Welcome back, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans. Was everyone still awash in the glow of Rachelle’s good deed, using her callback card to save Trinity, when we started this week’s competition with Abby and her pink feathery boa? I know I was. And it didn’t last but a minute.
Abby reminds the dancers that there are no more callback cards left, so eliminations from here on out are final. Then she tells them that this week’s theme is Divas, and the skill is performance.
Anybody care to guess who we hear from first? La la la la la la … I cannot hear you talking, JoJo. Really, it’s just better for both of us.
The skills challenge will be a dance battle against Asia — whom Abby says was her Season One Ultimate Diva (and who looks a dab more grown up since we saw her last on Dance Moms not too long ago). And speaking of Dance Moms, the battle music is from Asia’s and Kenzie’s “We Hit Harder” duet.
Kira says Kalani better bring it. Jessalynn says there’s no way is Kalani going to win. Abby says she wants attitude and aptitude.
Asia loses right out of the gate to McKaylee, who looks mildly amused and sort of perplexed at having to battle a 7-year-old.
JoJo’s next. Abby tells her to put up or shut up. Cindy says she dances like a baby compared to Asia, leaving out the part where they both are babies and have no business dancing the way they are in the first place. Abby says JoJo’s just copying Asia’s moves, and JoJo’s first-out losing streak remains intact.
Kalani gives surprisingly good battle, backing Asia up and stopping her in her tracks. She’s declared safe, too.
When it’s her turn to battle, Gianna says Asia dances like a little kid who’s had too many Pixy Stix … at a club. I may never stop laughing.
She can’t keep a straight face either as the tot writhes and wriggles toward her, dissolving into laughter and applause. Abby says you do not clap for the enemy, but I’m totally charmed by Gianna’s reaction. I’d laugh if that were coming at me, too, and Gianna does it with love.
Being a gymnast like Asia, Trinity momentarily gives the kid a run for her money then just lets Asia take over. Tina says sometimes Trinity has to lose in order to come out on top. I’m going to guess that’s some sort of foreshadowing.
For Round 2, Abby decides Kalani and McKaylee will battle each other and Asia will help her judge. McKaylee runs out of battle moves faster than her rival — Asia says she’s just going in circles — and Kalani is declared the winner. Would you like to eat your words about Kalani with ketchup or just plain, Jessalynn?
Cindy says Abby has a screw loose.
Kalani gets to choose her routine and the person who gets to choose next. Abby calls it a “Diva Chain.” The dances will be inspired by fierce ladies like Nicki Minaj, Cleopatra, and Marie Antoinette.
Kalani chooses the sassy jazz number, since her last one went so well. Clearly disappointed, Abby calls it a safe choice.
Kalani chooses JoJo to pick next. Since she has no idea who Cleopatro and Maria Antwhatever even are, she picks the hip-hop duet, because plssssshhh! that’s her. JoJo is an expert plsssssshh-er. She wants to choose Gianna next, but Jessalynn wants her to pick Trinity. JoJo says, yeah but Trinity might out-dance her. JoJo picks Trinity, anyway. Trinity chooses to join her in the duet, but doesn’t look too happy about it. I think it’s an excellent choice.
Trinity chooses McKaylee to pick next, which Cindy takes very, very personally, like allowance money had changed hands under the table or something. McKaylee picks the contemporary Cleopatra solo. Gianna is stuck with Maria Antoinette. Gianna doesn’t know who she is either. Off with the heads of the history teachers at Gianna’s school. Now let me eat cake.
In the green room, Tina says she can’t believe JoJo picked a duet. Cindy says that’s because she really does live in JoJo World and thinks she’s better than everyone else. Kira is tired of listening to Cindy attack Jessalynn. I’m tired of listening to Cindy, period. Maybe we could stick Cindy and JoJo in a soundproof booth and let them have a Yap Battle until they both come up hoarse.
Victor Rojas will choreograph Kalani’s Movie Star solo. Speaking of taking things personally, Abby crabs at her that she should have picked a slower, contemporary solo. I disagree 100%. Richy and Rachelle aren’t Kalani fans — she has to knock their socks off, not dance pretty, if she’s going to win them over. The theme is performance, not technique, and Kalani wants to perform.
Trinity and JoJo will be Down and Dirty Divas, courtesy of a gentleman named Q Pittman. He tells the girls to think of themselves as a hip-hop super group and this is the opening number of their concert. JoJo is all about his GAH GAH YAH attack style. Trinity and Q are not about JoJo’s timing issues and lacking tumbling skills. JoJo does not appear to care.
Joyce Chittick will choreograph Gianna’s Marie Antoinette solo, called — yay! — Let Them Eat Cake. She tells Gianna to find something that motivates her to want to have a tantrum in order to channel MA’s attitude. This should help — all the other mothers have inexplicably dropped by for a visit. Their ridiculously self-conscious expressions let us know that this is no spontaneous social call, even though we’re supposed to think it is. Jessalynn tells us that watching Gianna makes her feel better about JoJo.
They stay a few minutes, saying nothing, and leave.
McKaylee’s Queen of the Nile dance will also be choreographed by Victor Rojas. It’s about the night before Cleopatra is to be crowned queen. Abby beats her down good for I’m not sure what and brings the usually composed girl to tears. McKaylee says there is wheat and corn — not divas — in Nebraska. Plssssshhh! Shari has clearly done a fine job of sheltering her girl from JoJo and Jessalynn.
Come competition day, JoJo says that if it weren’t for the callback card, Trinity would be home crying in her bed right now — so she’s hardly worried about dancing with her. Tina tells her daughter not to dance down to JoJo’s level.
Asia and her mom and little sister are in the audience. Manno looks fetching in shades of periwinkle.
Gianna goes first. Cindy says her confidence is suffering, but you wouldn’t know it watching the girl. The dance ends not with Gianna losing her head, but eating cake in true diva-queen style. Richy and Rachelle leap to their feet, but Abby is frowning. Gianna didn’t kick her head. Who in their right mind kicks their own head? Besides of which, you could have fooled me for as close as she came.
Then Abby points out Gianna’s grimy shoes.
There was no pavement back then, people. Shoes got grimy. So there.
Abby concedes that it was good, but maybe not good enough to go on. Richy and Rachelle protest that this week is about performing, not clean shoes, and Gianna’s wide smile returns. Rachelle says it was one of GiGi’s best performances. I would like to marry Richy’s 5-6-7-8 vest. Cindy would like to punch Abby in the face.
Gianna tells her to just calm down. Cindy does this instead.
Good luck getting that out of your head when it hits the pillow.
As McKaylee heads out to the stage, Shari worries about her daughter’s diva potential. This is a whole different dance than Gianna’s spicy, sassy choreography, but McKaylee’s technique is flawless and her expressions are spot-on.
Abby says she was indeed a diva and her technique was — mostly — great. Richy says it was fantastic and that this is the McKaylee he always wants to come out onstage, because she was diva even when the dance didn’t call for eye contact with the judges. Rachelle praises her ability to be still and still be in character.
I’m not real nuts about Kalani’s choreography either, but as much as Abby is furious with her girl for not choosing lyrical solos, I think the more lively dance styles suit her — especially when the choreographer is able to incorporate the lyrical elements that show off her strengths.
Abby stands by her assessment that a lyrical solo would have better suited the girl. I’m starting to think maybe Cindy is right and Abby did give Kalani a leg up in the dance battle because she thought she would surely choose the lyrical solos that Abby loves so much. The chip on her shoulder is a mile wide. Richy says Kalani was OK, but didn’t really bring the diva. Rachelle says she did, too. No one seems too excited about the dance, though. I worry that JoJo may survive to blow another skills challenge.
We’ll find out, because she’s up next. Jessalynn says she doesn’t want her kid know it, but she is freaking out inside because of what happened last time JoJo danced with Trinity. And literally from the first second, JoJo’s timing is off. The. First. Second.
Allow me a moment on my soapbox.
I do not enjoy disparaging a 9-year-old kid (or giving you guys a platform to do so, either, for that matter) — especially one who has been fed a steady diet of her own fabulousness and was going to suffer the consequences of that at some point in the near future, TV show or not. But this is a TV show, and we have had to put up with an endless overdose of JoJo’s lip since the very first episode. I could not be happier for those of you that do, because I am sure it makes your AUDC experience much more enjoyable than that of those who endure it so we can continue to watch more talented dancers perform. But I have raised four kids, all of whom suffered mightily for half the impertinence that has only served to score JoJo twice the camera time of other dancers. If I have to stomach that, I would like to see dance skills that support her being around week after week. Especially these weeks, when she is near-comically out of her league.
To wit, in this dance she is basically a distraction to Trinity hitting this dance clean out of the park. A distraction in a suck-up ALDC shirt and Abby-mimicking soda-can hair bauble.
When it’s over, Rachelle stands up so we can see what she is wearing today, and also so she can hurl her white fur coat at Trinity in a diva salute. Trinity puts that bad boy on and beams at Rachelle’s praise. Richy says not only did she bring the diva, but her performance was top competition level as well. Abby says she has no criticism. I pinch myself hard a couple of times just to make sure I’m awake. Richy and Rachelle leap to their feet for joy.
As for JoJo, Richy says hip-hop may be her thing, but next to Trinity it sure doesn’t look that way. Rachelle says that her confidence in the moves seems to disappear when she gets onstage. Abby says that Performance Week was made for her and she made one bad choice after the next, choosing not to do a solo and then giving Trinity the chance to come in and steam roll her in the duet.
Cindy says Jess should not have listened to her 9-year-old and made her choose a solo. To us, JoJo says she knows she’s a good dancer. But backstage she cries to her mother.
Come deliberation time, pretty much everyone thinks Kalani has peaked. I still say she is a 1000% better candidate for Joffrey than JoJo. Richy says McKaylee is the dancer who most consistently applies corrections, but Abby wants her to make wiser decisions. Everyone also agrees that the duet was more like two solos, one great, one forgettable. Rachelle says, even so, JoJo is a performer, which makes Abby look like this.
She says the hair bleach is sinking into JoJo’s brain to make the choices she did. Yes, but is one bad choice enough to get JoJo sent home, Rachelle wants to know. Abby nods. Lori nods harder. One bad choice … and a season full of dancing that is not on par with these other girls.
Still sniffling, JoJo reminds us she is not known for her technique. She is known for performance and stage presence. Yes, child. And you brought neither. And tonight is hardly the first night. But tonight is Performance night and that makes it so much worse.
Abby tells the other two that she has to deal with cute day in and day out. Jessalynn still thinks if they send JoJo home on Performance Week, they are crazy. Lady! Please! This week perhaps most of all!
On to Gianna. Rachelle and Richy said that she commanded the stage more than any other dancer out there. Abby says she has a problem with Gianna’s technique. This is not Technique Week, Abby. That was last week. This is Performance Week and Gianna delivered that in spades. And I will hold Gianna’s technique up to JoJo’s any day of the week. Especially when the next thing you say to your fellow judges is that they are going to hand someone $100,000 in cash and a full scholarship to the Joffrey and need to send the girl who is going to represent you the best.
Come results time, Abby tells the dancers that there were standouts, but no one was diva-perfect. Then she bellows at Gianna that the only reason her legs aren’t up where they should be is because she doesn’t care. I don’t believe that for one second. I think Gianna is suffering from Chloe Syndrome. Hate the mother; take it out on a perfectly good kid. And that is sad.
Abby tells Gianna, who is used to bellowing women, that Richy and Rachelle loved her so she will dance another week. Cindy says she’s glad Richy and Rachelle have some power over Abby.
Next Abby says McKaylee needs to show them that she’s more than just another pretty face … and now my blood pressure is up so high that I’m wildly glad there are only a few moments left in the episode. That kid has been a marvel, well beyond her 13 years, week after week after week — not once resting on her lovely face or natural elegance. Mercifully Abby walks it back and says that this Cleopatra continues to reign as queen of the dance floor.
She tells Trinity they all agree that she has proven she was worthy of Rachelle’s callback card.
Kalani and JoJo are the bottom two. Abby takes one last opportunity to beat the dead horse that is her anger at Kalani not choosing a lyrical solo. Then she tells JoJo her half of the duet was a mess.
Today is not JoJo’s day. The judges give her a standing ovation. Kalani cries and clutches her pal — turns out they were besties on the show. Jessalynn tells JoJo to look on the bright side — they don’t have to listen to Cindy anymore. JoJo goes out in true JoJo style, saying that if Kalani doesn’t win this, she’s going to slap her as hard as she can.
So what say you, AUDC fans? Did the show get just much more — or much less — watchable? Is Abby unduly hard on Gianna? Should she have just let it go about Kalani already? Who’s your pick for the win in two weeks? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition premiere Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.