When the party’s oooooooverrrrrr!! Yes, it’s finale night, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans, and I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted and ready for my happy ending. And since I very much like all of the dancers who are left in the battle, that’s a given, which is nice.
We start with a little recap of the ladies and how they got there, complete with kiddie pictures and home video.
Gianna says the money would mean she could afford to go to college in addition to the Joffrey. Cindy says Abby’s rough treatment of her daughter has only made Gianna stronger. I’d have to agree.
Kalani does a little FaceTime-ing with her dad, while Kira tells us that Kalani started dancing at age 5 and gets technique awards at almost every competition she goes to.
Trinity says she hopes to parlay her uniqueness into a win and that she’s been pretty much undefeated in competition. Tina says the Joffrey scholarship would help lengthen Trinity’s muscles and make her more of a lyrical dancer.
McKaylee calls herself a little Midwestern girl and says the Joffrey would change her life. Shari hopes it will get her girl out of Nebraska and into the big, wide world.
All three judges are present when the ladies and their mothers arrive at the auditorium. First the girls get a videotaped message from Season 1 winner Brianna Haire. She tells them to dance like no one is watching. I was hoping for a little more in-depth update on Brianna’s dance career, but it’s nice to see her, all the same.
Richy asks McKaylee to name her two favorite dances of the season. McKaylee chooses her Les Misérable solo and her Madonna trio with Kalani and Gianna.
Kalani picks her Rhinestone Cowgirl dance and her Twisted duet with Gianna.
Gianna picks her zombie solo and the Twisted duet, too.
Trinity picks Medusa and the Down and Dirty duet with JoJo. That last one surprises Richy a little. Not me. It may as well have been a solo, and she rocked that thing.
There’s method to Richy’s madness. Abby tells them they must each now pick one dance to do as an encore performance, which will serve as the skills challenge. Evolution and improvement, if you will.
McKaylee picks Les Mis, which thrills me to pieces. Trinity picks Down and Dirty. Gianna chooses her Zombie solo. Kalani picks Rhinestone Cowgirl. Abby shakes her head at her favorite. Have you learned nothing, favorite? You dance lyrical and nothing else. Kira says Kalani can do no wrong in Abby’s eyes, so it doesn’t matter what kind of dance she chooses.
Here are the chosen solos, if you want to refresh your memory. For some reason, Gianna’s wasn’t available from the Lifetime site, so thank you person from whom I cribbed it on YouTube.
Then Abby drops a bombshell — the loser of the challenge will be eliminated immediately. Everyone looks terrorized. There will be no time to practice, either — they must scramble into their costumes, pray they remember the steps and have at it.
McKaylee goes first. I miss her Fantine wig and makeup, but the dance chokes me up almost as much as it did the first time. Kira snarks to Shari that McKaylee was lip-syncing again. Well, she might have been. Maybe. Shari gets up and walks away.
Gianna is next with her Zombie Dreams. Her supportive mother folds her arms and says, “Let’s get this over with.” Richy and Rachelle blissfully watch her every move, and it’s as cute and dynamic as it was the first time.
Trinity gets Down and Dirty in team colors, wearing SAS pants and an ALDC shirt. Poor Richy. Maybe she tried to get poodle shoes, but right now you just can’t, Richy.
Kalani’s cowgirl dance goes swimmingly right up to her final trick, a front aerial. Then she loses her footing, stumbles backward and falls on her Daisy-Duked butt. Abby grimaces. Cindy celebrates. Kind of makes the lip-syncing thing seem not so bad now, huh, Kira?
Come time to decide who goes home, Abby says flat-out that Kalani is best suited for the Joffrey, even though she went boom and also got tangled in her lasso. To her, Trinity was the bigger disappointment because she just doesn’t have a softer side. Exasperated, Richy and Rachelle point out that Trinity won challenge after challenge after challenge … for a reason. Abby says Trinity doesn’t have the perfect dancer’s body; Kalani does. Rachelle says Trinity has the talent and that’s what they’re there for.
Lip-syncing comes up again for McKaylee. Richy and Rachelle say Gianna is most improved, but Abby says this solo wasn’t any better than the first time she performed it. I’d argue that none of them were.
When the girls come back out to hear their fates, Abby says McKaylee and Gianna made wise choices and therefore, they earn a pass to the finale. Gianna says it’s a dream come true. Abby tells Kalani it was brave to put an aerial at the end of a routine, but if you do that, you have to nail it. Not to mention the part where Victor put it in there, but still. Kalani had to do it. Softer side, Trinity. Softer side. Someone make Trinity a sign that says “Softer Side.”
Still, you can’t really overlook a butt bounce and Kalani gets the boot. Abby says she’s been fighting for her girl the entire way — mercifully we all gave up on impartiality on her behalf a long time ago — and that this was the ultimate challenge. Then she gets too verklempt to continue.
Now you know and I know that if any of the other dancers landed on their booty, Abby would be bellowing about it loud enough to shake the Hollywood off the hills. For Kalani … only sad, sad tears and a weepy hug for her pet.
Here’s the thing. I get that Abby wanted badly to send this pretty, graceful child to Joffrey with Abby’s name on her boarding pass. I do not blame her. Kalani screams ballerina and will very likely become a successful one. But the kid got more than her share of passes throughout the course of the show — ones to which the other girls weren’t privy. And if you are going to televise a competition with rules and challenges and obstacles to vanquish, then you have to honor that structure at least a little. And as everyone who has ever competed in anything knows, the most outwardly logical winner ain’t always the one who takes home the prize. But Abby’s name is on the show, not mine, so why don’t I just shut up and move on …
Abby tells the remaining three dancers that they will be judged on a solo and a group routine. Tessandra Chavez will be choreographing the group number, which she says will be about boxing. And the boxing ring better be a big one, because all of the eliminated dancers are back to join in, except for Sarina and Chloe. And here they come, JoJo shrieking like the baby bamshee that she is.
Jessalynn can’t believe Gianna is in the Top 3. Tiffany can’t believe Trinity is in the Top 3. Cindy can’t believe she only got one week’s reprieve from Jessalynn. Me either, Cin. Me either.
For the group dance, we are dividing into teams of three — a boxer and their trainers. Trinity gets the twins. McKaylee gets Kalani and Ally. Gianna gets JoJo and Haley. The Top 3 moms make a break for the Kristie Ray/Yvette Walts Memorial Rhinestoning Room of Contentiousness to escape the other mothers. Cindy says she can’t believe Gianna’s chances for victory are, in part, on JoJo’s shoulders. Me either, Cin. Me either.
All three solos will be contemporary dances. Abby says Gianna, who is working with Tessandra, has to improve her technique and flexibility. Trinity, who is working with Tarua, has to show the much-discussed softer side or the world will surely end. McKaylee needs to show more passion and personality — which makes me irritable, because I think she has shown the perfect balance of both in every dance she has done.
Tessandra wants Gianna to tell her something that has happened in her life that can help her lend emotion to this dance. Gianna brings up her parents’ divorce, which makes Cindy cry. Cindy says she thought Gianna took it better than her siblings, but maybe it’s just a front. Tessandra tells Gianna that there can be strength in vulnerability and to not be afraid to show that.
Abby shows up and tells Gianna she’ll be zeroing on her technique while the others are busy being dazzled by her performance. It doesn’t seem to faze G so much. Our Gianna has truly bloomed.
Victor Rojas will be choreographing McKaylee’s solo, which is called So Perfect. It’s about her letting go and being OK with not being the perfect girl that everyone wants her to be. I’ll confess that I’m not really a fan of Victor’s dances — especially lyrical, meaningful ones — so I’m not terribly happy about this turn of events. McKaylee isn’t, either. She says the dance doesn’t feel right to her or her body.
Abby comes in and asks McKaylee to tell her some of the lyrics to her song. A befuddled McKaylee says she doesn’t know them and she’s trying not to focus on them so that she doesn’t sing along — which has been her only real criticism to date. Abby laughs obnoxiously and says the kid who lip-syncs everything can’t tell her the lyrics of her song and how is she supposed to embody the story of her dance if she doesn’t know what it is? It works beautifully to undermine the poor girl, who makes a break for the bathroom to regain her composure. In tears, Shari says McKaylee has never walked out rehearsal before in her life.
McKaylee says when you’re 13, the only person who really knows you is you. It’s hard to believe that this lovely, poised, wonderfully talented girl is only 13 and I want to hug her hard. Shari says that as much as she wants to help, McKaylee has to find the story herself. McKaylee confesses to Victor that the dance does not feel comfortable to her. They listen to the music again. McKaylee realizes that the song is about exactly how she is feeling right now. She just hopes that can translate into her dance.
Trinity’s solo is called Stellar. Tarua wants Trinity to bring her own story to her dance, as well, and Trinity says she’ll dedicate to her grandpa who recently passed away.
Abby gives Trinity a hands-on lesson in technique and grace. She says it’s time for her to prove that she is a dancer and not just a gymnast. Tina says her daughter knows that she’s in the Top 3 because of Kalani’s bad-luck bounce and maybe a little grace and that she is the underdog. Hopefully that will motivate her.
And here come the Mean Girls. Tiffany and Jessalynn stand mere feet away from Tarua and loud-whisper about Trinity’s technique. Everyone who has missed them, say “Aye!”
Or as Trinity puts it …
The other member of the Mean Girls whose name I can no longer remember … Haley’s mom … raises a toast to Gianna, which freaks me out a little.
Kira gives props to McKaylee especially, then says she’s proud of Gianna, too, but she can’t really support her because Cindy lies and steals and cheats her way through life. Neither Gianna nor Cindy pushed your kid on her ass, there, Kira. Ease up.
And what ARE those jellyfish things around your head? I’m sort of mesmerized …
Cindy says they can keep their fakey-shmakey toasts, and having them there is more stress than the happy distraction their kids are giving Gianna is worth.
Come competition day, I totally want the dress Tina is wearing. Gianna totally wants Cindy to not talk again ever. McKaylee wants Shari to go talk to Cindy instead of her so she doesn’t feel responsible for representing the entire Midwest in the finals.
Just in case their nerves aren’t frayed enough, Abby decides to appear in the get-ready area with a gent called Davis Robertson, who is the artistic director of the Joffrey Concert Group. Dance Moms fans, you might recall him as my beloved Robert Goulet Joffrey from an episode or two way back when.
Everyone is appropriately dazzled. Then Abby tells everyone that Davis is also here to serve as the finale’s fourth judge. Cindy says he knows about ballet, so he’s going to pick the person who looks most like a ballerina. Trinity says he’s going too focused on technique for this to work in her favor.
Robert Goulet Joffrey tells the girls not to let their nerves show, then takes his leave. Abby reminds the group one more time what is at stake, then notices that Cindy and Shari are welling up. She tells them they’re going to make her cry, too. And that was the day that Cindy and Shari Lou Who made the Grinch’s heart grow three times bigger! Dah who dor-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Abby, Abby Lee!
The group dancers arrive then, and McKaylee says it’s nice to have them there to break the tension.
Here’s what Manno wore to the finals. A nice ALDC pink and black.
Try as I might, I cannot catch him with anything interesting behind his head one last time, which makes me sad. If Rachelle denies me a last Bite The Apple, I may not survive.
Abby says the Top 3 have all proved to be excellent students throughout the competition. Manno points out Brianna in the audience. What are you doing these days, Brianna? Sneak up behind Abby and yell it into her mic.
Richy says he wants to see the girls perform full-throttle tonight. Would anyone care to guess what Rachelle would like them to do in addition to kicking and jumping and turning? That’s right. Bite. The. Apple.
Give it a try, Abby.
Davis says technique is important, but it is not everything, because technique is something they can still learn. Well here’s news! Davis started as a break dancer! This is the face of a former break dancer.
He says he went from spinning on his head to classical ballet then points to the head he used to spin on and says what happens in here is as important as what happens on the stage. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m happy enough that he used to be a B-Boy to go with it.
And look who else is here. With a singer songwriter named Alex.
She’s under there, trust me. And lest we were worried, Maddie still dances like Maddie. And Abby still choreographs like Abby.
Next up is Richy and eight of his dancers dancing about being in Richy’s World. Davis Robertson feels it and now I know why. Abby tries to give Richy squirrel fingers, which doesn’t quite work out. She’s better at biting the apple.
Meanwhile, backstage, Shari is stressing McKaylee out.
Next up Rachelle/Sas performs a song and dance called Sas (third video down here, if you missed it). Stand back. Cause she’s Sas and she likes it. And when she walks, she likes to hike it. Ooh. That’s her. She’s Sas.
The audience is astounded. Or something.
After that, the final three are brought out for some special messages from home. Gianna’s comes from
…and a recorded one from Cindy.
Next up is …
… and one from an emotional Shari.
Last is ….
The messages make Richy and Rachelle cry.
The group dance is called The Contenders. In my opinion, Gianna gets shortchanged a little on stage time with JoJo and Haley, but she makes the most of it, doing a ferocious Bite The Apple right in front of the queen of that. I’m a total fan of the dance overall, though, which does an astounding job of mixing everyone’s best dance styles in a wholly entertaining routine.
Abby says she thought everyone was exemplary. The mothers celebrate. She applauds Trinity’s tumbling run. She says Gianna’s performance quality took over the stage. And she loved McKaylee’s clean ballet combinations. Rachelle says she saw good feet, a Bite The Apple, a finger wave … something for everyone. She says it’s been wonderful watching them grow as performers. Richy says the whole durn thing was amazing.
Davis says this was his introduction to the girls as dancers and, because he is a tough critic, he saw things on which each could improve. He says McKaylee wasn’t always right on the beat and shows off a little poppin’ to demonstrate. He says Trinity lacked confidence during the ballet portions. He tells Gianna not to settle and that he thinks she is capable of bringing even more.
We have no clear frontrunner going into the solos.
Trinity goes first. Tina says she must prove the doubters wrong. Tarua Hall has done a masterful job of combining power and grace, but I’ll admit that I’m happiest watching Trinity dance something bolder.
Richy says he saw all three — gymnast, dancer, star.
Rachelle calls her bottled lightning and says that using her callback card on Trinity was the best decision she could have made.
Davis says she got more confident in the second half and her eyes gave away her nerves.
Abby gets the last word. She says Trinity did a great job, other than her turnouts, and has been an upstanding citizen throughout the entire journey.
Trinity is jubilant.
Gianna is next with Falling. The solo has an awful lot of running and punching for a dance ostensibly chasing a ballet school scholarship, but Gianna really is a master performer and it ends in Abby’s most beloved “asleep on the floor” position, which should help.
As she has in the past, Rachelle says calls Gianna a true performer and says tonight she felt like she saw the girl’s own pain and struggle in her dance rather than a character. Davis says she laid her entire self out on the stage from the beginning to the end, staying in character until the applause ended, which is the sign of a true dancer. Richy agrees it was Gianna finally giving the judges Gianna. Abby says Gianna proved she could take correction and learn. But the feet, the feet, the feet.
Despite all of the praise, backstage Gianna is utterly bereft. And Cindy is not helpful, saying if GiGi didn’t feel like she did her best, that’s her deal.
McKaylee goes last. Shari tells her girl to let the judges see inside her heart. Blahhhhhggggh! Victor! McKaylee is capable of so much more than this dance. She does just fine with what she has, but the movements just seem so random.
Abby says McKaylee did dance like an Ultimate Dancer … but so did everyone else. She points out bobbles and missteps. But she says McKaylee is lovely, all the same. Richy affirms what I thought — the dance was OK, but she’s done so much more in the past. Rachelle says she completely disagrees with the first two. She says McKaylee did more turns than anyone else and she danced brave and that’s something to be celebrated.
Davis says he heard that McKaylee set the bar for the first 11 weeks – but he’s only here for this one. He tells her that every time you come out on stage it’s as though the audience is seeing you for the first time and you have make them want to come to see you again. He would come back to see her again. Whew! Could she have better choreography the next time he does?
Abby says only time will tell if it was worth $100,000 and McKaylee looks crestfallen.
Everyone agrees that Gianna brought it tonight and has grown the most over the course of the competition. Davis said he saw her limitations, but her performance makes you forget them. Abby says that’s fine in a show. But this is a competition.
Richy says he held his breath throughout McKaylee’s entire performance. Abby says she did not. Richy gives her one of these.
Rachelle says Abby was unduly hard on the girl after her dance and Abby says it’s McKaylee’s fault for setting the bar so high week after week after week. Instead of going for five turns, she should have gone for three clean ones. That’s not her fault, Abby. That’s Victor’s. He created the dance.
Davis says McKaylee expressed her emotions without going too far and crossing over into cheese, which is tough to do. Rachelle says they are tasked with teaching them to be artists as well as dancers, and McKaylee proved she is one.
Abby says Trinity has won the most challenges. Rachelle says she always gives 1,000-percent. Davis wants to know if she has enough versatility, though, and Richy gives him one of these.
One thousand percent, says he. The ladies agree. But, says Abby, she has improved the least in the areas she’s been told to improve, and everyone agrees that they have yet to see her be truly lyrical or soft.
Abby tells the girls that they were all spectacular. If she could split the prize among them, she certainly would. Then she tells Trinity that today is not her day. Trinity beams like she won — I’m guessing she’s happy that the pressure is over and she went out on a high note. Abby praises her confidence and willingness to please and says their paths are sure to cross again. Trinity beams. Tina says she’s happy, too.
Abby tells Gianna that in the beginning of the competition, she wasn’t very impressed — a situation not helped along by her mother. But because of Cindy, Abby knew Gianna was capable of taking her tough criticism and rising to the challenge. Then she tears up telling Cindy that her own struggles have instilled a fighting spirit in her daughter that will take her far. Four. Cindy Lou Who made the Grinch’s heart grow FOUR sizes that day. Cindy says win or lose, it’s all been worth it.
Next Abby tells McKaylee she knows what it’s like to have a dance teacher for a mom (me, too, says Rachelle). Shari says she loves that she and her daughter share this passion.
Finally, Abby says she is so proud to have these two dancers vying for the win. I agree completely. They are both stellar young women, especially for their age.
…. today IS McKaylee’s day. I’d just like to say this about it … WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO! I called it from the start.
So what say you, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition fans? Are you happy with the ending? Did your favorite dancer win? Were Trinity and Gianna the most gracious runners-up ever? Were you surprised to see Abby get teary? Did you appreciate Davis Robertson’s critiques? When you walk, do you like to to hike it? Sound off, finale style, in the comments section below.