Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition recap: Hop On Prop

Welcome back, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans. Have we all recovered from last week’s ousting of Kalani?

Not Abby.

She tells the remaining dancers that this week, we aren’t going to spotlight a particular skill because the theme is all about being unconventional. Then she summons Kalani and Kira from backstage and Abby bestows upon her weeping favorite the precious call-back card.

Take THAT, doubting Manno and Richy! Even though Abby herself admits that she never thought she’d use it. She says Kalani didn’t blow it, Richy and Rak did, and she couldn’t live with that.

Melanie says Kalani has always gotten special treatment. JoJo says she personally has nothing bad to say about her rescued adversary. OK, one thing. Sometimes she gets really annoying. But she’s still happy to see her back.

And that’s not the only surprise Abby has for her dancers. She also announces that the mother of today’s challenge winner gets to choose the bottom three at eliminations. Well, then what are we even having a performance competition for? There are maybe two, three mothers here I’d even remotely trust to choose the dancers who actually belong there, minus their own kid if he or she happened to be among them.

For the unconventional challenge a stocking-capped guy named Nito — pronounced Neat-o — is going to teach everyone a wushu combination. From the expressions on the dancers’ faces, I see I am possibly the only person who has no clue what a wushu combination is. Sounds like something you’d get for aps with your Chinese takeout.

It’s not. It’s a type of choreography often used in action movie fight scenes. Abby says Nito is the martial arts expert who was in Avatar and The Dark Knight Rises. Neat-o. Here’s another Nito fun fact: he was also one of Jay Leno’s Dancing Itos on The Tonight Show. Also he’s done stunts in a bazillion other things.

The challenge goes like this: The dancers will learn the combination, then use it to “battle” Nito, which basically entails not getting whapped by his stick in the process. If they survive that, they will battle her. She gets a stick, too.

abbys ultimate dance competition abby stick

“Get ’er, JoJo!” giggles Jessalynn.

Get ’er JoJo looks like she has no idea what is going on. Ally blows it, too. Haley thinks Abby wants to hit people and she freezes like a deer in the headlights in the challenge and bursts into tears when Abby sends her packing. I’d show you more of this stuff, but my screener came with a big ol’ run time thingie that fouls up the screenshots something awful. So you’ll have to use your imagination this time around.

McKaylee gets hit by Nito and forgets a jump with Abby. Abby gives her a second chance, anyway. Cindy cries foul in her special Cindy way. Abby tells her it’s not her name on the show and if she doesn’t like the way Abby runs it, she shouldn’t let the door hit her in the ass on the way out. Her word, not mine. Weirdly, though, she heeds Cindy’s demands and sends McKaylee to her seat, which makes both Shari and Gianna cry.

Travis and Tyler both get hit by the stick, and it comes down to Kalani and Trinity for the win. Abby says if she was casting a show, both girls would get the job. But Trinity looked Abby right in the eye when they were battling, which gives her her third challenge win.

Tina says the responsibility of choosing the bottom three is daunting, and Abby is taunting — will Tina try to eliminate Trinity’s toughest competition or is she going to be all, air quotes, faaaair? I can’t tell which Abby would prefer.

Backstage, Gianna cries in Shari’s arms about her crazy mom, until a pouty Cindy tries to pull her away, then storms out. Outside, Cindy and Tina have a conference about what is fair, no air quotes. Privately, Tina says Cindy’s antics should automatically qualify her for the bottom three, but on the other hand, they are friends, so who knows.

Matt Cady will be teaching Trinity, JoJo and Haley a dance called Walk the Plank, which he says is about shark-infested waters. As they hop among the triangular props, the girls should never touch the ground.

Kalani and Gianna will be doing a duet called Twisted, choreographed by Tessandra Chavez. Their dance has two props — a triangular ramp thingie and a long purple cloth thingie. The lyrical choreography is definitely right up Kalani’s alley, which doesn’t escape Gianna’s notice. Cindy’s either. And here comes Abby.

She sits down next to Cindy and demands to know what the earlier outburst was about. Cindy says she only said aloud what all the other mothers were mouthing. “So you’re the mouth of the group,” says Abby. And you’re just noticing this now, Abby?

Cindy says sometimes stuff just makes her nuts. Abby says it’s going to send her daughter home if she doesn’t watch it.

abbys ultimate dance competition cindy

Tyler and Travis will be doing a contemporary duet called Top of the Pyramid. Tyler says he’s so excited to be dancing with his brother. Yay, brothers! Oh. He’s excited because he knows Travis’ weaknesses and that will help him prove that he’s the best. The boys also have a kind of mountain-climbing prop that’s freaking them both out a little. Sheryl says she hopes they don’t bicker their way into the bottom three.

In the Kristie Ray/Yvette Walts Memorial Rhinestoning Room of Contentiousness, Melanie and Jessalynn are doing their best to freak out Tina by reminding her that no matter who she winds up sending home tonight, she’s going to have to deal with the other two bottom-three mothers after. Melanie says if it was her, she’d send the three strongest dancers to the chopping block. Jessalynn looks at her all shifty-eyed.

McKaylee and Ally will be playing creepy spiders in a duet called Tangled Web choreographed by Tarua Hall. Tiffany says this pairing punishes Ally because McKaylee is a beautiful technician so all of Ally’s flaws will be apparent to the the judges. She decides to ask Tarua if she could slow the dance down a little bit to better suit her kid and reminds her it’s up to her to make sure Ally doesn’t get ripped apart. Tarua looks at Tiffany like she’s grown a third eye.

And here comes Abby. Tarua tells her what Tiffany said. Abby says she can throw Tiffany out of practice if she wants. In the interest of fairness, Tarua has both mothers go.

Come competition day, Tina is a nervous wreck. Melanie decides she needs to remind her minion Tina of the proper strategy — exile the best dancers. Tiffany hopes her earlier mistakes won’t affect Ally. Then she reminds us Cindy made more mistakes, so there. Cindy says she’s going to be very, very good today so as not to draw Tina’s attention.

abbys ultimate dance competition bam powThe Manno in red wastes no time in introducing the judges. Rachelle looks lovely as always. Richy is wearing a pink and yellow vest that says BAM! and POW!, with matching plastic watches. Abby has a fresh blowout and looks extra tan.

Abby says that she wants the kids to go for it, in keeping with the theme. Then Kevin gives her a little teasing about using her call-back card. Abby waxes poetic about Kalani’s legs and feet, which makes BAM-POW roll his eyes. Then Manno tells Rachelle she’s the most powerful judge at the table because she’s the only one who still has a save.

Walk the Plank goes first. The girls are dressed like lady pirates and the don’t-touch-the-floor choreo is pretty cool, but the fierce Trinity is clearly the star of this show. When it’s over Unconventional Abby wants the moms to join their girls.

I’m apparently the only one who thinks Trinity was the star of the show because Abby says they have to figure out why she shines in class and chokes onstage, all sickled feet and inverted knees. Richy demonstrates the “cheerleader bounce” he says she does when she performs certain moves. I could watch him do that all day long.

Rachelle waves her arms all over the place and says JoJo sassed it up. Richy says he’s glad JoJo stopped being afraid and went for it. JoJo giggles her JoJo giggle.

Richy points out that Haley did step off one of the props and says he feels like she was just going through the motions. Abby takes her to task for her technique. Backstage, Melanie lights into her girl, which makes Tina massage her temples.

Ally and McKaylee are next. Right from the get-go the two are completely out of sync and Abby looks appalled. Afterward, Abby says the timing was indeed bad. Then she tells McKaylee to get a personality.

Rachelle says McKaylee needs to find the pizzazz to match her technique.

Richy says Ally has star personality but doesn’t perform like a star. Ally says she’s too busy focusing on her technique. Richy starts throwing un-microphoned, squirrel-fingered shade at Abby. Then Ally tells Abby that she just started ballet this year and Abby is appalled anew. Tina says she can’t believe Ally made it this far with no ballet at all.

Before Kalani and Gianna’s duet, Kira reminds her girl to go out and make Abby proud and prove Richy wrong.

This is a textbook Abby dance from the haunting tune to the dreamlike moves. I’m all about it, too, and Kalani’s lines are displayed to full advantage. At the end, Abby leans over and smooches Richy on the cheek. She says she knows she made the right choice in bringing Kalani back. Backstage Tina applauds and Trinity looks at her mom like she’s a traitor. “She’s right,” Tina shrugs.

Abby tells Kalani that she personifies an Abby Lee Dance Company member, which make the girl beam and a backstage Shari look stricken.

Richy makes five seconds’ worth of fire engine noises, then tells Kalani she was gorgeous and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. But, Richy says she has to look that good doing other types of dance, too. Then he gives props to Gianna, as well.

Rachelle says that Abby was right to have Kalani come back, leading me to believe this was all constructed for the sake of some drama. The Rak gives Gianna high praise, too.

Tina looks as though the decision-making process might literally blow her mind.

Before their duet, Sheryl reminds her boys that, above all things, they are a team and they have to work together to be a success.

abbys ultimate dance competition travis tyler 2

Abby tells them they played it safe, despite their dramatic prop, and calls each boy out on his tumbling mistakes.

Richy says the whole thing was far too timid for him, too. He tells Travis to stop worrying so much about technique and just perform. Both he and Rachelle say Tyler outdanced his brother.

Time for Tina to do her thing, which she clearly does not want any part of. She tries to get Trinity involved in the process, but Trinity doesn’t want any part of it, either. She says Abby said the mom would choose, not the child. Tina cries.

abbys ultimate dance competition tina

Choking up, Tina chooses Ally, McKaylee and Haley for elimination. “Nobody puts JoJo in the bottom three!” crows a victorious Jessalynn.

I appreciate Tina’s choices. Haley and Ally are clearly the low-hanging fruit in the competition and McKaylee is a technical threat. Abby is quick to send McKaylee back to safety, so the show is about to lose a mouthy mom, either way. Abby says she sees potential in Haley’s pretty legs and feet, but the girl is sent home anyway. Personally I’m relieved. The child was far too frail for this competition and this crew.

Melanie thanks Abby for letting Haley live a dream — dancing for Abby. Abby beams.

“I never got to show them the real me!” sobs Haley backstage. “I just wish I could stay.”

Next week — the war of words heats up, Rachelle strips down and Abby calls someone ridiculous.

New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition air Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.



  1. Lori, maybe I’m naive, but I really didn’t think Tina chose McKaylee because she is a “technical threat”. I think if that is what Tina was going for, she would have chosen something like Kalani, Gianna, McKaylee for the bottom three to basically force the judges to eliminate a legitimate threat.

    Tina indicated she was selecting the bottom 3 based on the judges feedback for that night’s performance, and I think that’s actually what she did. McKaylee is a good dancer, but she did happen to get negative feedback that night.

    According to both my own recollection, and what your recap says… And not even considering Trinity of course who essentially had immunity again since her own mom isn’t going to pick her… The 5 competitors getting negative feedback from the judges that night were Haley, Ally, McKayley and the twins. And I suspect Tina couldn’t remember which twin was the weaker (I can’t either!) so she probably just bypassed both of them, making Haley, Ally, and McKaylee her bottom 3…

    • Corinthia, I love your name … and your reasoning. I was mostly operating from a knee-jerk reaction as I cobbled together the recap and I found McK to be an odd third to the other two. Yes, her critique was a bit tough, but she is being held to a much higher standard, in my mind, than many of the other dancers. So it seemed to me like Tina taking advantage of a weak moment for a very strong dancer. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

  2. I love reading your recaps of Abby’s shows. Unfortunately, I had to stop reading the Dance Moms posts because the fandom around the show has become very nasty. And when I read one of your commenters say that Asia was a “trained monkey”, I had to stop reading your recaps. But I am glad I was able to come back for AUDC.

    I think they made the right choice to send Hayley home over Ally. I liked Hayley but she just seem too terrified to be there. Abby’s a scary person, but after 5 episodes, Hayley should have adapted by now.

    I think outside of this show Abby and Cindy (Gianna’s mother) would be the best of friends? They strike me as being so alike.

  3. My early money is on McKaylee for the win. Like last year’s winner Brianna, she has great technique, is versatile and she and her mother are impeccably behaved. I think you guys are right and we’ll keep Kalani — who I really do love to watch dance, but suspect will fall victim to her limited skills beyond ballet — and JoJo around long enough for people to recognize them on whatever this new incarnation of Dance Moms we’re supposed to be getting in Season 4. My cash is on a Gianna, Trinity, McK final. But I could be nuts like Cindy.

  4. another stellar recap Lori. I bet we wee Kalani show up on Dance Moms and hopefully we will not be seeing JoJo with the BowBow on Dance Moms. I cringe to think we will. Her obnoxious Mom will definately add drama to the dance mom’s crew.

  5. Here’s what I think. I personally think that Kalani’s the Maddie of this show. She’s Abby’s favorite, she’s a good dancer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes to the finale after her “callback”. Ally should have went home after her confession, it seemed only right. And lastly, I hope Tina doesn’t get anymore power because she was a wreck this week. I almost felt sorry for her. All in all, I’m not shocked Haley went home it was her time.

  6. Oh you should watch the show, Lori, at least in repeats just to get a load of some of the moms. And there actually is some pretty stellar dancing, which we don’t get much of on Dance Moms any more. But thank you for the nice words. I appreciate you reading!

  7. Don’t watch the show but always love your recaps. If I can’t read your writing about Dance Moms I’ll keep up this way. Always makes me laugh and brightens my day.

Comments are closed.

About Lori Acken 1160 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.