|Nia Frazier, aka pop star Nia Sioux, star of Dance Moms on Lifetime|
Previously on Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller and the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) landed in Australia and performed at the ASTRA Awards. For the remainder of the trip though, Abby has excluded two of the girls – Nia Frazier and JoJo Siwa – from participating in the rest of the team's events. This week on "Dance Moms Down Under, Part 2" (season 5, episode 21), Holly (Nia's mom) makes a proactive decision and invites Mikey Minden (Nia's video director) to join them in Australia to produce Nia's live singing debut for "Star in Your Own Life." This makes Abby angry, of course, but Nia emerges triumphant with a brilliant performance (and she included JoJo!).
As "Dance Moms Down Under, Part 2" opens, Abby and the ALDC visit Australia's Cleland Wildlife Park and see kangaroos and koala bears. Of course, the Dance Moms' version of communing with nature includes backbiting: Kira "took a day" so that she and daughter Kalani Hilliker could spend time by themselves. Abby seems fine with it, but the moms are not: Holly says, "The double-standard is never-ending when it comes to Kira. Kira doesn't bother to show up, but yet her daughter gets to be included in all the events."
Now that last week's performance at the ASTRA Awards is behind them (if you missed it read my recap for S5 E20 "Dance Moms Down Under, Part 1"), Nia and JoJo are excluded from the rest of the ALDC's gigs Australia. This is Abby's way of punishing Holly and Nia for going around her to launch Nia's music career; on the show it hasn't been revealed why she's punishing JoJo. So, for the rest of the team's time in Australia, Abby is only using Maddie Ziegler, Mackenzie Ziegler, Kalani Hilliker and Kendall Vertes. Abby says, "This is my vacation time; this is who I want to spend my vacation with."
When the moms ask what the ALDC will be doing this week, it is only Abby's chosen girls who will be learning a Mad Max-inspired dance routine for a big exhibition in Melbourne. However, Holly isn't going to allow her daughter to be sidelined, so as we learned last week, she invited Mikey Minden, Nia's video director, to Australia to produce Nia's debut live performance of "Star in Your Own Life." When Holly invites the team to Nia's concert, Abby is instantly angry; if this was a cartoon we'd see smoke shoot out of her ears and hear that "ahh-oog-ga" noise.
Jessalynn (JoJo's mom) points out that she and daughter JoJo, and Holly and daughter Nia are actually with the team today, while two of Abby's preferred members – Kira and Kalani – are not. The double-standard bugs Jess and prompts her to question Abby about what her grounds are for critiquing the girls – who she corrects and whose mistakes she opts to "cover up." She is referring to the fact that last week Maddie fell out of a turn at the ASTRAs and Abby didn't mention it - she only gave corrections to Nia and JoJo.
Well. Australia must be a really small country (NOT!), because Nia and Mikey Minden's crew wind up rehearsing at the same studio at the same time as the ALDC. Hmm... Nia is practicing for her singing gig which is scheduled to take place at Federation Square, and she's getting the "whole Mikey Minden treatment": dancers, costumes, hair and makeup. JoJo will have a special dance breakdown in the performance because Holly is awesome and didn’t want her excluded.
When Abby and Mikey cross paths heading into the studio, Abby tells the camera, "This country has amazing dance instructors and choreographers. Why did Nia need to bring somebody all the way here? You should be able to work with any choreographer that you're given, Nia." Then, when Jill (Kendall's mom) asks Abby what she thinks of Mikey, Abby snipes, "I think there must not be too much work in LA." Jill presses on, asking, "Don't you think it's funny JoJo and Nia didn't invite our kids to go perform in their event?" Crikey! Abby responds that it's because the ALDC kids "would make them look bad."
There is a marked difference in the vibes between Mikey's rehearsal, which seems serious but fun, and the ALDC's rehearsal, where Jill is annoyed that Kalani isn’t present because she's busy with schoolwork. Abby explains that Kalani is the star of this routine and she'd be sitting out this part of the rehearsal even is she was present (because the other girls are learning their parts), but Jill is not happy. Then, Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) and Jill talk about how Holly, after being excluded, decided to do things for Nia on her own and make them bigger and better than the ALDC. They discuss this like it's a negative, and they lament, "She's changed."
When Holly and JoJo drop by the ALDC's rehearsal room, Abby asks if Mikey is going to send her a gift because he wouldn't be in Australia if it wasn't for her. Holly tells Abby that she's not sure Mikey sees it that way, and she tells the camera, "I think Abby has lost her mind," and that Mikey's gift to Abby "is that he is working with one of her students." Still, Abby is getting more worked up with each frame that passes, and she tries to cut Holly and Jessalynn down by saying they're only in Australia because they piggybacked on her event. This is, in fact, true, but Abby is the one who cut Nia and JoJo from ALDC events, and now she's unhappy that they found something far grander to do. The next day, Nia and JoJo are on a plane headed to Melbourne.
Kalani reports for rehearsal with the ALDC, and Kira gossips with the other moms about the situation with Abby and Holly and how it's ruining their trip. The moms think Holly and Jessalynn want their kids to be divided from the ALDC. Jill says, "I think Holly is making a big mistake. I can't believe she invited Mikey Minden here to work with Nia. This was an ALDC thing. Had nothing to do with Mikey or the music videos or any of it. You know, I don't want to have a divided team, I think it's gonna be trouble." Jill's not sure the team will be able to make it to Nia's show, but Kira says she doesn't "give a sh-t" about the situation.
Holly, Nia, Jessalynn and JoJo arrive in Melbourne and report for rehearsal with Mikey for her "make it or break it" moment. It's so much fun to watch Mikey work: "Walk, walk, jiggy, jiggy ah! Whack, whack, down, crack!" Suddenly, I want to be in a Mikey Minden video.
Back in Adelaide, the mood is tense at the ALDC rehearsal. Abby is in a snit over not knowing what Mikey Minden is planning for Nia, the girls looks tired and sad, and the moms continue to gripe at Kira over that day she took off with Kalani. Melissa tells the camera, "Kira pulled Kalani because she wanted a day with her boyfriend. Nothing to do with Kalani. Obviously her daughter isn't number one, 'cause missing a day of rehearsal is really a setback, and it's not just for her daughter...it's hard on the team."
Finally, it's the day of Nia's big concert. Mikey is a pro and does everything on a large scale: he puts the troupe through their paces – "Whip it, whip it, down drop!" – then he reveals the Jumbotron playing Nia's video over the huge stage at Federal Square. It is fabulous.
Meanwhile, the ALDC has arrives in Melbourne. Jill asks Abby, "Who gets to have their choreographer flown across the world, and a costume designer and hair and makeup?" Abby responds by critiquing Nia's mature look in the video: "In LA, in Hollywood, they want you to look young…" She goes on, but it doesn't really matter – Nia's video is outstanding and Nia is outstanding in it. Anyway, Abby ends by saying that she hopes Nia has something to fall back on "'cause this ain't it, kid."
Next, we see Abby and the ALDC at a meet-and-greet where they are selling team swag and posing with paying customers. Holly and Jessalynn arrive to support the team (and no doubt because they're curious to see what's going on), despite the fact last week, Melissa warned them not to show up at any of Abby's privately booked events. Holly and Jessalynn inquire about how the Mad Max number is going, and ONCE AGAIN Jill goes on about Kira and Kalani taking a day away from the team. Is it too late in this recap to start a drinking game for every time Jill complains? Seriously, she's one of the Dance Moms I'd most like to do lunch with, but enough already. Holly and Jess both say if they had been included in the team events, they would not have taken a day off.
Backstage at Federal Square, Nia gets a phone call from mentor Aubrey O'Day, who tells her, "You've proved to everyone that you can do it your way and do it with respect and dignity and be able to showcase your talent to its full potential, and I'm so proud of you, baby."
The ALDC does their Mad Max routine at the exhibition. It is really cool, but even though Kalani is the designated star of this number, it is Maddie who really stands out; the choreography truly suits her.
Finally, as a crowd of 1000+ chants her name, Nia Frazier, aka pop princess Nia Sioux, takes the stage at Federal Square for her debut live performance of "Star in Your Own Life." Nia's teammates have bookings so they can't attend Nia's concert, but moms Melissa, Jill and Kira DO show up, and everyone hugs Holly and they say"I love you."
Nia puts on a professional, uplifting show, and she nails every beat. Holly was hoping that this would be a pivotal moment for her daughter, and with this performance, I think she got her wish. As Mikey Minden tells Nia, "This is next level stuff." Congratulations to all involved.
On June 9, the second half of Dance Moms season 5 premieres (season 5, episode 22) and Abby and her team move into their new ALDC-LA home. See you there!
Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.
Photo courtesy of Lifetime.
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Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015