The Biggest Bombshells from Dance Moms: The Reunion


The Dance Moms reunion special was jam-packed with drama, but this time, it mostly came in the form of memories.

In a two-hour Lifetime special that aired on May 1, several of the original stars of the hit series reunited to reflect on their time on the controversial show under Abby Lee Miller, and patch things up. 

Among the cast who attended were Chloe Lukasiak, Brooke and Paige Hyland, Kendall Vertes, Kalani Hilliker and JoJo Siwa, along with some of their moms, Kelly Hyland, Jill Vertes, Kira Girard and Jessalynn Siwa.

There were some major faces missing from the special — which fans were immediately curious about — including Dance Moms OGs Maddie and Kenzie Ziegler and Nia Sioux. Miller was also not involved in the reunion, and a source told PEOPLE that some of the girls explicitly requested that their former dance coach be absent for them to be “able to speak their minds more openly.”

“At this point, everyone has gone through different eras, had time to reflect and there’s been a lot that Abby put them through emotionally and physically and they just didn’t want to relive that,” the source said.

From rehashing some of the most talked-about moments to new secrets that were revealed, here are the biggest bombshells that the former dancers shared on Dance Moms: The Reunion.

Paige Hyland, Brooke Hyland, Chloe Lukasiak, Kendall Vertes, Jill Vertes, Kalani Hilliker and JoJo Siwa on ‘Dance Moms: The Reunion’.

Courtesy of Lifetime

Brooke felt ‘nervous’ to meet Jojo for the first time after their internet beef

As the girls walked in to begin filming the reunion special, Brooke and Paige reminded viewers that they had never met JoJo before, as they never overlapped with her time on the show. (JoJo joined in season 5 and departed midway through season 6).

“I would say I’m most nervous to see JoJo just because of the history we have… Even though we’ve never really met in person,” Brooke admitted.

“Yeah, you guys have never even met, but you have bad history,” Paige said of the dynamic, which Brooke then described as “our little social media drama.”

In 2020, Brooke posted a TikTok that she later deleted as she cringed at Facebook suggesting her former dance teacher as a potential friend. JoJo commented on the video, writing, “It’s one thing to just not add her back, it’s another to post.”

After Brooke and Paige’s arrival, JoJo told them and Chloe that she felt like she was at home watching the reunion special herself as she sat with them.

“It’s wild to see you all. I feel like I’m in, like, a time warp, ’cause I mean obviously, I’ve never seen you guys. It’s almost like, I feel like y’all are on a screen right now,” she said.

The girls address Nia, Maddie and Mackenzie’s absence

After the girls posted a selfie announcing their reunion, the Dance Moms alums reacted to the flood of comments from overjoyed fans.

“Everyone’s saying Nia, Maddie, Mackenzie question mark” Kendall quipped. “Enjoy the six that decided to do this.”

As the girls reacted to the comments filtering in, JoJo suggested that they put out a statement addressing their missing costars.

“As much as we’re grateful for this day, everyone wondering about the few people missing, everyone was invited today but only some wanted to be here,” JoJo wrote as the rest of the girls cheered her on. “[We] know how to be sweet with a little bit of sass!”

Kendall and JoJo slam Nia, Maddie and Mackenzie’s absence while Jill and Kira accuse them of creating headlines

Kendall and JoJo shared their strong opinions about Nia, Maddie and Mackenzie’s decision to not participate in the reunion special.

“Maybe they just don’t think they needed this,” Kendall quipped before Paige defended the trio and claimed some people “might still be processing” everything that happened while they were on the show.

“They like closed the book and they don’t want to backtrack,” Paige added. “It’s an emotional thing, I feel like.”

Backstage, Kendall’s mom, Jill, fiercely disagreed with any sentiment in favor of Maddie, Mackenzie and Nia’s absence.

(L-R) Nia Sioux, Kenzie Ziegler and Maddie Ziegler.

Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic; Kevin Mazur/Getty

“They chose not to be here. At the end of the day, they’ve done several interviews saying they don’t even want this as a part of their life,” she said while Kalani’s mom, Kira added, “But here’s the thing they’re not here. So why are they still making trying to make headlines? Don’t talk about Dance Moms if you don’t want to be part of it, right? Why are you talking about it if you don’t want to be a part of it?”

JoJo, on the other hand, claimed that their absence was “kind of sad to see” and cited Kelly’s willingness to show up despite leaving the show on bad terms.

“For you to be able to come here and be like, ‘Look, I still care about this,’ is really cool to see,” she explained, turning to Kelly. “It’s like you care about your past… Them not being here is kind of like ‘Let me erase my past, pretend that it never happened, shove it down the drain and that’s why you are who you are.'”

“It was literally the stepping stone into who we are today. We would not be here without Dance Moms,” Kendall added.

Paige, Brooke, Chloe and Kendall hung out with Maddie, Kenzie and Nia the night before filming the reunion

The producer called it “the elephant in the room,” addressing the absence of the Zieglers and Nia, before asking about the girl’s previous night, revealing that Paige, Brooke, Chloe and Kendall were with Maddie, Kenzie and Nia the night before filming the reunion.

“There hasn’t been a lot of contact, or a lot hanging out, in the past few years. All of a sudden, last night we have — off-camera — a big reunion at Maddie’s house,” a producer said, raising the topic of the missing faces. 

Paige shared that the gathering was a surprise party to celebrate her 23rd birthday. 

“You don’t think there’s any other ulterior motives of having you guys all over there the night before a reunion where they’re not gonna be here to speak or to defend themselves?” the producer asked.

“We didn’t really address any of it,” Brooke said. 

Kendall then admitted, “I mean I feel like it’s weird. We’ve never been invited like that.”

In the dressing room, JoJo and Kalani laughed as the producer asked if “everyone in the building” had been invited, to which Chloe, Brooke, Paige and Kendall said no, JoJo and Kalani were not invited to the party.

Christi Lukasiak accuses Melissa Ziegler of ‘playing everyone’

After Paige, Brooke, Kendall and Chloe discussed their time with Maddie, Kenzie and Nia, in the dressing room, Kalani and JoJo weigh in — and so does Christi Lukasiak, Chloe’s mom, who was not on set on the day, but made sure to get her voice heard nonetheless.

“I wasn’t invited, by Melissa, cause Melissa set this up, to make sure that none of us said anything bad about them at this reunion,” Kalani said, sharing her take on the surprise party.

Kelly, meanwhile, had dialed Christi in to give her two cents.

(L-R) Maddie Ziegler and Mackenzie Ziegler with their mother Melissa.

Albert L. Ortega/Getty

“I agree with Kalani, 100%,” Christi said. “Melissa has been orchestrating and playing everyone as long as I’ve known her. She saw an opportunity to absolutely throw a fire blanket on any bomb that was gonna go off today and she took it. And anybody who thinks different – you’re delusional.”

JoJo agreed, and then Christi addressed her. “JoJo, you weren’t getting invited ’cause you threaten her kids ’cause you’re f—ing successful.”

“That means a lot to hear from you, Christi,” JoJo said.

Kalani’s mom, Kira Girard, then weighed in too, as she said of Melissa, “For someone who doesn’t like ‘drama’ or doesn’t want conflict, she sure orchestrates a lot of it. And then she hides behind whoever.”

“I just know, if it was me and JoJo, we invite everybody to everything,” Kalani said, before quipping with a laugh, “Anyways, I’m not that upset.”

Chloe nearly didn’t show up to the reunion

To Paige, Brooke and Kendall’s shock, Chloe revealed that she was “very hesitant” to come back and address the rivalry Abby created between her and Maddie.

“I was so sick of like being put in this box that I’ve been put in since I was little and then I realized that it’s gonna scare me either way, whether I’m part of it or whether I’m not,” Chloe explained of her motives to participate. “So it’s time to come back and set the record straight.”

As she watched a compilation of how Abby manufactured a rivalry between her and Maddie, Chloe admitted that the competitiveness “really took me down” when she was a child.

Chloe Lukasiak.

Birdie Thompson/Variety via Getty

“I thought I wasn’t enough like in every single way,” she said through tears. “And it wasn’t until about a year ago, I realized the way I felt about myself were her words still lingering with me. 10 years later, I realized that’s not who I am. That’s not my truth. She doesn’t define me anymore. She doesn’t keep that power over me and I started to heal.”

While Chloe wiped away her tears, Kendall comforted her, “You don’t have to compete with anyone. You are yourself. You’re beautiful and perfect. Just the way you are.”

Kelly Hyland has felt ‘guilty for the past 10 years’ over ending Brooke and Paige’s dance careers

Brooke and Paige famously exited Dance Moms in 2014 in quite an abrupt fashion when Abby brought Kalani into the fold, and Kelly interpreted that as a move to replace Brooke. In the reunion, the girls watched the scene where Abby and Kelly got physical with each other, resulting in Kelly, Brooke and Paige leaving the series and Abby Lee Dance Company altogether. 

“We started dancing when we were 2 years old,” Brooke said before watching the clip. “That fight happened and then we never danced again.”

Chloe admitted she “forgot how intense” the fight was between Kelly and Abby after watching the clip, while Brooke became overwhelmed with emotion.

“I’ve seen that clip a million times and it’s always just on social media,” she began, before Paige stepped in for her, admitting, “It’s easier to cope with when you just laugh about it.”

Kelly Hyland and Kendall Vertes in ‘Dance Moms: The Reunion’.

Courtesy of Lifetime

“You see, this is how you can tell it really affected her, ’cause she doesn’t cry and she’s gonna cry again,” Paige said as her older sister wiped tears from her eyes, and Kendall rubbed Brooke’s back soothingly. 

“It’s very unfair, what happened to you,” Kendall said. Kelly, who was watching the girls from the dressing room, cried, too, as they watched the clip back.

“We never really talked about it,” she admitted of the sudden departure. “It was just kinda like, it just happened and… It was easier just not to talk about it.”

Jessalynn asked how Kelly feels looking back on it and if she would “do it differently” if she could. 

“Yes, yes I would,” she replied. “I feel like that’s my fault, that we left because I lost my temper. I pretty much felt guilty for the past 10 years of my life. Since that day happened.”

Jill Vertes, Kendall Vertes, Kelly Hyland, Brooke Hyland, Paige Hyland and Chloe Lukasiak in ‘Dance Moms: The Reunion’.

Courtesy of Lifetime

Kelly explained that the fight began because she knew that Paige and Brooke had been waiting 10 years to perform a duet as sisters. She claimed that Kalani’s entrance lit her fuse because she knew Abby had purposely pitted her daughters against Kalani and Maddie’s duet, knowing they would lose.

The mom of two later told her daughters that she always felt like she “ruined your life and your dance career.”

“I always said if that was me, if I was a mother, I think I would have been 10 times worse than you because I feel like I always know that you were only protecting us,” Paige assured her as Kelly wiped away her tears.

“I have for the past 10 years, been guilty every single day of my life,” Kelly cried. Despite her feelings of regret and guilt, her daughters explained that their departure allowed them to have normal experiences like school dances and football games.

“We’re still able to have that because of when we got off the show,” Brooke smiled while hugging her mom. “I hope you know that.”

Kelly says Paige and Brooke’s departure was the reason behind her divorce

Kelly admitted that she believes that her daughters would still be dancing if she and Abby hadn’t fought.

“I think if that didn’t happen, that they were probably still there. I mean, they would have been in college or something,” she explained. “And that’s sad to me, that that was their life. I still feel like it’s all my fault.”

“It changed my whole world. I mean, I ended up getting divorced, separated from my husband,” Kelly continued. When Kira asked if she believed her divorce wouldn’t have happened if they had stayed on the show, Kelly admitted that she thought they would still be together.

“No, I was happy. It just kind of changed me,” she confessed.

(L-R) Paige Hyland, Kelly Hyland and Brooke Hyland.

Bonnie Biess/Getty

JoJo shares her take on Abby’s harsh coaching style

While it wasn’t the first time JoJo has been outspoken about her love for her former dance coach, during the reunion, she shared it with the girls, the majority of whom have a very different opinion on the matter.

“This is gonna be a little controversial to say I think but — to me, Abby was always right,” she admitted. “I did interrupt two adults talking, if I was a mess and a beat off, she wasn’t just yelling at me because you want to yell at me. I actually was a mess and was a beat off. One thing that I’ve learned really working and staying in Hollywood is that — that’s normal. And it’s like, it’s scary that that’s normal but that taught me how to survive in the industry. I mean it truly is so tough.”

“At the end of the day, Dance Moms is a dynamite empire that anyone who was lucky enough to just be a little bit of a part of is in the cool kids club,” she added. “And if you want to s— on that, then that’s your own fault.”

Jojo Siwa and Kalani Hilliker on ‘Dance Moms: The Reunion’.

Courtesy of Lifetime

Despite the verbal beatdown she received from Abby for her shortcomings, JoJo said that she “always wanted to be there” and didn’t care if she was yelled at for her mistakes.

“I didn’t care if I was at the bottom. I didn’t care if I was in the back of the group dance,” the “Boomerang” singer said, and recalled how her mother Jessalyn would tell her she would pull her out if she didn’t want to be there anymore.

JoJo left Dance Moms for a deal with Nickelodeon

Shortly after JoJo claimed she didn’t want to leave Dance Moms, Kendall confronted her for bailing on their duet and leaving the show.

“You all know that so much more happened a few weeks prior. I had been offered a deal from Nickelodeon, and I had Dance Moms, but I wasn’t able to do both,” she explained.

Towards the end of her run on the Lifetime series, Jessalyn confessed that she didn’t want Abby to ruin JoJo’s career by putting her in “stupid” dances.

“I kinda was a little paranoid that if Abby got wind of things that JoJo could be doing she would really try to like [ruin things],” she explained. “I was like, We got to figure this out. We got to like, sit down… You gotta be smart about it.

“It was hard, but ultimately, it was my decision,” Jessalyn said of JoJo’s departure.

JoJo Siwa on ‘Dance Moms’.

The girls recall hearing of Abby’s cancer diagnosis

“It was definitely a shock,” Kendall confessed of learning about Abby’s cancer.

“It just felt unreal. I remember visiting her at the hospital. You have this vision of someone in your head but then to see them laying sick in a hospital bed,” JoJo agreed to which Kendall added, “It wasn’t her like she wasn’t there. She was sick. It’s not the Abby that we knew.”

Despite their complicated feelings for Abby, the girls and their mothers teared up while watching clips of her undergoing chemotherapy.

Abby Lee Miller.

Impact x Nightline

“I don’t think anybody can explain how complicated all of our relationships are with her,” Kalani explained, as the girls wiped their tears away.

Brooke admitted that she “never” thought to reach out during her hospital stay because she didn’t think she would want her to be there. “Like I thought like, Oh, if I showed up in the hospital, she’d probably be like security,” she chuckled.

Watching backstage, Kelly agreed with her daughter’s sentiments. She recalled how Abby tried to get her arrested and said that her fate was the result of “karma.” Even after everything they’ve put each other through and how she treated her daughters, Kelly admitted that she would rekindle her relationship with Abby if she ever reached out to apologize.

JoJo addresses her online beef with Christi

In December 2020, JoJo and Christi made headlines after the “Karma” singer called her out for claiming that Dance Moms choreographer, Gia, was a “mean” person during a Zoom conference. At the time, JoJo responded to her in a lengthy TikTok video.

“I think I was upset then because I thought that’s something that Christi should have known is just don’t say bad things about people online,” JoJo explained. “I think if you put something on TikTok, you need to be prepared for people to have an opinion on it.”

(L) JoJo Siwa and Christi Lukasiak.

FOX via Getty; Mike Pont/WireImage

Chloe defended her mother, claiming that the conversation wasn’t meant to be public and a fan had asked her to open up about her experience with the choreographer.

“You know, like I wouldn’t sit there and be like, ‘That’s absolutely crazy that you have that opinion of Abby’ because I know that to your experience where everyone’s entitled to their own experience,” Chloe replied.

“I met twice and both times she was not nice to me,” JoJo continued. “She just, she doesn’t like me. We’re not going to be friends. I don’t regret it because I don’t I try not to regret anything. But would I word it differently now? Possibly.”

Kalani opens up about her body image struggles on the show

Kalani got real about her difficulties accepting herself during her time on the show, as her body was changing in front of her eyes — and on camera. She said it was “really hard” for her to juggle her struggles with her body image while she was “growing up on the show.”

“I mean, maybe as a child, I had a dancer body, but as I started to go through puberty — which is something I did on the show — my body definitely changed first.”

She continued, “We all know what a ‘ballerina’ is supposed to look like, and I just never fit that. And I could eat nothing for the rest of my life and it’s…. I still just can’t get to that body type. And it’s something that I still deal with, to this day.”

Kendall praised her friend, calling her “the most confident person that I know,” as she told her, “Confidence is the most attractive trait that a woman can have.”

JoJo then jokingly got down on one knee to propose to Kalani, encouraging her to “know that you’re hot.”

Kalani Hilliker.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Christi had a hard time with learning that Chloe was dating a woman

Chloe opened up about going public with her relationship with Brooklinn Khoury. While she received an overwhelming amount of support from her friends and family, Chloe admitted that the news was initially hard for her mother Christi to swallow.

“I think she was just really worried for me like the judgment I would face but at the end of the day that’s their issue, not mine,” Chloe shrugged before the producers played a special message from Christi to her daughter.

“I would never ever, ever, ever have you be on a Dance Moms reunion without a message from your mother,” she smiled in a pre-recorded video message. “That little girl who was always so timid and kind, you’re still the kindest person I know, but you’re also the strongest person I know.”

(L) Chloe Lukasiak and Brooklinn Khoury.
Brooklyn Khoury Instagram

“Like when you announce to the world that you are with Brooklinn, that is just the most admirable thing in the world,” Christi said with thick emotion. “And I’m so proud and I’m very, very, very, very excited for what the next chapter for you looks like.”

Chloe wiped tears from her eyes as she explained how her mother “knew what kind of world we live in.”

“She’s the kind of person to change herself to make the world like her… that’s who she used to be. I think she’s really grown into herself as a person though,” Chloe explained. “But you know, it was more important to me to just be happy and be comfortable with who I am rather than like shoving all that down. And regarding it way later on in life, you know?”

In October 2021, Chloe and Brooklinn went public with their relationship but have since parted ways.

Kalani reveals she’s had suicidal thoughts in the past

While reacting to the cast’s most impactful dances, Kalani excused herself and cried as she regained her composure in the bathroom when they watched footage of a dance titled “Suicide hotline.”

Kalani revealed that she felt anxious about reacting to the dance because she’s experienced suicidal thoughts before. When she returned to the stage, she wiped her tears and opened up about how the dance had affected her.

Kalani Hilliker.

Michael Buckner/Variety/Penske/Getty

“I really wasn’t prepared to speak about what I’m going to talk about but I have like personally have had suicidal thoughts,” she explained. “And so watching the dance, obviously like triggers emotions, and it’s one of my favorite dances and I love it but I think I connect to it like more than I ever have before.”

“I do think that it’s important to talk about like, you can call 988 and they can help you. I’ve called they’ve helped me,” she added.

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Dance Moms: The Reunion and all seasons of Dance Moms are now streaming on Lifetime.

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