Dance Moms Recap S5 E14 Hollywood Round 2: Nia vs. Kendall

Dallas Lovato and Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms
L to R: Dallas Lovato and Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms
By REESE AMOROSI

Previously on Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller and her Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) had a rematch with Cathy Nesbitt-Stein's Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) team, and for the first time in over two years, the CADC won. This week on Dance Moms season 5, episode 14 titled "Hollywood, Round 2," the ALDC leaves their Pittsburgh, PA, hometown and returns to LA for three weeks, Nia Frazier and Kendall Vertes prepare to make music videos AND go head-to-head in competition, and the entire team takes an acting workshop run by Dallas Lovato (Demi Lovato's sister).

As Dance Moms S5 E14 "Hollywood, Round 2" opens, the ALDC reports for rehearsal at the 3rd Street Dance studio. The team's last outing in LA wasn't perfect: Holly and Abby argued over Nia's recording session with Aubrey O'Day (Holly booked it without Abby's approval - read the recap for Dance Moms S5 E6 "Nia Risks it All"); Abby pulled the girls from a MattyB video (read the recap for Dance Moms S5 E8 "Wild Wild West Coast, Part 2"); and the ALDC didn't place as high as they'd hoped to in competitions. This time though, they're all primed to do better, and both Holly (Nia's mom) and Jill (Kendall's mom) are excited that their daughters will be filming music videos to promote their fledgling music careers.

Abby says, "This is our first week back in LA, I'm still looking for the perfect studio, but I'm excited about the opportunities that are available for us." Abby discusses details for Kendall's "Wear 'Em Out" video, and says they're changing it from a high school-themed video to a military theme. They also briefly talk about Nia's video, and although Abby isn't involved in it, it seems that Holly and Abby have put the drama over it behind them. Still, Abby reminds everyone that when they get offers they should call her because, she tells them, "I am the best friend you're ever gonna have."

Abby reveals her pyramid, the leaderboard she uses for the ALDC. The pyramid is usually based on how well the girls did at the previous week's competition; if you missed it read my recap for Dance Moms S5 E13 "Mackenzie's Time to Shine." Despite having her name in last week's episode title, Mackenzie Ziegler is in the bottom spot and is told to work on her acro skills.

Kalani Hilliker, Nia Frazier and Kendall Vertes share the pyramid's middle level because the group routine lost to the CADC. When Abby asks a rhetorical question Рdid they lose because Maddie was away? РMackenzie gives an actual answer: "Our group was just to entertain. It wasn't really a competition dance." An uncomfortable silence follows and it seems the entire team wants to shuffle off to Buffalo, but the tension subsides when Abby responds,"Touch̩." JoJo Siwa's solo won 1st place, so she shares the top spot with Maddie Ziegler, who earns the honor for her appearance on Saturday Night Live with Sia.

This week the team will be in a competition called New York Dance Experience in Anaheim, CA (this is the same organization featured in Dance Moms S5 E11 "Nia's Last Chance"; they do live critiques on stage after each performance). Kendall will do a contemporary solo called "Waiting"; Nia will do a contemporary solo called "Never Knew"; the group will do a lyrical routine called "Together We Stand." After the routines are assigned, Abby informs the girls that she booked them an acting workshop with Dallas Lovato (her sister is singer/actress Demi Lovato).

While the girls rehearse, the moms hang out, and Holly and Jill talk about their daughters' upcoming video shoots. A major point of contention is that Abby is producing Kendall's video, but Jill and Abby don't have a contract. When Jill and Abby discuss it, Jill asks if she can have creative control over her daughter's video, but Abby says "no" because she's already invested $57,000. Abby says that during the shoot, Jill will act as her assistant, getting her tea and whatnot. By conversation's end, it's clear that Abby expects to move forward with the video, with or without a signed contract, and Jill is willing to do this because she doesn't want to jeopardize Kendall's shot at pop stardom.

As for Nia's video for "Star in Your Own Life," it seems that Aubrey O'Day has helped to assemble the team: the video will be directed and choreographed by Mikey Minden; he says they'll be using Janet Jackson's makeup artist and Katy Perry's hair stylist.

Throughout this episode, Holly pushes Jill to lean on Abby for a signed contract, and she mentions several times that she has creative control over Nia's video. However, later in the episode we learn that Holly doesn't have a signed contract either. Jill says, "Holly's mad at me for not having a contract, when ultimately, Holly doesn't have one either, it's a little bit hypocritical." Jill also points out that Holly is putting her trust into a director she's only met once. Holly says, "the key difference is I still feel like I have a lot of control; with Abby I felt like I had no control." Jill responds, "I know she [Abby] wields her power, we’ve seen it all happen, especially to you because you don’t back down with her. I will. To protect Kendall's future, I will."

The ALDC reports for their acting seminar with Dallas Lovato. When Dallas asks Maddie her favorite movie, she seems to be caught off-guard and doesn't answer, which leads Dallas to believe that Maddie is tired. When Dallas coaches the girls through an improv session, we learn two interesting facts: Mackenzie is funny, and in real life, JoJo takes Korean language lessons. Who knew? Dallas assesses each girl: Kendall has to embody her character; Nia needs to commit even more; JoJo needs to work on enunciation; Maddie seems tired and needs to sparkle; Kalani needs more natural body language; Mackenzie needs to have more faith in herself.

The team arrives at the Anaheim Center for the Performing Arts at Servite for the New York Dance Experience competition. Nia goes first with her "Never Knew" contemporary solo; she wears a beautiful one-shouldered purple costume with cut-out sides and back and an asymmetrical chiffon skirt. Nia is always wonderful in contemporary routines. Kendall is next with her "Waiting" contemporary solo; she wears a two-piece multi-color costume in pastels with a floral top and a short, handkerchief-style chiffon skirt. Kendall's turns are lovely. The ALDC takes the stage for their "Together We Stand" lyrical routine; they wear white two-piece costumes with bikini tops and shorts with a chiffon overlay. They look beautiful and they do a great job with the choreography. There are no notable revelations during the live critiques.

While all of the contestants wait on stage for the awards ceremony to begin, Kendall and Jill get a big surprise: Abby arranged for Kendall's song "Wear 'Em Out" to play over the PA system. Jill sees this as proof that Abby has Kendall's best interests at heart. Right before the awards are presented, Abby says, "It's the battle of the pop stars; Nia vs. Kendall. Who is going to rise up and become the champion?" In the Senior Solo Division, Nia gets 3rd Place. In the Junior Solo Awards, Kendall wins 1st Place. In the Junior Group Division, the ALDC wins 1st Place.

Back in the dressing room, Abby tells Nia, "You came in third, we need to get that up," and Nia responds, "Believe me, if I could've I would've." Abby shoots back, "Well, why didn’t you? They liked the choreography, so I think it goes back to the technique." Then, Abby commends Kendall and the team for their for her first place wins. In a talking head interview Abby states, "The goal has always been to win every single week. Now that we're on the West Coast that doesn't change, that just gets tougher, so the girls need to step it up."

Next week on Dance Moms Season 5, episode 15 titled "Maddie vs. Kalani," the ALDC gets a re-match against choreographer Erin Babbs and her Murrieta Dance Project, and it appears that the tension between Jill and Holly escalates and Holly says, "There's no need to be on a mission to make Kendall's video better than Nia's." Uh oh.

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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, April 8, 2015