Dance Moms Recap S5 E24 West Coast Strikes Back: ALDC vs. MDP

Dance Moms S5 E24 West Coast Strikes Back: ALDC vs. MDP
On Dance Moms S5 E24 West Coast Strikes Back, the ALDC vs. MDP
By REESE AMOROSI

Previously on Dance Moms, studio owner Abby Lee Miller brought in celebrity choreographer Travis Payne to work with the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC), and Mackenzie Ziegler beat her famous older sister Maddie in a competition. This week on Dance Moms season 5, episode 24 titled "West Coast Strikes Back," the ALDC competes against rival Erin Babbs and her talented team known as the Murrieta Dance Project (MDP), and the moms question Melissa (Maddie and Mackenzie's mom) when she doesn’t step in after Abby takes a lead role away from Mackenzie and gives it to Maddie. Also in this episode, JoJo Siwa does a special solo for her grandmother.

As Dance Moms S5 E24 "West Coast Strikes Back" opens, we see the dancers of the ALDC as they prepare for rehearsal at the 3rd Street Studio in LA . There's chatter and teasing between the Ziegler girls due to Mackenzie's unexpected win over famous big sis Maddie, who tells the camera, "I cannot believe that Mackenzie beat me because she's just this little dancer and usually my tap always wins." Then Maddie tells her teammates, "Obviously I'm just gonna beat her again," and Mackenzie jokes, "I'm quitting because I already won."

Another big change last week was that Abby brought in a guest choreographer, Travis Payne, and the team did a jazz number instead of their tried-and-true lyrical style. The ALDC came in second place – which Abby cannot stand, in many episodes she has stated, "second is the first to lose" – so it's doubtful the ALDC will be doing anything but lyrical in the near future (if you missed last week's episode, catch up by reading my recap for Dance Moms S5 E23 "Maddie vs. Mackenzie").

Abby reveals her pyramid, the leaderboard for the ALDC. It is usually based on the previous week's competition results, and it's read from the bottom up:
Kendall Vertes: was away for a family commitment.
JoJo Siwa: she is capable of doing more.
Nia Frazier: her isolations were a "hot mess, not clean."
Kalani Hilliker: was "soft" in the group dance.
Maddie Ziegler: came in second.
Mackenzie Ziegler: came in first AND beat Maddie.

This week the team will attend the Fierce National Dance Competition in Calabasas, CA, where they will compete against rival Erin Babbs and her Murrieta Dance Project (MDP). As Abby begins to assign routines, JoJo raises her hand and asks if she can have a solo because her grandmother (who has cancer) is in town. Abby agrees, but it comes at a price: JoJo is cut from the group routine so she can focus on her solo, which is a lyrical piece called "Faith is All I Need." Kendall will be doing her "Just an Illusion" jazz solo that was cut two weeks ago in Dance Moms S5 E22 "Live from LA It's Kendall K."

The group will do a routine called "Voices in My Head" in which Mackenzie will be lead dancer; it's her reward for beating Maddie. However, Abby says if it looks like Kenzie can't handle it, she'll take her out of that role so she doesn't jeopardize the team's chance of winning.

At the first group rehearsal Abby asks Mackenzie to improv (which hasn't been her strong suit in the past), and she goes right into a pretty combination. Abby is pleased with Mackenzie's steps, but not her facial expressions. Later in the episode, Abby reiterates that Mackenzie's dancing in the lead role is "great," but she's still unhappy with her face. Also, Kenzie doesn't have the full-body follow-through that her older sister does, and after Abby runs the routine with Maddie, she decides "There is no way Mackenzie can do that part, no way."

This turn of events leads to Jill (Kendall's mom) and Jessalynn (JoJo's mom) questioning Melissa's parenting skills. Jill asks Melissa, "Are you gonna put up with that?," and Melissa responds, "Maddie would be the perfect lead for this because of the faces she just did in the Sia video" [she's referring to Maddie's work in Sia's video for "Big Girls Cry"]. Jessalynn asks, "Does it bother Kenzie, the favoritism?," and Melissa answers, "I love my daughters both the same, I don't favor anybody." The interrogation continues until Melissa has had it: she says facetiously, "I'm such a bad mom" and she tells Jill to "go to hell."

While all of this is going on, Erin Babbs is getting the MDP ready for battle, and we see them doing calisthenics. In a voiceover Erin says, "We're gonna come out harder and stronger, I'm gonna put more tricks, more style, I'm gonna show everybody that we are a force to be reckoned with, Abby is not." Erin gives Caylie Almada a contemporary solo called "Secret Place"; the team will do a contemporary routine called "Monster Under the Bed." Erin explains that the group number is about how some people think Abby's a monster, but she's really "kind of a joke sometimes."

Competition day arrives. The ALDC and MDP moms meet in the dressing room, and Erin's group has a present for Abby: a big bunch of balloons. Erin attempts to explain that she had the girls write on the balloons, but Jill pops them and orders the MDP crew to leave. Meanwhile, Abby has a little gift of her own for the MDP: to freak them out, she's going to have Maddie stand backstage in a costume as if she were doing a solo.

JoJo's grandmother stops by the ALDC dressing room and everyone hugs. JoJo tells the camera, "It's hard to know that your grandma's sick, but dancing with the ALDC has been one of my dreams, and so now that I'm here dancing with them and my grandma's here to watch, it's an even bigger dream. I gotta go out on the dance floor and let loose and just dance for my grandma."

JoJo takes the stage for her "Faith is All I Need" solo; she wears a white, two-piece costume embellished with sequins, beads and flower appliques. She does a beautiful job. Kendall is next with her "Just an Illusion" solo; she wears a black and white tux-inspired costume with a magic hat (she's playing a magician). It's a cute dance and she does a nice side aerial. Abby thinks Kendall did "well" but not great.

Right before Caylie's turn onstage, Abby follows through on her plan to psych out the competition by having Maddie in costume warming up in the wings, because "all's fair in love and war and dance competitions." Of course, the MDP kids notice, and Caylie says, "I thought I was only going up against JoJo and Kendall."

Caylie performs her "Secret Place" solo; she wear a black two-piece costume with metallic and floral accents. When she bobbles her first turn sequence her mom exclaims, "F—k!" The rest of Caylie's routine is very good, and she has great flexibility.

Before the group competition begins, the MDP is once again doing calisthenics, and Erin has them counting and yelling "monster" in unison at Abby as she walks toward them. It's obnoxious, and Abby tells them so. She also reminds them that they shouldn't jump on cement.

The MDP does their "Monster Under the Bed" dance; they wear light blue, two-piece costumes with long lace tops over matching trunks, and they have a doll that's supposed to be Abby under their prop bed. They are very talented and it's an entertaining routine. The ALDC follows with their "Voices in My Head" routine; they all wear chiffon dresses in black with matching headpieces except for Maddie, who wears the same costume, but in white. It's classic ALDC choreography and they give a lovely performance.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Solo Division, Kendall gets 2nd Place; Caylie wins 1st Place. JoJo doesn't place, but Abby says, "JoJo's solo takes on a whole different meaning, it's not about the competition, it's about honoring this dear woman, and she did that. I just really wish she would have won, that would have been the icing on the cake." In the Group Division, the ALDC is named as 2nd Place; the MDP wins 1st Place.

Backstage, the ALDC and MDP moms pass each other and exchange obligatory "congratulations," and Jessalynn mentions the "F-bomb" that was dropped. Abby tells Caylie's mom, "Your mother-in-law's not real thrilled with the way you talk," but she responds, "Oh yes she is, she's fine with it." Then one of the MDP moms tries to get a dig in by saying, "Your mom must be real proud of you too, Abby," but Abby shoots back, "My mom's dead." Awkward! Just in time, the kids arrive and lighten the mood.

As Dance Moms S5 E24 "West Coast Strikes Back" closes, Abby says, "Two losses in a row, this is not how I wanted to return to Los Angeles. If these girls don't get it together they're gonna join that long line of broken dreams on Hollywood Boulevard."

Next week on Dance Moms S5 E25 titled "Abby vs. Kira," it appears that Abby Lee Miller and Kira Girard (Kalani Hilliker's mom) have a doozy of an argument.

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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, June 24, 2015