I’m actually on vacation this week, but it would be a crime to skip a week of togetherness in the name of Abby Miller, now wouldn’t it, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans? I would miss you. Plus, since I’m on my own time, I can have TWO beers or possibly three and, even more than usual, appreciate it when…
… Abby shows up right off the bat, sporting Kevin and also a princess crown. Now I’ve seen Abby sport some pretty strange stuff in her hair during the Dance Moms days, so I just assume it’s a particularly creative choice of headband. Or Richy and all his Gaganess is beginning to rub off on her. I’m fine either way. Yvette, however, wants to know why the witch is wearing a princess crown.
She’s carrying a wand, too, Yvette, so watch what you say out loud. Hubby Rik looks like he’s seen Cinderella herself. He is beatific.
Abby says she’s really a fairy godmother, not a princess, then turns things over to Kevin — who informs us that the 45 Minute Combo is back this week, and so is the guest choreographer, who is really more like family. It’s Anthony Burrell, who is not the first person I think of when I think fairy tale dances, but whatever. I’m on vacation. I’m easy. Anthony tells the ladies that this week’s skill is individuality, so while he will give them the basic foundation of a combo; it’s then up to them to put their own spin on it.
Abby explains that this is because sometimes there are 800 dancers at an audition, all doing the same steps, so developing the ability to stand out from the herd is critical. I’m all about it! Useful stuff, right there!
The winner of the challenge gets the lead in the group dance and also a duet. Wait a sec. So the losers get a solo and the winner has to share? OK. I guess we’ve seen that a solo is not always a good thing, so I’ll go with it.
Abby is having way too much fun with that wand. But I’m happy for Asia, who finally gets to operate in a realm that’s actually age appropriate for her.
In asides, Yvette worries for Hadley, and Kristie hopes the Walts women’s time has come, but in the studio everyone just look weary and says nothing. For all the good behavior of the past two weeks, I’m thinking some timeouts may actually have been given, but I don’t know. Coreen’s just happy this challenge might work in her daughter’s favor.
Abby returns still wearing her crown and watches as the girls dance together. And the fairy godmother is pleased. Because it wouldn’t be Abby and AUDC if we didn’t talk about face, we immediately talk about face — namely Asia’s and Jordyn’s. Nonetheless, the Supreme Fairy Princess of Face, Miss Asia, gets bippity-boppity-bye-byed first, which does not shock me — just because she won the challenge last week. (Come to think of it, hasn’t everyone left won a challenge, except Madison? I’m calling the challenge for Madison right this minute.) Mayelin’s relieved to see that Abby’s come to her senses about the merits of face, giving Amanda another shot, too. Abby says Jordyn is much improved, but sends her packing anyway.
Then she asks Madison and Amanda to do the combo again, throwing some individuality in there this time. She doesn’t call a winner. She pairs up Hadley and Amanda next, then gives an exhausted-looking Hadley the boot, saying — as per the usual — she needs to correct her feet. In an aside, Coreen says she suspects that Abby’s rough treatment of Hadley is really intended to punish Yvette. I just think Abby favors Asia.
Brianna, Amanda and Madison must now dance for the fairy godmother and their lives. Abby says Brianna is strong and great, but she looked at the ground the whole time she was performing. And also, you’ve already won a challenge, Brianna, so … you know. Abby says Amanda was beautiful, but the shoe does not fit (because you’ve already won a challenge, too.) I am perfectly content to see Madison get her due, however it has to happen.
Thus, Madison and Amanda will be doing a duet about Snow White (Madison) and her evil step mother (Amanda).
Waving her wand, Abby bids everyone adieu and that they all dance happily ever after. “Right,” says Coreen and she and Madison share a giggle.
Kristie, sounding ten times more calm and rational then Kristie has ever come close to sounding, tells us that she’s only too aware that if Asia doesn’t start to step it up technically, she may be on her way out. To her daughter she says they have years to work on her feet, but she’s proud that she’s learning. There ya go! This is every bit as compelling to watch as threatening to pound someone’s face, I promise you, Kristie. I promise you, producers. I swear.
Anthony is also choreographing the group dance, which will feature as Asia as a little baby fairy and Madison as the girl she’s trying to distract. He gives Jordyn multiple corrections and over on the sidelines, Kelly’s eyes bug out of her head and when Jordyn ventures over, she gets some choice words. So much for my hope that after last week’s success, Kel may have softened a bit. She and Kristie briefly discuss the merits of laying on hands. No, ladies. No touching.
Amanda’s and Madison’s contemporary ballet duet is choreographed by Kitty McNamee. The girls are clearly enjoying dancing together, but Kitty wants Amanda to get her evil on. Amanda is not evil and I am not mad at that.
Ricky Marcelino Palomino will choreograph Asia’s modern solo about the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. That’s not really a fairy tale, RMP. But anyway. Perhaps not realizing that he would be assigned the tiniest dancer in the lot, Ricky has choreographed a dance involving the world’s biggest trash bag as costume, ostensibly to simulate the “melting” part of “I’m melting!” Asia is perfectly swell with this enormous prop, but Kristie is worried. Don’t project, Kristie. Let her love the bag.
Whoa, now, what is this that’s happening? Here comes Coreen and Mayelin. Here they come to watch Asia practice! No, ladies! No! Have we not learned that this will make Kristie go all Tarzan on your face? No, ladies! Run!
Nothing happens. Kristie ignores the other mothers! Someone totally got a timeout after her last display.
Speaking of which, Coreen wonders why Yvette is suddenly so quiet. In an aside, Yvette says she’s so excited about Hadley’s Tinkerbell solo and Anthony’s direction, but she doesn’t look so excited at all. She looks frazzled. And Hadley’s in even worse shape than her mom. Betraying her usual preternatural professionalism, the girl flails about her practice and then begins to well. Then we get a super tragic aside in which this kid who does not cry attempts to cry and comes off a lot like a theatrically gasping Elisabeth. Which is unfortunate, because Elisabeth long ago maxed out whatever whisper of tolerance I may have had for that nonsense. If you don’t want to cry for the camera, Had, don’t.
Yvette tries to make Anthony understand what her girl has been up against in the last few weeks. Anthony is unmoved. He tells Hadley to stop the tears and use the frustration to her advantage. That would be filed under “Suck it up, buttercup, and giddy on up!” I believe.
Jordyn will be doing a contemporary Cinderella number choreographed by newcomer Molly Lake, whom I mistook for Gina Starbuck. Jordyn’s aware that after last week’s bring-down-the-house hip-hop performance, she’s got her work cut out for her to demonstrate that she can do other styles, too. While avoiding the wrath of her mother.
Brianna’s going to be a jazz funk Little Red Riding Hood, under the direction of my favorite unflappable Gina Starbuck. (The next time I am 12 and want to learn to dance, I want you to teach me, Gina Starbuck.) The dance is intense and technical — Brianna’s strong suits — and Kris is happy about that her girl can spend some time dancing in her comfort zone. Which would be even more comfortable were it not for Red Riding Hood’s ill-fitting cape that sends Brianna toppling over, wounding her knee.
On Competition Day, Kelly tenderly tells Jordyn to go out there and be her beautiful self. Kristie tells Asia that if she has to tear the trash bag to escape it, she should. Yvette is fretting for the fear on Hadley’s face.
Oh. Oh no. After being momentarily dazzled by her iolite-colored outfit and matching jewels, I see it: Abby has a tan line. A humdinger of one. One that should not be making its television debut right now. Keep your eyes on her eyes, Lori. Look aboooove the necklace ….
The music for the group dance makes me want to go to sleep. And the dance is basically Madison clutching a book and twirling and leaping around in the midst of the rest of the girls who are wearing body stockings and throwing red leaves and a giant gauzy tarp at her. I don’t much get it. And we don’t discuss it any further, so I don’t have to.
I also don’t get too much Cinderella out of Jordyn’s dance, but it’s certainly interesting and she performs it well. Abby calls it outstanding which nearly causes Kelly to stroke out on the sidelines. Don’t stroke too soon, Kel. Abby says Jordyn still needs to work on her knees and poor Jordyn looks like she knows what’s coming later. Richy says how Jordyn dances is what it’s about. Further proving that we will never, ever be able to predict which side of the spaceship she’ll emerge from, Miss Robin “Asia, if you were on stage with Beyoncé, I’d still watch you” Antin tells Jordyn that her facial expressions were just too much. If the audience had stuff to throw, they would. Abby retorts that they needed to see three emotions and they did. Robin says she’s talking about what everyone else might see.
Yvette tells the camera for the 37th time that this is Hadley’s comeback week, so I can pretty much promise you that this is the week that Hadley goes home. Her music sounds like the theme song for a Nickelodeon tween show more than anything about fairy tales, but her costume and the dance are adorable, and she ends up in front of the judges table blowing a cloud of glitter at them. On the sidelines, Yvette looks like the child simply tucked and rolled out into the audience without ever dancing a step, but Abby claps up high and gives Hadley a “Woooooooo!” She calls the dance sweet and fun and compliments Hadley for taking correction on her feet. Poor Hadley can’t even muster a smile.
Richy says she gave him more of a performance than he expected. Robin says she liked it a lot. Did she absolutely love it? Let’s look to the home planet for help.
The home planet is no help. Robin’s not sure if she absolutely loved it or not.
Next up is Asia and her trash bag couture. Contrary to her mother’s fears, she struts out there with it trailing behind her and doesn’t miss a step. Richy is already preparing the fingers for takeoff. There is no question about it — for age six, this kid can dance like there’s no tomorrow. Her turns and leaps are astounding. And there’s that face. Which may or may not be too much depending where Robin is at in the world at the moment. Let’s find out.
Abby — nnnerrrrggggggh, eyes above the necklace! — says the top half of Asia is in the top half of the competition and her bottom half is in the bottom half of the competition. She begins quizzing the little girl about proper technique and I learn the vocab words “glissade” and “run-run.” Richy is not in any mood for all this technical biznazz. He could not take his eyes off the girl, end of story. Or not. Robin’s up. She thinks it’s really weird that Asia knows what it means to dance like a diva, and I think it’s really weird that she says she isn’t sure if Asia learned that from her mom or from Robin and the Pussycat Dolls. Well, I’m not sure either, Robin! How many times have you seen a six year old in the audience of your nightclub-based burlesque shows? It IS a mystery.
Earth to Antin. Please come home. Let Richy help.
Despite the fact that her knee is still smarting from the cape-induced tumble she suffered, Brianna is ready to give it her all as Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf — and she does. I love how uninhibited Brianna is when she dances. Abby loves it, too. Richy thought it could have been tighter. Robin says Brianna took it and she owned it and she danced it like she was ageless. Abby wraps things up by giving her a big “Awwwoooooo!” which scares our Richy just a little.
Mayelin’s a little worried that the combination of being evil and being facially expressive might prove too much for Amanda. I’m a little worried about the latter, but Amanda is such a beautiful dancer that I’m not worried overall. And Abby does seem to be getting past her face obsession. I do kind of wish the duet was a little more … duet-y … because these two are my favorite dancers and the girls seem to spend so much time doing individual movements that I don’t know where to look. Still, I love the dance — it’s probably my favorite of the series thus far — and the song is downright mesmerizing, too.
Abby says Amanda performed her character beautifully and that it was nice to see a duet with two advanced and beautiful dancers. Richy was apparently not watching the same dance I was because he says he lost the girls as individuals in the piece. Not me, Richy. And I wanted to. Then he says that Amanda’s face pretty much stayed the same throughout the dance. What?! Richy!
I don’t remember what Robin said. Because I’m too busy being astounded by what Abby says next. Which is that — even though the girls danced the living daylights out of their fairy tale and their technique has never been in question — it’s time to dance like they’ve never danced before and good enough isn’t good enough any longer. And the girls look appropriately mystified. These two may not be flashy and they will never, ever be Pussycat Dolls. But if we’re talking about dancing as it pertains to what goes on below the necklace, there are not two more gifted competitors in this thing and that’s a fact.
Huff, huff, huff.
So lets see what happens at judgement time. We learn that Abby really isn’t a fan of Jordyn and then — pretty quickly — that Hadley’s going home. Well they don’t say it outright, but that’s exactly how it plays out. Asia and Hadley are declared the bottom two — so all fear of a Sidewalk Showdown shall end right here. Abby says Asia’s a lost little lamb where class is concerned, but a killer onstage. Hadley’s the opposite. Exceptional student, underwhelming performer. I don’t so much know about that. But that’s what Abby says.
In any case, I think we can all pretty much agree with my beloved, diplomatic Coreen who says that Asia has gotten alarmingly far on a big personality packed into a tiny body — one that does do some pretty incredible things for a kid her age. But not against kids of the caliber of her competition. And I’m reasonably comfortable that that will play itself out next week. At least I hope. At least it’s time.
Well, anyway …
New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition air Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.