Dance Moms Recap S5 E26: Where in the World Is Abby Lee Miller

Nia Frazier and Shangela on Dance Moms season 5 episode 26
L to R: Nia Frazier and Shangela on Dance Moms season 5, episode 26

Previously on Dance Moms, teacher Abby and Kira Girard (Kalani Hilliker's mom) argued bitterly after Kira invited a choreographer into the studio without Abby's permission. In the aftermath, Abby refused a hug from Kalani, which led to an angry (by Kira) and tearful (by Kalani) exit. This week on Dance Moms season 5 episode 26 "Where in the World Is Abby Lee Miller?," the mother-daughter duo returns, but Abby does not. In Abby's absence, Gianna "Gia" Martello manages the team, the girls vie for a spot in Nationals, and Jill (Kendall Vertes' mom) and Holly (Nia Frazier's mom) spar over perceived upstaging. This episode also features Shangela, who years ago taught Nia how to do the "death drop.

As Dance Moms S5 E26 opens, the dancers of the ALDC wonder whether Kalani is still a member of the team following the argument between her mother, Kira Girard, and studio owner Abby Lee Miller (if you missed it read my recap for Dance Moms S5 E25 "Abby vs. Kira"). The girls also wonder if Abby will show up.

The moms don't think Abby will report for rehearsal, and they are correct, so Abby's assistant choreographer, Gianna "Gia" Martello, manages the team for this episode. Gia tells the camera, "After last week's blowup at the competition before the group routine, I'm actually not surprised that Abby's not here. But, even though Abby's not here physically, she's still going to see these solos. She's… somewhere."

This week the ALDC will be in a Sheer Talent competition in Westminster, CA. It's Solo Week, so every girl will dance and Abby will use their scores to help determine who will represent the ALDC at Nationals. Maddie Ziegler gets a lyrical solo called "Golden Child"; Kendall Vertes gets a jazz solo called "Welcome to My Life"; Mackenzie Ziegler gets an acro solo called "Superstar"; Nia Frazier gets a contemporary solo called "House of Voodoo." When Kalani Hilliker shows up later, she gets a contemporary solo called "Reign." JoJo Siwa won't be competing because she'll be at Downtown Disney opening for KidzBop (a tween singing group).

While the girls learn their routines, the moms talk business. Jill is excited that daughter Kendall's "Wear 'Em Out" single was released and hit number one on iTunes in Ireland; Holly reveals that video producer Mikey Minden wants Nia to rap and collaborate with Disney star Coco Jones. Jessalynn (JoJo Siwa's mom) says she doesn't want Abby involved in her daughter's career outside of Dance Moms because she doesn't see it as something that would work long-term.

At the next rehearsal, Jill expresses disappointment that Abby is missing during the week that Kendall's single dropped. Holly tells the moms about a meeting she and Nia had with Mikey Minden at the Wizardz of Oz recording studio and their Skype meeting with Coco Jones. Jill says, "that's good, good for you," but she's miffed that every time Kendall has a moment in the spotlight, she's upstaged by Nia.

During Nia's solo rehearsal, Shangela makes a surprise appearance in the studio. Shangela is the first drag queen Nia ever met, and is the person who taught her the death drop move. Holly says that this time Shangela has been called in to bring out Nia's "inner rap star self." During their workout we learn that Shangela's rap alter-ego is "Laquifa" and Nia's is "Chica Mica" (whose "eyebrows are on fleek-a"). Because all of the solos aren't finished, Jill says, "Shangela's great, I'm excited that she's here, but this is Solo Week. This is taking up a lot of time and this is our last chance to bring this losing streak to an end. If Abby was here, things would be really, really different".

With one day to go until competition, Abby still hasn't shown up. Holly points out, "This is the longest she has not shown up to rehearsals," and Jessalynn remarks that everyone traveled all the way to LA for Abby but "she doesn’t care enough to pick up the phone or send a group text." No-one mentions how disrespectful it was for the moms to invite another teacher into Abby's studio without her permission.

Since Melissa (Mackenzie and Maddie Ziegler's mom) and Abby are close, Jessalynn goads her with, "I KNOW you talked to her… Just admit that you talked to her and say you don't want to say what you're talking about." This upsets Melissa, and as she storms out she snaps, "I'm not dealing with this, I'm leaving today. I'm sick of being called a liar when I'm not."

Competition day arrives. Gia reminds the team that even though Abby's not there, "she's gonna see these dances, she's gonna see every move you make. Keep that in mind." To that end, each dancer has a reason why they want to impress Abby and score a solo at Nationals: Maddie didn't have a solo at last year's event; Nia's NEVER had a solo at Nationals; Kalani wasn't with the ALDC in previous years. Mackenzie and Kendall both want to prove they've earned Abby's belief in their talent.

Kalani is up first with her "Reign" solo; she wears a royal purple velvet costume with regal gold accents. She is flawless. Mackenzie is next with her "Superstar" solo; she wears a hot pink, two-piece costume and high pigtails. Jill notices that Kenzie stubs her toe during her number, but she still rocks her solo. Kendall is third with her "Welcome to My Life" solo; she wears a hot pink costume with silver and black trim. Jill doesn't think Kendall's choreo is as good as the other girls', but Kendall looks beautiful and does a great job.

Back in the dressing room, Jill brings up Mackenzie's stubbed toe. When Kenzie says she doesn't want to talk about it, Melissa responds, "Well, you know, all the moms love to push you under the bus." It's a bizarre thing to say, and after the kids leave the room, the moms call her on it. Melissa says she said it because she's upset about their previous argument and adds, "Jess called me a liar." Kira points out that Melissa called HERSELF a liar, and "That’s the only time the word 'liar' came up." Melissa responds, "Yep, 'cause I didn't talk to Abby."

Nia performs her "House of Voodoo" number; she wears a two-piece costume with a long, fluttery skirt and scary face paint. Nia excels at contemporary, and she nails her routine. Maddie is last with her "Golden Girl" routine; naturally, she wears a gold costume. Maddie is always excellent, and this dance is no exception.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Solo Division, Mackenzie wins 1st Place. In the Pre-Teen Solo Division, Kendall gets 3rd Place; Maddie wins 1st Place. In the Teen Division, Nia gets 2nd Place; Kalani wins 1st Place. When Maddie calls Abby to tell her about their clean sweep, Abby answers with, "Hey baby doll, how are you?" Beyond that, it's a brief, uneventful conversation.

As Dance Moms S5 E26 comes to a close, the focus turns to back to the girls' music careers. In a talking head interview, Kendall muses, "When Kenzie got first on the iTunes charts she got a cake and balloons, and I wish she [Abby] was here to celebrate with me. Oh well. Maybe next week."

Then, in a conversation with the moms, Jill admits,"I was disappointed all week. How come you get the "Golden Girl" and "Superstar" and the Queen, the singer! Come on, when has my kid ever been allowed to be that? This was her week and it was about everybody else but her." Meanwhile, I'm thinking that if Jill had brought cake and balloons into the studio, everyone would have celebrated Kendall's success.

Anyway, Jill's statement ignites heated words between her and Holly, who asks, "I shouldn't take advantage of opportunities for Nia?" Jill warns Holly, "This isn't about you, don't start on me." Holly answers, "Abby should have been here to help lead the charge of celebrating," and says that Kendall "deserves more from her manager." Holly also brings up that Jill chose Abby as Kendall's manager so Kendall wouldn't be cut from team activities, and reminds her, "I decided that Nia taking advantage of opportunities was more important than being excluded."

Jill says, "You can't deny that every time we turned around you're bringing someone else in to work with Nia, you're dropping names… this was Kendall's week." When Holly answers, "So what?," Jill says, "That's how I know how you feel – so what." Jill grabs her bags and walks out while yelling, "I am done!"

Next week on Dance Moms S5 E27 titled "Abby and Kira… Again," Ms. Miller returns and the argument between dance teacher and dance mom continues. Also, Abby's nemesis, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, makes an appearance with her Candy Apples Dance Center team.

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

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Posted on Wednesday, July 8, 2015