Season 5 of “Dance Moms” premiered to a rocky start Tuesday night when Chloe Lukasiak’s official leave from the ALDC was addressed for the first time. Following the 13-year-old dancer’s decision to part ways with coach Abby Lee Miller in the Season 4 closer, the dancers and the moms discussed the longtime “Dance Moms” star’s noticeable absence and what her decision to part ways with the series would mean for the future of the elite junior team.
While all of the “Dance Moms” stars discussed Chloe and her mom Christi Lukasiak’s leave on camera, it was dancer Maddie Ziegler who was the most vocal about her teammate’s departure. “Does anybody know where Chloe is?” Maddie, 12, asked the team during the premiere episode, “99 Problems but a Mom Ain’t One.”
“The last time I talked to Chloe was before the nationals blowout. I just want to say that I miss her so much but I guess she hasn’t thought to text back,” Maddie said during her one-on-one interview, later adding, “I feel like I’ve definitely lost a friend because, I mean, I’ve been dancing with her since I was 4 years old and it just doesn’t feel right without her.”
During the premiere, Christi denied that her daughter had failed to respond to her former teammates' texts on Twitter.
The reason Chloe was not on the show has NOTHING to so with our events. Lies. And funny, I think she got one phone call. And she responded.
â€” Christi Lukasiak (@Dancemomchristi) January 7, 2015
Maddie’s mother, Melissa Gisoni, expressed a different emotion about the Lukasiak family’s absence from the team. “I’m going to miss Chloe, but I’m not going to miss Christi,” she said. “She’s mean to me. She’s mean to my kids and we’ve had enough.”
Despite calling Chloe “washed up” during the Season 4 finale, and allegedly taunting her about a medical condition off-camera, Abby told her team that Chloe was still welcome to rejoin the group. She said Christi, however, was not.
“I just you to know that Chloe was welcome to come. You all know it’s her mother, it’s not her,” Abby said. “Chloe didn’t show up. Maybe she’s stuck in traffic. Maybe she’s not coming. All I know is this is show business and the show must go on.”
After losing Chloe, Abby decided to bring in a former Season 3 “Dance Moms” and “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” Season 2 contestant, Kalani Hilliker, 14, to take her place. Not only did Kalani earn a spot on the elite junior team in their group dance “Freak Show,” she also earned her own solo. Nia Frazier, 13, and Kendall Vertes, 12, were also granted solo performances.
Just as the elite team appeared to be settling back into their groove for their first Season 5 competition, Abby was hit with a bombshell when it was revealed that her former student and “Dance Moms” co-star, Paige Hyland, 14, had filed a lawsuit against her. In the suit, part of which has since been dismissed, Paige claimed that Abby had "abused" and insulted her "on an almost daily basis" while filming the Lifetime series. As a result, the teen said she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. Despite Abby being forced to face what the moms deemed a “media circus” surrounding the lawsuit, Abby and the girls continued on to Niagara Falls, New York, to attend the Sheer Talent dance competition.
In the midst of the behind-the-scenes controversies, the girls were able to pull out multiple wins for Abby. Their pre-teen musical theater group dance, “Freak Show,” placed first. Kendall came back with vengeance after placing ninth at nationals, taking home a first place win in the pre-teen division for her contemporary solo “Victorious.” Nia came in second for her routine “Streetstar.” In the teen division, Kalani took home second place for her speciality number “Dance Til I Die.”
How do you feel about Chloe Lukasiak leaving “Dance Moms”? Sounds off in the comments section below! “Dance Moms” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Lifetime.