'Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition' S2, E9: Rachelle Rak Saves Trinity

Tina and Trinity on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition Season 2
Tina and daughter Trinity on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition

Previously on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC), Travis was cut, leaving only five contestants to vie for the $100,000 cash prize and a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School of New York: Kalani, McKaylee, Trinity, Gianna and JoJo. This week on AUDC season 2, episode 9 the theme is "Nightmares", the skill is "technique" and the winner's reward is the opportunity to assign the competition routines. It's a fantastic week for choreography; all of the numbers are exceptional and McKaylee even flies! In the end, dancing gymnast Trinity is cut, but gets the best birthday gift ever when Rachelle Rak saves Trinity with her "Callback Card."

As Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition S2, E9 begins, JoJo, this season's youngest contestant says, "All of the moms love hating on me, but I made it to the top five. Honestly, at this point I just want to win so I can shut all those moms up." She is probably at least partially referring to the fact that her mom, Jessalynn, and Gianna's mom, Cindy, had a big argument about JoJo's behavior and talent last week.

Then, when Abby Lee Miller announces that this week's theme is "Nightmares" and the skill is "technique," it puts a big smile on Cindy's face. "Hallelujah!" she exclaims. "I don't think there's any way JoJo can keep up with Kalani, McKaylee, Trinity and Gianna. JoJo is a goner."

The Group Dance Challenge (GDC) is a ballet combination, and the winner's reward is that they get to choose the assignments for the main competition – there are three solos and one duet. Shari owns a dance studio, and thinks her daughter McKaylee will do well because she's been training her since she was 3 years old. Cindy says, "It would be great if Gianna won this challenge because maybe she can pick another solo and really show them what she's made of this time." Tina points out that her daughter Trinity is a gymnast, and the feet are totally opposite to the positions in ballet.

The GDC is choreographed by Lesley Bandy. JoJo is cut first, then Gianna and Trinity; the final two are Kalani and McKaylee. McKaylee wins and decides that she, Gianna and Trinity will do solos, the duet will go to Kalani and JoJo.

Back in the dressing room, Gianna complains that she doesn't want a solo because it's too nerve wracking, so Cindy gives her a reality check: "You will never make it here if this is how you continue to act." Cindy tells the camera, "I have given up a real lot for Gianna to dance, including my marriage, and she's acting like a spoiled brat right now. She better get it together or else we're flying home." Then Cindy tries to explain to Gianna that the judges like her, but Gianna walks out. I think it's important to remember that Gianna looks older, but she's only 13; this is typical mother-daughter drama at that age. Jessalynn witnesses the tension between Cindy and Gianna, cattily calls them a train wreck, and says "I think they're both going down."

Kalani (age 12) and JoJo (age 9) work on their "Vampire Attack" contemporary duet with choreographer Tessandra Chavez. Tessandra praises JoJo for her character and performance and calls her a star, but later reminds her "Skill is technique, so you need to really pull up this week" or she will be out. Tessandra's correction for Kalani is that she "didn't see the attitude happen."

Gianna (age 13) works on her "Zombie Dreams" jazz funk solo with choreographer Matt Cady. He coaches her to "never hunch." Then Abby watches Gianna rehearse, reminds her that there is $100,000 at stake, tells her to get her leg up higher, and also tells her to stop hunching her shoulders. Cindy says the way Abby yells at Gianna is stressful for her.

McKaylee (age 13) works on her "Bird of Prey" modern aerial routine with Shannon Beach. She plays a "haunted, demented bird" and her routine includes flying in a harness. Shari is worried for McKaylee because, "not only does she have to prove herself on the floor, she has to prove herself flying through the air." Shari's doubts about the routine make McKaylee nervous.

Trinity (age 12) works on her "Possession" modern funk solo with choreographer Matt Cady. Trinity admits that the biggest problem she has is her feet, and during her rehearsal, Abby does in fact give her corrections for sickled feet. Abby expresses surprise that Trinity is still involved with gymnastics, because it makes her muscles "short and boxy."

While the girls rehearse, the moms work in the costume room. Cindy announces, "JoJo can't keep up with these girls, she'll be going home soon, and everybody will be so glad." Jessalynn responds "Oh, you wish." They go back-and-forth, Cindy calls JoJo a "pain in the ass," and it look like Shari laughs. Then, Jessalynn and Shari, who have been friends for 20 years, get into an argument. Jessalynn says Shari never sticks up for JoJo; Shari says she does, and that Jessalynn's just not aware of it. Then Shari points out that Jessalynn never congratulates McKaylee for winning challenges. Tina (Trinity's mom) remarks that "Shari is finally standing up to people. She was not going to let Jessalynn bully her." Shari yells at Jessalynn, "I thought Tiffany (Ally's mom) was the bully, it is not Tiffany, it was you."

Next, we see Jessalynn talking with JoJo about her technique, and when JoJo says it's hard, her mom says it doesn't look it. A tearful JoJo sobs, "My mom is telling me that I need to do better, which I am doing my best, but she just doesn't understand that it's hard and there's pressure on me and there's only so much that I can do. I'm sick of it. To be honest with you, I am." This makes me sad for JoJo. There are times when being young and cute helps in competition, but in a technique challenge, it's a disadvantage to dance against older girls.

JoJo isn't the only one feeling the pressure. Backstage on competition day, Trinity and her mom get into a spat. Trinity has proven herself to be a nice kid with a good head on her shoulders, so just like with Cindy and Gianna, I chalk this tiff up to teenage mother-daughter drama. In fact, Tina does say that Trinity will be 13 in two days. Later, we see Cindy consoling Tina. Cindy tells her to just be strong for her daughter and says, "They're such little bitches, I know." I flipping love Cindy.

Host Kevin Manno takes the stage in a slim black suit with pink tie, and introduces the judges: Broadway star Rachelle Rak; Lady Gaga's choreographer Richy Jackson; "dance diva extraordinaire, everybody's nightmare" Abby lee Miller. Kevin also reminds the audience that Rachelle is the only judge who still has a "Callback Card," and she can save a contestant if she wants.

Trinity is the first to perform with her "Possession" jazz solo. Before she even starts dancing, Abby is motioning about her feet. It's a wild routine with cool, unusual moves and a bed as a prop; of course it reminds me of The Exorcist. Rachelle and Richy applaud, but Abby gives Trinity numerous corrections and says, "I thought you would be here till the end; I'm not so sure after seeing what I just saw." Rachelle disagrees, and compliments Trinity for telling a story and calls her "an athletic dancer" with strength and power. Richy thought "it was beautiful in an evil, scary way." Abby counters that the other two judges are "wowed" by first impressions, but that she's looking for technique.

McKaylee dances next with her "Bird of Prey" modern aerial routine. She wears a fabulous black feathered costume and a sparkling headpiece. McKaylee's performance is fantastic - when she's done, all three judges applaud, and Richy gives her finger waves. Rachelle tells McKaylee, "You have star quality. From the moment you entered I was excited." Abby says, "You actually flew tonight. Pretty amazing. You obviously have nice technique… just don't lip synch the songs." Richy calls it a great performance that not only earned finger waves, but a few shakes of his pink poodle slippers (oooh, I need a pair of those puppies).

Kalani and JoJo are third with their "Vampire Attack" contemporary duet. Kalani wears a silver skirted costume (that tears away mid-performance to reveal a black and red outfit); JoJo is in a red, black and white confection, yellow lipstick and white false eyelashes. They have timing issues during the number, but it ends cute with JoJo pretending to bite Richy's neck. Abby says, "Kalani, it is absolutely killing me to say this. I thought you would come out here and be the prima ballerina, that's not what happened," and adds that Kalani danced down at JoJo's level. Then Abby gives JoJo corrections for her feet. Richy chides both dancers for timing problems, and tells Kalani that she's better than that. Rachelle tells Kalani she needs to work on her control, and tells JoJo she needs to work on her jumps.

Gianna goes last with her "Zombie Dreams" jazz solo. Gianna wears a black and white skirted costume, and does a zombie lurch onto the stage. Her number starts with dramatic, slow music and choreo around a tombstone, and then evolves to an up-tempo routine. Gianna is adorable – she reminds me of a cross between Natalie Wood and Leslie Caron (look it up, kids). Richy gives her finger waves, Abby applauds, and Rachelle does a little happy dance. Rachelle gushes, "Gianna, you were a star tonight… you are a glorious performer." Richy also does a happy dance and says, "I thought it was fantasticalness," and he compliments her technique, lines and, grace. Abby gives her a few corrections and then says, "I don’t want to get emotional, but I think when you just play Gianna, you're not as confident, I think you enjoy playing somebody else, so take that pain, agony, sadness, whatever's going on, and step out on this stage and have the time of your life. Okay? Great job, congratulations." Backstage, Cindy wipes tears away, then she and Gianna meet in the wings and hug, and Cindy gushes, "You were freakin' awesome."

The judges deliberate, then all five contestants line up on stage. McKaylee, Gianna and JoJo are safe, leaving Kalani and Trinity in the bottom two. Abby once again calls out Trinity for her feet, and tells Kalani that she's resting on her laurels. Abby tells them, "The challenge was technique; one of you is going home today." Then, Abby delivers the verdict: "Trinity, today is not your day."

Trinity is crying so hard she can barely speak, but she manages to say, "I just want to thank you so much, this has been the most amazing thing in my entire life. My birthday is in two days…" Trinity doesn't get a chance to finish because Rachelle interrupts with, "I'm gonna stop you right here. I'm gonna say happy birthday early. I think you are worth it. Trinity, my dear, you are saved, you are safe. I have watched young ladies with the strength and desire and heart make it in show business. You are staying at Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition."

It was such a wonderful moment, even Abby was smiling and applauding, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who was bawling. Bravo, Rachelle; happy birthday, Trinity!

As the show closes, the girls talk backstage: Gianna says, "I'm just scared of what's next," and Kalani adds, "Someone is going home every week." Hearing that, Kira (Kalani's mom) snaps at her, "Well you better pull your head out of your ass if you want to stay." Yikes.

Next week on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition season 2, episode 10, titled, "Divas in the House," the remaining five contestants meet Asia Monet Ray, the breakout star of AUDC's season 1, and cast member on Dance Moms season 3.


Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition is casting for season 3.
For information on how to book an audition, click here.

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 30, 2013