|Rachelle Rak, Richy Jackson and Abby Lee Miller from AUDC season 2|
Previously on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC), JoJo Siwa, this year's youngest contestant, was eliminated. This week on AUDC season 2, episode 11 titled "Down the Rabbit Hole," the final four contestants compete under an Alice in Wonderland theme, the skill the judges are looking for is "characterization," and the Group Dance Challenge winner gets to assign all of the competition dances. Gianna wins, and along with her mom Cindy, they assign their competition styles that aren't their best. There are cries of sabotage, but in the end, it's a move that benefits them all; the judges decide to move everyone in the Top 4 to the finals, so no-one is eliminated.
As Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition S2 E11 begins, Gianna's mom Cindy says, "This is it; we're top four now! The four girls that are here are all awesome dancers. Whatever it takes to win this thing, I'm gonna do."
Abby Lee Miller reminds the girls that "This is the last competition before the finals," then she reveals that this week's theme is "Down the Rabbit Hole" inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and the skill the judges are looking for is "characterization." The reward for this week's Group Dance Challenge (GDC) winner is that she will get to assign each dancer the style and character they will portray in their solo.
Gianna is confident about this week's GDC, saying, "Performing and portraying a character is probably one of my biggest strengths here, and I'm definitely really confident going into this group challenge." Shari, on the other hand, worries about her daughter, saying, "McKaylee's been struggling with the characterization and performance from the competition beginning to now. This could make or break our chances. I want McKaylee to win this challenge today."
Supervising choreographer Tessandra Chavez teaches the girls the GDC combo, then Abby names a character, and the girls have to perform the combo as that person. First Abby names The White Rabbit and Trinity is cut (excellent characterization, but danced with pigeon-toed feet); next is a Doormouse and McKaylee is cut (step-ball-change on the wrong foot); the final character is The Queen of Hearts and Kalani is cut (she was good, but not as good as Gianna). Gianna wins the challenge!
Abby says, "Gianna, you were a good Evil Queen, have you learned…" and as she gestures toward the moms in the bleachers, Cindy calls out "She takes after her mother!"
Cindy joins Gianna on the rehearsal floor, and they discuss the assignments; they have four routines to work with:
~ A lyrical routine about Alice
~ A hip hop routine for The White Rabbit
~ A jazz funk routine for The Mad Hatter
~ A modern funk number for The Cheshire Cat
Cindy advises Gianna to give Kalani the hip hop solo (her weak spot) because "she'll look ridiculous." Abby tells them, "I could cast this show in two seconds", and Cindy responds, "We know what you would pick. I'm not giving Kalani the lyrical and then we'll sit and watch you rave about her all night." Then Cindy tells the camera, "We're not here to give everybody else their best styles of dance. Guess what? The next one I want to go is Kalani. So I'm thinking give her the hip hop and she's outta here."
Gianna takes jazz funk solo, then assigns Trinity the lyrical routine. Trinity is frustrated by this and says, "I saved Gianna twice, and she repays me by giving the style that I'm not very good at." Gianna gives McKaylee the modern funk, and Kalani hip hop. Cindy smiles and says, "This should be interesting." Kira remarks that "Cindy has dollar signs in her eyes, and she is going straight at everyone." I say, "You go Cindy!" This show isn't called Abby's Ultimate Friend Challenge.
Backstage, Gianna cries and Cindy gets flak from Trinity and Tina, but Shari plays peacemaker and hugs Gianna and pulls Trinity away from Cindy. For a moment there is chaos with everyone yelling, but then they all leave.
Abby says, "Gianna and Cindy are worried about Trinity and Kalani, they're setting those kids up to go home this week." She also wonders why they don’t see McKaylee as a threat.
Trinity works on her "Alice" lyrical solo with choreographer Tarua Hall. Trinity says she's an aggressive dancer and not comfortable being sweet and soft. Abby arrives and gives Trinity corrections on her foot and ankle positions, then reminds Trinity that she's fierce and powerful as a dancer, but she's not always going to play those kinds of roles.
Gianna works on her "Mad Hatter" jazz funk routine with choreographer Matt Cady. Abby enters the room and says, "The fate of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition is in the hands of Gianna and her mother." Abby tells the camera, "I'm peeved about the assignments from this week. The characters that these kids portray and the routines that they'll be performing are going to determine who goes to the top three." Abby thinks Cindy feels bad about that she "screwed Trinity over," but Cindy doesn't think she did, and she goes on to say, "I made the best decision having Kalani as The White Rabbit. To me, a ballerina isn't a hip-hopper. I don't think she's gonna be able to pull this one off this time." Abby gives Gianna corrections, and cautions her "If you want to make it to the final three… floor us with some dancing."
Kalani works on her "White Rabbit" hip hop routine with choreographer Victor Rojas. Victor coaches Kalani, "I know you're feeling a little insecure in this style. Stay strong, and just really, really play this character." Abby watches rehearsal – Kalani looks pretty good, actually – then applauds and says, "I have a feeling that Miss Kalani was a little set up. Do you think it was because you're a big threat to them and they think that you could win?"
McKaylee works on her Cheshire Cat modern funk routine with choreographer Matt Cady. Matt says she's going to portray a sad kitty thinking of its old owner, but then Abby says she wants the traditional, grinning Cheshire Cat. Abby also brings up how McKaylee has a habit of lip synching while she dances, and says, "She has a little problem in that area." A stressed out McKaylee cries and admits to her mom, "I'm just really nervous for tomorrow," and Shari consoles her and says, "Talk to me," and then she listens.
The moms work in the costume room. Shari doesn't think the fate of the final three should have been left to Cindy, and Kira says, "We're all pissed at Cindy; she just sabotaged the entire competition." Cindy is fine with her decision and says, "We're not talking making friends here, we're talking about winning a contest." A little later in the episode, Cindy admits "I put up with crap from those mothers all freakin' week, about how I tried to sabotage their kids. Yeah, ha ha, I did, I wanted my kid to look the best."
After rehearsal, Kira says Kalani looks "tired" and "blah," She asks Kalani, "So, are you giving up at this point?" and tells her she's only giving 10 percent. Kalani tells her, "You're not helping; you're making me feel worse." Kira critiques Kalani, who is fighting back tears, all the way to the parking lot. In a voice-over we hear Kira say, "Kalani better perform this week."
Kevin Manno takes the stage looking svelte in his black suit and grey shirt and tie, and he announces the judges: Broadway veteran Rachelle Rak; Lady Gaga's choreographer Richy Jackson; "the Red Queen of Dance," Abby Lee Miller.
McKaylee, age 13, performs first with her modern funk "Cheshire Cat" routine. She wears a blue leopard print costume, ears, and cat makeup. He props are like big cats toys, and she does a cool backwards slide down a ramp - it's an awesome bit of choreography. Then, when she leaps onto the judges table and dances in front of them, it's impossible not to smile. Rachelle tells her, "You were your best. Watching you grow as not only as a technical dancer, but as an actress, has been amazing. You have the goods, that is for sure." Richy tells McKaylee his heart is pounding because he saw something that he "really, really enjoyed." He calls her out for lip synching a few words, but other than that, he thought she was fantastic. Abby gives her corrections on her feet, and also on her characterization.
Gianna, age 13, goes next with her jazz funk "Mad Hatter" solo. First though, there's a bit of backstage drama. Gianna is freaking out because she feels like her hat is going to fall off (and if you watch Dance Moms, you know Abby will send her home for that), and Cindy yells at her to practice her solo: "JUMP! ... LET'S GO!" Gianna changes hats and takes the stage in a black and white print shorts and a midriff top. Rachelle stands and says, "Bite the apple!" and Richy stands and gives his finger waves, but Abby shakes her head and stays seated. Abby calls Gianna out for sickled feet, and reminds her that she coached her on her leg catch. Richy gives Gianna more finger waves and says, "great, great job." Rachelle gives Gianna a "head roll" and a "bite the apple," and praises her for being in character from the very beginning, and says "that is what an actress does."
Kalani, age 12, dances third with her hip hop "White Rabbit" solo. She wears a two-piece costume with a fluffy skirt, rabbit ears and sneakers; she is adorable in her white wig. Kalani does a great job – it actually looks like she's having a blast and her facial expressions are perfect! She gets a standing ovation and finger waves from Richy, who tells her, "That was so good. I'm proud of you because this is the first time I've seen you just let go and break yourself of yourself." Rachelle says, "I saw a new Kalani this evening… I saw you do some hits that I didn't know you could do… I think that's amazing for us to see." Abby tells Kalani her facial expressions were "right on," but calls her out for not making eye contact on several moves, and says "at this point of the competition there's no room for error."
Trinity, age 13, competes last with her lyrical "Alice" solo. She wears a navy and light blue head wrap and a fluttery, skirted costume. It's a brisk routine that starts and ends with Trinity in shadow behind a large lighted screen. Richy tells her, "Great job… you just did what you were given and you performed it well." Abby begins with, "I like Trinity," but then says, "this was a huge let down for me." Abby gives Trinity corrections on her acrobatics and her feet, and closes with, "This was supposed to be a lyrical dance to stretch you, to show the world that you can do anything. You were not Alice." Rachelle chimes in with, "I disagree." Rachelle compliments Trinity's turns calling them "very strong," and goes on to say, "You took a number and you made it your own and you looked beautiful. I used my Callback Card to save you weeks ago, and I believe in you, and I think that you did a great job tonight, so thank you."
Once she's back in the Vanity Room, Trinity cries. Tina hugs her daughter and reminds her that Richy and Rachelle loved her, but Trinity says, "No they didn't, Mom, I'm going home. Just accept it."
While the judges deliberate, there's more backstage drama. Cindy tells Trinity, "I thought you looked pretty." Trinity's response? "Please don’t talk to me." Tina asks her daughter, "Why?" and Trinity answers, "Because this is her fault, she's the one who chose this." Kira points out that Kalani danced out of her comfort zone too, but Trinity counters with, "The difference is Abby loves her."
Abby tells Kevin they "kinda sorta" made a decision, and the girls line up at center stage. Abby reveals that they thought Gianna did the best characterization, and that she "became the Mad Hatter." Gianna is safe and moves on to the finals. She runs into Cindy's arms and they hug so tight Gianna is lifted off of the ground. Shari says, "Gianna is safe and we all want to kill Cindy. This is exactly what we thought was going to happen."
This is interesting because during the deliberation, Abby made it clear that out of the four dancers, she would send Gianna home. Abby makes that clear when she addresses the three who are left: "And now standing before us, are three of the best dancers that I've seen all year. Now, all three of you are in danger of going home."
Abby chastises McKaylee for lip synching, she tells Kalani her performance wasn't enough, and she gives Trinity a hard time for not blowing them away by showing a softer side. Then, Abby delivers her verdict: "Girls, we think at certain times you've shown what it takes to be 'Abby's Ultimate Dancer'. Now we have deliberated, we fought… this is killing me. McKaylee, Kalani, Trinity… today is your lucky day. We have decided not to send anyone home!
While all of the moms and girls celebrate, Abby asks, "Did you really think I was gonna let a mom determine your fate?" and Cindy realizes, "I put up with all that all week for nothing!"
Frankly, I think for Gianna and Cindy, it was a case of "damned if they do, damned if they don't." They used their GDC reward to give Gianna an advantage, and were accused of sabotaging the competition. However, if they had given her competition the styles they were comfortable with, I think Abby would have called them out for not wanting to win badly enough.
How do you feel about this episode? Did Cindy and Gianna make the right decision? Are you happy that the judges moved all four dancers to the finals? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
Next week on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition two-hour season finale (season 2, episode 12), a winner is chosen, and we'll be treated to performances from Maddie Ziegler (Dance Moms) and judges Rachelle Rak and Richy Jackson.
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.
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Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition two-hour season finale airs on Tuesday, November 19 beginning at 9/8c on Lifetime.
Photo by Danny Feld, courtesy of Lifetime
Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2013