So You Think You Can Dance Season 12 Memphis and Dallas Auditions

19 06 2015

I am looking forward to Jason Derulo joining the judges’ panel. When he was a guest judge last season I was impressed with his detailed and constructive feedback. I was very sad that Mary Murphy’s contract was not renewed. Paula Abdul will be taking Mary’s spot. This season it is stage versus street. The person trying out will have to tell the judges whether they are trying out for #TeamStage or #TeamStreet. By the time Vegas week is over, there will be 10 dancers of each style who will be paired up for the show. Travis and tWitch will be the mentors. One dancer from each team will be sent home based on our votes.

The first contestant is Peyton Albrecht from Robert, Louisiana. He will be dancing for a spot on #TeamStage with a contemporary routine to Steed Lord’s “Ghost of Sky.” There were some interesting elements to it and I was on the verge of goosebumps, but not quite there. I definitely think he deserves a ticket to Vegas. Paula thought he was a powerful dancer with wonderful technique. He has it all (but she is very stoic about her delivery of the comment. Maybe Paula wants to try playing the serious one and keep it as she would with choreography try-outs versus trying to make off-the-cuff comments which sometimes get her into trouble). Jason said it was a hell of a song choice. Jason said that is what performers strive for—to create something that is your own so there is something remaining to remember you by when you are gone. Nigel thought he reminded him of a young Travis Wall (well, I wouldn’t go THAT far Nigel). He received three yeses.

Street dancer Andre Rucker is a part of the infamous Dragon House (an Atlanta group that specializes in popping and animation). He made it to Vegas in season 9 (the season that Cyrus from his house also made it to the finals). He danced to “Special Powers” by Harikiri. GOOSEBUMPS!!! This young man has mad skills in animation. Jason said it was fire. He liked his wave and tutting that he had never seen before. Paula complimented his musicality, how he utilized the choreography right to the different beats and how he enhanced certain instrumentation. He is very special. Nigel enjoyed the hand that came around like a snake. It was really creative and his musicality was terrific. He gets a ticket to Vegas.

Trying out for #TeamStage is Jordan Hilgenberg from Claremont, Florida. She has a ballet base but is more of a contemporary person and incorporates both in her dance style. Her audition song is Julia Stone’s “The Line That Ties Me.” I got goosebumps with that routine. She had enormous control and gorgeous lines. I also felt emotion coming through as well which gave me the goosebumps. I like that the lyrics had “call you the beast.” Nigel often refers to women dancers like Melanie Moore as “beasts.” Nigel said she has beautiful feet. Her arabesque is tremendous. The penche was beautiful. The control of it all was terrific. He was impressed with her grand jeté en avant en tournant and he needs to see more movement. He felt like she was a bird held in a cage. Paula said she has extraordinary elegance. Her core is amazing, balance is amazing, feet are stunning, and breadth of her training is incredible. Jason said she is a beautiful dancer through and through. Her lines were stunning that it carried the performance. She has the potential of being very amazing. Three yeses!

The next contestant planned to showcase Memphis jookin’. It combines foot work, gliding, gangsta-ness, hype-ness. It is footwork, ankle breaking, buck jumping and bounce. The bounce is the heartbeat of the dance that gives it the Memphis attitude. Representing this was Ladia Yates, age 23, from Richmond, California? Okay. I was expecting a Memphis girl. Her song was Bow Wow’s “It’s Going Down.” I love a female hip-hip dancer. Some of her hand work was weird (not as tight as the other stuff), but I liked the rest of it. Nigel said he was proud of what he had just seen. Paula thought she was special and unique. Jason said where he comes from it’s called “a movie” and she just made a movie for them. She propositions Jason to go to the movies after this is all over. He said it was incredible. He said it was so incredible he wanted her to come in and teach some of his dancers what she does. Then we find out why she is in Memphis. She has a dance team of little ones there in Memphis. Nigel calls them up. They all said they wanted to dance to Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me.” Jason comes up on stage to sing while they danced. That was fantastic. Those little kids are TALENTED!! Ladia comes down to hug the judges for her ticket and lingers at Jason. That will be the last allowed hug from him for the season. We know what got Paula in trouble on American Idol (allegedly).

After a montage of stage dancers who made it through, a few street dancers came to the stage but it was not strong enough to make it through.

Fifteen dancers would be joining Team Travis, and only 9 were joining tWitch’s street team (and you know they have made it impossible for me to choose between Travis and tWitch). Courtney Barnes returned after last season to dance to Meek Mills’ “Dreams and Nightmares.” Interesting song choice. And it morphed into Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” He is truly entertaining. (I hope I used the proper pronoun). And then it morphed into Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” Jason whispered to Paula, “One more hair swipe and I’m gonna lose my mind.” Jason thought it was interesting. He hadn’t seen anyone else put a mash-up together like that. It was a bit too much of hair whipping for him. Jason said it wasn’t ready for this show. Paula said she would pack him in her bag and take him everywhere with her because he adds tremendous life to everything. Nigel thought his style and flexibility were good. Nigel says he is in a difficult position because he always says that he wants them to be unique. Paula is a yes. Jason is a no. Nigel says he is going to have a lot of work to do before he gets to Vegas, but he puts him through.

An unexpected snafu occurred on day 2 of the Memphis auditions when there was an underground substation fire which made the lights go out throughout downtown Memphis and it was unknown if power would be restored. Many said they would go to the other cities to audition, but many said they spent all the money they had to get to Memphis. Mid-afternoon they made the announcement that they would be dancing; however, the auditions would be modified. They would be put into groups based on their style. They will be asked to either stay to do a solo or be dismissed. At the end of the day eight dancers will be joining Travis for the stage group and ten more will be joining tWitch for the street team.

The next stop was in Dallas. The first contestant comes from Miami and he is rather humorous as he stumbles over the word contemporary. He just started dancing 3 years prior when sports bored him. Dancing to Il Divo’s “CarusoGuillermo Morales has some great moves, but he didn’t move any emotion inside of me. His athleticism was compelling. He received a ticket to Vegas. Nigel commented that “he’s a star.”

Jaclyn Hamric danced to “Sleepwalk.” She is a beautiful young lady and she has talent, but there was not anything special to her routine. There was a lot of ponytail turning (which annoyed Jason in a previous city). I also noted that for a contemporary routine, she had her toes pointed out a lot instead of keeping them straight. Nigel thought it was pretty and her technique was good. Paula said she is lovely to watch. The camera and audience love her. Paula likes her a lot. Jason said he liked her a lot as well. He forgot about technique and became a fan. It is a unanimous yes.

Steven Ban looks like an atypical street dancer. Honestly, he looks like someone from my community—a nerd (and describes himself that way as well). Nigel thought he looked like Bill Gates. He chose Thiftworks’ “Sky Fiyah.” He had some skills, but there have been better animators to come through the doors to audition now and in the past. He had some cool moves but was it enough to get him through? Jason said he loved his musicality. He thought he was unique and he loved the whole look. Paula said she thought he was more of an illusionist than an animator. He received three yeses.

Vishona Sims is auditioning for the first time. I liked that she said she wanted to show us what she feels instead of what she can do in a freestyle routine to Eryka Badu’s “The Healer.” Wow she is great. Nigel thought it was dope. He felt it was a little static but still enough to go “wow.” Jason said wow as well. He felt he was alive inside watching her. He thought she told a story. Paula said she is a little star. She was poetic with her movement and thinks she is very, very special. She gets three yeses to Vegas.

Kiosh Monroe from Pleasant Grove, Texas takes the stage to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.” There was no technique in his dance but it was entertaining. Paula felt like she was watching multiple personalities. He is enjoyable to watch and a lot of fun. She does not know if he is right for the competition. Jason was honest and said it was not for him. He thought he was like the good cousin that could dance. Jason steers him to workout tapes. Jason and many women join him on stage to see if he could have a workout video.

Thirteen will join Team Travis and 16 will join Team tWitch in Vegas.

Tailor’s “Shaped Like a Gun” was the song choice for Lily Leyva, a 19-year-old from Las Vegas. She is a beautiful dancer. She is through.

Jaden Ziarha danced to “Big Spender” and fused ballet with hip-hop. His appearance is deceiving. Paula thinks he marches to the beat of his own drum. Nigel thinks he should be Stephen Colbert’s dancing double. He does not get through to Vegas.

The All-Stars got invited to do the #GimmeFive challenge with Michelle Obama to celebrate the anniversary of her initiative.

The final audition was Tank Hope’s “This Makes You Love Me.” Edson Juarez from Mission, Texas tried out in season 11 but didn’t make it; however, he has worked on those issues since. It was lovely. Jason thought it was the best routine they’ve seen all day. Paula agrees. Nigel still wants more connection. He is through.

Next up: Detroit





So You Think You Can Dance — Vegas Hell Week Recap

23 06 2012

So You Think You Can Dance: Vegas Hell Week

By Hilda Clark Bowen (PBMom)

Vegas week–the dancers’ equivalent to Navy SEAL hell week. Eight grueling rounds. Late nights. Early mornings. No sleep. Pushing themselves to the brink physically, mentally, emotionally. That is what it takes on the road to becoming America’s Favorite Dancer. There were 8 rounds. Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen, Tyce DiOrio, and Lil’C were the primary judges with others sitting in to comment on their own choreographed segments.

Round 1: Solos

Hampton “The Exorcist” Williams from Richardson, Texas (Dallas auditions) danced his unique style to Evanescence’s “My Immortal.” He was mouthing the words to the song which I did not like. Debbie Allen was crying. It was very similar to his Dallas audition. After 10 solos, Jennifer and Briana go home. Hampton and 7 other dancers make it through to the next round.

Hampton “The Exorcist” Williams

Next bunch included Janelle Issis, the belly dancer from Birmingham, Alabama. Both Tyce and Adam loved her. By the end of the round, 51 dancers were cut, including martial arts expert Tim Conkel.

Round 2: Hip-Hop with tWitch and Comfort

This proved too much for two contestants. Hampton felt that the choreography was too difficult to learn left the competition. I praise the respect he showed the judges by coming up on stage and sharing that. Andre Rucker, from the Dragon House trio, just left. Good impressions are won, and you just do not up and leave. It’s too easy just to quit. I hope that Hampton gets some experience in some other areas and comes back to the competition next year. The song chosen was “B.O.B.” by OutKast. It was fast and slick. After the first group, Boris Penton from Dragon House was cut as was Gene Lonardo (the praying mantis guy), and Bree Hafen. After the last group performed, and Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer. Glitch meets tWitch and I’m loving this. All the members of the final group survived, which totaled 105 dancers surviving to the next round.

Round 3 (Day 2): Broadway with Tyce DiOrio

Tyce comes with a story about dancers in a club at 2 a.m. and drinking water and then POW!…a lust force seizes them. Witney Carson and Lindsay Arnold, from the Salt Lake City auditions, are out of their comfort zones. They have known each other since age 9 and found out they were roommates in Las Vegas. The song, “Must Be the Water” by Marc Broussard. Everyone who danced in the morning made it through. The judges gave Alexa Anderson a stern lecture about lacking an emotional connection and getting tired of fighting for her. I think she is terrified that she will not make it through again at the very last moment and she is guarding her heart. Joseph and Trey were gone. Teddy Tedholm went home. After this round another 23 dancers went home, which by my count 105 minus 23 leaves 82 dancers for the next round.

Round 4: Jazz with Sonya Tayeh

Eighty-two contestants remain. Sonya is looking for strength, aggression, texture, and musicality. Shafeek Westbrook is struggling, but bacon-girl Danielle Dominguez is trying to be supportive. The song is “Freak Out (Gold Chains, Panique Mix) by Brightest Diamond. Shafeek was cut and left with a terrible attitude. Danielle steps forward to partner with Giovanni and is rewarded with a big smack to her head. She is sent to the hospital; he is sent home. Cyrus partners with Lindsay and does an adequate job. I think his uniqueness and the judges desire to have him through to the top 20 is allowing them to forgive mistakes. This is about the favorite dancer and not necessarily the best dancer. They ask Amelia Lowe to dance for her life. Rachel Applehans is asked to dance for her life (It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World by Leela James). Sonya, Nigel, Mary and Tyce all say no. I have to say I am glad about Rachel because she just did not fit into the show. It’s fine to turn on the sex appeal once or twice, but every time it makes me uncomfortable, like she is dancing for men at a strip club. Amelia danced to “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Elmer Bernstein. Adam is visibly moved. Sonya is smiling and says she wants to get her hands on her. Sonya, Mary, Lil’C, Tyce and Debbie say yes. Adam says “yes” and thanks her. Nigel gave a surprising no.

Round 5: Groups

It’s now day 2 at 10 p.m., and it is group time. The twist this year was that the people got to pick their own groups (about 5-6 people). The first group up on day 3 in the morning includes Daniel Baker, Audrey Case, Danielle Dominguez. Danielle got back late from the hospital. They danced to Gotye’s song, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Charlie and Danielle are sent home. The judges should have allowed Danielle to at least dance for her life. She did not have to volunteer to partner in the previous round a second time. Boo to the judges on that. In the next group, Taylor Giri (? spelling) was sent home. The next dance, choreographed by Aubrey Klinger, was praised by Nigel, and he complimented her by calling her a mini Mia Michaels. Aubrey danced with 4 other guys. The story was that she was the only girl at the prom and they called themselves the “High Schoolers.” The song was Side Project’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody.” The entire group is sent through to the next round.

The High Schoolers

The first group in the afternoon were The Wolfpack which included Dres Reid, Adrian Lee and Alexa Alexander, all who auditioned in previous seasons and danced to “I’m Glad You Came” by The Wanted. Alexa was called out again by the judges. They prodded her until tears flowed. They allow her one more chance. Sixty-one contestants now remain for the next round.

Wolfpack

Round 6: Ballroom, specifically the cha-cha with Jason Gilkison.

The song: “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez. I was shouting GO CYRUS. I just love this guy’s attitude and energy. He is asked to dance for his life. It was a no to Asher Walker, Dee Tomasetta, and a huge surprise Aubrey Klinger who had just been highly praised in the group round. My heart was hurting for her as she said she was not able to get work as a dancer audition after audition. While hurting for her, it reminded me what is so fantastic about this show: Even dancers who are not crowned the winners are getting work in the industry as evidenced by the many times I’ve seen them especially on Fox shows. Witney, Stepheon Stewart (great hip work!), Eliana Girard and Alexa (who was being cheered from the sidelines by Tyce and Adam) all received a yes to the next round. Cyrus dances to “Holy Ghost (Helicopter Showdown and Sluggo Remix) by Messinian. He BLOWS my mind. I was so glad he got to dance for Lil’C who thought it was EXTRA BUCK. I loved the support he was also receiving from his fellow contestants in the audience. A total of 52 contestants are put through to contemporary.

Round 7: Contemporary with Travis Wall

The contestants only have 1 hour to get the steps down. That’s insane. Travis says, “Technically I’m looking for perception.” Travis, your standards are set so low. The song is “I Won’t Give Up” Jason Mraz. Cyrus, Eliana, Lindsay, Janelle, Trenton, Daniel, Witney, Amelia, Luciano, Cyrus and Tiffany are all put through. Eighteen dancers’ fates were in question. The judges asked them to perform again and only Joshua and Abigail make it through. I was so sad about white-girl krumper Mariah. I thought she did very well.

Round 8: Final solos

Trying to stand-out, Joshua attempted to do a new trick in the waiting area and fell smack to the ground. The medics are called and he is taken away. He was not able to perform his final solo. Alexa Anderson was first, dancing to The Naked and Famous’ “Young Blood (White Sea Remix)”.  (PS Thank you Warren for the correction on this).  Debbie Allen said to her fellow judges that “This child could win” but Tyce balked at that observation. The last solo was Chehon Wespi-Tschopp of Zurich, Switzerland, the ballet dancer. The heights he could reach were phenomenal. The song to which he danced was “Suite of the Winter Songbirds,” by Noah Lifschey.

The guys were called up. Adrian Lee, who almost made it in season 7, and whose mother stopped watching the show because of it, was cut. Nigel reminded the group that they were not going for the “best dancers” but the uniqueness. The girls get called up; no one is cut….at this point.

There are 35 in the end. Next week, they will have to cut that down to 20 people. Joshua will find out if his stunt to try to impress will cost him a spot in the final 20.

Who are your favorites? I think Chehon and Cyrus are going to make it simply because of their unique styles. Cyrus improves with each lesson and America adores him. Chehon is, I think, the only ballet dancer in the group and they tend to like a diverse group of individuals. I am unsure about the girls. Amelia is very unique. I was truly rooting for Mariah. Janelle should make it.





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.