'Dance Moms' Recap S5 E30: Nia vs. Kalani, Winner Takes All

Nia Frazier aka Nia Sioux, star of Dance Moms on Lifetime
Nia Frazier (aka Nia Sioux), star of Dance Moms on Lifetime

Previously on Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miler continued her practice of having the girls in the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) compete head-to-head for a solo at Nationals. Last week Maddie Ziegler won over Kendall Vertes; this week on Dance Moms season 5, episode 30 "Nia vs. Kalani, Winner Takes All," Nia Frazer and Kalani Hilliker face-off. Also, the ALDC dances against their main West Coast competition – Murrieta Dance Project (MDP) – and Nia Frazier films a video for her Coco Jones collaboration song "Slay," and it features the fabulous Carmen Electra.

As Dance Moms S5 E30 "Nia vs. Kalani, Winner Takes All," opens, the Moms meet outside of rehearsal. Holly (Nia Frazier's mom) says, "It's critical for the ALDC to win this week, otherwise there's no chance to catch up to MDP. We'll become like the Candy Apples [a rival team that the ALDC beats a lot on the show] to them, and we can't let that happen."

The team gathers in Abby's new studio. Since Kira (Kalani Hilliker's mom) is pregnant, Abby offers her a seat (if you missed last week's show featuring the pregnancy announcement, read my recap for Dance Moms S5 E29 "Baby Dance Mama Drama"). Jill (Kendall Vertes' mom) is back in Pittsburgh for her daughter's graduation (she joins the team later in the ep), so Melissa (Mackenzie and Maddie Ziegler's mom) is "in charge of Kendall."

Abby congratulates the girls on their first place win last week, then discusses both the upcoming grand opening for ALDC-LA and Nationals, the team's most important annual competition. Abby says she doesn't think the girls are ready, physically or mentally.

Abby reveals her pyramid, the ALDC leaderboard, from the bottom, up:
JoJo Siwa: "messed up in the group dance."
Kendall Vertes: dropped her scarf prop during solo
Nia Frazier: "you did what you needed to do."
Kalani Hilliker: was "great" in group routine.
Mackenzie Ziegler: played her part well in group
Maddie Ziegler: was exquisite, should work on centering

This week the ALDC will compete at Dance Kids USA in Anaheim, CA (the actual competition took place on May 23, 2015); this organization uses kid judges. Kalani and Nia will dance head-to-head for a chance to score a solo at Nationals. Kalani will do a contemporary piece called "Shades of Grey"; Nia will do a jazz number called "Bye Felicia." The group will do a lyrical routine called "Made for the Shade" and they will use parasols as props (Abby later reveals that the significance is that the umbrellas shade them from reality, or a secret). Nia (aka Nia Sioux) won't be in the dance because she'll be busy filming a video for the "Slay," her collaboration with Coco Jones.

While the team rehearses the group dance, the Moms talk statistics: the ALDC has only come in first place 14 out of 24 times for the season (good, but not as great as last year). Meanwhile, the girls are having issues with their prop parasols - they keep turning inside-out. Later in the episode, Melissa suggests adding dowel sticks to stabilize them, but Abby doesn't want to change the weight.

While Kalani learns her solo, Abby gives her the back-story – her character is a disco dancer named Rosanna who is "friends with all the gay boys." Also, "some guy left her waiting." When Nia rehearses, Abby says she's gone from a little private school girl to the complete opposite, and she wants her to tell the whole world, "Bye Felicia." When Nia has to leave the studio to film her video, Abby says, "I always knew she'd be a star, I just don’t know if she can do all this. I think she just maybe bit off more than she can chew."

Next we see Mikey Minden directing Nia's video shoot in downtown LA. We see brief clips of them filming inside of a beauty salon and outside in a car. JoJo is in the video, as is Carmen Electra, who is ridiculously fierce.

Over at the Murrieta Dance Studio, Erin Babbs is putting her team, the Murrieta Dance Project (MDP), through their paces.  She talks with them about the ALDC - she says they’re not winning competitions and that they're breaking apart instead of bonding. She says Abby may be "The Last One Standing," which is the theme and title of the MDP's group routine, a jazz number that requires them to wear hoods that partially obscure their vision.

Competition day arrives. Of course, Erin and a few MDP moms follow the ALDC into the venue so they can stir the pot. Erin asks how they think the ALDC has been doing on the competition circuit in LA. When Jill asks why it matters to them, one mom answers, "Because you keep acting like you're so superior... This is supposed to be about dance and there's not a lot of dance going on any more…. You guys are all in it for the money now." Of course, Abby makes quick work of putting her place.

Nia competes first with her "Bye Felicia" solo; she wears a hot pink bustier-style top with matching pants. Nia has always been an excellent dancer, but there is an easy confidence to this performance that puts it over the top. Kalani is next with her "Shades of Grey" solo; she wears a pretty grey costume with a knee-length chiffon skirt. The choreo is beautiful and highlights her flexibility, but I give this one to Nia.

As the ALDC moms head backstage to prepare for group, they are headed off by Erin and the MDP moms. One asks Kira if her daughter Kalani is getting the technique training she needs, and Jill answers, "Did you not just watch Kalani on stage? Were your eyes closed? Did you not think that was freaking amazing?" The potential for a fiery argument is extinguished because the kids arrive, but when Abby lets Nia walk by but then rushes to give Kalani a congratulatory hug for her solo, the MDP moms notice. Abby does eventually hug Nia, but Holly (Nia's mom) says it's "too little, too late."

Then, while the ALDC is in their dressing room, Erin and the MDP interrupt AGAIN (who does this?), this time to ask about Nia's video shoot. Holly starts telling them, but when Jill rolls her eyes and Melissa mumbles something, Holly gets offended and says she'll tell them later. Holly tells the camera that Jill and Melissa resent that people want to help Nia, but really, it seemed to me like they had just had enough of MDP's intrusions. I know I have.

The MDP performs their "Last One Standing" jazz routine; they wear red one-piece costumes with lace at the waist and neckline, the aforementioned sheer red hoods, and they have long pieces of red fabric as props. The lead dancer – Talia Seitel – takes a spill toward the end of the number, but all-in-all, the MDP is a talented team and they always have cool choreography. Backstage, Kendall asks Talia if she's okay, and tells her she covered it well, which is true.

The ALDC takes the stage for their "Made for the Shade" routine; they wear peach-colored costumes with long chiffon handkerchief skirts, and they carry pale pink parasols that the Moms have taped to keep them from collapsing. The routine is very good, but it looks demure compared to MDP's flashy number. Kira says, "When you have kids judging a competition, you just never know which way they're gonna go."

The awards ceremony begins. In the Teen Solo Division, Kalani gets 3rd Place; Nia wins 1st Place. Holly says, "I know Abby did not expect for that to happen." In the Junior Group Division, MDP gets 2nd Place; ALDC wins 1st Place.

As Dance Moms S5 E30 closes, Abby hugs and congratulates Kalani, but not Nia (unless it was edited out or off camera). Nia asks Abby if her winning means she gets a solo at Nationals – which was supposed to be the point of Kalani and Nia dancing head-to-head – and Abby answers, "No, I wouldn't say that." Abby's reason is that Kalani "had a huge breakthrough." Holly argues that so did Nia, especially given that she won 1st place, but Abby disagrees, saying, "She's won what, three times in her life?" Holly tells Abby, "Every time you set the rules, the rules change." Pointing that out doesn't matter, though. "You know what?" Abby says with a shrug, "Oh well."

Next week on Dance Moms S5 E31 "Chaos at Nationals" – the season 5 finale – Abby opens ALDC-LA, and the ALDC attends their biggest annual competition.


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

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Posted on Wednesday, August 5, 2015