Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition recap: Dance, Off

Lori Acken

So, uh, tonight’s Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition was actually about … dance. Like, all about dance, with only the slightest sprinkling of mama drama tossed in there just in case we stubbornly forget that Yvette is a grinning meddler and Kristie enjoys being mad.

Let’s recap.

This week’s theme is New York, New York, and in honor of that, Abby is going to turn the 45-Minute Combo challenge into a mock Broadway audition. Each of the dancers is wearing a number; each will perform the combo over and over again, until all but one are eliminated. There’s even a live piano player named Keith in place of the canned music, to make it ultra authentic.

This week’s skill is projection and bona fide Broadway performer Joyce Chittick (the tap lady from episode No. 1) will lead the combo.

Zack admits he’s especially nervous because the people he thought would be eliminated before him are now all gone, leaving him and the people he didn’t think would be eliminated before him. Still, mom Gina thinks the theater of Broadway is perfect for him. Coreen worries that Madison’s focus isn’t there, but she can’t put her finger on why. Elisabeth of Erin thinks everyone here is terrifically loveable but only one person can win and it’s going to be her.

Abby starts the audition, exiling the also-rans back to the barre. Pretty quickly it becomes all about the big kids … and I get really sick of listening to Keith pounding away on that upright.

When we’re down to just Madison, Amanda, Briana and Zack, Abby says her decision is tough because everyone’s so good. Madison gets dismissed. Blam, blam, blam, blam … how, I hate this song. It’s not even a song. It’s five notes arranged in the most irritating way five notes could possibly be arranged. Pick, Abby! Pick someone now! I’m getting unjustifiably livid at poor Keith.

Briana gets cut next. Just Amanda and Zack remain. Abby praises Zack effusively for his good work, but Amanda wins the challenge, and the competition-day solo that goes with it.

Back in wardrobe, Kris, Yvette, Gina, Erin and Kelly are working away on costumes (Quick second — I am fascinated by the giant jacks sitting on the table. What are those things? I want one.) and discussing judging one another’s little dancers. Yvette says she can’t help but assess all of the children, because she’s a dance teacher and that’s what she does. Choosing her words carefully, Kelly says she’s keeping her mouth shut for the time being, because she doesn’t trust Yvette and has no intention of jeopardizing Jordyn by getting involved in the fracas that’s now has an opening for third wheel, since Shayna went home last week. Gina brings up Asia, and Yvette agrees that she’s an amazingly little dancer for her age, but people in the business know that mothers and dancers are a single package and if one’s a loose cannon, the other is doomed. She enlists Kelly’s agreement on that and kinda, sorta gets it.

Here comes Kristie.

Erin says she hopes that Kristie overheard Yvette — which she pronounces “Yuh-vette” — saying nice things about Asia, thus facilitating a possible truce in the mother of all mother wars, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So Erin goes ahead and brings it up her own self. Little Miss Contrary refuses to accept the compliment, looks menacingly at Yuhvette and says something along the lines of, “Oh yeah? Well I thought my kid behaved like an out of control six-year-old. So there.”

Since it wasn’t Yvette’s idea to make nice in the first place, she has zero problem getting back to bitchness with her rival and uses her best patronizing preschool teacher voice to ask Kristie why she thinks that is, oh tree from which the out-of-control little apple didn’t fall too far.

The olive branch broke, chuckles Erin. Kristie harps on Yvette for being a studio owner who makes little children cry, even though she means Elisabeth and I’m pretty sure Elisabeth is actually bigger than Yvette. Also, Kristie has clearly not seen even five minutes of Dance Moms if she doesn’t think studio owners make children cry.

Time to rehearse the competition numbers.

Jordyn and Hadley will be doing a Musical Theater duet with a Vaudeville theme, as choreographed by Ms. Chittick, who is wearing a jaunty straw fedora for the occasion. The girls get jaunty sparkly fedoras to match. Jordyn opines that having her mother paired up with another studio owner — that would Yvette — is going to be tough. Did we know Kelly owned a studio before now? I don’t remember knowing that.

In any case, when Joyce gives the girls a water break, Backseat Choreographer has at it, fussing ball changes and other things she feels need cleaning, since the Broadway dancer/choreographer cannot be trusted to do it herself. Yvette wants to dissect every 8-count and make sure every move is just right. I wonder where Ms. Chittick is right now and what she might be thinking about this.

Kelly stands by silently, arms crossed, though she lets us know that she thinks it’s disrespectful of Yvette to not include her in the cleaning and polishing, since she’s an owner/instructor, too. She’s only hushing up for the good of her daughter. She didn’t hush much in earlier episodes, so something is up. I’m just not sure what it is.

Asia, Madison and Lexine will be doing a Cabaret number choreographed by Anthony Burrell, who seems to be getting crabbier by the episode. Coreen is worried that the movements are just too adult for Asia and that will be distracting for the judges. Kristie says it’s nothing her kid can’t handle. The stools on which the girls are dancing are another matter, however. The other girls can easily clear the props when they hop down with their legs on either side of them, but Asia’s little legs collide with hers. She lands on her bum, then bolts from the stage. Kristie says the stool bopped Asia in the nose, but the replay proves the stool is clearly innocent of the charge. Kristie says Asia was more embarrassed than hurt, but she gets checked out anyway.

Madison is clearly weary of having a little-kid dance mate.

Ricky Marcelino Palomino will choreograph Amanda’s lyrical solo, so you know it is going to be fabu. Still, Mayelin looks like she’s going to explode with nerves. Her kid is one cool customer.

Briana, Elisabeth and Zack are doing a hip-hop trio called Subway Experience, worked out by Mr. Burrell. Elisabeth has never been on a subway, but she’s pretty sure they are gross and dirty and filled with hobos. Anthony is pretty sure that Zack has never done hip-hop in his life, because he should be making the ladies want him and all he’s making is stupidness right now. Gina says loves her little lyrical boy just the way he is. Me, too, Gina. Me, too.

Well it is about damned time! Drinksies with the momsies! Well, Erin, Kelly and Kristie anyway. They look like they’re drinksie-ing in the lobby of their hotel, but whatever. I’ll take what I can get.

Erin complains that she has never sat on her butt and watched so much dancing in her life. Then she tells Kelly that because Erin and Kristie have already had at it with Yuhvette and Kelly still dares to associate with them, she is next on Yvette’s hit list. She’s already vocalized in Erin’s general direction about that. “Said” is apparently too meager a word for what Yvette did. She vocalized. Also, she vocalized to Erin that when Elisabeth gets kicked off the show, she wants Erin’s room because it’s bigger. The. Nerve.

(Mmmm. I’d tackle Kristie for her martini right now, even though I’m scared of Kristie. That thing looks good.)

To us, Kelly says she plans to tread lightly where Yvette is concerned. To Erin and Kristie, she says that Hadley slaps her feet on the ground with every move she makes and that if her mom, the studio-owning cleaner extraordinaire, hasn’t picked up on that, well Abby surely will. I gess we’ll find out, because it’s ….

… competition time. Abby has big hair tonight and an outfit that brings to mind the champagne colored number she wore to the final recital/concert dealie on Dance Moms.

The group dance appears to be about a rumble between a girl gang and one made up of early-era Madonna impersonators, can-can girls and Zack. Backstage, the dressed-up mothers all watch together nicely.

Oh no. I think Madison has a fly stuck in her false eyelashes! How come I am the only one who notices? How does that not drive the kid completely nuts? Stop complaining about your trio going first, girl! You have a fly half an inch from your retinas! That has to bug!

The stool move works out fine for Asia this time, but because she is so much shorter than the other girls, her turns look out of sync. Still, the judges give her props. They call Madison the glue of the trio, but say she didn’t give it her all. That’s because she was dealing with flies in her eyelashes, you ask me. Abby likes how little kid Lexine turns into a full-grown lady when she dances.

Hadley and Jordyn are wearing sparkly, oversized plaid pants and suspenders. Yvette relentlessly reminds Hadley to have big fun and leave it all on the stage. Hadley looks like she wishes Yvette would have left it all — including herself — in the hotel room. The girls are clearly having a smashing time hamming it up on stage. The judges are clearly having a smashing time watching. Yvette does this, just to help things along:

Abby says there were a couple of dumb mistakes, such as Hadley bombing her side aerial. Hadley calmly owns the error. Yvette looks miffed. Richy loved the freedom of the dance. Robin calls it perfection. Jordyn gamely tries to hug Hadley, who walks right through it.

Briana, Zack and Elisabeth’s song is something about punctuating hips, acoustic lungs and spit. The girls get to catch Zack when he leaps off the most spacious subway seats I have ever seen in my life, then chuck him away like the little hip-hop novice that he is.

Actually, none of these kids look too adept at this style of dance. The audience applauds weakly. Richy, whose head has tilted all the way over to the right with abject misery, can’t bring himself to actually put his hands all the way together.

Abby says the number was fun, but Zack was clearly on a different subway. The Lyrical Train, if you will — and that don’t run through hip-hop station. Richy says that no matter what happens today, Zack has to go out there and work on his crunk. It’s the only way, son. The only way to salvation. Especially for a technique gangsta like him.

Robin tries to be diplomatic. “You guys danced like technical, beautiful … dancers,” she explains. “I work with the Pussycat Dolls. And the Pussycat Dolls are dancers.” And yet even they must sometimes bring the swag. OK! Richy still looks like he’s taking this blatant affront to hip-hop personally.

“Robin liked you,” Gina soothes her boy backstage. “It’s not Robin’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” Zack reminds her. Zack! I’m such a fan!

Amanda’s lyrical solo is about New York runaways. Mayelin says she has never been this nervous in her life, which I think may actually be because everything but her head has been swallowed up by this here leather-trimmed stingray.

But her daughter, in gold and aquamarine, is a pro, dancing with an impeccable grace and maturity to a song that I super dig. She ends the dance in front of the judges’ table with a toss of her hair and her back to the judges. Awe. Some.

Abby fans herself and proclaims the number hot and sassy. She says Amanda has great attention to detail and emotional execution, and a natural turnout. Richy gives her two ringie-dingies, which I guess I am supposed to be calling a “squirrel wave.” I have never, ever seen a squirrel do anything that remotely resembles that, but apparently Richy has. Then he fans himself frantically with Amanda’s picture, rocking to and fro and looking for all the world like he might throw up. He can’t give her the $100,000 prize, he says, but if he had a dollar it would totally be hers.

Top that, Ms. Antin. Or at least say something weird about the Pussycat Dolls. Nope. She just says Amanda was perfection. Backstage, Mayelin collects her daughter in her arms and tells her she made her mom cry. “Shocker!” teases Amanda, but her eyes are welling, too. Aw! Nice.

We get a peek at bits and snatches of the judging confab, which seems to suggest that Abby thinks Hadley is a hot mess and a little girl trying to do big girl moves, even though there was not much opportunity for that in hers and Jordyn’s comical dance, so it could be weird eidting. Richy says Madison just disappears to him and we see her backstage looking like she’d like to. Abby says Briana was not a rock star today and we see her backstage, emotional and dabbing at her eyes.

Looks like it’s Madison, Zack and Elisabeth who are in peril. Still the panel cannot reach consensus on who’s the biggest flameout, so, since it’s her show, Abby decides the bottom three will have a dance-off.

Not surprisingly, Amanda is declared the night’s big winner. Madison still has a fly on her lashes. And Abby says when she calls a dancer forward, that person is going to do eight turns a la seconde pulled into a ballet pirouette and then an 8-count improv out of it. Whatever you can bring to the table.

Elisabeth takes that literally, doing her eight turns and a pirouette and then flouncing her way up to the judges table, sweeping you in and you in, then turning and arching her back.

Next, Zack. He does his eight turns and a pirouette, throws an aerial and then runs for the judges’ table, too. Oof. I think Liz was more dynamic.

Madison. Her legs are not as high and straight as Elisabeth and Zack, but her pirouette is nice. She isn’t having anything to do with the judges’ table  for her improv, though, preferring to head stage right. Coreen knows her girl’s heart wasn’t in it. I’m guessing today is not Madison’s day.

The non dance-off dancers are declared safe and Kevin asks Erin, Coreen and Gina to join their kids on stage. After a whiny aside, Elisabeth is declared safe first. Abby says she has the look of a dancer, but her technique ain’t going to land her the job. She bursts into tears, hugs her mom and bookends it with another whiny aside. No more talking to Elisabeth when she’s in a snit, please. It rankles.

Abby says Mads and Zack didn’t do anything wrong, but the judges are looking for something excellent. Abby says that Zack has improved more than any dancer there, but Richy is still really wounded. He says Zack has been exposed for the hip-hop shirker that he is and he’s in terrible danger of only being deemed suited for ballet. Worse things could happen, Zack. Much worse things. Gina says so, too.

Abby says Madison has always been consistent, but they need more than that. And given that she was dancing with much younger kids, she should have stood out in the trio and yet she did not. Richy backs her up. On her own, Madison flies. In a group, she blends, says he.

And it is not … whaaaa?!!! Now I love me some Madison. I do. And I know nice kid/mom combos finish last in this thing, and these are both really nice kids with really nice moms. But really. There are five other girls of Madison’s caliber in this competition. There was only one Zack. And he was versatile. And he was selfless. And now he’s going home.

Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition airs Tuesday nights at 9/8CT.


  1. Love the show! Look forward to seeing it except all the mommy drama! Would love my 13 year daughter to be on show who dances in all dance areas for the next season! Please contact us!

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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.