'Dance Moms' Recap S5 E11 Nia's Last Chance: Holly Makes a Pact

Holly Frazier, star of Dance Moms season 5
Holly Frazier, star of Dance Moms season 5
By REESE AMOROSI

Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller had Maddie Ziegler compete against guest dancer Brynn Rumfallo (they placed 1st and 2nd, respectively), and the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) was victorious over Cathy Nesbitt-Stein's Candy Apples team. This week on Dance Moms season 5, episode 11 titled "Nia's Last Chance," Abby gives Nia Frazier a solo with the caveat that if she doesn't place, she won't get another solo for a long while. Meanwhile, the tension between Abby and Holly (Nia's mom) leads to her making a pact to stand with Jessalynn (JoJo Siwa's mom) and Kira (Kalani Hilliker's mom). Also, Abby makes JoJo a permanent member of the ALDC for this season.

As Dance Moms S5 E11 "Nia's Last Chance" opens, Abby congratulates the girls for last week's win. Jill (Kendall Vertes' mom) attributes their success to the fact that the ALDC stuck to their strongest style – lyrical – but she wants them to branch out, and Holly concurs that constantly performing lyrical routines doesn't prepare the girls for work in LA.

Abby tells the girls to turn in their homework; their assignment was to write down the pros and cons of making JoJo Siwa a permanent ALDC member. Sisters Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler consider JoJo a little loud and crazy, but also hard working and dedicated. Nia Frazier says, "You take opportunities from people who have been here longer" but adds, "you're nice and a team player." Kalani Hilliker points out, "You lip synch when you're on stage." Kendall Vertes notes that JoJo respects the team and is still getting used to learning choreography in two days, but also acknowledges, "you're crazy in public." JoJo sheds one tiny tear, but as Holly says, it's impressive that "she's standing tall and taking it like a champ."

Abby highlights JoJo's strengths – she a performer, she's sassy – then presents her with an ALDC jacket and a spot on the team for "the rest of the season" but "not for all of eternity." You go, JoJo! Jessalynn (JoJo's mom) promises Abby "No trouble, no lawsuits, no craziness, no nothing." We'll see. I bet Jessalynn is way cooler than she appears on the show, but I don't think she'll be able to deliver on all aspects of that promise.

Abby reveals her pyramid, the leaderboard for the ALDC. The pyramid is usually based on how well the dancers did at the previous week's competition, and normally it goes from the bottom, up. This week however, there's a twist: Abby says everyone was an "equal player" in the group routine, so they're all on the same level, except for Maddie, who gets the top spot for having the highest scoring solo.

This week the ALDC will travel to Philadelphia, PA, for The New York Talent Experience, a competition at which they critique the dancers publicly while they're on stage. The group has a musical theater piece called "Decadent Darlings", and there are three contemporary solos: Maddie will do "Mannequin"; Kendall will do "Waiting on a Train to Paris"; Nia will do "The Color Purple." Abby warns Nia that if she doesn't place, she won't be getting another solo for a long time.

While the team learns the group routine, the moms observe from the mezzanine. Jessalynn expresses relief that JoJo is finally an ALDC member. She says she'll be sleeping with a smile on her face and "JoJo will be sleeping with her jacket on." Jill talks about the group routine and offers, "Even though the moms have been divided over the last couple weeks, there's one thing we can agree on, and that's too many lyrical numbers."

Abby summons Jill and Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) to the studio. In their absence, Jessalynn and Holly discuss how their daughters always get negative comments [see, there goes Jessalynn's promise]. Kira says despite the fact that Kalani gets opportunities from Abby, she still understands their position. Holly observes, "We find allies in the most unlikely places." Later, Holly says she realized she wasn't alone when the three of them defied Abby and let their kids do the MattyB video (for details read my recap for Dance Moms S5 E8 Wild Wild West Coast, Part 2). They make a pact to stand by each other, and Jessalynn tells the camera, "the fact that an original member has my back is really going to benefit JoJo and I."

Melissa and Jill return, and the conversation continues. Holly re-states her realization that she and Jess were on the same side at the MattyB video shoot. Jill protests and counters that Jessalynn wasn't at the MattyB shoot to support Holly and Nia, she was there for JoJo. Jessalynn reveals their pact, but Jill won't believe it until she sees it in action. Melissa tells the camera, "Abby treats my kids well because I'm always on her side. Holly doesn't realize she's digging herself a deeper hole with Abby. I love Nia and for her sake, I wish Holly would just back down."

Maddie rehearses her solo. She plays a mannequin that comes to life, so Abby carries her into the studio. Kendall is next, and Abby tells her she's in the same situation as Nia: if she doesn't place, it'll be a while before she gets another solo.

Abby reiterates this point during Nia's rehearsal, and mentions her ongoing problems with Holly (for the details on Abby and Holly's issues, read the recaps for Dance Moms S5 E5 and Dance Moms S5 E6). When Nia asks Abby to put those differences aside, Abby responds, "So, if someone was a murderer, I should just bring them in and teach them a dance and forget they murdered somebody? No." Then, in a talking head interview, Nia says her singing career is none of Abby's business. During practice, though, Abby tells Nia that everything she does represents the ALDC and warns, "…if you want to think your music is separate, good luck." After the exchange, Holly consoles a tearful Nia and reminds her that she can't control Abby, only her response to her.

The competition begins at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Nia is first with her "Color Purple" solo; she wears a purple chiffon dance dress with rhinestones. Nia excels with the expressive, angular choreography. A stagehand carries Maddie on for her "Mannequin" solo; she wears a nude colored unitard reminiscent of her Sia video costumes. She is, as always, wonderful. Kendall goes third with her "Waiting on a Train to Paris" solo; she wears a skirted beige costume and has steamer trunk props. She does a great job. [On a side-note, it's freaky how much she looks like Gianna "Gia" Martello, Abby's assistant choreographer.] The ALDC performs "Decadent Darlings"; they wear pink costumes with sheer ruffled skirts and gold trim, and they don short 20s-style wigs. It's adorable.

The judges – including the fabulous Rachelle Rak, a panelist on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition – critique the girls after each number, but nothing over-the-top happens, except maybe Abby's face during the sessions: she doesn't look pleased.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Solo Division, Maddie wins 1st place; Kendall and Nia do not place. In the Group Division, the ALDC takes 3rd Place. In an interview, Abby says Nia won't be getting a solo any time soon, and that the team will be doing lyrical group routines for a long time to come. "I know what wins competitions," Abby states. "I'm the director of the company; I say what we're doing. You're a dance mom: get in your car, go home and make dinner."

In the dressing room, Jill tells Abby about Holly, Jessalynn and Kira's alliance. [Good job deflecting from Kendall's loss, Jill!] Abby responds, "You're either on my team and you support my decisions one hundred percent whether it affects your child or not, or, find another team." Holly disagrees because she's supported Abby "for years," and she calls the murderer analogy Abby used in Nia's rehearsal "extreme." When Melissa says that Abby is "always extreme," Holly walks out. Melissa and Jill – not the pact moms – go after her, but Holly tells them, "the conversation's over."

Next week on Dance Moms S5 E12, Abby announces that the ALDC is heading back to LA; Abby's rival Cathy Nesbitt-Stein has (yet another) new team; Cathy discusses the controversy around "Elastic Heart," Maddie's second video with Sia.

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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, March 18, 2015