Welcome back to the JoJo Show, er, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (now 100% boy-free!), dance fans. And the mini mouth that roared is once again the first one we hear from — reminding us that all of the moms here love hating on her and then demonstrating exactly why that is the case.
Abby informs us that each of the remaining five dancers has something special but even she’s not sure which is Abby’s Ultimate yet. Has to be one you can send to the Joffrey with a straight face, Abby. Just making sure that’s still out there.
This week’s theme is nightmares. Jessalynn says that for the kids, that means vampire stories and scary movies. For her, that means living with the other moms.
The featured skill will be technique. I think that should be the featured skill every week, but whatever. Cindy says it’s more of a dream than a nightmare, because there is no way JoJo can keep up in that regard with the older, more experienced dancers. “JoJo is a goner,” she says with much certainty. So you pretty much know right now that JoJo will not be a goner at all.
The combination will again feature ballet. Shari says she owns True Dance Co. and McKaylee has been studying ballet there since she was 3. So no offense, but her girl is on another level, technique-wise, than the others.
This week, there will be three solos and one duet. Winner of the challenge gets to pick who’s stuck with the duet.
Lesley Bandy is back to teach the combo and we see about as much of her as this time as we did last time. About .3 seconds. Tina opines that graceful Kalani has a natural advantage and her sturdy gymnast daughter a natural disadvantage where ballet is concerned.
JoJo continues her fine tradition of being tossed out of the skills challenge first and not really giving a hoot. After all, she’s only 9. And also she doesn’t like ballet …
… which makes her the perfect candidate for Joffrey.
After round two, Abby has McKaylee repeat the grand jeté into the baby jeté, then asks Gianna if she knows that was actually one of the steps. Gianna is out.
We begin again. As the music starts, Abby stops the combo and asks Trinity if all five of her toes are on the floor. Just the fact that she has to take a peek and check makes Abby eliminate her.
Not surprisingly, the two strongest technicians, McKaylee and Kalani, will dance it out for the win. Kira calls it for her kid before the combo even begins. When it ends, Abby says she got better technique from one and better face from the other. Well, then, easy, Abby. Because the skill is not “face.” Nope. Abby says it actually makes her job harder. Then she eliminates Kalani for an overextended split toward jeté. Kira frowns. Shari’s assessment proves correct.
McKaylee believes she will give Kalani and JoJo the duet and let everyone else have solos. Shari reminds her that she’s going to have to do solos from here on out and wow the judges every time. She’d rather have her girl do one last strong duet and rest up.
McKaylee sticks to her original plan and I don’t think it’s a bad one — pair JoJo with a strong technician to make her shortcomings readily apparent, but don’t stick yourself with the job. Kira thinks the pairing will showcase Kalani even more. Everybody wins.
JoJo, too, if you ask her. She would have looooooooved to have a solo, but a duet is no problem. Pssshhhht.
Backstage, Gianna whines that she does not loooooooove having a solo at all. Too nerve-wracking. Here’s the part where we learn that Cindy gave up lots of things in order for Gianna to dance, and one of them was her marriage. So she better get her act together or else. Gianna walks out on her mom mid-sentence, much to Jessalynn’s amusement.
Tessandra Chavez will be choreographing JoJo and Kalani’s contemporary duet, which is called Vampire Attack. JoJo says she is portraying the creepy old vampire, which is just wonderful because she loves being creepy and she loves being mean. And she loves showing us her tonsils, too.
Tessandra’s original assessment is that JoJo’s performance is great but Kalani needs more attitude. Then she tells JoJo to be careful to not sacrifice technique for the story, especially on technique week. If she doesn’t step it up, she’s a goner. I still don’t think she’s a goner.
Gianna has a jazz funk solo called Zombie Dreams choreographed by Matt Cady. She says flat out that she thinks the other soloists have better technique than she does. I’m starting to strongly suspect that being a part of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition was Cindy’s idea, not GiGi’s.
Abby reminds her that even though she’s dancing a solo, she’s still competing with the other dancers. She doesn’t see the same drive in Gianna that she does in the other girls.
McKaylee’s solo is called Bird of Prey and will literally give her a leg up on the competition, because it’s an aerial routine. Our resident aerial specialist Shannon Beach has the job of turning McKaylee into a haunted, demented bird. Shari worries that not only does McKaylee have to be technically proficient on the ground, but now she has to be technically proficient in the air. And does one judge that, exactly?
McKaylee says Shari is way more worried than she is. But she’s a little scared, too.
Trinity has a modern funk solo called Possession, which is also choreographed by Matt Cady. She knows she has to watch her sickled feet or somebody will have a very hysterical nightmare.
Trinity blames the balance beam for her bad habit. Abby blames Tina.
In the Kristie Ray/Yvette Walts Memorial Rhinestoning Room of Contentiousness, Cindy says technique week means that JoJo the pain in the ass (her words, not mine) will be going home soon and everyone will be so, so glad. Even though Jessalynn is sitting right next to her. Jessalynn stays calm and rhinestones on, because she can’t quite make up her mind whom she’s more mad at right now, Cindy or Shari.
Here’s the part where we find out that Shari and Jessalynn have been friends for 20 years back in their home state of Nebraska. So Jess can’t quite figure out why Shari doesn’t have her and JoJo’s backs. If someone was picking on McKaylee, Jess would be all, hey pick on someone your own size. Except that no one is Cindy’s size. Jess’s words, not mine.
Jessalynn decides to call Shari out on that fact. Shari says Jessalynn hasn’t heard everything Shari has said. Jess says Shari just had an opportunity to defend JoJo right now and she just sat there.
(Bonus look at JoJo’s dad … if JoJo’s dad was a paper doll.)
Shari sticks with her original defense. And besides. Jessalynn never congratulates McKaylee on her victories. Jessalynn says that’s because Shari’s too busy congratulating herself.
Yelling. Yelling. Yelling. Tina thinks it’s wonderful that Shari is finally showing some backbone. Shari says that she thought Tiffany was the bully, but, turns out, it’s really Jess.
Shari and Jessalynn are not friends any more, so there.
After practice, JoJo and Jessalynn have a little heart-to-heart and JoJo asks her mother point-blank if everyone is right and she really doesn’t have good technique. Jessalynn cocks her head to the side sympathetically and says her daughter’s name, but doesn’t actually contradict the kid. JoJo fakes some sniffles and says her mother doesn’t understand how hard the dance is and how much pressure is on her. Sniffle snuffle. Jessalynn is genuinely worried.
Come competition day, everyone’s nerves are on full display. Trinity is having a case of the teenagers, according to her mother, but Tina won’t let up on her, even when Shari tries to intervene.
Out in the auditorium, Richy has stolen Manno’s bowtie deal, so Manno has opted for shades of pink and a regular tie. Eye like Manno!
He calls Abby everybody’s nightmare, but instead of taking offense, she owns it and waves like a prom queen.
Backstage again, Tina decides to seek some advice from Cindy, the high-priestess of solid mother-daughter relationships. Wait, what? Tina! No! See? Now you’re arguing with Cindy, too.
Jessalynn reminds us that JoJo is 9; therefore she should not be expected to have the technical skills of the teenagers. Manno reminds us that Rachelle still has her callback card in play and asks her if she plans to use it. Rachelle says she has to see what goes down before deciding.
Trinity goes first. Even before the stage lights come up, Abby can see that the girl’s foot is sickled in her opening pose and starts miming for her to correct it.
Jebus. Between the “There’s an evil in this room, there’s an evil in this room” music and choreography that would impress Regan MacNeil, I’m not banking on a good night’s sleep tonight. And I’m not so sure how much of this actually constitutes dancing. But that’s hardly Trinity’s fault.
Abby never really made it past the offense of the opening sickled-footed tendu, anyway, cataloging all the technical ills that came after. Rachelle disagrees and says she loved the storytelling. Richy agrees with Rachelle. Yes, there were technical things that need correcting, but the performance was the thing. Abby says that the other two are too easily wowed by flashy performance and forget about technique.
The prospect of McKaylee pulling off her aerial solo brings Shari to tears, and she looks on the verge of throwing up through the entire thing. I’m not sure why. The dance is awesome and her daughter is awesome in the role. Abby is hooting and hollering before it even ends. Abby. Not Rachelle and Richy — though they’re clearly pleased, too. Abby hoots. And hollers.
Rachelle says she was so excited by the dance that she wanted to fly and hunt, too. Abby confirms what Shannon Beach said — if McKaylee didn’t have superb technique, she could not have pulled off the dance. The she points out that McKaylee was lip-syching. Oops.
Richy is so happy about the dance that he gives McKaylee the finger waves and our first-ever poodle shakes. Observe.
Want your own Pink Poodle JS Adidas high tops by Jeremy Scott right this minute? You can’t have them. They’re sold out every place I looked.
JoJo wants to win this competition. Just give her it. She wants it. Just give her it. Because we haven’t had us a “JoJo lips off” moment in a good three minutes.
At the end of the dance, which was pretty iffy on both parties’ accounts all the way around, JoJo goes after Manno, who ain’t having it and tells her to relax.
Abby says that Kalani danced down to JoJo’s level. Which wasn’t great. Richy points out that JoJo’s timing was off throughout the entire dance. But he grimaces and says Kalani rushed things, too, and she’s so much better than that. Rachelle says Kalani needs to work on her control and JoJo needs to work on her strength. Richy says they both sort of disappeared like ghosts where he’s concerned.
For once, Jessalynn completely drops her captain of the cheerleaders snark and looks genuinely afraid of going home.
Gianna’s dance is a Zombie Dream come true, enormously fun from the get-go, and it brings Rachelle to her feet, all one-ing and two-ing and biting the apple and wanting to hire her immediately right this minute.
Richy does a double-squirrel-waved upper body spin cycle and calls the dance fantastical. He says she was graceful and effortless. Abby calls out the technical issues. Then she asks Gianna if she enjoys playing someone else much more than dancing as just Gianna. Gianna nods somberly. Abby tells her to take all those negative emotions and use them to step out on the stage to have the time of her life. She tells her she did a great job.
AB-BY! That was splendid! More this Abby. Less the tear-down kind. JC Executive Producer Superstar? More this Abby. I’m starting a petition.
Meanwhile, Cindy says she realizes that her divorce was harder on Gianna than she thought.
Come deliberation time, Richy says JoJo was bananas, but Kalani wasn’t much better and the others agree. Abby and Rachelle argue hard about Trinity. Rachelle says that Abby would rather see Kalani dance than Trinity, no matter what. She and Richy think Kalani should go home today.
McKaylee is declared safe first, followed quickly by Gianna. Abby tells JoJo that she danced up. Before you throw something at your televisions, AUDC fans, take heart. Asia made it to third place in a field of more technically talented dancers in Season 1, too, because she and her mother made for good, lightning rod TV. No one expected her to go to the Joffrey. They expected her to make us talk. And when it came down to whom Abby sent to the Joffrey in the name of the AUDC, she picked a poised and talented and deserving dancer.
Abby calls out the bottom two for never learning when it comes to sickling their feet. And today is not Trinity’s day. She dissolves into tears and thanks the judges through her sobs, telling them that it will be her birthday in two days, and …
… that’s all it takes for Rachelle to pull out her callback card and give Trinity an early present. Ms. Rak gives a genuinely moving speech about seeing girls with exactly Trinity’s drive and determination make it big on Broadway and she’s willing to bet her callback card that Trinity will do the same.
Everyone, including Abby and the other dancers, applauds.
Next week on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, the theme is divas, the skill is performance and the dance-battle-leading guest star is Asia.
So what say you, AUDC fans? Did Rachelle do the right thing? Should it have been JoJo’s time to go, instead? Was Bird of Prey the best thing you’ve seen thus far this season? What about that kinder, gentler Abby? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition premiere Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.