Another day, another counter on my screener, so let me just apologize for that right off the cuff, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans. Also, let me thank all of you who engaged in such a spirited debate in the comments section of last week’s blog and for keeping it largely civil, since a large portion of the discussion was about a kid. A frequently obnoxious kid, to be sure. But a kid all the same.
I think we can all accept she probably didn’t come out of the womb that way. And the editing room doesn’t help. But it’s also fairly obvious that JoJo was brought on the showshow to make us talk amongst ourselves, and to very likely be an ALDC ringer on the next season of Dance Moms, so discussion is fair game.
Let’s discuss tonight’s episode.
We start with all our favorite button-pushers. JoJo notes that Abby hasn’t arrived yet and that’s probably a good thing. Cindy notes that almost all of the weak links have been eliminated. Almost. At least in her eyes. She still thinks Button Pusher No. 1 is getting a free ride just because she’s little and she’s cute.
Speaking of button pushers, Abby appears sporting a red bandana in her hair and welcoming everyone to “Abby’s OK Corral.” That’s what the studio is called today because this week’s theme is Country Western (which I don’t imagine has anything at all to do with the fact that Lifetime’s newest reality series, Chasing Nashville, premieres immediately after this episode is over).
Either way, everyone seems pretty thrilled about it. Shari says she’s from Nebraska and has a barn in her backyard, so bring it on. Suh-nap. Jessalynn and JoJo are from Nebraska, too, but they don’t say anything about considering that advantageous.
This week’s skill is jumping. As in when Abby says jump, we say, “How high?” She says she’s going to be looking for elevation, some fancy word for how long you stay in the air that I couldn’t quite catch, and the dancers’ takeoffs and landings. Then she reminds them that they have a 1 in 6 chance of winning this thing.
The mother of whomever wins the challenge gets to save one person from the bottom 3. Cindy’s all about it. If your kid bombs, you can save ’em. Free pass to next week.
Abby will be choreographing the combo, which will require the dancers to dance with cowboy hats. McKaylee says that watching Abby do her own moves is cracking everyone up. Don’t let her catch you giggling, or … boom.
McKaylee is also struggling with figuring out the counts and Shari wishes she would just ask for them, but she has to figure that out for herself.
JoJo’s out first. Cindy says her first reaction was “No [another word for cow pie].” JoJo says eh, it’s like her 15th time being out first so she’s used to it. No breaking that little pony’s spirit.
On Round 2, McKaylee launches into the dance without holding for 8 counts first and gets ejected next. Before the combo starts again, Gianna also gets cut for being in the wrong position at the start, even though she has three dancers in the right position right in front of her. Cindy says she agrees with Abby. For once.
With only three dancers remaining, we’re going to have us a jump off. Italian first. Then Russian. Keep jumping until you are eliminated. Or you break an ankle, I guess.
Travis loses track of where he is in the United Nations of Jumping, but that’s not what Abby calls out as she eliminates him. Instead, she says that any boy should be able to out-jump the girls any day of the week. That’s wonderful, Abby. Gender stereotyping and emasculation in one handy package.
Trinity and Kalani keep on jumping until Kalani loses her place, too, and pauses. Abby says it’s a shame that happened, but she’s out. Trinity takes her fourth skills challenge. She collapses on the stage with exhaustion and relief. And Tina’s week is about to get interesting once again.
Trinity and JoJo will be doing a duet called American Spirit that involves ribbon work. Or as JoJo assesses it, “Stupid wibbons. And a stupid dance.” And here’s how we feel about that.
I think someone needs a nap.
Observing the dance, Abby points out how critical it is that they maintain control of their ribbons and Jessalynn realizes she has some preventative maintenance to do. In the form of kissing up like there’s no tomorrow, in case there isn’t.
Kalani will be doing a solo called Rhinestone Cowgirl, choreographed by Matt Cady. It involves a kind of pommel horse prop with a saddle on it and also a lasso. Abby thinks it looks good and that Richy and Rachelle will appreciate Kalani doing something different, but she’s worried about the lasso ruining the number. She knows Kalani’s a target for the other two since Abby used her call back card to bring the kid back and she wants to make sure the girl isn’t sent packing again.
Gianna’s solo, choreographed by Tarua Hall, is called Nashville Sweetheart and features a guitar prop. Gianna says she realizes that after her mother made such a stink in last week’s elimination about her not getting a solo, there’s extra pressure on her to make the most of this one. Abby feeds nicely into those fears, comparing Gianna’s kicks unfavorably to Kalani’s and saying Gianna should be able to kill someone with the strength in her back leg. That would be Nashville Assassin, Abby. Gianna’s a Nashville Sweetheart. She’ll have to beat them with her guitar.
Travis’ duet partner is McKaylee this week. Their dance is called Wild West Showdown, choreographed by Victor Rojas, who is wearing a totally awesome jacket. I’m pretty sure I had one just like it in 1976 in honor of the bicentennial. I think mine was satin.
A clearly frustrated Victor does not want the kids to dance like kids even though they are kids. Shari points out that the combination of a hip-hop dance telling a Wild West story done by two dancers of seriously different heights could spell a passel of trouble, pardners. Sheryl says Shari is unnecessarily feeding the drama. Travis can hold his own.
In the Kristie Ray/Yvette Walts Memorial Rhinestoning Room of Contentiousness, Jessalynn decides to call out Cindy for talking [another word for cow pie] about JoJo. Cindy has no problem with being called out. She says she hasn’t said anything behind Jessalynn’s back that she wouldn’t say to her front.
“You don’t think this whole thing is, like, JoJo Land, here?” Cindy responds. Cindy? Honey? Jessalynn thinks the whole world is JoJo Land. What Jessalynn says, though, is that JoJo lives in JoJo Land, but she doesn’t think Abby does. And either way, stop picking on a 9-year-old because it’s pathetic. I would bet my last buck that if JoJo were someone else’s kid, Jessalynn would be the first person in line to pick on JoJo, but anyway…
Cindy says that when said 9-year-old comes to her and tells her that her mom says that Cindy better not [another word for breeding, barnyard pals] wrecking it for them, she’ll pick on her all she wants.
Jessalynn says Cindy is a big, fat [another word for breeding] liar.
Cindy says JoJo is a [another word for breeding] squealing brat.
Jessalyn says no she’s not. It’s the first thing either one of them says that doesn’t contain [another word for breeding] and THAT makes Cindy do this.
What say we take that tube of glue in your hand and cement both of your mouths shut? How would that [another word for breeding] be?
Nope. More [another word for breeding] expletives from both of them.
Kira says that Cindy must be so unconfident about Gianna’s talent that she has to tear down each mom individually. She started with Kira. Now she’s moved onto Jessalynn.
Cindy does an imitation of JoJo’s solo from last week and says that anyone could do it. Jessalynn counters with, “You’re as tall as you are wide! Does it make you feel better, fatty, to talk about a 9-year-old?”
Shari clutches her head, then tries to intervene. I think Shari should just make a break for it and let this fire consume itself. Oops. Nope. Cindy leaves instead.
Come competition day, Jessalynn gives JoJo a little pep talk about how just because they can afford to buy her nice things, that doesn’t mean she is a spoiled brat. Cindy’s the brat. A jealous, overgrown one. A marshmallow that Jessalynn wants to go home. “Trust me,” says her non-spoiled-brat, “we all do.” Jessalynn tells her to remember that she was the first place dancer last week and Gianna was second to last.
At her own makeup station, Gianna can hear everything they are saying and Cindy says they’re just trying to psyche her out. So, you know, don’t let that happen. She tells Tina she will not suck up to her for the sake of saving her kid.
Tina says that because Trinity and JoJo have done three dances together already, she and Jessalynn have a commonality and are pretty much in agreement about stuff. So she feels a responsibility to help JoJo, should JoJo need it.
Out in the auditorium, Manno skipped his beloved jacket-and-bow-tie combo in favor of a vest and bolo tie for the Country Western occasion. Rachelle just looks normal. Richy opted for this.
Little bit country. Little bit furry flamingo.
Abby has on a sheriff’s badge, because she’s the only sheriff in this town. The sheriff rattles off all of the things she will be looking for in the dancers’ jumps.
Rachelle and Richy are amazed to find out that Trinity won another challenge, given that she’s always just OK onstage. Tina says it would actually be easier if Trinity was in the bottom three because then she could just save her and not worry about offending anybody else.
We’ll see what the chances of that might be, because Trinity and JoJo are up first. They’re out of sync from the get-go, but I’m not sure who’s on and who’s off. Given that the cameras mostly focus on Trinity, I’m pretty sure I can guess. Once they drop the ribbons, JoJo seems to fare a little better. For a little bit. Until it’s time to pick the ribbons back up. Then she biffs a handstand and gets her ribbon tangled up with Trinity’s.
Let’s hear from Jessalynn: “[Another word for breeding]!”
Abby commends Trinity for her energy and for giving one-hundred-plus percent even though she knows that, given her mother’s power to save her, she’s not going home tonight no matter what.
Richy tells JoJo that he could have honestly just watched Trinity by herself. He had to make himself watch her, too.
Rachelle confirms that it was JoJo who was late right off the bat — actually I think she was early, Rachelle, but whatever — and that her timing and jumps were off. I’m pleased that Rachelle is giving JoJo mature corrections, and not playing into the little-and-cute thing. I don’t think JoJo is pleased, though.
Abby takes JoJo to task for not just goofing up her own ribbon, but taking Trinity’s ribbon down with her. “I think cute is over,” she says sternly. “I think you need to start worrying.”
Backstage, Cindy applauds. In the wings, Jessalynn just shrugs and looks at her ol’ pal Tina, who will surely save her little patriot from doom. (Wait. What did the dance have to do with country and western?) Privately, though, Jess is worried. Backstage, JoJo frets that the judges were disgusted and Jessalynn and Tina comfort her.
Kalani says she knows she has to get Rachelle and Tina on her side because they don’t like her as much as Abby does. She’s glad it’s jump week because she’s good at those.
This certainly IS a whole new Kalani, all sass and fire. And hair.
The lasso prop stayed in, too, and I’m glad for it. So is Richy. He’s on his feet and waving his finger the minute she’s done with the dance.
Rachelle is jealous of Kalani’s hair-whipping moment and wishes she could have one of her own. She says Kalani was unbelievable. And then she stands up to demonstrate something and I realize she is not dressed normal at all. Her fringy top is actually a fringy halter and she’s wearing cutoffs and chaps. Fun!
When it’s his turn, Richy can’t even speak. He starts singing the song from the dance, climbing atop the judges table and ending up like this.
Next to McKaylee’s Fantine solo, it’s my favorite moment of the entire season.
Abby says that not everyone in in the audience is a dancer or a fan of dancing so they don’t always get the technical stuff. This, she says, they get. But Kalani’s technique was still great — especially the final aerial walkover.
McKaylee and Travis go next. Their size difference is more pronounced than ever, and McKaylee just looks like an adult to Travis’ child. But they dance well together anyway and the dance is a ton of fun to watch.
Richy gives them the squirrel fingers, too, but stays off the table. Rachelle says they both did a great job in telling the story and that McKaylee especially came to life. Abby says McKaylee was outstanding, too. Richy thinks Travis still had better isolations, though. He says that Trav’s hip-hop has improved tremendously and that he would never be able to out-jump McKaylee because of the height difference.
Abby disagrees. Boys should jump higher than girls because they’re boys. Even so, she says that McKaylee showed Travis up at the showdown.
Tough stuff going on here, Tina. Everyone but JoJo has done very, very well. It’s up to Gianna to blow it in epic fashion or you’re going to look purdy suspicious if you save the little buckeroo.
Come Gianna’s turn, I would just like to point out right off the bat that she is being asked to execute turns with a guitar in her arms. And I’m totally about her dance. When she’s done, Abby nods and applauds. Backstage, Tina and Jessalynn decide that Gianna was lukewarm and safe. Still, Tina worries for her integrity if she chooses JoJo over her.
Richy calls the performance solid, but lacking star power. Should have whipped your hair, Gianna. Maybe he would’ve liked that.
Rachelle disagrees with Richy and says what she loves Gianna’s ability to be still and still be impactful. Rachelle didn’t learn that until she was in her thirties and performing in Fosse.
Abby calls out Gianna’s white cheater shoes, and basically hands Tina an excuse if she needs one.
Judges deliberation. Abby says maybe the ribbon blunder was actually Trinity’s fault. Yes, Abby. That’s probably it. Even though hers was exactly where it should’ve been, it probably just reached out it’s little invisible ribbon fingers and yanked JoJo’s right over there to get her into trouble. Ribbons will do that.
Abby and Richy disagree with Rachelle about Gianna. Abby disagrees with Richy about Travis. Richy disagrees with Abby about McKaylee. Eventually we have a decision.
JoJo feels that if she is in the bottom three Tina should save her because she was Trinity’s duet partner and she and her mom have been good to them. Let’s see what happens.
Abby gives Trinity more props and sends her to safety. Your decision will be a hard one, Tina. Kalani is declared safe too. Abby says she made Richy and Rachelle see the light. McKaylee is sent to safety next.
Gianna, JoJo and Travis are in the bottom three. Trinity whispers to her mother that if she’s really going to win this competition, she’d like to do it by beating the best dancers there. Not by sending home a dancer who didn’t deserve to go.
Tina takes her advice, saving a clearly stunned Gianna. The judges look confused, too. Jessalynn says she’s a little frustrated with Tina.
Abby reiterates the whole “jumping like a man” thing to Travis and tells JoJo that she has demonstrate that she has what it takes to not be first out in every single skills challenge and wobble the choreography every singe time.
Today is not Travis’ day. Both Sheryl and her boy handle it beautifully. Travis smiles and says he learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Then they mosey off into the sunset. Or at least to Rhode Island.
Next week on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, the theme is nightmares and the skills challenge is technique. Cindy continues to wear down Gianna. And Shari loses her cool and calls Jessalynn a bully.
So what say you, AUDC fans? Did Tina make the right call? Did JoJo dodge another bullet? Should boys always jump higher than girls? Can we keep Gianna and send Cindy home? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.