'Dance Moms' Recap S5 E9 The Great Divide: ALDC Returns to Pittsburgh

Cast members from the Lifetime show Dance Moms
Cast members from the Lifetime show Dance Moms

Previously on Dance Moms, teacher/manager Abby Lee Miller wanted the girls from the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) to pull out of appearing in a MattyB video, but only some of the moms complied. This week on Dance Moms season 4, episode 9 titled "The Great Divide," the ALDC returns home to Pittsburgh, PA after spending three weeks in Los Angeles, CA, and the moms are split between those who honored Abby's wishes, and those who defied her.

As Dance Moms S5 E9 "The Great Divide" opens, the members of the ALDC are reporting for rehearsal in their hometown of Pittsburgh, PA after their three-week stay in Los Angeles, CA. Holly (Nia Frazier's mom) says the trip to LA was a success for her daughter, but also had some lows: Holly booked a recording session with Aubrey O’Day for Nia without consulting Abby (Dance Moms S5 E6 "Nia Risks it All"), so Nia was cut from the group routine; Abby wanted the girls to ditch the MattyB video but Holly was one of the moms who let their kids stay (Dance Moms S5 E8 "Wild Wild West Coast, Part 2"), so there's bound to be some fallout from that situation.

Regarding the video debacle, Holly says a line has been drawn between "who's Team Abby, and who’s not." The moms who defied Abby by letting their girls do the video are Holly, Kira (Kalani Hilliker's mom) and Jessalynn (JoJo Siwa's mom). "Team Abby," then, is Melissa (Mackenzie and Maddie Ziegler's mom) and Jill (Kendall Vertes' mom). In fact, Jill is nervous about their first rehearsal back in Pittsburgh, not because she’s worried about how Abby will treat her, but how the other moms will treat her for siding with Abby.

Abby reveals her pyramid, the system she uses to rank the members of the ALDC. It is usually based on how well the girls did in the previous week's competition, although sometimes other factors come into play. This week from the bottom up:
Maddie: didn't dance because she was taping Austin & Ally.
JoJo: needs to work on technical issues.
Nia: also has technical issues.
Kalani: her group placed, but her duet didn't.
Kendall: only did one number and it wasn't perfect.
Mackenzie: never missed a beat in her duet.
Maddie: did a great job representing the ALDC in LA.

That is correct, Maddie gets two spaces on the pyramid. Maddie gets a lot of flak for being Abby's favorite (because she is), but she is a bonafide star now and has delivered a pro performance at every single appearance (with Sia and on her own); she deserves the extra spot. Meanwhile, Brynn Rumfallo isn't on the pyramid even though Abby invited her to join the ALDC in Pittsburgh. Kira says Brynn isn't there because her brother is struggling with diabetes.

This week, the ALDC will be traveling to the World-Class Talent Experience competition in Manahawkin, NJ. Kalani will do a contemporary solo called "Pretty Little Liar"; Kendall will do a musical theater number called "Living the Blues"; Nia will do a jazz solo called "The Golden Rule." The group will do a contemporary piece called "The Domino Effect."

Abby explains that at this particular competition, the Teen Division includes 12-year-old dancers. This is hard for the girls because the Teen Division dancers are much more advanced. Abby also tells the group, "Once you are a teen, I’m finished with you." This is bad news for Nia, age 13, and Kalani, age 14, because Abby may decide to cut one or both of them and replace them with younger girls to keep her Elite Team in the Junior Division.

While Kalani runs her solo, we see Abby in a talking head interview (and she looks extra fabulous in that cut-out shoulder top). She refers to last week's mama drama during which Tracey (Sarah Reasons' mom) said that Kira had been arrested for credit card fraud (allegedly). Abby wonders what other secrets Kira might have.

When Nia practices her solo, Holly points out that Abby isn't paying attention – she's looking at her phone – and says that Abby is punishing Nia for her [Holly's] actions in LA. Then, Holly and Jill get into an argument: Holly says Jill didn't have her back in LA because she stayed silent when Holly and Abby argued; Jill says she did have her back because she called and texted when Holly temporarily exited the team. Holly calls Jill "a coward" and walks out. When Holly returns the next day, she says she left to have a "Moment of Clarity," and that her standards are higher than Jill's. That's right, a book plug AND a burn! The fact is, though, Jill wants to stay in Abby's good graces so that her daughter won't be cut off from opportunities, and so far it's working for her.

Abby decides to pull Kalani from the group number so the team can compete in the Junior Division. When Kira protests because it's Kalani's "favorite dance," Abby quips, "Good, she'll get to watch it." Later, after the team arrives in Manahawkin, NJ, the moms wants Kira to confront Abby about cutting Kalani. In an interview, Jill brings up how she and the other moms have to fight for their kids' stage time, but Kalani is assigned solos even when she's not winning. Jill says, "Kira never has to fight for anything, so it would be nice to see her sweat a little for once."

The competition begins. Kalani dances first with her "Pretty Little Liar" contemporary solo; she wears a black one-piece costume embellished with ruffles. As Abby put it, "Kalani is flawless." Kendall is next with her "Living the Blues" musical theater number; she wears a short royal blue sequin dance dress and a black hat with a blue sequin band. Kendall does a wonderful job and Abby smiles during her performance. Nia goes third with her "Golden Rule" jazz solo; she wears a yellow two-piece skirted costume with gold sequins and a matching headband. It's a cool dance and Nia looks cool doing it.

As the girls prepare for the group number, Nia plays "Star in Your Own Life," the song she recorded with Aubrey O'Day. The girls like the tune, and Kalani, Kendall and JoJo bop around to it. Then, Abby enters the dressing room and tells Kalani to suit up in the group number costume as a show of support for the team. Jill pushes Kira to talk Abby into letting Kalani dance, but Kira stays mum.

The ALDC takes the stage for their "Domino Effect" contemporary routine; they wear white costumes with black trim and matching hats. It's impressive how well the girls dance together, especially since JoJo is still relatively new to the team.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Teen Solo Division, Nia doesn't place; Kendall is awarded 5th Place; Kalani wins 1st Place. In the Junior Small Group Division, the ALDC wins first place. When they accept their award, Abby cues Kalani to stand with the team even though she didn't dance.

Backstage, Holly tells Nia she did a great job, it just wasn't her day. Nia says there's been a lot of days like that lately. Holly states, "I want Nia to understand it's okay to be disappointed, but it's what you do with those disappointments to make yourself a better person, a better dancer and a better performer."

When the moms discuss how Kalani was allowed to accept the group award with the team even though she didn't dance in the number, Holly says, "Once again it shows that different people have different rules." She is referring to the fact that when Nia was cut from the group number she wasn't allowed to accept the award with the team, but that's probably because Nia was cut because Holly upset Abby (by booking the recording session with Aubrey O'Day); Kalani was cut for something out of her control (her age).

Jill asks, "Why is it always about Kalani? Kalani didn’t win that award, these kids did." Kira says that she and Kalani were just listening to their studio owner, just as Jill and Melissa did when they ditched the MattyB video.

Next week, Dance Moms S5 E10 is titled "The New Maddie" because that's what Abby calls new ALDC member Brynn Rumfallo. Also, Abby's nemesis Cathy Nesbitt-Stein (owner of the Candy Apples Dance Center) is back and has hired choreographer Erin Babbs.


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

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Posted on Wednesday, March 4, 2015