So You Think You Can Dance: Atlanta

10 06 2012

Season 9 – Atlanta auditions

Mother Nature decided to interfere with my television viewing of this episode, but most of it was aired. My satellite carrier apparently does not have on-demand services, so if I fail to mention someone, I apologize in advance.

After seeing how many contestants went through from this city, I think it might have been cheaper to buy out an entire plane (just an expression; I know they all are not going to be flying out of Atlanta). This is the city which gave us last year’s champion, Melanie Moore, and usually after a win like that, the hometown of the winner is an ideal site for next year’s auditions. People who were possibly holding back will look at her as an example that they, too, could win it.

Judges for this segment were Debbie Allen, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.

Who I Liked A LOT

Audrey Case; Edmond, Oklahoma; contemporary. The woman who can apparently fart with her neck and elbow (actually her neck thing was more like a squeak). She had a beautiful smile and beautiful lines. It was a great way to start off this segment’s audition.

Audrey Case

Dragon House Boys; Atlanta, Georgia. I adored Boris Penton’s blue hair and his colorful shoes. His popping was extraordinary but will he be able to do the different styles of dance that will be required? I did find my eyes were fixed on him and I was anticipatory of what he would do next in his dance. I assumed they would put him through to choreography, but it was a ticket to Vegas for him.

Boris Penton from Dragon House.

Andre Rucker of Dragon House was also fantastic, and I knew a ticket to Vegas was in the cards for him.

Andre Rucker from Dragon House

However, I was not prepared for Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer at all. I have never seen anything so amazing in popping before on the 8 previous seasons of this show. He wanted to be a robot-animated popper and every movement of every muscle of his body was involved in this audition. All my hopes are with them that they will be able to make it through SYTYCD’s version of Navy Seal Hell week.

Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer

Danielle Dominguez; Tampa, Florida; contemporary. Her dancing was different due to her double-jointed body. Her choice of song was terrific. Her mom was a former cheerleader and Nigel asked her to do a cheer in the audience. And she loves bacon. She could eat 10 slices a bacon every day. She went through to Vegas.

Danielle Dominguez

George Lawrence, II; Atlanta, Georgia; contemporary. One of the best male contemporary potentials for this season. He is a track star turned dancer. His father is not convinced yet of his talent. After seeing him dance, that made me incredibly sad. This young man has a future in dance ahead of him.

George Lawrence II

Who I Thought Was Average

Joshua Alexander; Columbia, South Carolina; contemporary. I thought he wasn’t as powerful as I have seen from past male contemporary contestants but he is through to Vegas. Debbie Allen felt like his dancing was “testifying.”

Joshua Alexander

Courtney Kirby; Lutz, Florida; contemporary. Her dancing is average and I’ll probably get hate mail for this. Her personality, her name, and her beauty are all what they are looking for in a contestant. The song choice was great (it sounded like music from The Hunger Games). I’ll need to see more of her dancing to decide. Nigel had a great time with her grandmother, dancer Eva Dean Booth. Sometimes I looked at Courtney and wondered if she was dying on the inside that her grandmother was embarrassing her and/or possibly messing up her audition because the attention was truly on the grandmother. You know how young people are. Her grandmother was delightful and judges certainly enjoyed her. Nigel, however, put Courtney through to choreography. Debbie Allen put her through to Vegas. Mary looked like a deer in the headlights and gave it a great deal of consideration before being handed a ticket to Vegas. Eva asked Nigel if perhaps he should reconsider his decision so as not to look foolish.

Courtney Kirby

The Odd-Ball Lot

Tim Conkel; Atlanta, Georgia; breakdancer. One thing that Tim does not lack is an ego. Initially borderline annoying, he grows on you. After showing the judges what he learned during his 7 full days of ballet training, he sails right through to Vegas versus choreography. Debbie Allen calls him a wolfman.

Tim Conkel

Janelle Issis; Birmingham, Alabama; a belly dancer, I did not get to see because my power was out, but I did catch her during choreography. It did pop in long enough for me to hear she learned this way of dancing at church. Interesting. She and 13 other dancers from day 1 who were not shown are headed to Vegas.

Asher Walker; Glade Hill, Virginia. He wants to be a backup dancer for Justin Bieber. His break dancing was fun and he told a story during the dance, interjecting moves with humor. His All-American look and what he brought to his dancing earned him a ticket to Vegas. He differs from Tim Conkel in that he is more humble, not cocky. While conceit can get you far, if you’ve noticed dancers like that in the past, it eventually got them voted off, so Asher’s humbleness might take him far. However, he is going to need to get through Hell Week in order to get on the show’s top 20. He does have a Kent Boyd of season 7 feel about him.

Asher Walker

Brittany Ornter; Ovideo, Florida; contemporary. Also known as “the chicken lady.” When I saw the chickens roaming free in town, I thought it would funny to have a Chick-Fil-A or a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the backdrop when showing them in a scene. Just proved to me that Florida has some wacky laws (because the chickens have laws to protect them). Brittany reminded me of Jordan Cassanova from Season 8. She is put through to choreography but then on to Vegas.

Brittany Ornter

Damon Bellmon and Deon Lewis: The whole world thought these two ripped off choreography directly from You Tube “Les Twins” because the dances were identical and the judges complimented them on their original choreography. They got hate mail and the ire of the dance world. Indeed this time around, the show ran the interview with Cat Deeley from season 8 auditions where they said they were doing the dance as a tribute to Les Twins. They danced an original choreographed piece. They were sent to choreography. It was a “no” to Deon for Vegas, but a “yes” for Damon.

Damon Bellmon and Deon Lewis

Don’t Know Enough About to Have an Opinion Yet

Jason Alvarez; Maiden, North Carolina: Just from what I saw–my power to my home glitched about here because of the storm–but his dancing was not on the same level as the Dragon House boys. He was sent to choreography and then to Vegas.

Abigail Ruiz, Goose Creek, South Carolina; Calvin Turner, Jr., Las Vegas, Nevada (auditioning in Atlanta, weird); Aubrey Klinger, Chicago, Illinois — All Vegas bound.

Vegas Bound

Audrey Case; Boris Penton; Joshua Alexander; contestant 2193 from Chicago, who had a rough life and had Debbie Allen in tears….

Contestant 2193 from Chicago, Illinois

Contestant 2255 who deals with Tourette syndrome, and who thinks it has improved because of dance…

Contestant 2255 who deals with Tourette syndrome

Contestant 2537 whose mother died when he was young

Contestant 2537 whose mother died when he was very young.

along with Tim Conkel; Jason Alvarez; Daniele Dominguez: Janelle Issis; Courtney Kirby; Asher Walker; George Lawrence, II; Abigail Ruiz; Calvin Turner; Aubrey Klinger; Brittany Ornter; Damon Bellmon.





So You Think You Can Dance — America’s Top 20 Revealed

12 06 2011

Vegas Hell week is over. Of the 31 dancers that remain, America’s Top 20 will be chosen. I loved having the all-stars last year. It immediately elevated the dance contestants to a higher level, but having only 10 of them go through was difficult. Some gifted dancers, like Ryan Ramirez, did not make the cut, but surely if there had been a top 20, she would have. A decision was made to bring together the best of both worlds: Have a top 20 and when it whittles down to the top 10, bring in the all-stars. I LOVE IT! Tonight they combine 2 shows into one, grouping the announcement of what dancers have made the cut into their dancing styles. Some of these dancers we’ve seen on screen before; some are new to us. After they were announced we would get to see the group dance.

Ricky Jamie auditioned in Salt Lake but this is the first time he has really been featured. He has been dancing since he was 9. He has great height and lines. He is confident that his answer will be a yes, and it is. Miranda Maleski then took the long walk to hear her fate. Nigel plays with her heartstrings, doing the bait and switch to pretend like she is leaving, but she is also in the top 20. One of my early favorites, Melanie Moore, from my sister’s former town of Marietta, Georgia, also joins the top 20. I look forward to her enchanting us with her pixie dust. Abigail Ruiz and Kate Linetka would not be part of this year’s competition. The Mallory sisters started this journey together and then walked together to receive the news of their fate: Sasha would be the one moving forward. I’ve known of Sasha since September of 2010 when I saw her performing with the Adam Lambert tour.

Melanie, Miranda, Ricky and Sasha then took the stage to dance a routine choreographed by Stacey Tookey to the song, “In This Shirt” by The Irrepressibles. In the champagne-colored outfits, they glided about the floor in an ethereal way. They all partnered well together, each being there for the other for some intricate movement. Since no one goes home tonight, there are no critiques, just praise.

Contemporary

Melanie, Miranda, Ricky and Sasha perform Stacey Tookey's routine

Back to the green mile, Chris Koehl of Texas has taken this trip before in season 7. Mary Murphy delivers the good news that he will be a part of season 8. Tadd Gadduang (from the Salt Lake auditions, who reminded me of Dominic) and Wadi Jones will be joining him. Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson, however, did not make it through, although Nigel complimented him on his wonderful personality; perhaps next year. Drace Reed was also eliminated. Robert Taylor (the Woo man) was not feeling confident about his chances to make it to the top 20. Being 30, this was his last year to try out. Bryce “Professor Lock” Johnson also wondered if there would be room for him. It was “Woo” versus “Indubitably.Robert, who previously auditioned in season 3 for American Idol, was in and Bryce was out.

Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi took to the stage to perform a routine by Dave Scott to the song “Everyday (Coolin’) by Swizz Beatz featuring Eve. Robert almost looked with Twitch with the red glasses on. I’ll have to say that Tadd had the best moves, but Robert’s personality stood out. The boys got swagga.

HipHop

Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi performed Dave Scott's hip-hop.

Ballrooms dancers are up next and out of everyone that made it to Vegas only 2 survived: Iveta Lukosiute and Lenny Progue. My guess is that both of them would make it as it is a male/female partnership. Mary delivers the news straight-up to Lenny: He was too weak in his other styles. Would 10-dance World Champion Iveta be in? This is her last year to compete in this competition. Mary Murphy is very emotional delivering the news to Iveta and it did not look like she would make it either. Iveta makes it!

They brought in Pasha to dance with Iveta, dancing to a Jason Gilkison routine to the song, “Ven a Bailar (On the Floor)” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull. She looked stunning as Pasha expertly guided her along the dance floor, in a paso doble complete with skirt-yanking-turned-cape. While Iveta showed us why she is a world champion, I still adore Pasha and Anya’s partnership. It’s hard to build chemistry with someone you’ve just met. When Iveta is described as a 10-dance World Champion, it is not that she won 10 different competitions, but rather is the champion in all the different ballroom dances.

Ballroom

Iveta finishes performing Jason Gilkison's routine.

Jazz dancers were highlighted next. Clarice Ordaz and Bridget Krouse were nervously awaiting their fate. Clarice received good news; Bridget was sent home as was someone named Tae Kwon. Another one of my favorites, Marko Germar, is the young man who was shot in the shoulder, the bullet still embedded inside. We will be seeing him in our top 20. Missy Morelli and Jordan Casanova (another of my early favorites) are the little vixens vying for our attention of their seductive prowess. Could the top 20 handle both of them? Yes we can!

Performing a dance choreographed by Sonya Tayeh to the song “Vanguardian” by Steed Lord, Clarice, Jordan, Marko and Missy took the stage. By Sonya’s standards, this was pretty tame, but was still fierce. Sonya’s describes her dance style as “combat jazz.” They all made her proud and had Tyce on his feet.

Jazz

Clarice, Jordan, Marko and Missy perform Sonya Tayeh's routine.

Broadway/Tap dancers were the next group. Although he auditioned in Atlanta, Nick Young was not one of the featured dancers, so we have not learned much about him. He is from Wisconsin and played sports in high school. Back in the early 2000’s, he toured with Kenny Rogers Christmas show as an actor/singer. Jesse LeProtto was one of my early favorites, reminding me a great deal of Evan’s dancing, but with a little bit more attitude, which actually bothered the judges. Jesse knows he is good and I feel sometimes that is not a bad thing. He also has a great sense of humor, saying that hip-hop was the dance he excelled in. He is in, as was Nick.

Nick and Jesse came together on stage to perform Christopher Scott’s immensely entertaining routine to Nina Simone’s “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter.” It showcased the dancer’s fun personalities and their mad skills as tappers. If I had to choose who the better tapper was Nick would have the edge. Jesse hams it up with the audience which brings a smile to my face. Nigel tells us that 4 of the girls are also tappers. He also said, “This warmed the cockles of my heart.”

Contemporary dancers were last. Caitlynn Lawson auditioned in Salt Lake City but was not one of the featured dancers on that show. She hails from Washington State and is a senior in high school. A bit of a tomboy, she likes to fish, camp and go four-wheeling with her family. She kind of reminds me of Lacy Schwimmer around the eyes. She sails into the top 20. Ashley Rich would also be joining her. With only one spot left for the girls, Ryan Ramirez found herself in a similar predicament as last year. Alexa Anderson waited nervously along with her. Only one of them would be moving on. However, they would have to wait as Mitchell Kelly’s fate would be determined next. Mitchell auditioned in Atlanta, but again was not a featured dancer on that show. Chicago, Illinois is his hometown, and started dancing relatively late at the age of 15. He receives a “yes” from the judges. Alexander Fost and Jeremiah Hughes were vying for the last spot for the males. Alexander receives the last spot. Would it be Alexa or Ryan? Both young ladies are very emotional. Ryan receives that coveted last spot.

Travis Wall has become a choreographer who has moved me to goosebumps and tears. He was on season 2 of “So You Think You Can Dance” and came in second, proving that you do not actually have to win on this show to become successful. “Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit played while Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Mitchell and Ryan took the stage. The dance was celebratory, soft and spiritful, floating and fluid. While everyone should be commended on a job well done, my eye was particular drawn to Ryan. All the judges were on their feet clapping for this one. Cat loves Travis’ bow tie.

Contemporary2

Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Mitchell and Ryan dance to Travis Wall's routine

But wait, that is not it. The audience is to be treated to three more routines. The 10 guys perform to a routine by Christopher Scott, where he mixes hip-hop with contemporary and pulls it off. The song is “Velocity” by Nathan Lanier. It was reminding me for some reason of The Matrix when all the infected versions of Agent Smith come out of the doors (ha, I wrote that about The Matrix before Nigel said the same thing in his critique). I have a harder time finding small faults with a large group, so for me, bravo to all of them for a job well done. Interesting comment from Nigel when he says that “this show doesn’t favor the boys all the time” (reference to American Idol).

The routine for the top 10 girls was done by Sonya Tayeh. Her theme is to “make a geisha girl creepy and twisted and excited.” Sonya is the perfect mama cub who pushes her pups to work hard but at the end of the day is the one hooting and hollering in the crowd in thunderous support and pride. The song is Pop Drop and Roll by Chonique Sneed and Lisette Bustamante. The timing and precision of the girls are flawless. Mary needs a bigger Hot Tamale Train. Lil’C has words for Sonya for the acronym of her hand which moves Nigel to come over and hug him.

After commercial, Nigel says that next week 2 dancers will go home, one male and one female. This year, we will be allowed up to 50 votes on-line for our favorite dancer.

The top 20 then performs to a Tyce Diorio routine to the song “Little Bird” by Annie Lennox. Some of Tyce’s routines have also made me cry in the past, but tonight it is about celebration and being upbeat. The show closes out without any comments but the pictures and names of this season’s SYTYCD.

Tyce

All the contestants perform Tyce's number

Good luck to all the contestants next week!