Last night on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition — the show about children striving to win a dance competition — we had the mother of a six-year-old physically aggressing another mother and challenging her to a sidewalk brawl for the second time, and a dance teacher turned judge telling a kid she wants to break her ankles. And you thought monitoring the election results was scary.
After a little fussing from a few mothers and Hadley, Abby and Kevin show up to inform the girls that, because there are only eight dancers left, well, pretty soon it’s going to feel just like the end of the world around here. No, not another Abbygeddon. She just means that pretty soon only one kid will survive to claim the ultimate prize. Thus, this week’s theme is “The End of the World” — and this week’s skill is survival. I think every week’s skill is survival, but that’s just me.
Then Abby goes all Katniss in a Workout Suit and starts aiming an imaginary bow and arrow at the children. Super! No one gets imaginarily shot, though — she’s just practicing her aim before telling the girls that the survival of a dancer is all about their determination and their passion and their ability to quickly adapt to change.
Next Kevin tells the dancers about this week’s 45 Minute Combo prize — which is that they get to make all of the dance assignments right down to style, choreographer and who gets matched up with whom. Oh fer the … like the kids are actually going to have anything to do with that. I kind of wish they would. I kind of wish that it was a rule that the kids had to decide. That would be way more interesting. But we all know that this is going to be a fascinating peek inside the mind of the winning child’s mother, and Abby even says so.
Maria says she wishes Lexine would win the challenge. I wish Lexine’s top entailed more than a two-inch-tall turquoise ruffle with straps.
Abby is super excited about today’s guest choreographer, who is Frank Gatson Jr., dance master for Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Beyoncé, and whom I’ve decided looks kind of like Billy Dee Williams with a pinch of Jermaine Jackson. Or possibly Jermaine Jackson with a pinch of Billy Dee Williams. I’ve also decided that Kristie looks a little bit like J.Lo.
I shall call her Faux.Lo.
The first thing Frank does is tell the kids that the best way to survive in life is simply by being a good person. “You do good, and good comes,” he tells them. “You do bad; bad comes.”
Maria’s onto him immediately. “He’s not talking to the kids,” she says. “He’s talking to the moms!” By way of illustration, we cut away to the now classic AUDC footage of Faux.Lo threatening histrionic Yvette, with a voiceover from Maria saying she hopes those two get the message most of all.
Does anyone else think Maria looks kind of like Carrie Ann Inaba? I do. I’m plainly having a massive case of dance-ja vu tonight.
Frank Gaston Jr.’s choreography is funky and cool, and the girls seem to embrace it quickly. No sign of Keith and his upright piano today, though — we’re back to canned music. Sorry, Keith. It wasn’t you. It was the song. Frank singles out Asia, though, and tells her she has to make sure her 8-counts look just like the big girls’ 8-counts. It’s Hadley’s turn to be the kid to say Asia’s lag time in picking up the choreography is really getting tiresome. Then Frank lets the girls get some water. Yvette tells her child to get her energy from the floor. Asia tells her mom she wants Frank to call a longer break. Kristie says noooooo, honey. That will only reinforce what the others are saying about you. You want to dance right now. And just like the big girls, dammit.
The Katniss of Dance and Kevin are back. Abby asks her companion whom he thinks wants to win the challenge the most. Kevin says he thinks everyone. “Maybe Mommy wants it,” Abby muses. Sage observation, there, ma’am.
Rather than have to watch everyone dancing at once, Abby decides to break them up into groups of four — Asia, Briana, Lexine and Amanda first. Asia gets a little lost in the middle, but doesn’t do too badly. Still, she’s shot first when Abby dismisses dancers by firing her imaginary bow, only this time it appears to be an oversized rubber band. Abby shoots Madison last. Next is Elisabeth, Hadley, Jordyn and Madison. Everyone dances fine, but Madison and Hadley give exceptionally good face. Abby eliminates Elisabeth first (“right through the heart” says she.) Next goes Jordyn. Then Abby tells Hadley she is clearly not the best technical dancer and crowns Madison the technical master. But not so fast — Abby is unhappy that Madison never looks her in the eye. And that costs her enormously. Hadley is the ultimate survivor. Ohhhh boy. Yvette’s in charge. This oughta be good.
Abby says that part of survival is learning to play the game, so will Hadley/Yvette pair people up by their strengths or their weaknesses? Yvette looks like she might hyperventilate right on the spot.
Out in the lobby, Yvette and Hadley get a look at the dances they have to work with: A jazz duet about natural disasters, a jazz funk duet about humans versus machines, a contemporary solo about the plague and a hip hop trio about a military nation. In the studio, the mothers and dancers contemplate their fates. Mayelin hopes Yvette makes the best choices for all the kids that are here. Mayelin has apparently forgotten this here’s a competition, not one big happy family.
In another studio, the mixing and matching has begun. Yvette says the ladies’ strategy is to put the strongest dancers in their weakest discipline. Thus she thinks they should give Elisabeth and Amanda the military hip hop, because it’s not their forte, and then put Hadley in there with them because it’s hers. Hadley looks nonplussed about this. I think Hadley wants the solo. Doesn’t every dancer want the solo?
Yvette wonders if the other mothers now realize they’ve been happily discussing their daughter’s weaknesses. A quick return to the other mothers suggests the answer is yes.
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Hadley suggests that Asia get the solo because she can’t ever remember choreography and Yvette agrees. I don’t. I think forgetting your choreography is that much more evident when you’re in the company of people who have not forgotten a’tall. But, again, what do I know.
In an aside, Kristie says she is sure that Yvette is going to try to sabotage Asia, but she’s going to have to try real hard. Um, Faux.Lo? You’ve been threatening to give the woman a beat down. Do you truly expect her to go right out there and help your child shine. The faster you find your tuckus on a bus back home, the happier Yvette will be — and you, plus the rest of us, can’t exactly blame the gal. Meantime, it looks like we have our groups, which, if I’ve done my people math correctly would suggest that Hadley, Liz and Amanda are hip-hopping about the army, Asia gets the plague solo, and Lexine, Madison, Jordyn and Briana will pair up in some fashion for the duets.
Nope. Last minute switcheroo. The others come out to see how they fared and we learn that Hadley claimed the solo after all. Asia and Briana will be doing the jazz funk duet about machine versus humans and Asia busts out the most adorable mini-robot voice ever. Madison and Jordyn get the other duet, the jazz one about natural disasters. Coreen appears to think that the pairing itself is a natural disaster. Imitation of Christi says she thinks that Yuhvette is going to see some of her clown posse fall off the circus train. Is that supposed to be code for something? Pssssst! Everyone! The duet is jazz and THE CLOWN FELL OFF THE CIRCUS TRAIN. Pass it on! Just not to Yvette.
Actually, I am learning things left and right at the moment. Apparently the other mothers already assigned a nickname to Mayelin. They call her Cuba. And Cuba thought Backseat Choreographer was too smart to assign Amanda hip-hop. Also, she doesn’t like people who are two-faced. Wait a sec. Were Cuba and Yvette doing a little wheeling and dealing before the dances were assigned, or else how could she be two-faced? Yvette — curiously with Faux.Lo’s baby cozied up at her side — tries to laugh it off and says she would have assigned Amanda tap if she’d had the option. “Oh, so you’re going there!” retorts Cuba. I have no idea what exactly is going on here, but Yvette says she thinks Mayelin thought she’d give Amanda the solo. Over her dead body would she do that. I don’t think Mayelin is a part of the endangered clown posse.
Erin, whose shirt is made of a tiger, tells Yvette that despite her evil plan, Elisabeth was actually hoping she’d get to do hip-hop, so there and also, thank you very much. Yvette says she aims to please. Let’s call this throwdown a draw.
To Kelly and Mayelin, Erin says the choices that were made are very revealing — and I am amazed at her apparent naiveté. Kelly just comes right out and says no duh, lady, that’s why we’re all here. Coreen adds that it’s survival week, so their girls just have to, you know, survive it. Erin is not appeased. She says she thought that they could all still compete and not try to embarrass people and that’s just how she feels. But I thought Elisabeth was happy, Erin? I thought this was all good?
Time to practice the dances. Kelly thinks the jazz duet will go just fine for Jordyn if she just listens to Kelly and corrects her sickled foot. From the audience, she scowls and snarls directions, while Coreen looks bemused by her antics. Kelly says Jordyn is fighting her, but mostly Jordyn is ignoring her and focusing on the actual choreographer of the dance, instead. This exasperates Kelly to the point of leaving in a huff. Which doesn’t have much impact, since her only audience is Coreen.
At hip hop practice, Cuba is still miffed about Yvette all going, “Hmmmm, let me see how can defeat my rivals.” Mayelin, if you’re reading this, a) I think your kid is an awesome dancer and b) this:
ri·val [rahy-vuh l] noun, adjective, verb, ri·valed, ri·val·ing or (especially British ) ri·valled, ri·val·ling.
1. a person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another; competitor.
That’s what you do to your rivals. You try to defeat them. ‘K?
Erin chimes in that if Yvette’s a teacher, she should be nurturing, not vanquishing. But, E, she’s not your kid’s teacher. Your kid is her kid’s competition. Nonetheless, if you’d like her to come in here and work on the choreo, I’m sure she’d happily oblige. To wit — over at Hadley’s solo practice, Yvette is very concerned about a couple of moves in the dance choreographed by Kitty McNamee. Kitty seems completely exasperated by both Walts women. She tells Yvette she is not going to change the piece at the eleventh hour. Yvette looks bereft.
Over at Briana’s and Asia’s jazz funk rehearsal, Asia is having trouble keeping up with the fast tempo of the song and Anthony’s rapid-fire steps. But that’s the least of Kristie’s problems, because, sure enough — here comes Backseat Choreographer to check out the competition. Is that kosher? I mean, I know that she and Hadley are ostensibly in charge of everything, but still. Not to mention that Kristie has trouble playing nice when they both ARE supposed to be in the same room. This seems like climbing into the lion’s cage just to make sure it still has teeth.
Poor Kris looks frightened. The lion still has teeth. And when Yvette explains that she’s merely there because she’s so excited to see how her pairings worked out, Kristie decides to display what SHE is excited about. Which is putting herself seriously into Yvette’s personal space. “Move on!” she commands. “Nope!” warbles Yvette. “Move on,” Kristie commands. Nope again.
Off camera someone clearly directs the children to leave the room, which both wisely do posthaste. “Way to go, Mom!” Yvette says to Kristie, pointing in the direction that her child fled. Kristie says that it’s actually Yvette who made the girls leave. Kris just wants them both to shut up. You and me both, lady. You and me, both.
Instead, this happens.
The fact that this breathy-voiced little blond twinkie refuses to bow to her authority sets Kristie off anew, and despite Kris’s incredibly brave attempts to place herself in the middle, the two women start bumping up against each other like a pair of cross-dressing linebackers. Someone is requesting that the other one hit her, but I can’t quite decide who. I think it’s Yvette, but it doesn’t sound like her voice. I feel like it’s bad decision, whomever is making the request. Just no one hit Kris, OK? It for certain wasn’t Kris.
Finally Kristie gains enough traction to nudge Yvette across the room — Kris still struggling to keep the two apart — and I am so utterly mortified for the display that I can’t believe it made it to the air. I mean, I know we need dramatic tension, but this is just embarrassing for everyone involved, in front of the camera or behind. Finally a deep male voice tells the women to break it up. I really hope that wasn’t code for “Cut!” because if it was … well. Anyway. If your kid grows up throwing punches, Faux.Lo, just watch this back.
Backstage, Kristie tells a sobbing Asia that she can’t let Yvette do that to her. Do what? Look at her? That’s what people are supposed to do to dancers. Look at them. “They’re going to have to handcuff me and take me away next time, “ she tells the camera. I vote for right now. Real, staged or otherwise, I could not be more tired of this boorish bully of a woman and her inexplicable pride in being one.
In the costuming room, the other mothers agree that Yvette should not have interrupted rehearsal and I’d have to agree. Bolstered by their assessment, Kristie says she’s going to go upstairs, find Yvette and take her outside. Coreen laughs at her, not even bothering to look up. I love you, Coreen. Kris says Kristie should not make that sort of comment aloud, given what happened earlier. Kristie tells the camera that Yvette is going to eat sh*t and that will make her laugh.
And then it’s competition day. Kristie is trying to discuss Asia’s toes with her child and Asia is having none of it. Kristie threatens to embarrass her. You’ve already accomplished that many times over, ma’am. Next she demands that Asia do her walkover right this minute and her six-year-old girl spins on her heels and stomps away. Good luck with the teen years, Faux.Lo.
Out front, Kevin asks the judges what they are looking for tonight. Robin wants the total package. Richy wants performance and showmanship. Abby, truly lovely in lavender wants technique, per the usual. Hubby Rik, who has finally joined in for an episode, begins waxing rhapsodically about the joie de cuticle of her hair. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. He’d leave me for her in a heartbeat.
First up is Lexine, Elisabeth and Amanda, looking a lot like the Pussycat Doll version of the army and toting their orange fake guns. I’m not sure how this dance is hip-hop and deeply fear for Richie’s happiness. He’s not clapping and looks like he smells something bad.
Abby woots for the dance and says Amanda was right on target — except for when she took her hands off her weapon. Richy says she did the routine better earlier in the day and just needs to let herself go. Robin, who is nursing an even worse raspy voice than usual, says Amanda needs to be more aggressive and claim her stardom.
Next, Abby says Lexine was very sharp in her movements — until she botched her shoulder stand. Abby says Elisabeth made dumb mistakes and displayed bad technique. Richy says he knows she probably feels as though she got shafted when she was assigned hip-hop, but even so, her movements were messy. Apparently Robin’s voice has given all the way out, because she says nothing further.
Time for Hadley’s solo. Kristie opines that the pressure her mother puts on Hadley will sabotage her dance. Cut to Yvette putting pressure on Hadley. Her costume kind of looks like she got toilet-papered, but I suppose when you’re the only person who survived the plague, you don’t have a lot to work with.
And we’re off to a miserable start. Abby’s tweaked about her sickled feet before she even makes a move. The dance is intense and Yvette does her signature sideline moves, but the judges look unhappy. And how. Abby calls her “road kill” and calls out her bad habits. Richy didn’t get the choreo. I’d say that’s Kitty’s problem, more so than Hadley’s. Robin loved Hadley’s passion and performance.
Backstage the other mothers are celebrating the duo’s downfall, and it’s obvious that Yvette knows her day is about to get really, really crummy.
Jordyn’s and Madison’s duet is about the idea of the planet running out of oxygen. Jordyn’s costume is slightly suggestive of a space dweller, but not terribly much. Given that the dance is supposed to be about the danger of everyone suffocating, it actually turns out to be a lively little number about going for a ride on the singer’s spaceship.
Abby heaves a heavy sigh and pronounces herself not thrilled. Then she tells Jordyn she wanted to run onto the stage and break the child’s ankle because of her sickled feet. The audience gasps their disapproval and Jordyn looks nervously down at the imperiled appendage. “I told her that!” sniffs her mother. Um, Kelly? Abby just said she wants to break your kid’s leg. Priorities, dear.
Robin says Jordyn needed to focus harder on making sure her movements matched the taller Madison’s. Richy says she danced like she was walking on lily pads.
Abby didn’t like Madison’s fan kick. Richy didn’t get her hand thing at the end. Abby says they need to remember — survival of the smartest. Girls, you’re not the only one feeling confused, I promise.
Backstage, Yvette and Hadley decided to face the music and rejoin the rest of the group. Yvette wisely chooses the unflappable Coreen to sit next to. Onstage, Asia and Briana hands down win the cool costume award of the night for these get-ups that render them half robot, half human.
Asia does a remarkably good job of keeping up with Briana, but if technique is what we’re all about here, well, let’s be honest —the kid was mostly just keeping up. Or not. Abby calls Briana one of the competition’s strongest dancers, but, says she, if Yvette was trying to oust Asia by pairing her with the older girl, it backfired. The audience applauds, but Abby says no so fast. Technically she isn’t even in Briana’s orbit, but she did good and Abby’s buying what she’s selling. Briana — wonderful, wise and sensitive Briana — gleefully applauds her partner’s success.
Richy calls Asia “Little Bit” and says that, while she still has to work on her technique, he loves how she just went for it. No one has earned a squirrel wave from Richy yet this evening. Robin says Asia is special beyond words. Then Robin and Abby each take Briana to task to letting Asia shine, too. This gives me a worse headache than I already have. Briana danced beautifully; everyone said so. That she may have reigned in her performance slightly so that the duet — one in which she had to look cohesive with someone half her size and age — presented well, too, is a credit to her in my opinion.
Backstage, everyone celebrates the duo’s overall success, but Yvette and Hadley are openly suffering. Hadley rests her head on Coreen’s shoulder. Yvette just looks anguished. “I took my own daughter to the slaughterhouse,” she admits. She and Kristie give each other face, but Kristie wisely decides to let Asia’s victory do the talking and not jeopardize it with more playground bully antics.
Time for the judges to confab. Abby says Amanda proved Yvette and Hadley wrong. Despite threatening to permanently hobble her, Abby says Spacegirl Jordyn was finally really good and not just another pretty face. I think we’re talking Asia when we wonder if the little one’s feet are fixable. Elisabeth didn’t fix things that Abby has talked about. Robin isn’t interested in seeing somebody’s — possibly Lexine’s — solo, and somebody else’s solo just sucked. I’m guessing Hadley’s.
Time for the results. Kelly frets that Jordyn’s left foot and unwillingness to take her mother’s corrections, will do her in. Amanda, Madison and Briana are immediately declared safe — and if this show is truly about dance, they should be declared safe right up to the final episodes, you ask me. The others’ moms are asked to take the stage. Asia and Lexine are pronounced the best of the best, and given that we barely saw or heard boo about Lexine, and Asia was plainly not the best technical dancer of this or any other night, I’m pretty bemused. But it’s Abby’s party and she’ll cry victory if she wants to.
Jordyn is declared safe next. Kelly says they are newly out for blood and they will get it — if Jordyn would only listen. That leaves Hadley and Elisabeth in the bottom two. Abby says that tonight was the worst the judges have ever seen Elisabeth perform. Abby hasn’t been happy with much Elisabeth has done since the very first 45 Minute Combo, so that is saying a lot.
Then she asks Hadley how she thinks her casting job went, and for the first time, I am clear on what Abby was after. I think. Sort of. Seems to me she wanted Hadley to put together great performances, including one for herself. Yvette weakly tries to explain that they wanted the dancers to rise to the challenge of their pairings, and that some of them did — but not even she looks like she believes it’s the truth. On the sidelines, Faux.Lo is spent. Just spent.
Abby gets the Waltses to admit that they did not pair the best dancers together — and I profoundly doubt that any other mother would have done so either. Then she cautions that all is fair in love and war. And today is not apocalyptic soldier Elisabeth’s day. Elisabeth promptly loses it. Even though Abby tells her she is headed for great things, the girl is enraged. She collapses on the pink shag rug in the green room, and when her mother tried to tell she is winner just for being here, Elisabeth informs her that she does not care. Hadley was horrible and should be headed home, not her. Her mother tells her to stop it. The circus train rolls on.
New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition air Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.