So, was watching herself on TV or keeping a secret for six months that she had won “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” more difficult for 14-year-old McKaylee True?
“I think that it was harder to watch actually,” the Lincoln teenager said Wednesday morning, the day after the rest of the world learned she won the Lifetime reality dance competition she taped last spring. “There were so many twists that they didn’t put in, which was kind of weird, but it was a lot of fun watching.”
McKaylee and her mother, Shari, were among 11 mother-and-child dance teams competing in the second installment of the cable reality series hosted by Abby Lee Miller. True won $100,000 and a scholarship to the Young Dancers Program at Joffrey Ballet School in New York.
“Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” follows aspiring dancers — ages 6 through 13 (McKaylee just turned 14) — who learn new routines and compete in challenges designed to test their skills when they perform before judges Miller, Broadway star Rachelle “Sas” Rak and celebrity choreographer Richard “Richie” Jackson.
Shari True is director and owner of True Dance & Co. and artistic director of the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, which stages “The Nutcracker” every year at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. McKaylee’s ballet training proved to be the difference, when Miller announced McKaylee had won over Gianna Newborg of Yardley, Pa.
“It was a tough decision all around, but McKaylee had the ballet training,” Miller said after telling McKaylee “today is your day.”
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“It was a surreal moment,” Shari True recalled. “You couldn’t believe it was actually happening. Everything was so stressful up to that point. You were just hoping for the best for your child.”
The finale — a two-hour 12th episode — wasn’t without drama for the Trues. McKaylee fled to a bathroom in tears after having difficulty with her dance solo, “So Perfect.”
“At that point in the competition, anything could get to you because you’re so stressed, and we wanted to do so well,” McKaylee said. “If I didn’t feel good about it, then it made me more worried.”
McKaylee said she wanted to please her choreographer (Victor Rojas), her mother and Miller.
“They weren’t all agreeing about (the dance), and it was really stressful, and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I had to go to the bathroom and pull myself together.”
McKaylee and her mother watched the finale episode Tuesday night at the Sesostris Shrine Center in Lincoln with more than 200 people. But the only ones who knew the outcome were True family members.
“My really close friends right before said, ‘Hey, good luck tonight. I hope you win,’” McKaylee said. “Afterward, they were, like, ‘Oh, my gosh. You did so good. I can’t believe you won.’”