American Idol S15 Showcase No 1

16 02 2016

Tonight’s performances was completed at the Vibiana. It’s a church in Los Angeles so I can’t wait to hear the acoustics. Twelve singers will perform tonight and tomorrow they will get to do duets with former Idol contestants. Tomorrow night, five contestants will be cut. Next week they will do it again.

Stephany Negrete chose a Jessie J song “Mama Knows Best.” It’s odd that when I look at her, I see a young Cher. There is something missing though and I can’t put my finger on it. It was a fantastic way to open the show. Keith said it was a really good song for her. Keith thinks she could have loosened up even more. Jennifer said she is the full package but she needs to connect emotionally to the lyrics. Harry said it was great advice.

Next is Great Big World’s “Say SomethingMackenzie Bourg. I really liked this. Sometimes simple is better. Jennifer said he felt very natural up there; he did what Mackenzie does and it is exactly what he needs to do. Harry said the lyrics meant something to him. He liked that he changed up the melody without changing the integrity of the song. Keith said if he had heard that song for the first time he would absolutely believe Mackenzie wrote it.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell chose to play the harp (one of many instruments she knows how to play) and sing “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. The young lady has talent but I don’t picture her as the last American Idol. I can see her getting a recording contract though in Nashville. Harry thought she did herself a disservice of playing the harp on this song in this way. He would have just liked her to sing the song. Keith said she is the real deal. She is extraordinary and he loves the way she takes risks. Jennifer said she was not sure about her before that performance but she had goosies everywhere. She thought it was beautiful.

Jenna Renae is a singer/songwriter. She chose “My Church” by Maren Morris. I had to laugh because they were singing in a church for this performance. Keith woo-hooed from the audience because he loves this song. She did a fantastic job (that is high praise coming from me because of my disdain of country music). Keith said it was good tonight. Jennifer thought she was in her element and she had a lot of joy when she sang. Harry liked the energy and enthusiasm. He said that there is a fine line between enthusiasm and shouting and her pitch was sacrificed as a result of that.

“Love Lockdown” by Kanye West was the choice for James VIII tonight. I loved his version more than Kanye’s. I could see him holding back still though. It wasn’t until recently that he ever saw himself as a singer as he just played guitar in a band so this might be a lack of confidence issue. I loved how he interacted with Rickey Minor in the end. Jennifer said it was an interesting choice to do that song in that way. She thought it stayed too even and it didn’t grab her in the way it could have for as good as he is (and the audience boos). Harry said it felt good. It was super easy but when is it going to get more complex. He didn’t know how far down the road he would get. Keith said he has to be careful being chill and being indulgent. You can’t assume he is going to be here to do another song so come out and kill it each and every time.

Sonika Vaid chose “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars. She has a tremendously beautiful voice. She still is lacking stage performance and she always takes a song and sings it as a ballad. Just singing ballads is not going to get her through this competition. The stage just seems to swallow her up (and this is a small stage). Harry said it was one of the more emotional performances they have seen. Keith said her voice is so good. Jennifer says her voice is so beautiful but she wants her to choose songs that makes her heart sing as well.

Bookworm Gianna Isabella chose “I Put a Spell on You” by Annie Lennox. First goosebumps of the evening. She was a little off pitch on those few end notes but I loved it. Keith said her voice is undeniable. There were moments she was starting to own the stage but they were inconsistent. Jennifer said the voice is so real and so strong. Harry said she has a great voice and has been a great student of American Idol because she hit big loud notes in the right places. He wants her to challenge herself to find as much meat in there as she can.

Emily Rose drew upon The Voice’s champion Cassadee Pope for her song “I Am Invincible.” This is the same problem that Emily had last year when she got cut—her performance during the showcase was terrible. Emily started off flat and sharp all over the place. Yes, perhaps she was scared. I feel for her if she was. But these performances are do or die to make it to the next round and they are cutting 5 people from the 12 tomorrow. There is no room for mistakes. The song did not improve as she went along. She was off pitch throughout the song. It just became less obvious because she was more in her vocal range. Jennifer likes her but that was not the best song for her because of the lower vocal range. She has to choose songs that play to her strengths. Harry says she has to sell those lyrics. He did not feel it. He has never heard her struggle with pitch as much as she did tonight. But he leaves her that her talent is unquestionable and she must be having an off night. Keith said that song did not play to all her strengths but what he did like was that she was exploring and trying different things.

Self-described tomgirl Avalon Young picked “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber. She has a great voice but her performance doesn’t match the song lyrics. This isn’t a happy song and she is smiling throughout. She is a bit off pitch as well. Harry said she seems to be the most in tune with who she is in the moment. He said the only advice would be that maybe she could have modulated it up on the last chorus. Keith said don’t be afraid to tell the band that she wants something different.

Turtle-lover Jordan Sasser chose “All By Myself” (the Celine Dion version; I don’t think anyone remembers that Eric Carmen was the original artist on this).   Did he get a haircut? It looks great. I am not sure if this is my favorite song I have heard from him. Sometimes on those notes he uses with his open throat sound fabulous, but then he almost goes for the opposite back-of-the-throat-straining quality that does hurt my ears a bit. My son with autism happened to come in to the room (he loves music) and he had his hands on his ears (the same thing he does with me when he doesn’t like a note coming out of my voice). I got goosebumps by the end of the song though (again with that open throat). Keith said he has a great voice but it was a little too theatrical for him and asked him to please not lose the emotion of the song. Jennifer agrees a little bit. She said when he first sang “all by myself” she should not have been thinking whether or not he hit the right part of his voice. Harry says he has a great voice and he has to do all that show-offy stuff. He doesn’t like that. He doesn’t need all that.

Thomas Stringfellow chose “Creep” by Radiohead to sing during the showcase. I wasn’t sure whether his chord on his guitar wasn’t correct or his voice didn’t match the chord he played correctly but they weren’t in tune with each other. He is unique and that is his plus. I’m kind of on the fence about whether or not I liked it but the young ladies in the audience did. Jennifer felt that he played with his voice in a way she hadn’t heard before—he was pushing the envelope. He sings with emotion and it fills the room. Harry thought it was tremendous—really, really strong. Keith said his natural way of performing is to lean into abandonment; that is when he is at his best. It’s really compelling.

The pimp-spot performance goes to La’Porsha Renae. She chose “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. This woman is already a star. She stole the night. If she continues having performances like this she will surely win American Idol. I had goosebumps. Keith was standing up. Harry said he thinks one of two things is going to happen as a result of her American Idol performance tonight. She is either going to make other competitors get better or she is going to make them want to quit. She is captivating and smart. He would be stupid to critique that in any way, shape or form. Keith said one of the hard parts is once people critique doing runs, they become conscious of it, and then it backfires. She has never become conscious of it. It’s beautiful because she remains a portal for the gift. Jennifer said it is a joy to listen to her sing. She dreams about voices like hers. Her advice is to take all the influences that she loves and make them hers.

I don’t envy the judges decisions here. In this group, I think the some of the 5 going home will be Emily Rose (worst performance of the 12 and their other country girl did better); James VIII (was nice, but just nice); Sonika Vaid (beautiful voice, but the stage swallows her up).

I’m on the fence about Jeneve Rose Mitchell. She is unique and they may keep her because of that. Jordan Sasser might go home because he was overly dramatic.

Thomas Stringfellow versus Mackenzie Bourg: There might only be one. Mackenzie is more relatable; Thomas is quirky.

Definitely through: La’Porsha Renae (she dominated the competition); Stephany Negrete (because she has a voice and stage presence, but they know she will find that emotional connection like Nick did last season); Jenna Renae; Gianna Isabella; Avalon Young (because they need a quirky girl).





American Idol S15 Top 24 Revealed

5 02 2016

Fifty-one contestants took the stage for a final performance in front of the judges and a live audience. Now they wait for their judgment.

My thoughts on their performances (the ones they showed):

The Ladies

Stephany Negrete looked and sounded great “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.   Shelbie Z sang another Heart song for her final performance “Barracuda.” I think she needs to ditch country and embrace the rocker inside of her. I think she has been fortunate to have gotten a lot of tips and help on “The Voice” that definitely gives her an edge up over some of the more inexperienced Idol contestants when it comes to stage presence. Michelle Marie sang “Little Toy Guns” by Carrie Underwood. She had great stage presence but she sounded sharp and flat on many of the notes. With the stiff competition, I would say no, but the judges may say yes because she has charisma and stage presence in addition to previous positive performances. Colette Lush sang “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor. Her voice was cracking a lot. Jessica Cabral’s performance wasn’t shown, but I was SHOCKED that she is not in the top 24. She was one of the stronger female voices with such a unique voice. Wow. I don’t know what to say about that one. Jenna Renae sounded okay from the small clip they showed of her singing “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood. Jeneve Mitchell sang “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.   She has the great ability to feel her song. She has a unique place in all of this. Would I buy her music? No—because I don’t like country music (but I don’t buy Carrie Underwood’s either even though I was rooting for her on the show but on the show she didn’t sing strictly country). Amelia Eisenhauer sang “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.   Her vocal was mediocre and her stage presence was not developed quite as much as the others. Avalon Young sang “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by Chris Brown.   She has such a pretty voice. Sonika Vaid sang “Surrender” by Celine Dion. She gets swallowed up by the stage. She has a beautiful voice but she really needs to work on that. Malie Delgado sang “Little White Church” by Little Big Town. She has a great voice, but I didn’t like this song for her. Olivia Rox came down sick, but she had to rally to do her showcase round. She sang “Love Somebody” by Maroon 5. She did a fabulous job. That one gave me goosebumps!! Emily Brooke sang “So Small” by Carrie Underwood. She did better than I anticipated and some of that nasal twangy thing was gone. Gianna Isabella chose to sing her mom’s song and Gianna was talking to her mother in the audience during rehearsal and Rickey Minor set mom straight about needing to let them handle this. She sang “I Still Believe” by Brenda K. Starr (her mom’s hit song).  Jenn Blosil sang “The Hanging Tree” sung by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games series.   She is so unique. I adore her. Tristan McIntosh sang “Stronger” by Faith Hill. She felt that it was the first time she has ever “performed.” She also is one of my favorites.

The last two ladies are La’Porsha Renae and Lindita. Is there ANY question who this is going to? Not for me. La’Porsha. Lindita performed “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj. La’Porsha Renae did “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. That gave me goosebumps.

 The Guys

Mackenzie Bourg is the first one of the guys to receive his fate. He sang Elvis Presley’s hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I really like his voice and he had the ladies in the audience singing along with him for the chorus. Trent Harmon sang “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John have a mixed feeling about. He has a great voice, but his performances are often internalized where he is not even making eye contact with the audience. He is performing but not connecting. CJ Johnson sang “Parachute” by Cheryl Cole. Okay, I admit. I loved it. I know it was country. I do have exceptions. Lee Jean sang “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran. It was adorable but I was put off by him telling the audience to be quiet not just once but twice. Daniel Rapattoni performed “It’s Gonna Be Me” by NSync. He is one of my favorites. He has star written all over him. He has the full package. Manny Torres sang “Master Blaster” by Stevie Wonder sounded great and frankly this competition could use his Latin flare. Thomas Stringfellow sang “Story of My Life” by One Direction. I like him but he was doing this weird thing that almost sounded like a hiccup-like noise at the end of every measure. It was annoying. The girls went crazy for him though.

Kacye Haynes and Jordan Sasser were the final two guys who were competing for that last spot. I think it is going to go to Jordan Sasser (even before I heard the performances). Jordan sang “Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic. I got goosebumps. Kacye tackled “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake. Rickey Minor complimented him that he was one of the few performances that actually felt what he was singing that day. Wow, he did bring a better performance than Jordan.

 Going Home

Not going through: Ameet Kanon, Anatalia Villaranda, Andrea Nazarbekian, Ariel Sprague, Christian Eason, Chynna Sherrod, Colette Lush, Isaac Cole, Jenna Renae, Jessica Cabral, Jessica Clark, John Clausen, Jordyn Simone, Kacye Haynes, Kassy Levels, Kayla Mickelsen, Kelsie Watts, Laurel Wright, Lindita, Malie Delgado, Mary Williams, Michelle Marie, Mionne Destiny, Sara Sturm, Shevonne Philidor, Terrian, Tiffany Lemay, and Zach Person.

Top 24 are:

Ladies: Amelia Eisenhauer, Avalon Young, Emily Rose, Gianna Isabella, Jeneve Rose Mitchell, Jenn Blosil, La’Porsha Renae, Olivia Rox, Shelbie Z, Sonika Vaid, Stephany Negrete, Tristan McIntosh

Guys: Adam Lasher, CJ Johnson, Daniel Rapattoni, James VIII, Jordan Sasser, Kory Wheeler, Lee Jean, Mackenzie Bourg, Manny Torres, Thomas Stringfellow, Trent Harmon

Next week: The top 24 sing solos and then duets with former American Idol contestants. Five will be going home.

 

 

 

 





American Idol More Atlanta, Little Rock, Philadelphia and San Francisco

1 02 2016

You know that this back and forth between these cities and then going back again is wreaking havoc on my blog titles.

The first contestant is the sister of one of my favorites last year Shi Scott. Miranda “Poh” Scott doesn’t want to miss out on her last chance for Idol and chose “Fairy Tale” by Sara Bareilles.   She has a similar sound to her sister. It is gritty and is rough around the edges. Harry told her not to tell people what to think (as far as saying negative things about herself). He thought that many things she did were more of the refreshing things they had seen that day. He said there is an “I don’t care” about putting the notes out there. Jennifer thought it was good. Her singing was interesting. Keith loves the rasp in her voice. One of his favorites that day. She is through to Hollywood.

Amelia Eisenhauer brought a flat-edged katana to the audition but didn’t plan to bring it into the room, so I’m not sure why she thought it was necessary unless it is a comfort object. “Many Rivers” by Anne Lennox. I got goosebumps. She has a nice bluesy quality. Jennifer thought it was beautiful. Keith thought it was soulful. Harry said she has this mysterious quality about her. He gave her advice to really try to hit those notes squarely. She is on her way to Hollywood.

In Little Rock, Joy Dove is a big personality. But is her voice as big as her presentation. She is singing “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” by Hank Williams. Keith added some harmony in there. No goosebumps, but I love her. She has a great voice and she is so bubbly and makes me feel happy inside. Harry thinks her spirit is awesome and she sings loud and he loves that. She gets three yes votes.

Back to Atlanta, Mackenzie Bourg put a medley together of songs from each of the judges. He is from Harry’s hometown of Layfette. I like him just because his last name is “Bourg” (As in Star Trek The Borg). He used “Stupid Boy” from Keith Urban, “Come By Me” by Harry Connick Jr., and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” by Jennifer Lopez. And just when I thought he was done, he adds “Making Memories of Us” by Keith Urban. This boy is TALENTED! And I love his hair. Harry thought he was smart. It was charming and sweet. He has this quiet thing about him that was interesting to watch. Jennifer liked the sound of his voice that was pleasant to her. Keith loved his voice, too. He gets a ticket to Hollywood.

The Birdwell brothers were trying to beat the odds of both people getting through to Hollywood. Andrew and Aaron chose “Automatonic Electronic Harmonics” By David Michael Bennett. They are a big no for me. Keith felt like it was like a Gregorian acid trip. Harry said, “Gregorian Can’t.” They are politely given a no.

Jenna Renae broke the door going in. Hopefully that a good luck sign. She sings “She Don’t Love You” by Eric Paslay. GOOSEBUMPS!!!! Harry thinks she is a very soulful young woman. Jennifer felt like she was a performer and the first on that day that did. Keith liked it. She goes to Hollywood.

Mario Bonds predicts he will be the winner. “Inseparable” by Natalie Cole. He has a nice voice. I was wondering if he was nervous. He was flat on the high note. He is flat on all the notes in fact. He has a beautiful spirit. He has a very effective type of voice. Jennifer was going back and forth. Harry said his spirit is huge, his talent is not what they were looking for in a performance. Keith loves him as a person and sees his love of wanting this, but then he has to think of him as an artist. All three judges are a “no” and it crushed him.

The second to last audition #5 contestant who previously got a ticket to Hollywood, Adam Lasher, with a totally new look (can I say he looks so much hotter with this new look? Rawr!). He does a samba version of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Guns N Roses. Harry thought it was a terrific rendition of the song. He gets the golden ticket.

Emily Brooke is back! She was eliminated after the House of Blues performance. She has taken all the lessons to heart and applied them. This time she is singing “Careless” by RaeLynn. I don’t like that thing (the twang?) she does with her voice. It makes me want to put my hands on my ears. Jennifer thought she got so much better. Harry said this was a training ground for her last year. She applied it and he thought it was the best audition of the day and he liked her better than last year. It makes him very proud to be on American Idol because it fosters talent like her. Keith said the audience knows that there is no substitute for the work. She is going back to Hollywood.

 





So You Think You Can Dance Season 12 Top 16 Perform 2 Eliminated

15 08 2015

We are quickly making our way towards the finale where America’s favorite dancer is announced. I think all the dancers are reaching inside themselves to conquer those elements of dance with which they were least familiar. It has made for an exciting season so far.

Tonight’s group dance was choreographed by Nick Florez and RJ Durell to the song “Love is Free” by Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique featuring Maluca. What a fantastic way to wake up the audience in preparation for tonight’s show. I am always in awe when these dancers can learn things that have so many complicated fast moves. It shows such great effort on their parts to want to give the best performance possible.

Cat revealed who won most of the votes last week. Team Stage barely won with 50.5% of the votes with Team Street pulling 49.5% of the vote. Derek injured himself this week and won’t be able to perform. He may or may not be in danger this week but if he makes it through to next week, he will automatically be in the bottom 3.

Ray Leeper choreographed Hailee and JaJa in a jazz number. It is a song about female empowerment danced to the song “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves. JaJa held her own. Hailee brought more sexiness to the dance than JaJa and dug a little deeper to bend more, stretch more, and emphasize more. But JaJa represented a different type of woman I think; after all, there are so many versions of us. Nigel said they are two incredible ladies. Together they are a knockout. He said whether it is Hailee’s hair or eyes or the “hey look at me” mentality she has when she walks on stage, he has to focus on her. She is just a sensation. JaJa is one of the most interesting street dancers they have ever had on the program. She is growing in technique exponentially. Paula thinks the spectrum from where JaJa started from last year not making it to the choreography rounds to where she is today is unrecognizable. It is brilliant to watch the growth. She knocks them out week after week. Hailee has a radiance about her and they are drawn into the luster of her brilliance. It shines with her like a dance partner that never leaves her. Words that you cannot even describe. They can’t help but laser into her. It’s a beautiful gift. Jason thought it was a beautiful performance. He is so proud of JaJa. Her intention was there. The style of the dance was there. He cautioned her to be careful with her leg extensions and stretch a bit more because when both of their legs are up, Hailee’s leg is “way up here” and hers is “a little down here.” Hailee is coming out of her shell and becoming a star right before their eyes. Cat reveals the results from last week’s dances for them. Both of them are safe.

Dave Scott choreographed Neptune and Alexia. It is a crazy love story type of hip-hop dance to the song “Flex (Ooh Ooh Ooh)” by Rich Homie Quan. I loved this. I got goosebumps. Traditionally I get goosebumps to songs that touch an emotion in me. This pairing was perfect. Alexia was fantastic with her moves. She had great chemistry with Neptune. The added feature of a padded-wall prop made the routine so much more interesting. When things like this are introduced they are either a hit or a flop. This was definitely a hit. Their marks for the wall were perfectly timed singly and in duet. I totally got “crazy love story” from this. If I had to guess I would say Alexia’s character was more of the cray-cray part of the relationship. Paula gave them a standing ovation. Paula thought it was a fun, fun routine. Twerking up a padded wall was pretty creative. Both were committed to the character. They both had so much fun. It was sick, crazy love, whacky, insane, sensual, sexy and just weird and she loved it. Jason told Neptune he will be important to his team. He is a head runner and will steer his team over. Let sure he is leading his team. Alexia is getting better and better every week and keep it going. Nigel agrees Alexia is getting better and better every week. As Jason said, Neptune started quietly and every week is building himself slowly week upon week. America is crazy if they don’t recognize that. Based on last week’s dancing, Alexia and Neptune are both safe.

JJ and Derek got together with choreographers Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo for an Argentine tango. Since Derek can’t perform, she gets to dance with Leonardo. What a treat for her. The song is “Duo De Amor” by Astor Piazzolla. He really helped her get all those lines and high lifts. I think the chemistry was there. It was beautiful. The judges were on their feet. Jason said, “Girl, you brought sexy back, and all the judges didn’t know how to act.” He said it was unbelievable. She overcame adversity and she held her own. Nigel said from the first breath throughout the routine how sensual she was making it. If Mary Murphy were there now, JJ would definitely be on her hot tamale train. He teased her that Leonardo held her at the end for a bit longer and she was enjoying every second of that. She laughed in agreement. She was a credit to her team. Paula said it was beautiful routine. The most incredible, incredible transformation comes from her. It’s the whole 360. The grace and beauty of her extensions. She is like a young ingénue of maybe Natalie Wood and maybe Leslie Caron. It is lovely seeing her like this. Results from last week’s dance: JJ and Derek are both in danger.

Ariana and Jim were paired with Sean Cheesman who choreographed a contemporary routine. The story is about the ups and downs of dealing with depression. The song is “Everyone Wants to Rule the World” by Lorde. Interesting version of this song; I had never heard it before. It set the mood for the dance. The dancing was fabulous but I think Jim needed to dig a little deeper for the emotional connection. There is great despair in depression and it was more like he was playing a part versus experiencing it. Situational depression is different from chronic depression and trying to dig your way up from that. Usually dances like this will certainly give me goosebumps, but not today. Bummed. The judges were on their feet. Nigel said he thought they conveyed the brilliant message that Sean wanted to convey. Nigel said that dance is a great weapon in depression and dementia so if you ever feel this way, get up and dance. He said he didn’t know why the audience was not connecting with Ariana. Nigel felt Jim was not struggling at all. Paula said just when you think you can’t grow better or stronger, both of them are proving that each week. She thinks it is one of the best routines that showcased both of the breadth of who they are as dancers, and both the light and the shame of the depression, the light and the light—it worked beautifully, seamlessly. Ariana was keeping up with Jim step for step with him. Jason said he is blown away by Ariana for being able to dance with such a technical dancer as Jim and hold her own is unreal. He can never tell what team she is on. He said to Jim that he has never seen talent/technique like that live and thanked him. After hearing these comments from the judges, I wonder if the song is what threw the whole dance off for me. I was concentrating on the song so much (as the original is an all-time favorite of mine) that I was trying to wrap my head around that which held me back from fully experiencing it as they did. The results from last week from Cat: Jim is safe and Ariana is in danger.

Virgil and Gaby were teamed with Al Blackstone for a Broadway routine about two people on the streets of New York who think they know each other after they bump into each other to the song “Where or When” by Sammy Davis Jr. That was adorable and so much fun. I could picture them having a job on Broadway. Nigel was on his feet—wait all the judges! Paula said some wonderful things about the dance but turned to Virgil and said he is like a young Sammy Davis Jr. He can do it all and he is so wonderful to watch. She thought Mattel should slap their sign on the back of his behind and sell a million Virgil dolls. (Okay?) Paula said Gaby is impeccable. She is so well versed. It’s lovely to see how elegant and how amazing she is in this competition. Jason told Virgil he breathes life into every performance. Jason shares he went to college for musical theater and *this* (meaning the routine) is his thing. They both did an amazing job. He said the breadth of knowledge of dance that Gaby has is pretty amazing. He cautioned him to not let Virgil upstage her. He told her not to underestimate a smile. Her smile lights up a room. Nigel said he disagrees with Jason—they were both a fabulous power couple tonight. He said Broadway demands the best of you. When they go on those hallowed boards, you have to be brilliant every time, rain or shine, whether you are ill or fine, you just have to be brilliant and both of them were brilliant tonight. Cat told them they are both safe based on last week’s dance.

Asaf and Kate joined together to do a jazz routine choreographed by Sean Cheesman. The story of the dance is that Asaf and Kate ARE the in-crowd at the club. Kate unfortunately does not feel safe with Asaf who is having trouble with the lifts. The song is “Braveheart” by Neon Jungle. I guess thes choreographer and the team captains felt it was better to get the lifts out of the song. It was an okay routine. I feel bad for Kate. She tried her best to make the situation work, but I think what happened messed up the chemistry they might have been able to have—to connect better. Jason told Kate she has been a favorite of his in the past few weeks. Jason said they got a lot of heat last week for saving him and he does not regret it. He thinks, however, that he is in that danger zone. He does not think his performance saved him. Jason feels like Asaf is in a limbo. Nigel said to Kate that her technique has never been in question; it has always been about a connection. She really connected to him tonight and he hopes she did with America. Nigel said that he is constantly being told by his choreographers how hard he works. This was so much better this week than his cha-cha last week. He lived up to his name and he “danced his ass-af.” Paula told Kate she looks lovely tonight. She said what she was happy about was that there was no more fear; she trusted her partner; both of them worked very well together. She told Asaf he was there for his partner and it is like night and day from last week to this week. Cat announces the results from last week’s votes, they ae both in danger this week.

Marissa and Yorelis join together for a Christopher Scott hip-hop number. For the story, Yorelis gets to hypnotize Marissa to win her over to Team Street. The song is “Let Go” by Kezwik featuring Mimi Page. They make a great team. This routine is among my favorites tonight. This is when I like Christopher Scott’s routines. Nigel thought Marissa’s tumbling skills really came into this routine, although she was terrific. He warns her she has to be careful to get the same liquid flow to her body that Yorelis has. He echoed Jason’s words earlier that he does not know who is on whose team tonight. He thought Yorelis is so beautiful and sensational. Her whole body moves to the music. It’s almost like she hasn’t been choreographed. The music drives her body. Paula wants to compliment both of them. She thought Marissa just licked it up and acknowledged it is hard for a jazz/contemporary dancer—the animation is hard. The choreography was well thought out and very clever. This is where Yorelis shines. Jason thought it was a really good performance. He said that after seeing some of the performances today, it did fall a little short. He wanted them to be a little more intense, a little bigger, based on the intensity of the song. At times they nailed it and at times they didn’t. The little intricacies he thought they did well. For the size of the song, he didn’t feel like the performance matched. It was good but it didn’t blow him away. Cat said that Marissa is the final dancer in danger tonight based on last week’s routine.

Megz and Edson are paired for a contemporary dance from Talia Favia. The story is about temptation and being extremely intrigued by it. Megz is discovering temptation and is constantly being pulled back by Edson. The song is “You There” by Aquilo. GOOSEBUMPS. The expressions on Megz face and her technique considering she is Team Street is so impressive. All the judges were on their feet. Paula was in tears. Paula had bumps all over her arms and she is very taken with this routine. She thought Megz was truly amazing. She told Edson they danced—she didn’t know how it could be any better. Words cannot describe so she is going to leave it at that. Jason said easily one of the best performances of the night. He thought the struggling in the shirt was a concept that was so dope but it could easily go wrong. You had to have the right amount of desperation and he believes they accomplished that. He thinks this number will go into SYTYCD history. Nigel thought for the first time a shirt has come off in this show for a good reason. Cat shrugs and says, “So you say.” The image of how much we hide from each other in a relationship was captured beautifully by Talia’s choreography. He felt she and JaJa have become contemporary dancers. You’ve moved over to Travis’ team. He told Edson that Edson finds it hard to be passionate in his dancing sometimes, but he did not tonight. He really released his emotions so it was great to see. It was a beautiful routine as everyone has said. And since the dancers who are in danger have already been revealed, both Edson and Megz are safe.

Team Street dances together to choreography by Luam. She feels it captures the spirit of New York and the hustler spirit. The song is “Commas” by Future. They nailed it. It was wonderful. The judges were on their feet.

Next up is Team Stage choreographed by Travis Wall. The theme is ghosts of theaters past. The song is “Beautiful Friends” by Helen Money. WOW TRAVIS WALL! I love you! That was so wonderful. I think this is the third time Travis has choreographed his own group number. Time to “Step Up” tWitch!

Twitter votes save JJ and Derek (injured Derek—is that fair Twitter?—he is automatically going to be in the bottom 3 next week). The judges save Kate and let Marissa go. As far as the street dancers, the judges save Ariana; Asaf is leaving the competition.





So You Think You Can Dance Season 12 Top 18 Perform, 2 Eliminated

1 08 2015

The opening number is Justin Timberlake’s “Let The Groove Get In.” Edson and Virgil were the ones who caught my eye tonight. I enjoyed that a lot. One of the better openers. It was choreographed by Reina Hidalgo and Asiel Hardison. Cat shared the results from last week’s show. Team Street had 48% of the vote and Team Stage got 52% of the vote.

Alexia and Derek and JaJa were paired with Stacey Tookey to perform a contemporary routine. The story is about bravery and how it takes on different forms. Derek is a war veteran; JaJa is a woman leaving an abusive situation; Alexia is a single mom. The song is “All Waters” by Perfume Genius. OH MY GOD. GOOSEBUMPS!!!! The entire song—goosebumps. I was almost near tears. Each one of them did a wonderful job, but JaJa and Derek affected me the most. Nigel said Alexia did a tremendous job. Seeing Derek relying on the girls and the girls on him was terrific. JaJa said she just started a new show for him—“Guess who is the street krumper”—because he would have never known. He said someone in his life told him to bloom wherever you are planted and that is exactly what she is doing. Paula said it always starts with choreography and she gets it right. She takes 3 separate unique dancers and blend them beautifully. They all danced beautifully tonight. Regarding Derek, she felt he really fell into the character and tonight so far was his best night. Regarding Alexia, she understands the height challenges and she is always going to have to stretch to be seen and she IS being seen. Regarding JaJa, each and every week she is morphing into a very accomplished dancer and because of that she is always going to have them in the palm of their hands rooting for her. Jason thought said it was beautiful. He felt like our country needed to see that. It was more than a competition—they were living up there. He agrees that tonight by far was Derek’s best routine. He felt like it was about the story and they delivered that tonight. The votes, based on last week’s dances: Alexia and JaJa and Derek are all safe.

Megz, Moises and Jim were paired together for a Team Street hip-hop routine choreographed by JaQuel Knight (who choreographed “All The Single Ladies” for Beyoncé). This dancer, however, is about standing up to the haters saying “whatever.” And appropriately the song choice is “Whuteva” by Remy Ma. Megz was the star of this. Moises was probably next best and Jim still struggled with being straight. Overall I enjoyed the routine quite a bit, and I have a feeling this might be my new anthem. I thought, too, it was clever that the song lyrics cued them in on what the choreography should be with the arms. Paula felt the routine they were given wasn’t necessarily technically challenging so the dance really relies on them filling in the spaces, committing to being in character and being over the top with the vibe and feel. She felt Megz did well but could even give more. Moises really needs to drop down into it like tWitch was saying. She felt the same with Jim but he was giving it his all. Jason thought it was cool. He said the first 75% she was giving it to him, but the last 25% she kind of dropped off. The guys were kind of like the brother back-up dancers. He felt this was not the guys’ best number and they struggled. Nigel agrees with Paula that it was more about the attitude than the steps. Nigel said it didn’t work. Megz gave it everything she had. He didn’t think Moises could be mean or cruel if anyone was kicking him about the stage, but he has to find that attitude. He didn’t comment on Jim. Cat shares the results from last week’s show: Jim and Megz are safe; Moises is in danger again this week.

Edson, JJ and Yorelis were next up to do a jazz routine with choreographer Tovaris Wilson. The song is about the push and pull of relationships. The song is “Restart” by Sam Smith. Edson owned the sexiness. The girls had no worries about their sexiness. They did a terrific job. Jason thought it was good and entertaining. Jason demonstrated to Edson what he was looking for—that he could be into the ladies at any time and not worrying about looking at one or the other. He encouraged him to be more free. Nigel said the girls were two of his favorite street kids this year. This was a nice way to bring the street kids into jazz with the groove. Edson needs to start using his sensuality into it now. Jason is right—keep your options open. Paula said this routine was all about the vibe. The two girls are little bright lights but they have to look at their techniques. We have to see pointed toes and arms with intention. Yorelis was more comfortable in this zone than JJ but they are both wonderful to watch. Edson was the dude; he was the stud; nothing more can be said. The results for last week’s dance puts Edson is in danger; Yorelis and JJ are safe.

Asaf and Marissa got together for a club cha-cha with Jean Marc Genereux. This is about the rock star coming into the room and the groupie fan. Twitch jokes with him that this week he doesn’t have to take him outside to talk to him and that is amazing. The song is “+1” by Martin Solveig featuring Sam White. Marissa was fantastic. You could really see Asaf struggling. He could see him thinking in his head about what he had to do and where he had to be to be a good partner that he totally left his hotness in the closet. This is a routine where he could have used his flirty nature to turn up the heat and if he had accomplished that all the little mistakes with arm positioning and many other things would have been overlooked. He had this little firecracker on his arm! Such a shame. I am glad he didn’t complain about the routine, now he needs to stretch himself. I have no idea why the audience gave them a standing ovation. Perhaps it was because of Marissa. Nigel said he didn’t know what club cha-cha was but it didn’t feel much like a cha-cha to him. I have to agree with Nigel. Towards the end there, I was thinking modern-day disco perhaps. He felt Marissa did everything that was required of her but instead of using him throughout the performance, she used the audience and she was supposed to be the “groupie” of Asaf (who he jabbed with that he looks like a rock star but doesn’t dance like one). Nigel complimented Asaf on how hard he did work this week. It is a journey. This was not a good routine for Asaf (comparing him to a caterpillar that will someday bloom into a butterfly). Paula said she could tell him about the cha-cha about not turning his hips in, not to be pigeon-toed with his feet, but forget all that. She looks at where he started and you can’t help but to feel completely changed to where he is now. It didn’t work for her either but he gets an “A” for effort. Regarding Marissa, the selflessness she saw in rehearsal didn’t come through in the final product and she agrees with Nigel. Jason said it is all about the connection. She didn’t have the same connection with him as she did with the audience and him; it came off as being fake. Regarding Asaf, he has to flex his muscles some to get some votes because he is going to have a hard time. Cat told them that Marissa is safe this week and Asaf is in danger this week.

Sean Cheesman choreographs Gaby, Burim and Ariana for an African jazz number that is what Sean calls the “Dance of the Blood Moon.” He says they are mystical creatures, like creepy animals. Indeed they looked like creepy spiders when the dance began to the song “Gorilla” by Lord Kraven. I would say Ariana was the star of that dance followed very closely by Gaby, but props to Burmin who held his own. He was worried about not getting it, but I think he got it. I loved the standing back rolls the ladies did. Did it give me goosebumps? No. But I think so far it was my second favorite dance of the night. Paula said it was a very strong routine. Paula said to Burim “I loved watching your package.” And Nigel interrupted and Paula realized what she said. She said the show is also about overcoming adversity as it is about getting constant praise. She loves to see the struggle and then they get to sit back with a smile on their face and say, “wow, you pulled through.” That’s charming, that’s exciting, and it makes them proud. Regarding the ladies, she said she knew they were strong but seeing them lift each other and throw each other—those two were fierce. The precision of dancing together was very well done. Jason said if Burim can’t find the foot, don’t let it not happen, just look down for it, because the audience doesn’t know that he isn’t supposed to look down. All in all Jason thought it was a really good performance. Conceptually it was one of the best numbers for him. Nigel said it was one of the best numbers for him tonight. Regarding Ariana, she looked comfortable in it. She was great and powerful in it. He can’t believe that Gaby is really a tap dancer. He is so proud of her. Nigel gave him some dancing pointers. Cat said Ariana and Burim are in danger this week and Gaby is safe.

Neptune and Kate teamed up with Justin Giles for a contemporary routine. It’s about a husband and wife saying goodbye not knowing if the husband will return from a dangerous job. The song is “Promise” by Ben Howard. I had such wonderful goosebumps. Kate improved with her emotional connection and Neptune—wow! He really dug deep. That was beautiful. Jason said that piece was beautiful. Choreography these days are a million steps, but this was not and they had to fill in the pieces and they did that beautifully. The chemistry was chilling. He felt like they were item and still feel that (just putting it out there). That was a grade-A performance. He felt Kate really came out of her shell. It was his performance from her. Neptune surprises him every single week. He doesn’t know who his favorite is this week but Neptune is kind of taking that spot. Nigel said he found it interesting and challenging. It was static in its movements but expansive in what it was trying to say as well. I was shocked when Nigel said that 10 years ago he would get complaints about a black person dancing with a white person (WOW—shocking). But he feels that so much was said in that routine and both portrayed it beautifully and complimented Kate on her performance. He has complained about her not releasing but she did this week. Paula said it was such a simple, beautiful concept yet so complex with emotions and both were able to deliver beautifully. Paula told Kate she was worried about Kate letting go and being vulnerable and she was just right. Neptune is one of the favorites. He is really showing the breadth of a dancer that he really is. Cat said that Neptune is safe. Kate is in danger.

Virgil and Hailee take on a hip-hop routine with Pharside and Phoenix number. They are robots from outer space. The song is “Runnin’” by Noahplause. WOW!!!!! I would have said Hailee was on Team Street. The moves were fantastic. I was blown away. Now, it didn’t give my goosebumps, but I think it was my favorite non-goosebumped-song. The judges were on their feet. Nigel said these two were the best two characters they have this year. Their personalities shine out beyond the little lights on their chest. Even though Hailee’s light has gone out she still….and Virgil came in and turned her light back on, still in character. That was a memorable routine. He thinks when they have a season 20 anniversary special, this routine would be on there. Paula said if they represent what aliens are, sign her up—she’ll go there. It was fantastic. It was crazy fun. Jason said he always knew Virgil was crazy, but he didn’t know Hailee was that crazy. If she is this good in street, he is anxious to see how far she will go. He had no idea. Cat tells them both of them are safe.

The group number for Team Stage was choreographed by Jaci Royal and it is about when you need help from people to overcome obstacles. The song chosen was “For My Help” by Hayden Calnin. OH MY GOD!!!! I’m in love. It looked like everything was timed perfectly and at times it took my breath away. I like that new choreographers are on board this year. It has added a different layer of depth to the show. The judges were on their feet.

Team Street is up next. Choreographed by Marty Kudelka (who was a nominee for best choreography in a music video and the 2007 winner VMA for best choreography in Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” video. Twitch said they have to be cooler than a polar bear’s toenails. The song is “Break Ya Neck” by Busta Rhymes. I enjoyed that, but liked Team Stage better.

The Twitter save goes to Ariana from Team Street and Kate from Team Stage. The judges save Asaf from Team Street (that is a mistake—Burim is a much better dancer). From Team Street, the judges save Edson. I think that was the right decision. Moises is a great dancer but Edson is the better of the two.





So You Think You Can Dance Season 12 Los Angeles Auditions

28 06 2015

Part of the programming was interrupted by the coverage of Tropical Storm Bill that was headed our way. However, it finished up by the time the first contestant’s audition started in Los Angeles. Asaf Goren does “Hebrew Breaking” as a style of dance. It was really interesting. It had an element of B-boy dancing that I don’t think I have ever seen before. Just when I thought he was done, he threw water on the ground and wowed me even more. All three judges were on their feet. Asaf was so emotional, he was getting all teary eyed. Nigel thought it was, in the British vernacular, bloody great B-boying. Paula thought he had a wonderful personality. Jason thought he is a star. He believes he is going to create something special that is going to change the world. He said sometimes people come in with that kind of confidence and it is off-putting, but after seeing him perform, he understands why, because it is the truth; it is not being cocky. Paula added that he danced from his heart and everyone could feel it. Nigel said he looked like a very young…and Jason chimed in Aladdin at the same time Nigel was saying Rock Hudson. He is through to Vegas.

Avo Karapetyan is formerly from Armenia but currently living in Boston. He came to try out for a spot on Team Stage with Travis Wall. He chose “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith. Instant goosebumps. His height was tremendous. His technique was terrific. The judges again were on their feet. Paula was crying. She said she would love to critique him but she cannot critique perfection. He is smashingly brilliant. Nigel thought he was a joy to watch. It was stunning. Jason said his hat went off to him. He was through.

Jana “Jaja” Vankova, an animator who made it to Pasadena last year but then got cut. Jason was already yelling at her. She is a tremendous animator. Right up there with Cyrus I think. I think she will give the Queen of Detroit a run for her money. Again the judges are standing on their feet for a standing ovation. Jason said that is bananas, that she became another being. He would pay money to see her. Paula thinks she is a perfectly wrapped gift that puts smiles on people’s faces. Nigel said it is a gift to watch her. She is through to Vegas.

Allen Genkin was trying out for Team Stage. He is a very young man who was diagnosed with testicular cancer and is now 3 years down the road from all of that. He chose “Land of 1000 Dances” by Will Pickett. I loved it. Paula said he lit up the stage with his high-energy routine. Paula was sarcastic about how terrible he was. It was so “off” in the right way, and that he was so fantastic, phenomenal, sexy, etc. Jason said before he started moving he knew he was going to be great. Nigel compared him to Benji Schwimmer. He is also through to Vegas.

A bunch of performers go through for Team Street. Brothers Illijaz and Burim “B1” Jusufi wished to join the team with their breaking moves. Some of their moves were typical moves we’ve seen before but some were unique. I think they deserve a ticket to Vegas, but I don’t think they’ll make the top 10. The judges liked it though. Nigel wasn’t sure why they had to take their t-shirts off to do their head spins. He thought they were incredible. Paula mirrors what Nigel is saying. Jason thought it was entertainment at its finest. They had a great connection between each of them and to the audience. They are through.

Mary Kate Lavoir called her dad out as a dance dad who bedazzles costumes. She danced a jazz routine to “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber. She is beautiful and definitely has star quality. She has great strength in her legs. There was a lot of self-glorification with the touching of herself that the judges have ridiculed them about in past seasons. Her routine was average. I think with a good choreographer, she could improve. I would say that most of her routine was about the self-touching and the rolling around on the floor. Nigel invites dad up to the stage to show his dad’s unique style. His name is Patrick (I like his name). He dances to “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul. Mary said she wasn’t feeling it; she has seen better at the kitchen table. Dad said it would be a long flight home. Paula thought it was the best walking she has seen. Jason thought he connected with Paula really well. Nigel thought he needed to be stronger. Nigel thought Mary, on the other hand, was tremendous. No for dad to Vegas but Mary will be going to Vegas.

Krump. I love krump. Krump started in 2001 in South Central Los Angeles. Krump was derived from clown dancing in 1992 (who knew?). I must have been asleep for that style of dance. The movie “Rize” inspired this next young man to get out of a gang and start dancing. James “B-Dash” Derrick hopes to take his game to the next level to make a career out of his moves. He dances to Glitch Mob’s “Animus Vox.” He threw some animation in there as well. He was on fire. I thought it was less krump though. Jason said he loved it because it is so different from what they are used to seeing. It didn’t feel angry but more like entertainment. Paula thought he was phenomenal. He is through to Vegas.

The next performer’s story was cut off due to more Tropical Storm Bill coverage. Shaolin from Mortal Kombat (?) was the song of choice for this ballet dancer. Jim Nowakowski owned that stage. It was like samurai ballet. Nigel compared him to Alex Wong. He felt they had the same strengths and technique. Alex was from the Miami Ballet; he is from the Houston Ballet (Woo-hoo Houston!). The performance was remarkable. Nigel thought it was one of the best dances he has ever seen on the show. Paula said he was exceptional. Jason asked him how many hours a day does it take to become a dancer like him. He replied “Forty hours?” They all giggled with that. Then he realized what he said and corrected himself saying eight hours. Jason felt it was amazing to have watched something like that. Jim obviously makes it through.

The last contestant on day one of the LA auditions was a young man with Down syndrome named Cody Carlson. He wanted to audition for Team Street with some freestyle hip-hop. Jason Derulo was his inspiration. Jason cheers him on. He is a terrific dancer. Jason said he is a born entertainer. Nigel shares that for the first time ever they are entering dance into the Special Olympics. Nigel is honest with him that this competition might not be the right one for him to be in because the dancers at this level are so technically trained, but he might be representing America in the Special Olympics. Paula said he is magnificent and not to forget that. Jason said he was an inspiration to him and a lot of people watching him. I don’t think Cody cared about a ticket to Vegas. He just wanted to hug Jason and it was a beautiful moment that made me cry. But Jason also hands him a ticket to Vegas.

Day two of the LA auditions commenced. Jacy Jordan was up first. When she was 7, she and her family were in a car accident. She was ejected out of the window despite her seat belt. She was bleeding to death and she might lose her leg. They told her she would never walk again but she refused to accept that. She is from Manvel, Texas? Wow! That is just south of Houston. (I looked up the story and it indeed happened). James Vincent McMorrow’s “Cavalier.” I really enjoyed her dance. It had a lot of emotion and wonderful technique. It was a great song choice, too. Jason said he felt attached to her because he had a near-death experience as well. He said he is not a crier, but he had to hold back his tears because that (her dancing) was such a moment for him. Paula said that dance, if you have experienced it, keeps you going through the hardest of times. She didn’t see any disability; she saw incredible ability. Nigel said the fact that she is dancing is, in fact, a miracle. Nigel said as far as Vegas, he was going to pass because he felt they had stronger dancers. Jason said yes and Paula said yes, so she is going through.

Jessica Rabone has a Japanese heritage and has been living in the shadow of her sister Becky who is a celebrity over there. Jessica decided to combine waacking and “house” for her audition. She had previously been in a battle with Comfort Fedoke, a contestant from season 4. She and Comfort were a team and they won the battle. Jessica has such a stage presence and has a face of a star. Her dancing was fierce! It was so fluid and–I’m not kidding–my dog while sound asleep was moving rhythmically to the song. When it was over, he stopped (he was sleeping). Nigel thought he saw a lot of Toni Basil in her. Jessica said Toni had trained her. Paula said she was like a mini superhero. She was representing quirky and fun with an amazing infectious smile and she knows how to work it and play her character well. She only suggested she incorporate more of a vocabulary with her movement but it was wonderful. It was very special. Jason said he loved it too. He was about to have some coffee but he had his fair share of caffeine right there–with a little cream, of course. Nigel said she lit up her stage. The smile lights up the entire theater. He thinks she needs more steps but this is not “so you think you can choreograph” so she is going to Vegas.

A group of female hip-hop dancers who were just hitting it hard on stage, and who I can’t wait to see in Vegas, all made it through.

Kareem “Anointed” Ali came with a unique dance style: All-style spiritual vibrational dance. I hope his dance style lives up to his hype. I’m not sure how this is different from the usual street dancing, but some of the moves were unique. The whole dance was indeed entertaining. Some of those moves made my biceps hurt. Nigel said what was great about him is that he was performing and his great personality came across. He did some really brilliant b-boy stuff. Paula said he has a gift. He dances in his own lane and that is what she is looking for. Jason said being a street performer you have to have a special something to stand out in a crowd. He brought that on stage. He lived up there. He is a gift. He gets a ticket to Vegas.

The last contestant is Brandon Armstrong. In 2012, he wasn’t old enough at that time and he was given a ticket to come back in 2013 but he went on a mission. During that mission he had to talk about Jesus from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. No TV. He was not even allowed to dance. He chose “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson. The year off did not harm his dancing ability in any way. He needs to back off on the facial expressions a bit. I think he deserves a ticket to Vegas. Jensen, his partner who is underage for the show, gets her own ticket to come back next year. Paula thought he was stunning. He has a lot of flair and wonderful style and is very well trained. Jason said his father said, “you gotta know how to handle a woman” and Brandon knows how to handle his woman. In ballroom you have to know how to dominate and that is exactly what he did. Nigel cautioned him on the mouth “oo” expressions. He also cautioned him on overextending in some of his lines. He is going to Vegas.

After four cities now 84 stage dancers and 84 street dancers were going to Vegas.





o You Think You Can Dance Season 12 Detroit Auditions

19 06 2015

The auditions move on to Detroit where 18-year-old Christine Shepard from Columbus, Ohio danced to “Settle Down” by Kimbra hoping for a ticket to Vegas and an ultimate spot on Team Travis. While I developed no goosebumps, I did find it very entertaining. I felt like she incorporated some movements of African jazz into her own eclectic jazz performance. It had so much personality and had Paula on her feet. Paula said she is a bright light, a breath of fresh air, hashtag everything. She adored her. Jason said it was a hell of a start. He thanked her for blessing the audience. The nuances were everything for him. It makes such a difference when you have the bing, bang, boom, and then you hit them with a little nuance, a little ornament. It’s those moments that make a performance special. He commented as well on the African vibe that made it a little different. Nigel said everyone has a light inside of them that there is something in life that will make them turn it on. Sometimes they don’t know they have it or what will make that happen, but she has it and it is shining out like a beacon. It was the little things like the side-split contraction, then the shoulders, and then the contraction. It was magical and a great way to start the day. Of course, she made it through to Vegas.

Animator Kenya Sutton is the Queen of Detroit, Queen of the Streets, S.O, Standing O, just O. She is almost as good as Cyrus. All three judges were on their feet. That is just so difficult to do (animation). Jason said now he knows why she is called Standing O because there is no better response than a standing ovation to her performance. The fact that she brought sexiness to animation he has never seen that. She made it hot, sexy and feminine, and that is dope. Paula said she is everything they have been looking for in this competition. She is unique. She is clever and witty, tongue-in-cheek, great flirting with Jason. She is pretty darn special. Nigel asked her why it has been so long since she came to audition. She was afraid of being overlooked. Before she would have had to go through ballroom and contemporary and she didn’t train yet in that. She wasn’t even going to fool herself. So Nigel says now that there is just stage and street side she is going to climb up and up that ladder. She gets a ticket.

Kelly MacCoy met Tyrell Noll in line at last year’s auditions in Atlanta who is now her fiancé. I think that makes two couples (tWitch and Allison Holker got married). She chose “A New Day Has Come” by Celine Dion. It was done well but there were only some moves at the end that made it special. It’s hard when you have other people like Christine. I think she deserves to go to Vegas because she will only get better. Nigel said that she reminds him of Ginger Rogers. She had fabulous technique, great feet, loved everything she did. He felt her connection with the music as well. Paula said what is special about her is that even in the moments where she is not dancing there is such a different emotional connection. She was outstanding. Jason said it was a stunning performance and he loved everything about it. Her kicks were way up and her altitudes were some of the best they have seen. Three yeses.

Her fiancé Tyrell Noll performs freestyle to “Habits” by Maria Mena. The music is beautiful. He was animating so well it sort of glided. It was beautiful. Paula said he went against the grain and picked music not typically used for street dancing and that was very intelligent. His movement reflected a story. Nigel said it is very rare that they disagree. He didn’t find a lot of dancing going on. He has seen the puff and walk done so many times and it done better. Tyrell makes his case that dance is about emotion and pouring your heart out on the stage. Jason gave it two thumbs up. There was such an element of acting to it and dancers need to be actors as well. He gets two out of three yeses which gives him a ticket to Vegas.

Break dancer Corey “Mission” Whitfield, age 30, is from Detroit and works for the Pistons. He chose “Latch” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith. He reminds me a little of Legacy. Jason thought it was very impressive. Paula loved him. Nigel invited his godchildren up on stage to dance with him. The kids were awesome. How old are they? Can they go through to Vegas? Mission is going to Vegas.

Then came a large montage of people going through to Vegas for Team Street.

Brooke Fong came to do a jazz routine from California. She chose “Fever” by Beyonce. I like her. Her spin moves were pretty phenomenal. Jason said they talk about those special moments where they can go home and still talk about and she had them in those pirouettes. Paula thought she was a very smart dancer, very sharp and in her control of her core. She thought she was a contender. Nigel said she was sharper than the spikes on a porcupine’s ass. He felt like she was raising the standard again this year. Three yeses.

Next was a montage of people trying out for Team Stage.

Two dancers from The Bronx came together to try out on opposing teams. First was stage dancer Chelsea Harold, age 26, dancing contemporary to “Brain” by Banks. Her flexibility did not seem to be there like the other dancers we’ve seen. She looked like she was struggling. Her legs were not high enough in her jumps. I love her spirit and I loved the concept of the dance, but I’m not sure what happened in the other. Paula said she is a proficient dancer—she could see her training—but there were areas where she needed to extend more. Nigel said her legs appeared tensed. Jason felt that her emotion was more internalized. She received three no’s.

Her friend Samantha Reyes was hoping for a different answer. She dances in the subways. She is going to freestyle street dance. She chose “Faded” by Zhu. It was good. I think she needs some help perfecting her style a bit though. Jason likes her passion but he thinks she needs to add more to her repertoire. Paula said she sees softness in her but Paula reassures her that it is a beautiful thing. Paula said she needs to be taught structure and choreography so she can start building her dance vocabulary but she shows a lot of promise. Nigel says he sees a girl who has to be tough in her life but agrees with Paula that there is a softness about her. She gets three yeses.

Jessica Southwell (aka J-South) auditioned doing a tap/Charleston. OUCH! She fell. It was interesting. He said the routine was juvenile but the outfit made him short for words. She said, “It’s ironic.” Paula thinks she needs to work on the cleanliness of her taps. Jason thought it was like a dirty Snow White. All three were a no, but Jason called her “babe” so she can go away with that I suppose.

At the end of the day ten dancers were joining Team Street and five more were joining Team Stage.

Day two in Detroit. Miranda Wilking just turned 18 on the day of her audition with District 78’s “The Antidote.” That was some hard-hitting dancing there. She was not going to be denied a ticket! I’ll remember the intensity, but not so much signature moves. There was no critique other than Nigel saying “she’s fierce” while she was dancing. She has a ticket to Vegas.

Aaron Viland describes his style as pop-and-lock-a-mation. He dances to “The Creep” by The Lonely Island. He had the judges up dancing. Nigel thanked him for making everyone so happy but it wasn’t strong enough for them to put him through. Paula predicted he was going to become an internet sensation. Jason said they needed a little wakeup call and thanked him.

Michael Manson came on stage to perform the legendary Detroit Jit. That is one FAST dance!!! I wonder how many calories you can burn doing that? Nigel thought it was good. Paula said, “Jit happens.” Michael said that is their slogan. Paula thought what he is doing was extraordinary but he needed to change it up. Jason was there for it. He gets a ticket to Vegas.

Kelsey Rose Young is performing a tap routine to “Bang Bang” by Jessie J. WOW!!!!! She is fantastic. She intermixed some krump into her tap routine. Nigel said she is a born performer. He loved the track she danced to because it was fresh and modern. Her performance was outstanding (a little over the top if he is being honest). Her performance reminded him of Paula. She was double espresso coffee in the morning. Paula wants to carry her in her purse everywhere she goes. She thought she was a little firecracker and she surprised Paula. Jason felt that tap is a dying art and it needs to be brought to current times, like what she did. She gets a ticket.

There was a montage of unnamed stage performers who received a yes for Vegas, followed by a montage of both street and stage dancers who received a no.

Gabby Diaz got cut after her solo in Dallas (a week ago). She completely changed her solo based on the judges’ feedback. She chose “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves. I loved it. It was a great tap song. Jason said “now that was amazing” before the actual critiques occurred. Nigel said her auditions were like night and day for him. Her song choice was right, her expressions were right, her interpretation was right. Paula said she took the constructive criticism that they gave her, she took it and it paid off. It was very smart of her and Paula is very proud of her. Jason is proud of her as well. She was almost like a new dancer. She gets the prize—the ticket to Vegas.

Krumper Roydell Shannon blew up the stage with his performance. His son BamBam was called to the stage. BamBam gets a standing ovation from the judges. Nigel thought he was just as good as Russell. Paula thought he brought other dimensions into his routine, not just krumping, and it was incredible. Jason said he was more than a krumper—he is an entertainer. He became a beast and he’s got buck. Definitely going to Vegas.

The tally is 55 dancers for Team Travis and 60 for tWitch