Courtesy of Lifetime
Let’s get two things straight: Abby Lee Miller didn’t become a successful dance choreographer by being nice, and nobody gets between a lioness and her cubs, err I mean, a dance mom and her child.
“Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” which premiered Tuesday on Lifetime, is a spin-off of Miller’s other Lifetime show “Dance Moms.”
The premise of “Dance Moms” is simple: some young girls dance for a competition team, their mothers hang out at the studio while their daughters have lessons, the moms gossip, argue and get on each other’s nerves. And then someone cries, someone else yells and they do it again the next episode.
“Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” differs in two ways: it is an elimination show, and the moms are directly involved in their children’s potential success or failure in their challenges.
Eleven girls and one boy, ages 6 to 13, compete in groups and as individuals in a particular style (such as contemporary or hip-hop) with a skill challenge (such as technique or expression). Each week a child is eliminated by a panel of judges. The prize is $100,000 and a scholarship to Joffrey Ballet School in New York. None of this is juicy.
The judges are Robin Antin, Pussycat Dolls founder and choreographer, Richard “Richy” Jackson, choreographer for stars such as Lady Gaga and, of course, Miller, choreographer of 32 years and founder of the Abby Lee Dance Company in Pittsburgh. The judges do their job and eliminate a dancer every week. None of this is worth watching, either.
The mothers choose costumes, makeup and help with choreography between eliminations, making them directly involved in their children’s future on the show. This is the part that’s worth watching. As time goes on, the pressure on the dancers and mothers intensifies, and an inevitable explosion of a mom or two happens. And these blowups are what keep me from changing the channel.
This week’s battle of the moms starred Kelly and Maria. Kelly’s daughter, Jordyn, 12, and Maria’s daughter, Lexine, 11, had a rough time during their hip-hop routine. Lexine starts with the tears as her mom says they should just leave the competition, and Jordyn tries to talk to Lexine. Then Kelly gets upset with Maria for teaching her daughter that it’s OK to quit and go home. Maria says something unintelligible to Jordyn and Kelly blows her top. Kelly doesn’t even talk to her daughter that way, she says — How dare Maria speak to Jordyn that way!
Maria and Lexine leave the room, with Kelly and Jordyn standing as the alpha females. Too bad for Maria and Lexine, as they didn’t actually leave the show. Tessa gets the boot, and Maria and Lexine are marked as vulnerable and dead weight for team competition.
Who will be the star of the battle of the moms next week? Yvette, the dance teacher and perfectionist? Kristie, mom of the youngest contestant?
“Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” is scheduled to air 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Lifetime.