Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, Anything Can Happen: Kalani Returns

Kira and daughter Kalani from Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition season 2
Kira and daughter Kalani from Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition season 2

Previously on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC), the contestants had to perform on silks (as in, Cirque du Soleil-style aerial work) and impress the judges with their flexibility. In the end, head judge Abby Lee Miller let her favorite dancer be cut, leaving many viewers to wonder, "Why didn't Abby use her Callback Card to save Kalani?" This week on AUDC season 2, episode 5 titled, "Anything Can Happen", Abby changes her mind, and asks Kalani to return to the AUDC. That's not the only drama though: this week's theme is "Unconventional," the Group Dance Challenge has the dancers in a martial arts battle with Abby, and the winner's mother gets to pick the bottom three!

As AUDC S2, E5 "Anything Can Happen" opens, Cindy (Gianna's mom) says, "Last week Kalani went home. I was really shocked because that's Abby's favorite, but I was thrilled that she left. Why wouldn't I want one of the good dancers to go?"

Head Judge Abby Lee Miller's first words this episode are "I'm very disappointed in last week's competition." Then, Abby tells the group that this week's theme is "Unconventional," and that they should expect a few surprises. Contestant McKaylee says they don't know whether to be happy or worried, "because Abby likes to turn everything around."

In fact, the next thing Abby does is a huge turn-around! She calls Kira and Kalani (last week's eliminated mom and daughter duo) into the rehearsal room, whips out her "Callback Card", and asks Kalani if she'd like to return to the competition. Abby says she never thought she'd use her card because she believes, "You only get one shot in this life, you blow it, too bad it's over." However, Abby doesn't think Kalani blew it, she thinks her fellow judges, Richy Jackson and Rachelle Rak, did. A tearful Kalani thanks and hugs Abby, re-joins the group, and with that, there are once again nine contestants vying for the $100,000 cash prize and full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School of New York.

Melanie's (Haley's mom) response to this turn of events is "Oh God, here we go again… it's not fair, it really isn't." Little JoJo, on the other hand, says, "Honestly, I love Kalani, I have nothing bad to say about her. I mean yeah, here and then she'll get honestly, really annoying, but I'm happy for her."

For Abby's next bombshell announcement, she tells the competitors that for this week's Group Dance Challenge (GDC), the winner's mother gets to pick who will be in the bottom three and eligible for elimination! Whoever came up with this twist is an evil genius.

Then Abby introduces Nito, a martial arts choreographer who has been in the films Avatar and Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. Nito teaches the kids a Wushu (Chinese martial arts) combination, and Tyler, who has studied martial arts and is a green belt, stands out during the training.

The next big surprise comes when Abby tells the dancers that for this week's GDC, they'll put that combination to practical use by battling Nito, and "if you survive and get past him, then you battle me, and today, I'll have a weapon."

Trinity goes first, and she looks AMAZING; she's a gymnast, and has moves that make her look like she's been practicing martial arts her whole life.  Kalani, JoJo and Ally look slower and slightly uncoordinated; Haley gets axed within seconds; Gianna is cut when Nito is able to hit her (as in, tap her lightly) with the big stick.

When McKaylee forgets a jump during the combo, Abby tells her to go again, but Cindy isn't having it – she protests that if McKaylee gets a second chance, everyone should. Abby and Cindy fight over this, and Abby tells Cindy, "Go home! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." Cindy stays though, and McKaylee takes her seat without getting a second try. Jessalynn (JoJo's mom) says, "I would think Gianna's going home because of Cindy. You don't bring someone else's child down to raise your child up."

Travis and Tyler are next, and neither of the twin brothers make it past Nito. In the end, it comes down to Trinity and Kalani, and Trinity wins for her superior eye contact. This is Trinity's third GDC win! Trinity's mom Tina is happy for the victory, but stressed out that she has to choose the bottom three.

When they get back to their dressing room area, Gianna is upset with her mother for arguing with Abby during the GDC. Cindy walks out and Tina goes after her to smooth things over. In one of Tina's confessionals, she says that Cindy's actions almost "require" her to put her and Gianna on the chopping block, but that she and Cindy are friends, so it's going to be a hard decision.

The dancers head into rehearsal for this week's "Unconventional" routines in which they will all use props, and Abby says, "We're looking for the kids that take the risks, we’re looking for something unusual, different, and with that, maybe just a little bit of danger."

Trinity, JoJo and Haley work with choreographer Matt Cady on their "Walk the Plank" routine. They dance on risers, and Matt directs them to imagine they're in shark-infested water and never let their feet touch the ground. When Abby has to give Haley a correction three times, Jessalynn says that "Tina better put her in the bottom three or I'm gonna lose it!"

Kalani and Gianna work with choreographer Tessandra Chavez on their "Twisted" routine; their prop is a long silk. Abby arrives, sits next to Cindy and asks, "I wanna know what that was all about?" Cindy answers that everyone was mouthing but no-one was saying anything, so she took it upon herself to speak up. Of course, this clash between Abby and Cindy puts Gianna on Abby's radar to go home, and it's not the first time: there was the flip flop incident in episode 2, and then the "you don't have kids" debacle in episode 4. Abby turns her attention to Gianna and gives her corrections: her feet are sickled, and her leg isn't as high as Kalani's. Kira boasts, "This routine is perfect for Kalani, so if Gianna doesn't dance flawless, Abby's gonna rip her apart."

Travis and Tyler work with choreographer Peter Chu on their "Top of the Pyramid" routine. Their dance incorporates a large, triangular climbing wall prop. Tyler says, "I am so excited to work with Travis because I know his weaknesses, and I'm going to prove that I'm the best."

McKaylee and Ally work with choreographer Tarua Hall on their "Tangled Web" routine. They work with fabric and a triangular piece of scenery. Because McKaylee possesses strong technical skills, Tiffany anticipates her daughter Ally "being punished, and all of her flaws being brought to the attention of the judges." So, Tiffany tells Tarua the choreography is too fast, and asks her to ride Ally hard so she gets it right before Abby sees it. By the time Abby arrives, Tarua is insulted, and tells Abby so. Abby says it's Tarua's rehearsal and if she wants to throw someone out, she can, and so she does: Tarua tells Tiffany to leave. I feel bad for Tiffany; despite how the words came out of her mouth, I think it was just a clumsy attempt at asking for help,  as opposed to her telling Tarua how to do her job.

While the contestants rehearse, the moms are of course thinking about how to keep their kids from landing in the bottom three. Melanie warns Tina, "You're gonna have a lot of friends from now until the competition, and then you're gonna have some haters," and says if it were her choice, she'd put the three strongest dancers in the bottom. Jessalynn elaborates, "It's hard because you're sending someone home, and then the two people that stay, you still have to deal with." In her private confessional, Jessalynn says if Tina puts JoJo in the bottom three, "I will cut you no slack, I will cut your kid no slack. Game over."

Finally, it's time for the competition. Host Kevin Manno introduces the judges: Broadway star Rachelle Rak; visual director and choreographer Richy Jackson; the infamous Abby Lee Miller. Kevin also points out that now that Richy and Abby have both used their Callback Cards, Rachelle is the most powerful judge at the table.

Trinity, JoJo and Haley go first with their "Walk the Plank" trio. They perform dressed as pretty pirates, and dance while jumping between several risers. It's a cool number. Before she gives her critique, Abby says that since they're being "Unconventional," she wants the moms to come on stage, and then she tells the girls, "They had you jump into the shark infested waters, and we're the sharks." Abby advises Trinity, "You shine in class, and then choke on stage." Richy says Trinity has a "cheerleader bounce" with every move that she needs to correct. Rachelle says JoJo "sassed it up" and was on fire. Rich enthuses, "JoJo, wow! Now this is the girl I need to see every week... great, great job." Richy continues, "Haley on the other hand, I was afraid you were going to fall." Rachelle says that Haley started strong, but lost confidence, and Abby calls her out for improper leg and foot positions.

McKaylee and Ally compete next with their "Tangled Web" duet. They wear costumes with black tights cut out to resemble spider webs. Early on, it's obvious the timing is off. Abby shakes her head during the dance, then after, she tells them, "It was not a cohesive duet." Abby's note for McKaylee is, "You need a personality. Find one." Rachelle tells McKaylee that she has the technique, so she needs to step it up and bring more of herself to the choreography, and she tells Ally she needs to bring the star quality. Richy's remarks to Ally are that she has a star personality, but that she doesn't perform like a star, and he asks her why. Ally answers that she's been focusing more on the technique. Then, when it comes out that Ally just started ballet – the foundation for all dance – this year, Abby is incredulous and asks, "Did she really just say that?," and she blames Ally's mom Tiffany for the issue.

Kalani and Gianna do their "Twisted" lyrical duet. I believe Abby did the right thing in bringing Kalani back: she dances like a pro in this number, and she is brilliant with the long silk prop. Gianna does a wonderful job too! Abby gives kudos to both girls, and then tells Kalani, "You personify an Abby Lee Dance Company member." Mark my words: in my last AUDC recap (S2, E4), I predicted Kalani will wind up on Dance Moms. Richy tells Kalani she was gorgeous, confident, and that he couldn't take his eyes off of her, and he reminds her to work on her hip-hop skills (the style that did her in last week). Richy turns to Gianna and says she did a great job, and to keep it up. Rachelle concedes that Abby was right about Kalani, then she compliments Gianna on her turns, and says she did a great duet and a great individual performance. This is my favorite routine of this AUDC episode.

Travis and Tyler dance last with their "Top of the Pyramid" contemporary duet. For this routine they wear black pants and tank tops, their number has them climbing on and dancing around their prop, and it incorporates a good bit of acrobatics. Abby says Travis and Tyler danced too safe when they were using the prop, then gives them both corrections on their acro. Richy thought they danced like they were on eggshells, but enjoyed Travis over Tyler. Rachelle says it was the first time she saw Tyler rise to the occasion, and calls Travis out for playing it safe, but overall she thinks they had "Great boy power." Sheryl, the twin's mom,  feels like Travis isn't fully expressing himself, and that Tyler is showing us more of his soul.

With all of the competition routines done, Kevin asks Tina to come out on stage to tell the judges which dancers she has selected to be in the bottom three. The action shifts to backstage, where Tina is trying to enlist her daughter Trinity to help with the decision, but the young dancer doesn't want any part of it. Tina cries because all of them have become a family, and she says, "It breaks my heart that I have to do this."

Abby has all of the dancers line up on stage, and says when she calls their names, Tina has to say either "Safe" or "Elimination." Then Abby reminds the contestants, "One of you is going home tonight."

The safe contestants are Trinity, Gianna, Kalani, Tyler, Travis and JoJo. The contestants who are up for elimination are Ally, McKaylee and Haley.

As the judges deliberate, we can hear Rachelle say, "I'm not using my (Callback) Card," and Abby say, "Ally has those feet." After a little more conversation, it appears the judges are all in agreement.

Kevin calls the bottom three dancers and their mothers to center stage. As proof that Abby will always get the last word, she points out how earlier, Gianna's mom complained that Abby was playing favorites by offering McKaylee a do-over in the GDC. That ultimately didn’t happen, "But now, you have a second chance." This is why Abby is queen.

Abby moves on. "Haley, you find yourself in the bottom three, again, but I've seen your flexibility, I've seen your pretty legs, and I've seen you learn." Then Abby focuses on Ally, saying, "Tonight you revealed that you don't study ballet seriously. One of you is going home tonight."

Just like last week, it seems like Ally will be cut, but then Abby announces the verdict: "Ally, you better wish upon every star you see tonight, and bring it back to the stage. Unfortunately Haley, today is not your day. It always goes back to your technique. " Haley is the one going home.

Through sobs, Haley responds, "Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, and I would take all the corrections that you give me." Melanie chimes in with, "Thank you for giving my daughter the opportunity to be able to let her live one of her dreams, dancing for you."

Backstage, Tina cries and says, "Based on performance and based on judges feedback, I don’t regret my decision, I wish that the price wasn't so hard and heartbreaking".

The episode closes with Melanie and Haley pulling their suitcase across a darkened stage, and Abby removing Haley's photo from the contestant wall. I truly like Haley; she's a fine dancer, a beautiful girl, and I think she has a bright future ahead of her. I'm sorry to see her go.

What are your thoughts on this episode of AUDC? Did Abby make the right choice in bringing Kalani back? Do you think the right contestant went home this week? If you were in Tina's shoes, who would you have put in the bottom three? Leave a comment and tell us what you think. 

Next week on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, season 2, episode 6, titled "Broadway Backstabbers", Rachelle Rak leads the challenge and she is fierce - if you don’t think so, wait until you see her in her leotard. Tune in to see which of the remaining eight contestants hears this from Abby: "I thought you were a contender, and now you're gonna stand on this stage and waste my time?"

To see all of our AUDC recaps click here.
To see all of our Dance Moms recaps click here

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

Photo by Danny Feld, courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2013