unhappy history with Abby – they were dismissed from the ALDC Select Team twice, first in Dance Moms season 4, episode 25, and then again in Dance Moms season 4, episode 30 – and Abby and the team refer to Jeanette as a stalker because she seems to follow them at competitions (in order to get Abby to hire Ava).

Abby announces that the girls will be taking headshots the next day, and she gives them their competition assignments. Kalani will be doing an acrobatic solo called "Dance in the Shadows"; Maddie will be doing a lyrical solo called "The Judgement." This is happy news for Kira (Kalani's mom) because Abby's reluctance to let Kalani and Maddie dance head-to-head is the reason they quit the team last season. Melissa (Maddie's mom) is worried though, because Kalani is two years older than Maddie. I am surprised that no-one brought up that Maddie had an advantage because acro rarely beats lyrical in competitions.

The group will do a jazz routine called "Stomp the Yard"; it's inspired by the Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black, so the girls will play prisoners. In a talking head interview Jill (Kendall's mom) says, "How ironic that Abby gets served papers and our group routine is about women being in jail for doing something wrong?" I say, how ironic is it that Jill is wearing an orange outfit?

While the girls learn their routines, the moms discuss how Abby favors Kalani over the other girls (except Maddie). Before this week's pyramid, Kira and Kalani were late to class but Abby didn't punish or penalize them, so Holly (Nia's mom) complained to the camera about there being a double standard. Holly tells Kira her thoughts on this preferential treatment stating, "I really resent the fact that you get to go and come as you please... it's not right for all of those who do all of the work." Jill adds, "Everything's fun and games for you guys and it must be nice."

They moms continue to argue until Holly gets annoyed enough to walk out. I really like Kalani, but I understand Holly's point: last week Kira and Kalani were invited back (after quitting the team) and Kalani got a solo right away (for details see my Dance Moms season 5 episode 1 recap); this week they're late, they don't get in trouble, and Kalani gets another solo.

The next day, the girls arrive at the studio to rehearse and get their new headshots taken. The photographer is supposed to have 15 minutes with each girl, but Abby gives extra time to her apparent favorites. While Kalani takes her turn, Abby whispers to the photographer, "This one, and Maddie and Mackenzie, are the ones that are going to work." Jill overhears this and is upset. "I would say something right now, but I don't want to jeopardize Kendall's headshots."

Meanwhile, since the sessions with Abby's faves have run over, Kendall and Nia only have 10 minutes to split. Kendall gets rushed through, and then Abby leaves before Nia gets her turn. Instead, Holly directs Nia through the shoot and says, "Abby is showing her true colors, and I don't like what I see."

Maddie and Kalani report to rehearsal for their solo showdown. Abby puts the pressure on Maddie, saying if she loses she'll be letting her down, as well as Sia and choreographer Ryan Heffington (Maddie is known world-wide for playing a young Sia in the singer's videos). There is additional pressure because not only will Maddie dance against Kalani, but Ava Cota, who is also two years older.

While the girls run their solos, Melissa gets an email with the news that Elle magazine is interested in Maddie. This prompts Jill to tell the moms what she overheard Abby say about only Maddie, Mackenzie and Kalani booking work in LA. Holly thinks this is "outrageous" on Abby's part, especially since they are all standing by her with the lawsuit, but she bites her tongue because Abby is already on edge due to the visit from the process server.

While the team runs the group number, Holly gets a call from Jeanette Cota, who wants the moms to know that "What Abby did to Ava was wrong. I am coming after her on the dance floor. She is gonna know she is not allowed to treat young kids this way." Kira walks over to Holly's phone and hangs up on Jeanette and calls her "desperate" and "vindictive".

When the ALDC arrives in Detroit, Jeanette Cota is standing outside of the venue with her daughter and team to greet them. Abby tells her team not to say a word, which leaves Jeanette "appalled" that the ALDC girls didn't say "hello" to Ava. Then, Jeanette says she wants to go to the ALDC dressing room and shake Abby's hand because she doesn't want any issues between them, which clearly contradicts what she said to Holly on the phone. Poor Ava looks stressed out. When Jeanette arrives in the ALDC dressing room she and Abby argue briefly, but Abby is quick to dismiss her AND dis her outfit: "Your jacket should be longer than your shirt."

The competition begins. Abby says she never goes backstage, but she does at this show because she's concerned about Jeanette. During a lull in the show Abby's impatience gets the best of her and she waves her arm at Ava, who is on the opposite side of the stage, and says, "Let's go, delay of game, come on!"

Ava dances first with a lyrical solo called "On My Way"; she wears a bluish-purple two-piece floral costume with silver accents. Ava is long-limbed and graceful, and her choreography capitalizes on that. Kalani is next with her "Dance in the Shadows" solo; she wears a light grey and beige one-piece costume with matching grey tights and cool face paint. Kalani is flexible and has great control, so her routines are always lovely. Maddie is third with her "Judgement" solo; she wears a charcoal and lavender two-piece costume with a short handkerchief-style chiffon skirt. Maddie is an expressive dancer (as evidenced in her Sia videos), and she gives a pro performance.

As the ALDC heads back to their dressing room, Jeanette confronts Abby in the hallway and asks her, "I'm kinda curious, Abby, why were you backstage trying to get in my daughter's face?" Abby shouldn't have said anything to Ava (because she's not her student) and she shouldn't have yelled across the stage with the audience present (because it's unprofessional), but to say she was in Ava's face is an exaggeration. Still, Jeanette goes to Gina, the owner of Energy Dance, and complains about Abby.

Gina enters the ALDC dressing room and says, "Abby, you can't go backstage when another group is dancing and intimidate anybody." Abby yells, "How dare you speak to me that way, how dare you, I have been teaching for 33 years!" Gina responds, "I've been teaching longer than you." Abby answers, "Right, but who do you have on Broadway? Nobody, kiddo." Then, Jeanette pops in and tells Gina, "I'm just here to have your back." Oy.

The judging resumes, and the ALDC takes the stage for their "Stomp the Yard" routine; they wear an assortment of orange costumes and black and white prison stripe accessories. The choreography is cool, and they look great doing it – it's a fabulous number.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Small Group Division, Jeanette's team gets 2nd Place; the ALDC wins 1st Place. In the Junior Solo Division, Kalani is awarded 4th Place; Ava earns 3nd Place, Maddie wins 2nd Place. Abby is happy that Maddie beat Kalani and Ava, but is upset that she didn't win 1st Place. Backstage, Abby yells, "Look at this competition – it's a joke!" and she also says, "This is rigged." Holly disagrees, and tells her, "You look like an idiot, I would stop."

Then, Holly brings up that Abby said only Maddie, Mackenzie and Kalani would work, but Abby flat-out denies it. They argue, and Abby tells Holly that Nia doesn't have to go to LA with the team. LA. I'm paraphrasing, but Holly is all, "You're not getting rid of me that easy" and she reminds Abby how they've been backing her up with the lawsuit situation. Abby turns this back on Holly and says something truly awful: "I have backed Nia up with those pathetic feet for years!"

Abby switches gears and makes Kendall pretend to be entering an audition room, then berates her, and then calls Jill "a bad mother" for not teaching her how to greet casting directors. Kendall starts to cry, and when she leaves the room, but Abby shouts, "Kendall, don't you touch that door – get in here!"

Holly and Abby start arguing again. Abby leaves, but Holly goes after her and says, "You are a disgrace, stop it! Stop it! I am not your enemy! You've knocked everyone else off the team… you're after me now? Who are you going to have on the team, Melissa?"

They argue a little more, and it's so, so sad. Holly tells the camera, "I think the woman has lost her mind. Wake up! You need to change your ways, and you better do it fast because pretty soon you're not going to have anyone left."

Next week on Dance Moms season 5, episode 3 titled "JoJo With a Bow Bow," Maddie heads to LA for a gig, and JoJo Siwa from season 2 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition makes a guest appearance on the team.

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

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Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2015