'Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition' S1, Ep5 Recap: Sabotage

Asia, age 6, on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition

On Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, young performers between the ages of 6 and 13 compete for $100,000 cash and a scholarship to the Young Dancer’s Program at the Joffrey Ballet. On episode 5, the remaining eight contestants dance for judges Abby Lee Miller, Richy Jackson and Robin Antin to the theme “The End of the World.” For one of the dancer's moms, though, the theme is "sabotage".

The show opens with Lexine’s Mom saying how the competition is getting tougher; Erin says she is acutely aware this could be her daughter Elisabeth’s last week, because in the previous elimination challenge she was in the bottom three.

Abby Lee Miller and host Kevin Manno arrive in rehearsal studio, and immediately the girls are told “don’t get too comfortable” because this week’s theme is “The End of the World”, and this week’s skill is “survival”. When judging the Group Dance Challenge Abby will be looking for determination, passion, and the ability to adapt to changes quickly. The winner gets to make all of the assignments for each dancer for the main competition: the style of dance, the choreographer, and their partner.

This week’s guest choreographer for the Group Dance Challenge is Frank Gatson Jr., who has worked with Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Beyoncé. He tells the group, “You survive in life by being a good person... You do good, good comes. You do bad, bad comes.”

The dancers rehearse for the usual 45 minutes, and then Abby breaks them into groups of four and judges them. She eliminates them, one-by-one, by fake shooting them with an imaginary bow and arrow. In the end it comes down to Hadley and Madison, and Hadley wins, meaning her argument-prone mother Yvette is in charge. Yikes.

Yvette and her daughter Hadley get to work on the dancer's assignments.They are not wrong in their goal of making the other dancers perform outside of their comfort zones – this is after all a competition, and as Abby says, "part of survival is playing the game." Yvette says the other mothers have been discussing their daughter’s shortcomings, dance-wise. That’s not the best idea when there’s a prize on the line, and Yvette uses the information to put the strongest dancers with their weakest discipline. Then predictably, Yvette zeroes in on Asia and goes out of her way to make the 6-year-old look bad. First they consider giving Asia the solo because she has a hard time picking up choreography, but then they keep it for Hadley to give her a chance to stand out. Instead they pair Asia with Brianna, one of the best dancers on the show.

Later Yvette decides to sit in on (interrupt) Asia and Brianna’s rehearsal. She says it is to "observe", but really, it is to rattle the competition. Kristie tells Yvette she’s not going to let Asia dance in front of her and tells Yvette to leave. They nearly come to blows with finger pointing, standing chest-to-chest, bumping shoulders and yelling in each other’s faces. At the end Yvette is laughing (of course) and little Asia is in tears. Kristie says, "They’re going to have to handcuff me and take me away next time." In the next scene the other moms are hearing the story from Kristie, and she says she’s going to take Yvette outside. Thankfully, the mama drama doesn’t go there, at least not this week.

The competition show begins.

First up is the trio of Amanda, 12, Lexine, 11, and Elisabeth, 13, doing a hip hop routine choreographed by Anthony Burrell with the title "Military Nation". They wear camouflage costumes with berets, and they carry fake machine guns. Abby thinks Amanda was right on target, but chides her for the way she handled the gun because "every soldier knows your weapon never leaves your side." Richy says Amanda could do better, and Robin tells her she needs to be aggressive because she wants to be a star. Abby says Lexine did a great job except for her shoulder stand, and tells Elisabeth she made a few dumb mistakes and she didn’t see good technique. Richy adds that Elisabeth’s feet were off.

The second performer is Hadley, age 12. She performs a contemporary solo choreographed by Kitty McNamee with the title "Plague". She acts out being the only person left on the planet, and wears her hair in braids and a costume of bandages that makes her look like a mummy in a skirt. Even before Hadley starts dancing, Abby is annoyed that she does her opening pose (lying on the floor) with her feet sickled (improperly aligned). After the dance, Abby asks, "should I say ‘road kill’", and Richy can’t figure out what he just saw. Robin disagrees, and tells Hadley she was beautiful in her delivery.

Next we watch Jordyn, 12, and Madison, 13, perform a jazz duet choreographed by Kitty McNamee with the title "Natural Disaster". They portray a planet that is running out of oxygen. After they dance, you can see from Abby’s face that she is "not thrilled". She tells Jordyn, "I wanted to run up onstage and break your ankle… your foot was completely sickled."  Harsh! Richy says there was no definition in what was going on, and calls Madison out for her hand positions.

The final act is a duet with Asia, 6, and Brianna, 13, doing a jazz funk dance choreographed by Anthony Burrell with the title "Machines vs. Humans". Abby applauds then points out that Brianna is one of the "top notch dancers" in the competition, and she thinks Hadley and her Mother were trying to prove their point - that they don’t think Asia is a good dancer - by putting Asia up against Brianna, but it backfired on them. She then praises Asia telling her that although she didn’t point her feet properly, she did do outstanding isolation work, and despite the fact she’s not as technically good as Brianna, performance-wise, it worked. Richy says to the tiny dancer, "Good job, little bit". Robin said Asia was "beyond words special." For Brianna’s critique Abby reiterates that she’s one of the best dancers, but says she let Asia out-dance and upstage her. Richy says they both did a good job.

Realizing that her plan to undermine Asia didn’t work, Yvette says, "I took Hadley, my own daughter, to the slaughterhouse. We could be going home this evening."

Then it is time for the judge’s results.

Brianna, Amanda and Madison are immediately put through to the next round. The rest of the dancers appear to be in jeopardy, but then Asia and Lexine are both named as "the best of the best". Next, Jordyn is told she is safe. The bottom two turn out to be Elisabeth and Hadley. Abby tells Elisabeth, “Tonight is by far the worst we’ve ever seen you perform”. Then Abby questions Hadley and Yvette asking, "Were you really trying to challenge the dancers to do better, or were you trying to sabotage some people?"  It seems like Hadley may be the one to go, but then Abby states, "All is fair in love and war", and Elisabeth is cut.

Erin and Elisabeth
I’ve razzed Elisabeth for crying so much and perhaps using the "divorce card" to manipulate the judges, but the fact is, she did do better than Hadley this week. Unfortunately, Elisabeth wasn’t a gracious loser;  she had a tantrum after she was eliminated. She is a beautiful girl though, and if I were her manager I’d make her work on handling disappointment better, study harder for her dance, and also get her to take some acting classes. Elisabeth looks great on camera, and along with straight acting auditions, there are plenty of calls for “actors who move”.

Yvette, on the other hand, wasn’t a gracious winner. It is one thing to watch the crew on Dance Moms fight because they have years of history together, you can see that ultimately they care about each other, and their arguments seem to occur organically as opposed to being calculated attacks (well, except for Candy Apple Kathy). On Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, whether by scripting, editing or her own design, Yvette’s constant instigating is making her look like a mean-spirited jerk. If she would focus her energy on polishing Hadley’s skills instead of trying to tarnish everyone else’s, her own daughter could truly shine. Corny and preachy, but true.

Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime

To see all of our AUDC coverage click here.

Photos ©Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 6:45 PM