Dance Moms Season 5 premiere recap: The (freak) show must go on …

Lori Acken

Yeeeeesssss, Dance Moms faithful, I’m back, lured by the prospect of Christi and Kelly’s revenge … and the fact that your new Dance Moms recap mommy Katy LaFond will take over next week.

We begin Season 5 on a hyper perky note with the girls super squealy about returning to the ALDC and a super squealy Abby Lee. Who, it appears, is down a good 40 pounds. Maybe more. I’m bad at that sort of thing. How ever many pounds it is, Jill says it’s too many and we have to fatten our fearsome leader back up. Nobody likes a skinny Santa … er, Abby … papa.

Dance Moms Season 5 episode 1

Plus, it diminishes the opportunity for fat jokes, ain’t that right, Jill … and Cathy Candy Apple?

After all the Lukasiak-quashing drama that was the Season 4 finale’s showdown at Nationals, only Nia, Maddie, Mack and Kendall — and thus, only Jill, Melissa and Holly —are back. And things is a leeeeeettle quiet.

dance-moms-season-5-episode-1-moms Doo dee doo dee dooooo.

Finally the girls break the silence by pointing out that no one knows where Chloe is. Maddie says that she hasn’t talked to Chloe since before the Nationals blowout and her pal’s not returning texts or FaceTime requests from any of them. Plus, she misses her.

Nia would like a little clarification as to whether Chloe was officially kicked out or if she just … left. The moms assure her that she was not kicked out at all. Jill hopes the Lukasiaks show up, because, you know, they’re a team and teams stick together through thick (dance teacher) and thin.

A morose-looking Holly says the other shoe has yet to drop, and it just does not feel like a complete team. Still, the remaining girls need to chin up and present a untied front.

We start studio time with congrats all around on winning Nationals for a fourth time, and opting to play dumb, Melissa wants to know if Abby has talked to Christi. “Talk to her?” Abby crows. “ I don’t think she would spit on me. Oh sure she would, Abby. She’s just removed herself from the situation. Abby goes on to say that Chloe is welcome to come back to the ALDC — but without her mother.

Holly points out that, yes, but we’re down to 4 girls from 7. Never you mind that, Holly. Never you mind.


Then we sing our Abby Lee ABC’s! Now I know my ALDCLA’s … going to happen. Won’t you come and sing — and act! and dance! — with me!! And we have a mere four weeks to prep!

Because of our awkward numbers, the pyramid is a square with a chimney. Kendall is bottom of the bottom, because she was ninth. And Abby doesn’t want to hear Jill’s lip about it. Chloe makes her final pyramid appearance next to Kendall in the bottom row. Hey, at least she ranked.

Nia and Mack make up row two. Nia gets props for leading the winning group number and takes the iffy pyramid placement for doing so with her usual grace. Big Mac took being snatched with style.

Maddie is the chimney for handling professional work and responsibilities to the ALDC with aplomb.

This week we’re going to Sheer Talent in Niagara Falls, about which the girls look unreasonably happy. Is Niagara Falls that big a deal anymore?

Kendall and Nia get solos. Abby said she would have also given a solo to Chloe, but it’s hard to dance if you ain’t around.

Group number will be called Freak Show — someone’s been watching her some FX! — and all four girls will be getting their freak on. Then, Abby reminds the girls that they’re not going to be junior elites much longer, they’re going to be working dancer/actresses. There’s a method to her madness, damn it.

The mothers head up to the Mom Loft and before they get down to work, Abby tells the girls that she really believed that sorries would be said, Chloe would be there and life would go on. But oh well. Traitors are traitors and that is that

Holly says a team of four dancers just plain looks ridiculous. Melissa says given that so much is up in the air, well…let’s go eat and drink and be merry!

Dance Moms episode 1 Melissa likes to party

Dance Moms season 5 episode 1 holly

Dance Moms Season 5 episode 1 Melissa 2

Freak Show is musical theater and it’s dark and scary and uncomfortable and it should make people uncomfortable. In other words, your basic Abby Lee group dance. In this one, Nia is going to be the Strong Woman. Mac will be the contortionist. Kendall and Maddie will be Siamese Twins. It’s a teeny little circus.

Jill says she’s hallucinating Chloe. Let’s call them and see if that helps the psychosis. It doesn’t; the call goes right into a voicemail box.

Down in the studio, Abby says the girls aren’t being dark and seedy and carny enough to suit her. Holly obsessed on about Only Four Dancers. Abby has an idea. She’s calling someone! Someone’s coming!

Kalani is coming. The girl’s are thrilled. The mothers are not. Holly says the arrival of Kalani and her mother is what started all the troubles in the first place. Holly! You’re smarter than that.

For her solo, Nia is going to be a “Street Star” with a contemporary jazz number that Abby says is also avant-garde. Nia’s supposed to think yellow and red and blue and exciting! Holly adds that  the primary-colored solo is designed to help her prepare for LA.

Holly also says hat the dance off against the Candy Apples back in Season 4 made her see a different side of her kid and well, maybe Nia is ready for a go in L.A. after all. Nia also has to dance with a giant barbell in the group number. Because of course she does.

Jill says the impending arrival of Kira and Kalani makes her worry that Chloe and Christi really are gone for good. Trust me, toots. They’re gone for good, Kalani or no Kalani.

Holly says she hopes that it’s not going to come down to an “us versus them” with Kelly and Christi — a.k.a. the Old Guard. She hopes that whatever is going on with them isn’t going to derail what their girls have worked so hard on.

And look who’s here. And who has grown up a ton since we saw her last.

dance-moms-season-5-kalani-kira Abby warns Kira to behave because she needs Kalani here and she needs her bad.

Jill wastes no time in hazing Kira in the Mom Loft. Kira says the issues have been worked out and she’s not going to leave again and anyways, where’s Christi? Holly wants to know what Abby told Kira about where’s Christi and Kira says not a single word. Nope. Not one. Just that’s there’s been changes.

Kalani gets Chloe’s solo. Which makes no sense, says Jill. The jazz dance is called Dance Till I Die and it’s a little bit Austin Powers. In heels. Kira says her girl is finally being challenged. Maybe it’s her big chance to challenge Maddie, too.

Holly wants to know why Kalani gets a solo right out of the gate, because someone has to wonder it. Kira says Holly needs to take it up with Abby. Holly says no, she’s holding Kira accountable. Kira gives her one of these.

Dance Moms Season 5 episode 1 kira Call Holly Captain Angst this season.

In the newly christened “Dancers’ Den” the girls are opining that Christi is telling Chloe not to respond to them and that she would really love to come back and dance with them. Maddie says she feels like she’s lost a friend. The mothers coo soothing things.

Kendall’s contemporary is called Victorious and she is dancing with a spear because she’s a warrior and she’s trying to take over Chloe’s role in the company. Jill likes the solo. Abby doesn’t like Kendall’s technique. Abby doesn’t like Jill’s tone.

Come time to rehearse the group dance, Abby needs more face in her Freak Show. These girls are not dancing seedy and carny at all. Despite the group dance being far too tame, Holly continues to obsess about Christi and Chloe, instead. But Melissa isn’t going to miss Christi. At all.

Kira says Christi has been posting stuff on social media. In fact, Christi and Kelly are supporting each other on social media. Jill says their supporting each other on social media is the same as tearing her down on social media — and also tearing Abby down on social media — and that’s just wrong. Social media. Social media. Social media.

Holly agrees. She says there is no call for the wayward duo to try to destroy them, just because they’ve chosen to support their children, who still want to dance for Abby Lee. She feels betrayed. In fact, it’s a bloody war, you ask Holly. (It’s dancing, people. Dancing. Dancing, people who take it far too seriously and a TV show about that. Is what it is.)

But anyway, Kira sees a chance to get in good with her new/former comrades by nodding along about loyalty.

Come time to hop for the bus for Niagara Falls, the mood is somber because news of Paige’s supplemental lawsuit to her mother’s has hit the universe. Holly says it’s shocking. Melissa stayed up all night long. Jill and Holly say she has to get her shiznit together for Abby. Calming vibes, people. Calming vibes. For the woman who wouldn’t know a calming vibe if it bit her.

Resurrecting the hairbands of yore, Abby is the very picture of misery. “I’ve given up my social life, my personal life, my family life for somebody else’s child,” she laments as the bus rolls down the road. “A lot of them are very grateful and appreciative and make me proud every day. And a lot of them are bitter and ungrateful.”

Or unwilling to allow their children’s self-esteem suffer at the hands of a vindictive teacher only too willing to allow the sins of the mother fall on the child? Maybe?

Anyway, Holly’s worried about what they will face from the public when they get to Niagara Falls. And the crowd goes wild anyway — at least the crowd they show on camera. Even the ones holding the We Love Chloe signs. Mostly because their brains are not yet fully formed.


“They get us,” Jill says. “They really get us.”

Nonetheless, Abby looks sober in the get-ready room. Jill says the lawsuits are just dumb because Abby has been the same for years and years and years and nothing has changed. Precisely. And also Jill and Holly spent years and years and years telling Kelly and Christi they had to stand up for their girls and protect them. Until now.

Abby invokes the (truly) sacred name of Maryen Lorrain in saying why she will fight to the death for her legacy.

Come time to dance, Kendall is up first and she dances beautifully, as per usual. “I am a warrior … even when it hurts,” says Abby’s first message dance of Season 5.


Jill says it should go along way in proving to Abby that Kendall’s the right girl for the LA job. Is everyone moving to L.A.? What is the deal with L.A.?

Nia looks all kinds of cool in her white chicken–pocked “pop art” getup. Holly looks like she’s going to throw up for all her determined concentration as her girls dances. And the dance ends on a death drop for good measure. Nia!


Abby says Kalani needs to prove she’s ready to compete for the No. 1 spot, but I’m not sure this is the choreography to do it. Kalani gives good face and great, long-limbed grace and the routine is pretty mature, given it’s an Abby routine, but there wasn’t really much spark to it.


But the girl has a second chance to show off her chutzpah, because here comes the Freak Show. Oh. Poor. Kalani.


Ain’t that right, Maddie?

Dance Moms Season 5 Maddie

That’s right.

Jill is so glad we’re starting the year out with something fun! And that her kid is not a bearded lady! She didn’t say that. But you know she’s thinking it. You know she is.

Ooops. Maybe not so fun. Abby gets a phone call that makes her look like this.


She tears up and leaves the room dramatically. Melissa is elected to chase Abby down, because of course she is.

Turns out the news is at Abby’s house. Melissa says they have to fight back. Holly says Kelly and Christi are causing a freak show of their own with this media circus on the very weekend the competition season starts.

Come now, Holly. Really. You had a front-row seat — and so did the rest of us — to the crap Paige, Brooke and Chloe were dealt. Forget Christi and Kelly. I’m betting you find it at least a tad understandable.

Maddie leads a group cuddle and then the Freak Show begins.

Dance Moms Freak Show

The dance is fun and visually interesting and te girls perform it well. The crowd gives it a standing O. Abby says she was blown away.

The judges were, too. It’s Freak Show for the win.


Nia gets second in junior solos. Kendall wins.
The (still) Bearded Kalani gets second in teen solos.

Then announcer man takes it upon himself to say that Sheer Talent indisputably supports Abby Lee. Then he calls her to the stage the whole place can support her, too. “If you love what you do and believe in what you do, keep doing it,” says our beaming leader. “You will succeed.”

Hear that, Paige, Brooke and Chloe?

Coming up on Dance Moms: Ava’s back to torment the ALDC. And, oh Jesus, it’s JoJo.

New episodes of Dance Moms premiere Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.



  1. Completely agree with you!! A good mom stands up to her kids tormentors and takes heat if necessary! Have lost ALL respect for Holly! Such a disappointment.

  2. I think Abby would be so much happier and we as viewers would be happier if she were just Maddie and Mack’s agent. I think she should stop acting like she really wants to teach all the other girls and just call a spade a spade. It’s not a bad thing, but it is so obvious to everyone aroun her that she’s putting all her eggs in Maddie and Mack’s baskets because she backs them and pretty much oversees all entertainment business between them as all agents do. If she could retool the show as her and the girls and Mellissa going to LA and trying to be superstars she’d be in heaven. Instead she’s making herself, the other girls and half the viewing world miserable as we watch her deal with a situation she seems that she doesn’t want to deal with anymore. That’s not a bad thing, she probably still wants to OWN dance studios and teach kids but at the moment she really just wants to nurture Maddie and Macks and its truly showing. I’d sorta like to stop watching but I support Nia and Kendall way to much to let their star dim without seeing some major opportunities or hearing some major opportunities for them. I’m not worried about Maddie and Mack’s, Abby will make SURE they get first pickings, but Nia and Kendall are beautiful dancers and pretty girls as well and they deserve some opportunities as well.

    • Sounds like a series spin-off, and one that would actually work. Not that I’d ever watch it, but I’m sure there are enough Ziegler fans out there that would love a show completely devoted to those girls.

  3. Any other educators out there who squirm uncomfortably when Abby promises she can make big LA “triple threats” out of these four starstruck young girls? I have many years experience working in children’s theatre and we have seen some mightily talented young performers, in both dance and singing. However, I am always very cautious around any director or teacher who so much as hints that any of our performers have stardom in their futures. Success in musical theatre has so much to do with timing, luck, hard work, and connections–I think it is hugely misleading and a terrible mis-service to young people and their parents for a teacher (especially one who is taking considerable amounts of money from families) to encourage Broadway dreams when these kids are barely formed as individuals and have little concept of the world of opportunities open to them outside theater and dance. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of children participating in music, dance and the arts–I just want them to stay grounded and keep their options open. The girls on dance moms have been told that it’s Broadway or bust–if they don’t make it as performers, they are just losers at life. That is so wrongheaded and a terrible message for starstruck young viewers to take away from the show.

  4. Lori, you really should continue with the recaps. Your stuff isn’t only the best on this site, or in the Dance Moms webosphere – IMHO it’s the best in TV journalism period.

    If you really must go thanks for the laughs for just one more time.

    • In consideration of Walter Cronkite I should have said above “best TV critic in journalism”.

      The point is I’m sure your columns do not contribute to keeping the show on the air.

  5. I keep praying that they pull this show. That it meets the same demise as ALUDC and that disaster of a show where Abby, of all people, was supposed to help ailing dance studios. What a joke! This show has run it’s course. As I stated so many times before. No Chloe, no me. I can watch the other girls dance on YouTube and other places. Don’t need to see Abby’s next victim (probably Nia) get abused. Holly lost all credibility with me this last show. I watched to see what happened with Chloe. Making her and Christi the bad guys is such a joke. Holly will sure be sorry she stood up for Abby. It will end up with Abby in LA trying to get students once the show is over. My guess is that it ain’t going to happen. Since so many people have seen the show, without the impetus of getting their kid on TV, there isn’t a Mom in America that would volunteer to let Abby abuse their kids. Please LIFETIME…end it! End the bullying and ugliness. Go Paige! Go Chloe! Go Brooke!

  6. Well, I’m glad that you are not sticking around, Lori. No offense, but I’d like to read recaps from people who actually like the show and exercise a little bit of objectivity.

  7. I cannot believe those mothers on ALDC. They saw everything uncut. A. L. lied when she said Chloe was welcomed back. She kept her out of the two videos, “Girl Party” and “Freaks Like Me”(A song ironically against bullying). Those moms and girls are ungrateful towards Chloe because Abby would only allow Chloe in the video, but wouldn’t allow the other ALDC dancers to be in it if she did. Chloe unselfishly gave up the chance to dance for her friends. Shame on Disney for allowing the production of this video under bullying circumstances of exclusion and isolation. I’ll not renew as a Disney Annual Passholder (10 years) unless they contact Chloe for an opportunity in their business.
    Melissa’s true feelings for Christi finally came out. Now that she’s gone, Melissa finally spoke up. For A.L. to say that Those mothers are ungrateful and their children still want to dance for her. Did she hear and see Chloe on her last show? “I still want to dance. I still want to do this, but I don’t want to do it with her anymore.” Oh yeah, a young girl, in a stage of life when most girls are worried about thier looks, really want to dance for a teacher who calls them ugly, finished, and washed-up. Not to mention the tactics used by this woman to go out of her way to exclude and sabatoge Chloe’s future as an entertainer. She is NOT a legacy of her mother. Her mother was a kind dance teacher. Whatever she loses, she deserves it. Go cry in your pillow. As for LIFETIME, who seems to be for women, they did nothing but cause harm for this young lady in the dawn of being a women, and They did it in the name of ratings. For those of you who want to respond, putting down Christi, you probably aren’t a parent. If you are, you are blind to things that really happened on the show. Remember, the network protected A.L. They only wanted Christi to look bad. I think I’ll find someone else to cheer for after watching this last show.

  8. Thank you for the recap Lori. I am one of those that will no longer watch Dance Moms, so appreciate having somewhere to keep up with the other girls. I’m very interested in the ratings from last night. Just wondering if there will be a drop in viewership now that Chloe is gone.

    • I’m with you Kim! I will no longer watch dance moms either. I hope the ratings tank and it gets canceled. I also hope Paige wins that lawsuit against Abby!!!!

    • 25% drop from season 4 so says deadline. 1.8 mil tuned in. I admit I did for a quantitative experiment. Christi-23 chloe-33…img just realized 33 is the number at the end of Chloe’s Instagram page lol.

    • Actually the Season 5 premiere got a 0.6 rating, the Season 4 premiere got a 1.2 rating (as I remember). My math says that is one half of just a year ago. A 0.6 rating equals about 694,000 TVs tuned in.

  9. I completely agree with you about Holly, what kinda crap was she smokin that episode? All of a sudden she’s Abby’s staunchest defender, and to hell with what the ousted three members, not to mention friends, AND her own kid went through???? I was so so SOOO disappointed in Holly last night, it actually made me angry. THEN on twitter she’s defending herself saying she was “reacting to the situation at that time”. Sure…..okay Dr. Holly, we’ll remember that in coming weeks when it’s your kid being torn to shreds by Abby, what do you want to bet neither Jill or Melissa jump to defend her?

    OMG no…….not Jojo…….kill me now :S

    • I agree with you 100% Michelle!! I couldn’t have put it better myself. I will never watch this despicable show again.

      Oh, and I also agree about JoJo! That would be pure torture!!

    • I never watched any of HER other shows. Not watching this one anymore. But what’s so bad about JoJo?

      Holly is deserving of everything she got and is going to get this season. As terrible as it may sound, I only rooted for Nia and Holly because they were Token.

      • If you watched her second season of her Ultimate Dance competition, you’d know what I meant. She was an absolute nightmare, spoiled rotten, and her mother was even worse. She makes Kristy, Asia’s mom, look like an angel.

    • I’m so glad that Christy and Kelly are gone. They were constantly causing drama. It’s a shame they had to make things harder for their daughters.

      • Why, because they were sticking up for not only their daughters, but the other girls as well? Because they hated the way Abby spoke to the girls and belittled them to the point where they were in tears and having panic attacks? I hope that if you have a kid in any organized activity that someone doesn’t treat them the way Abby treats those kids, I guarantee any responsible parent would do more than “cause drama” to defend their child.

      • um….thanks for your input, Abby. Unfortunately for you, we all have watched this show and know those mother’s were just trying to keep you from destroying their daughters. Oh, btw Abby, I recently read a quote from you saying viewership was UP for this season’s première and without a promo. ????? The ratings are down 25% from last season’s première and the promo was on every social media outlet and on Lifetime like crazy. Were you being sarcastic or are you truly that delusional?

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.