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.





So You Think You Can Dance S11 Hell Week

2 07 2014

SoYouThinkYouCanDanceDuring the Pasadena, California callbacks, Adam Shankman, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Tara Lipinski, and Irina Dvorovenko joined Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.

 

CallbackJudges

Solos were first. One hundred and fifty-seven contestants danced in front of the judges. Tanisha Belnap‘s solo was okay, but now that I’ve seen other ballroom dancers, she is not quite at their level. I loved Steven Kador. Even “tWitch” went “oooooo.” After this round, 36 dancers were cut including puppet-dancer Paul Brushaber. One hundred twenty-one dancers remained.

The first choreography challenge was hip-hop. Christopher Scott and Jasmine Harper demonstrated the routine. The contestants had the night to rehearse. Steven Kador and Malene Ostergaard danced together and were through. Marie Poppins was through. Jessica Richens was asked to dance for her life. Marcquet Hill was fabulous and was put through. Trevor Bryce, Caleb Bruner, Megan Marcano, and Franchesca Bass were sent home. Jessica Richens danced for her life and made it through to the next round of choreography.

ScottAndHarper

Sonya Tayeh put them through the paces with a jazz routine. George Lawrence II and Amy Yakima demonstrated the dance. Alla Kocherga was a no, but Zach Everheart moved on. Serge Onik, Johnny “Waackd” Gibson, and Jourdan Epstein are all through. Steven Kador, Shafeek Westbrook, and Marie Poppins all were sent home. Jana “Jaja” Vankova had to dance for her life and she was sent through to the next round of choreography along with 64 other dancers.

SonyaTayeh

The dreaded ballroom was choreography round 3 with Dmitry Chaplin and Anya Garnis demonstrated. They were once again given the night to practice. Zach Everheart and Valerie Rockey were through.

DmitryAnya

Travis Wall led round 4 of choreography for contemporary dance with the lovely Makenzie Dustman. Bridget Whitman and Landon Anderson had to dance for their lives. After the contemporary rounds, 29 boys and 21 girls were left to compete.

Travis

Group night was next. Once again they were given overnight to choreograph and learn their steps.  They were broken up into groups of five and given a CD of music. They are required to choreograph and perform the routine. “One Love” consisting of Ryan Johnson, Ryan Redman, Carly Blaney, Novien Yarber, and Serena Pav did not do well at all. Tara thought it was “a mess” as did Irina. Mary told Serena that international rumba is not done on the show for a reason. Nigel said they need smart dancers and that was not smart. He makes the group go decide who will go home. When they could not reach a decision, and because they were willing to all go home versus give up a name, Nigel puts them all through.

The group containing Trenton Williams, Kamille Upshaw, Zach Everheart, Malene Ostergaard, and Johnny “Waackd” Gibson did a wonderful job dancing to “All of Me” by John Legend. I had goosebumps. Adam Shankman thought it was lovely. Tara said it showed they thought about each other but showcased their individual strengths as well. It was Nigel’s favorite routine of the morning.

At this point there were 44 dancers left. They were asked to dance their final solos. Ricky Ubeda may be my favorite dancer this year. I had seriously major goosebumps. In the background you could hear Adam Shankman say, “He’s the best dancer you have.” The four dance crews who will perform are “Academy of Villans“, “Wanted Ashiqz,” “Control Freakz” and “Syncopated Ladies.”

The dancers who walked the final mile were: Ricky Ubeda, Jessica Richens, Jacque LeWarne, Teddy Coffey, Stanley Glover, Carly Blaney, Emilio Dosal, Jana “Jaja” Vankova, Novien Yarber, Serena Pav, Armen Way, Johnny Wacckd Gibson, Bridget Whitman, Valerie Rockey, Zach Everheart, Jourdan Epstein, Casey Askew, Emily James, Landon Anderson, Haley Payne, Justine Lutz, Nick Garcia, Rudy Abreu, Tanisha Belnap, Serge Onik, Malene Ostergaard, Brooklyn Fullmer, Marcquet Hill, and Erik “Silky” Moore.





So You Think You Can Dance S11 Chicago Day 2 and Los Angeles Auditions

11 06 2014

Chicago Day 2

Joining Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe for day 2 of the Chicago auditions was Fabrice Calmels from the Joffrey Ballet.

First up was “The Puppet” Paul Brushaber. He is 18 and from Mokena, Illinois. He makes it look so easy but I cannot imagine how difficult his style of dance is. I would send him to choreography just to give him an opportunity to partner with someone. The judges surprised me. Mary wanted to live in his world. Fabrice loved that he created his own style.

Emily James, a 21-year-old from North Kingstown, Rhode Island, auditioned twice before in seasons 8 and 9. She took season 10 auditions off so she could use her degree, but she discovered that it is dance is what she should be doing. I got a mini-set of goosebumps at times. She has power but there is something missing here. Maybe it was just nerves or maybe a disconnection of her dance to the chosen music emotionally. I remember when I first saw Melanie Moore and I knew she would be the winner. Melanie always extended her reach lines just a little bit further. But Emily had some interesting moves I have not seen others do. Fabrice said it was solid. She is through to the next round.

We are then shown a montage of people who get through, but they are cutting the audition features down it seems.

Next up is Franchesca Bass, an 18-year-old young lady from Crown Point, Indiana. I loved that she created this story behind her dance. It was unique and interesting. Nigel was mesmerized by her and she had fabulous techniques. Fabrice, too, thought it was unique and he really enjoyed it. She is through to the next round.

Jenna Scaccia is an 18-year-old trainee with the Joffrey Ballet and apparently has a slight crush on Fabrice. She is a ballet dancer but it looks more like contemporary with ballet mixed in. It was light and heavenly and I’d give her a ticket. And they do. Nigel said she had a good flow of movement and it was very beautiful. Mary said it was like she floated on a cloud. She made Fabrice proud; he loved it.

James Thomas is a hip-hop dancer who does contortion and bopping. He is from Chicago. This type of dance is always so freaky to watch (in a good way). Fabrice thought it was insane. He tells them that he knows other styles so they give him a yes to choreography. Choreography proved too much for him and he drops out.

Los Angeles

Christina Applegate joined Mary and Nigel for this round of the auditions.

Jessica Richens from Yorba Linda, California did a jazz number. I loved the routine but I hope her “sexy” does not become a crutch. I think this particular audition was my favorite to watch so far of all the ones shown to date. Mary and Christina thought she could win the show and she is through.

I enjoyed Valerie Rockey‘s tap routine quite a bit. Mary said she was full of light and life. Christina said she wanted to look at her feet but she was drawn up to her face and then she saw what she was looking for in her expressions. She is through to choreography and from there she got through to the next round.

Jana “JaJa” Vankova is part of Phillip Cheeb’s animation crew who hails from the Czech Republic but now lives in Chatworth, California. She needs some lessons from Cyrus to get her animating to the next level. It was enjoyable. She is through to the next round.

The next contestant was a joy. Kyle Taylor is a 28-year-old man from Wichita, Kansas. He does popping in his home, but has never had professional guidance. I was amazed. Kyle just wanted to get a favorable opinion from other dancers. Kyle, I don’t know if my opinion counts, but that was hot! You were on fire! Nigel proposes a battle and Fik-Shun, Cyrus, and Legacy get up from the audience and join Kyle on stage for a little dance-off. I enjoyed this part so much. It made this guy’s day. He did such a great job that they give him a yes to choreography but he bowed out when he realized it was too much above his level.

Justine Lutz has experience in ballet and jazz but decides to do a contemporary routine for her audition. For a moment I was worried for her. For someone who has no experience in contemporary (and freely admitted this to the judges) who had the guts to do contemporary, it was beautiful. I had goosebumps. All three judges were standing and she is, of course, through to the next round.

Mauricio Vera and Deise Mendoza are in love. They are 27 and 23 respectively from Santa Barbara, California. I got goosebumps. Christina was in tears. She wanted to watch them all day long. Mary started crying. Off to the next round for both of them.

Hailee Payne is a 19-year-old from Roy, Utah. Her family is a lot of fun as well. I think Sonya Tayeh will LOVE getting her hands on her. I loved her hair (I want it). I also loved her dance. I will remember her because of the unique style that makes her stand out. I also liked her personality. That is a big part of the ability to win over people’s votes. It is not always being about the best dancer. She is through.

Sebastian Serra, a 24-year-old from Orlando, Florida, was fabulous! He was cut last year right before the green mile. I hope he makes it further this year.

Dani Platz‘s story of overcoming an eating disorder (and still fights these demons) between ages 16 and 18 was powerful. Her story was in her dance. She is such a brave young lady and a great role model for other dancers who starve themselves. Not only did I have goosebumps, but I was crying. I felt like she was broken and then at times healed and then broken and then healed throughout the entire dance. This is what I mean about having an emotional connection to the dance that I felt was lacking in Emily James. This is NOW my favorite dance shown to date. “Dance is like oxygen for the soul.” I loved that. Christina saw her story in her dance, too. She said she was healing through dance and it was beautiful. I was SHOCKED that they wanted to put her through choreography (and Christina was, too). But she fortunately made it through that round.

Marie “Poppins” Bonnevay is a popper who lives in North Hollywood, California and performs on the street. In doing such, she has to engage the audience in order for them to leave money to support herself. She utilized this skill during her audition with a very positive response as well. When she got close enough to the show’s previous contestants, Fik-Shun jumped up on stage and engaged with her. I love seeing this with the other dancers coming up and getting caught up in the moment (or if it is rehearsed, who cares about that). They need to keep this portion of it. She is moved to tears by it and she gets a ticket to the next round.

Dance Crews

Breaksk8 versus Academy of Villains.

Breaksk8 was interesting but I liked the Academy of Villains better.