Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition: It's not about the technique

Paula Duffy's picture

Abby Lee Miller is back strutting her stuff and scaring the heck out of children and their mothers on Lifetime's Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition. What are we to learn from this?

The format of the Ultimate Dance Competition is more like other reality contest shows than Dance Moms, the show that propelled Miller to national prominence.

The 12 contestants, one boy among 11 girls are taught routines and drilled by professional choreographers. They are then dressed in costumes befitting the theme of the routine and perform in front of 2,000 people at a Los Angeles theater with the judges sitting front and center.

Besides Abby Miller the judges are Pussycat Dolls' founder Robin Antin and celebrity choreographer Richy Jackson. Among his credits is that of Visual Director/Choreographer and member of the Lady Ga Ga's Haus of Gaga.

It didn't take long to realize that the two ladies were going for the jugular without any sympathy and Richy tried to play the peacemaker.

Antin is always looking for another Pussycat Doll and isn't afraid to say it, while Miller is easily distracted and pleased by dancers who catch her eye for one reason or another, despite her insistence that she's all about the technique,

Abby's formidable presence and star quality can move contestants' mothers to act like their kids if and when they came face-to-face with their favorite pop star.

One admitted having to restrain herself from rushing up to hug when they met for the first time. That would need to be a really big hug since Miller's size is what one could kindly call plus-size.

On social media site Get Glue, some watching the show commented on how Miller couldn't properly demonstrate the dance moves she wanted the kids perform.

The Ultimate Dance Competition used the first hour of programming to introduce us to 14 kids and mothers with a quick elimination round that sent two home in time for the debut episode of the show.

Viewers got the hang of what mothers would be treacherous and who would be overwhelmed by the process. We also got some insight into how children as young as six years-old ended up on that Los Angeles stage.

One mother said her daughter became a dancer because she, the mother, loves clothes. She saw a tutu and bought it for her little girl, put her in dance school and the rest, as they say, is history.

Another dance mom insisted her daughter had two legs up on the competition because she herself was a dance instructor and it had to help, right?

She was chastised during the rehearsals for trying to out-teach the teacher. Her daughter continually looked to her mother for help rather than the choreographer
standing in front of her.

Contestant Elisabeth, when asked why she wasn't living up to her potential broke down and blamed her parents' divorce for keeping her mind occupied. A brief look at the mother, who had said they would do anything to win the contest, gave viewers the feeling that Elisabeth might have been fibbing.

Abby had previously told Elisabeth that her tall frame and blonde hair helped her.

Technique, technique, technique was stressed by Miller but in the end, the little girl who was sent home didn't project enough to "stand out".

Antin said "Today is about confidence and this one doesn't have it. If you had asked me what number she was in I wouldn't have known. A star is a star."

Abby told Tessa, the unlucky one to go home that despite more skills than the girl standing next to her, she didn't show that she could use them to her benefit. Really?

On her way out, Tessa told the Lifetime cameras. "I'm happy that Tula gets to stay but I don't really understand why because this week's goal was technique and I definitely have more technique than she does." Correct Tessa, you are correct.

What did you think of the judging last night? Fair or unfair?

Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition airs new episodes on Lifetime Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET. Image: Wikipedia


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
First, all these girls (don't know about the boy) are pageant princesses. They make rounds of the dance competition/pageantry circuit. They are not studying dance to be artists or be part of a dance company. These girls and their moms have made it plain they want to be "Stars". The mothers see it as one huge audition to get themselves cast on more reality shows or hope that a "spin off" reality show will star one of them and their kid (read: Honey Boo-Boo). So they vie to see who can be the biggest mom-bitch on the show in order to get face time. The girls also see themselves as "stars" as well and I don't get the impression any of them would want to be one of many talented dancers in a dance company. They see themselves as starring in TV, music videos or in the movies. In other words, they are being groomed for the entertainment industry aka Hollywood instead of part of a regular dance company. This show has a Jerry-Springeresque quality to it that brings it down to low-level trash IMHO; the mothers screaming and fighting are front and center, if it isn't the judges trashing the kids. It's a train wreck that happens to have kids dancing as a sidebar. What is sad is that some, like Hadley, at age 12, is already a huge bitch like her mother Yvette. If you enjoy schadenfreunde shows, this is your cup of tea.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Well, anonymous who shares my name, :) I was having trouble pinning down exactly what was making me uneasy about the show. I like to see young people developing life skills like dancing as it gives them poise, discipline, and the experience of both success and failure. Add to this that I am an avid viewer of "Dance Moms" which leave me with the question, "Why don't I like this show and why am I not enjoying the children's efforts?". Well, your observations were a great encapsulation of what this is really about - With the exception of the boy and 2 or 3 of the girls, the rest of the contestants don't seem to have dancing in their blood. On Dance Moms we see girls who love to dance and who are hungry to learn more and become more accomplished. On Abbie's Ultimate Dance Competition we see young people who don't seem to know the language of dance or the techniques. As you pointed out their focus is on becoming STARS. I think you are right, but it saddens me as lost opportunity for these kids. Better to excel at anything than blindly shoot for fame without having the talent to back it up.

You nailed the difference. Since the founder of the Pussycat Dolls is a judge and you hear what she's looking for in a contestant, you know how they chose the dancers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Great analysis. I also couldn't figure out why I enjoyed the kids' dancing on Dance Moms and not on Abbie's Ultimate Dance Competition.

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