The first thing we get to launch this week’s Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition is a spankin’ fresh Yvetteism to wash away the negativity of last week’s almost-rumble in the Los Angeles Theatre jungle. Which is, “You’re either in, or in the way!” So let’s find out who’s who.
We start by dropping in on a few mother/daughter pairs in their luxury hotel rooms to listen in on their pep talks. Yvette wants Hadley to hold her high after last week’s epic dance-assigning disaster that nearly cost Yvette her teeth — or at the very least any affection she may have had for Los Angeles sidewalks. Kelly wants Jordyn to remember that when she’s ordering her to do something, she’s not her mother, she’s her teacher. And Maria, who I think just confused Lexine’s leg for her arm the way she’s hauling it up past the girl’s ear, is homesick something awful.
And just like that, we’re back at the studio. Abby and Kevin — who did a little matchy-matchy with the sunshine yellow in their wardrobe choices — tell the remaining girls that this week’s skill is improvisation. Abby says that means they need to be creative in their thinking and smart in their choices and not do anything that they don’t do really, really well.
Then we introduce the choreographer for this week’s 45 Minute Combo, who is … nobody! An improv dance battle will take place instead. Briana is pretty excited about this. Asia looks like she has no idea what improv even means … mostly, I’m imagining, because she’s, you know, six.
And when Abby says improv, she means it — the ladies don’t even get any thinking time or practice. It’s right on into battle. Abby tells the girls they may not touch their opponents, but they may definitely threaten them. Hear that, Kristie? No touching.
Because Abby is a funny, funny gal, her first pairing is Asia versus Hadley. Because Abby is a funny, funny gal, she picks Asia over Hadley. Lexine swaps in. On round two, she comes in on the wrong beat of the music and Abby calls her out. Amanda tags in next and blows my mind with her Latin-inspired moves, but not Abby’s. Asia wins again. And I stop thinking Abby is funny.
Abby lets Asia take a break, during which I realize that there have been no repeats in the 45 Minute Combo challenge winners and … aw geez. Coreen and Mayelin both chime in with their suspicion of what’s going on here, too, but I’m going to cling to a shred of hope that a cooler head and the better dancer prevail.
Jordyn and Madison take the battlefield next. Jordyn kind of spazzs out in funky fashion; Madison takes a more technical approach. Jordyn is excused. Briana swaps in and promptly touches her opponent’s ponytail. Personal foul, Briana. She’s benched.
Championship battle: Asia versus Madison. Neither has won a 45 Minute Combo challenge, but I’m pretty sure I know what’s about to happen here. Asia copies a few things she saw the others do, shakes her booty and makes a giant bucket of face. Madison displaces her usual elegance. And Abby declares Asia the winner. Madison looks like she has landed in some parallel dance universe where being technically gifted is actually a bad thing. Even Kristie looks like she knows this battle may possibly be a crock of crap, but whatever. Her kid won, so woot!
This week’s theme is Journey Through the Decades, which will entail the ladies doing different styles of fad dances. Because she’s Improv Battle Champion, Asia gets first pick. She chooses an ’80s pop duet.
Madison gets a ’60s Go-Go solo choreographed by Gina Starbuck. Her prop is a giant white box atop which she will dance. Coreen fears for Madison’s safety, but Gina cheerfully pushes back. The girl does look pretty cool up there.
Briana will do a ’20s flapper solo choreographed by Joyce Chittick. Briana wisely points out that only one person (Amanda) has actually benefited from having a solo, but she’s willing to give it a whirl. Joyce wants this thing to be sassy and girlie, which Kris says is not really Briana’s style. Briana’s nerves do some extracurricular flapping, but Joyce remains serene and cuddles her charge.
The super-perky Ms. Starbuck will also be choreographing Asia and Lexine’s ’80s duet. Maria is overwhelmed by her homesickness and starts to sniffle. Then she excuses herself from the studio and goes off to cry it out. Kristie follows her, trying to comfort, but Maria is understandably wary of both mother and child who seemingly can’t be vanquished.
Hadley and Amanda’s duet is in the style of ’50s swing, crafted by Ms. Chittick. Taking a cue from Lexine a few episodes back, Hadley says she’s excited to learn from Amanda’s good technique. Mayelin tries for a zinger by telling the girls that Yvette should love this dance because she actually IS from the ’50s. Yvette just laughs and laughs.
Jordyn gets a ’90s themed hip-hop solo created by someone called Q. Not a lot of chances to sickle your foot and piss off your mom-teacher when you’re wearing high-tops, so I am happy about this. But not for long, because Kelly goes after her arms instead. Jordyn looks slightly skeptical of taking hip-hop advice from her fortysomething suburban mom instead of Q, but Kelly says that’s just because no kid likes criticism from a parent.
Yay! More drinksies with the moms! G-rated this time, however: Mayelin, Kelly, Coreen and Yvette are out for coffee. G-rated, but certainly not convivial. Mayelin is still ticked about last week, even though Amanda fared just fine. Yvette asks Mayelin where she would have preferred she place Amanda, and Mayelin says she doesn’t know, but she would have placed kids where they would have done the best. Riiiiiiight, says Yvette. (Riiiiiight, says Lori.) Coreen weighs in on Team Yvette and says no one else would have placed a kid other than their own at an advantage, either, but Cuba says she would protect the children, whether they are hers or not.
She may want to start with Jordyn. Kelly says she’s Team Jordyn all the way and does not want to make the girl’s life miserable, but we cut to her in their hotel room making the girl’s life miserable. I’m kind of thinking that perhaps Kelly should know by now that Jordyn does not respond well to yelling, but I guess not. She howls at the poor kid that she could be at home with her son and husband, but she’s here with Jordyn, instead. I’d bet my last buck that if Jordyn had enough cash for a bus ticket and the ability to buy one, she’d be happy to send Kelly packing and do the rest of this thing by herself.
Here’s what bugs me most about this whole exchange. To me, Kelly appears to be a very serious student of Dance Moms and the notion that the more you act up, the more screen time you score. More so than any other mom on this show, she seems to be consciously playing to the cameras — at the expense of her daughter’s feelings. I offer as further proof of this the fact that the guileless Jordyn looks at her mother like she’s suddenly never seen her before. Or at least this particular version.
Competition time. And also Yvetteism number two! “It’s never your setback that matters; it’s always your comeback that counts,” she tells Hadley. Where does she get these things! Poor Maria needs a pep talk, too, so she calls Yvette over to give her a hand with emotions and rhinestones.
Across the room, Briana’s melting down, too, but she pulls herself together in time to go first. She’s flappering to an R&B tune, which confuses me a little, but her emerald and amethyst costume is a stunner and so is the dance. The judges look pleased, too. Abby applauds her details. Richy says he would hire a dancer like her. But Robin — because she’s all about the Pussycat Dolls — just wishes Briana would’ve danced in heels. Abby looks exasperated with that certifiable nonsense and tells Briana that she’s on her way to a great career.
Hadley and Amanda go next. They begin by freaking out over an “autographed” poster of Richy and then swing their little hearts out, ending up in front of their idol, sighing dreamily. “They’re in love with me!” cries Richy! Aren’t we all?!
Abby tells the girls they did a good job, but Hadley still needs to fix her feet. Robin calls Amanda perfection. Then she flat-out tells Hadley that Amanda is better than she is, which makes Yvette cry. Richy chimes back in to buck up Hadley.
Maria’s nerves and bad humor are finally rubbing off on Lexine. Kristie says that’s just bad parenting. Hello, kettle. Heed the wisdom of pot. As Maria barks at her dainty girl, Kelly and Kristie looks like they’re enjoying this obvious fraying of parent and child. Nonetheless, Asia and Lexine’s duet is cute as a button, and Asia does her usual girl-soldier faces which charms Abby, even though she basically says the entirety of Asia’s technique sucks. Richy calls Lexine a breath of fresh air, but admonishes that still she needs to be aware of her opponent’s face.
OK, people, when did this become Abby’s Ultimate Face Off? It’s getting on my nerves. Plus, Robin’s just downright mean tonight. She tells Lexine that she’s a nice dancer, but not the best dancer and that she considered the duet a solo because she was only watching Asia. She’s very proud of herself for this comment.
Madison’s lean body and long legs and hair make her perfect for the Go-Go solo and she knocks it out of the park. Abby says she’s perfection. Still, Richy can’t give her a squirrel wave because her face grew too earnest on the turns. Robin says she swings a ponytail like no one else in the world. Abby’s Ultimate Hair Off. I’m just very, very tired.
Last but not least is Jordyn’s hip-hop solo. She gets up and gets down like there’s no tomorrow and Richy is finger-wavin’ before the music even ends. He pitches back and forth with so much glee that Abby even relinquishes her right to first comment and lets him get it out of his system. Yes! Yes! Yeeeeeeessssss! Then he finds his words AND his vocab words and lists for us all the hip-hop maneuvers our Jordyn just did. Not so fast, there, mister. Abby says when you don’t turn your feet out in big red high-tops, she is still going to notice. Robin tells Abby she’s crazy. This from the woman who critiqued Briana’s dance based on her footwear, period.
Time to judge. Deliberations go quickly and offer no clear hint as to who is in jeopardy. When the dancers are called back, Madison and Jordyn are declared the top two dancers of the night, which gives me great relief — though I hope this doesn’t mean that Imitation of Christi believes that relentless yelling is the way to go. Right now, she’s just o’erwhelmed with joy.
Lexine and Hadley are on the chopping block. Despite the fact that the entire episode has been about dancing with your face, Abby tells the girls that they are where they are because of their feet, their arms and their knees — and it’s Lexine’s feet, arms and knees that offend the worst. Today is not her day. Maria is free. And six dancers remain to face another dance, another judgment, another week.
New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Championship air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.