So You Think You Can Dance — Season 9 — Top 20

28 06 2012

So You Think You Can Dance — Season 9 — Top 20 Revealed and Performance Show

What a great night to not only celebrate the 200th episode of So You Think You Can Dance, but to also welcome back the magnificent Mia Michaels. Cat Deeley looked particularly stunning this evening as she opened the show. Nigel Lythgoe announced that there would be two winners this season: One from the girls and one from the guys. On the judges panel this evening where our regulars, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, and guest judge is adorkable Zooey Deschanel from Fox’s hit show “New Girl.

Learning Their Fate — Whittling down 35 to the Top 20

People who are in: The first 3 people receiving a yes from the judges were Alexa Alexander, George Lawrence II and Will Thomas. Amber Jackson who had auditioned in season 6, got to the Green Mile, did not make it, auditioned again, and did not even get that far, and said she would not audition again was through. She had grown a great deal emotionally and came back. Perseverance and a positive attitude paid off well for her. After a fake out that made Lindsay think she was out, Witney Carson and friend Lindsay Arnold were both in. Nick Bloxson-Carson also won a spot. Daniel Baker, who had left his job in the San Francisco Ballet and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp who left his job in New York City, both were in. Eliana Girard in her blue-suede shoes and bubbly personality was also on the show. Both Tiffany Maher and Audrey Case went in together. Debbie Allen said she was almost invisible but then she pushed her way to the front. As Tiffany receives a yes, Audrey looks worried. Adam Shankman breaks the news that she made it as well. She cannot believe it and asks, “Wait….are you sure?” She goes and calls her mom. Janelle Issis also was in disbelief as Adam welcomed her into the top 20. Adam said, “Honey, OWN this. You’re the first belly dancer in the top 20.” Janelle is a bit accident prone. She smacked her nose going back through the door to the waiting area and was ill this evening and told not to dance in the performance show. Mary Murphy did a silly version of Simon Says with Ryan-Gosling-look-alike Matthew Kazmierczak with which he readily complied and then received a yes. Dareian Kujawa told the panel he was working on his feet positioning, but they are like brutes. Lil’C tells him to keep working on that because he is in to the top 20. Janaya French moved to Los Angeles after she Vegas week and has had some highs and lows. She is through. After telling the last two girls that they were looking for star quality this year, Tyce Diorio  informed Amelia Lowe she was put through as the final female contestant.  Mary was telling Cole Horibe about hills and valleys in a dancer’s life and compliments him on his uniqueness. She sees no valleys for him–he is put through to the top 20. Namaste, Cole. Stepper Brandon Mitchell joined the top 20. Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, who struggled with choreography in Vegas, but always had a great attitude, showed an ability to adapt quickly, and has that special “it” factor. Not only does he radiate this wonderful energy, but he has quite the fan base in America. Even though his dancing might not be up to par with some of the others, his personality will take him far. Nigel commented that he has “never seen anybody like Cyrus in my entire life.”

People who are out: I was surprised by the no given to Megan Branch. She was really good, but they are looking for variety. Abigail Ruz, Kaitlynn Edgar, Katie Muth, and Rebecca Hart were encouraged to come back next year. Sadly, Joshua Alexander was a no this season. No one can really know if the trip to the emergency room that stopped him from performing his final solo became a factor. They insisted Joshua return next season and I hope he does as well. He is a tremendous dancer. They also passed this year on Blake Zelesnikar, Jasmine Mason, and Daniel Kermidas. Jill Johnson, who went into the judges’ room together with Amelia Lowe, was sent home. Tappers did not fare well this season, sending Aaron Turner and Zack Everheart home. Going into the judges’ room with Brandon Mitchell was Devon McCullough. Adam said they would see Devon next year. With Cyrus in, that meant that Feliciano Turk, who had wonderful moments in Vegas, was out.

Dance #1


Dancers: Alexa, George, Will, Amber
Song: “We Found Love (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge)” by JessieJ
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio

My thoughts: They had great expression, reach, lines, timing, partnering. They blended and complimented each other with a very fluid flow. I got goosebumps (and if you haven’t read my blog before, my goosebumps never lie) towards the end.

The Judges: Nigel gave constructive criticism to Will about keeping up with the shorter dancers. He had encouraging words for Alexa and Amber. To George, Nigel said that if every light in the studio went out, he would still shine. Mary complimented Will’s partnering skills. She complimented Alexa on dealing with her demons. George’s leaps were phenomenal and Amber shed her emotional baggage. Zooey complimented the team work; she could not wait to see more.

Dance #2


Dancers: Witney, Lindsay and Nick
Song: “Dance Again” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison

My thoughts: It had great energy and great partnering. It didn’t floor me (sorry).

The judges: Mary gave a “woo” that sounded like the train was still in the station and not the hot tamale train that was moving. Zooey said the girls looked like twins and were incredible. Nick kept up with them as well.

Dance #3


Dancers: Daniel, Chehon, and Eliana
Song: “Romantic Inclinations/Like a Shot/Fury” by P. Mottram/S. Everitt/G Shadid, T. Marberger
Choreographer: Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden

My thoughts: Goosebumps, but not the entire song. It looked like at times the boys were flinching when they got too close to Eliana, and then when the judges were commenting, it was apparent that the costume was inflicting wounds on them. Boo to the costuming department on that one.

The judges: Nigel commented the boys on their bravery at leaving paying jobs to come to the show. He also complimented Eliana on her classical skills. Mary called Eliana a ballet warrior. Mary went from “wow” or “woo” in her hot-tamale-train voice but her train whistle did not sound like it was quite fully on the train.

Dance #4


Dancers: Audrey and Tiffany (Janelle was out per doctor’s orders)
Song: “Sail” by AWOLNATION
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh (assisted by Season 8 winner Melanie Moore)

My thoughts: Audrey and Tiffany had great timing, wonderful warrior spirit and great team work. It did not give me the goosebumps though.

The judges: Zooey said they made an amazing, great pair. The choreography was incredible. Tiffany was very strong and Audrey was graceful, which made for a good pairing. Nigel said that they looked like Pebbles (of the Flintstones) dancing.

Dance #5


Dancers: Dareian, Amelia, Janaya, and Matthew
Song: “Modern Drift” by Efterklang
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey

My thoughts: My eyes were fixed on Amelia. She reminded me of my favorite from last season, Melanie Moore, especially in the jump into Dareian’s arms.

The judges: Zooey thought it was delicate and beautiful, like watching a painting move. Amelia shines like she irradiates light. Mary gave accolades to Stacy Tookey for the routine. She said Dareian had great strength, power and partnering. Amelia was fabulous. Janaya was not on their radar at first, but she is “now out of that radar.” I think Mary meant to say she was now ON their radar. Mary still loves Matthew.

Dance #6


Dancers: Brandon, Cole, Cyrus
Song: “Resolve” by Nathan Lanier
Choreographer: Christopher Scott (and Marko Germar said on Twitter he assisted in this routine)

My thoughts: I loved the baseball voiceover using their real names. Very clever, very inventive. It was a fantastic idea for a routine especially with the baseball all-stars game coming up on Fox. Christopher Scott did a wonderful job highlight each one of their strengths but blended with perfection. I did not get chills but I enjoyed it immensely.

The judges: Cat Deeley said she had the first chills of the season (I know she is not a judge but I love her as a host). Nigel commented that in front of them was a stepper, an animator and a martial artist and that they complimented each other, and complimented Christopher for highlighting each one of their strengths. Mary said they “hit it out of the ballpark with that one.”

Dance #7


Dancers: The girls
Song: “Where The Light Gets In” by Sennen
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Story: The door is the gateway to the afterlife.

My thoughts: Travis Wall’s choreography always seems to elicit a deep emotional response from me, much like Mia Michaels. It was like watching angels dancing on the plane of existence between the two worlds. I got goosebumps about halfway in and had tears in my eyes by the end of the routine.

The judges: Nigel said it was like frieze on a Greek vase and complimented Travis on his growth since being a contestant on SYTYCD. Zooey said it was a beautiful routine for beautiful girls. Cat mentioned the word “ethereal.”

Dance #8


Dancers: The boys
Song: “Precognition (Steed Lord Machine Mix)” by Steed Lord
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Story: They had to fight to win on the show. During the footage of learning the routine, she said having this group is like releasing the wolves to the masses (and I instantly pictured “Twilight”). She wants them to be exposed physically to expose the inner man. Brandon was comfortable with the male-male partnering ’cause he “likes the ladies.”

My thoughts: Each group of guys got to show their strengths but it did not illicit an emotional response from me like the girls did. I definitely did not like the high-waisted costumes. The guys looked very uncomfortable in them.

The judges: Nigel does not like the pants either (called them maternity pants). He chuckles at Will because he is not as buff as the other guys. The routine was athletic, gymnastic and strong, and the boys had to be that way now. Mary enjoyed George’s assisted lift. She loved the routine and thought the guys were great. Zooey would love to join in with them, and the boys were encouraging her to come up and do so. She thought it was all fantastic.

Dance #9


Dancers:
The top 20
Song:
“Eyes (Coachella Live 2012 Version)” by Kaskade
Choreographer:
MIA MICHAELS IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My thoughts: I love Mia and have missed her being on the show. I got goosebumps when they moved their sunglasses off their eyes onto their heads right at the part of the show that said, “look into my eyes.” Eyes are the window into a person’s soul. The choreography keeps building throughout the entire song. I had goosebumps the entire song. And everyone stepped up.

The judges: Nigel kept it short and sweet, “Welcome home momma; you’ve been missed.”

It was a phenomenal ending to a terrific beginning for the journey of season 9’s top 20. They take a week off for our United States July 4th birthday, and will be back on July 11th.

My Early Favorites (in no particular order and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time)


Guys: Cole Horibe, Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, Daniel Baker, George Lawrence II, Dareian Kujawa
Girls: Amelia Lowe, Janelle Issis, Eliana Gerard, Amber Jackson, Alexa Anderson

Who are yours?

National Dance Day

The third-annual National Dance Day will take place on Saturday, July 28. There is a hip-hop master class with Lauren Gottlieb, Lauren Froderman, and Brandon Bryant video and a Zumba fitness video for people of all levels with Kass Martin, Gina Grant and SYTYCD All-Stars Allison Holker and Ade Obayomi. That Saturday evening, there will be a Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Music Center. Desmond Richardson will be performing as will Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theater, LXD, and the All-Stars from SYTYCD (past and present). Click on the logos below to learn more.





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 — Salt Lake City auditions

14 06 2012

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 9, Salt Lake Auditions — 2012

Judges Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe gave a tutorial about what NOT to do when you are auditioning: No booty shaking; no self-worship (rubbing, touching yourself); and no reaching, with Adam Shankman doing the illustrations. The girls dominated in this city as did ballroom dance, which has been not seen much at all in the other cities.

Who I Liked A LOT

Witney Carson, American Fork, Utah, Cha-Cha/Tango: The girl on FIRE. It was hot and she is only 18 years of age. Her father looked very uncomfortable in the audience as Nigel talked about her sensuality and sexuality within the dance. Mary, for the first time this audition season, put her on the HOT TAMALE TRAIN, and blew out the eardrums of Nigel and Adam. Adam claimed, “I’m a slave for you.” And uses the “F” word in Salt Lake City. She is definitely through to Vegas.

Witney Carson

Gene Lonardo; Las Vegas, Nevada; contemporary: Although I should put him in the Odd-Ball LOT because he came out saying he was going to do the dance of the male praying mantis, it was stunning to watch, and I immediately thought that Sonya Tayeh (choreographer) would love to play the female praying mantis. The routine really made him stand out. He was an average dancer as contemporary styles go, but the fact that he choreographed the dance himself set him apart. Although it did get weird when Gene told Nigel he imagined him as the female praying mantis (because Nigel was fearsome to him). Awkward. He is through to Vegas.

Gene Lonardo, male praying mantis

Lindsay Arnold; Provo, Utah; ballroom Latin: She dances wonderfully. It was a shame her partner was not competing because he deserved a ticket as well). She was through to Vegas.

Lindsay Arnold

Mariah Spears; Phoenix, Arizona; krump: White girls CAN KRUMP! I was not expecting this. When she said she was going to krump, Adam spat out his drink. But she lived up to the hype. She was fabulous. I wished L’il C was in the room judging then. I think she needs to work on the open-mouth look. The anger should come through her movements without the “O” face. She was sent to choreography and then on to Vegas.

Mariah Spears

Murphy Yang; Roy, Utah; contemporary: His family disowned him and moved to California. He was homeless for awhile. I admire him for sticking to his dreams despite his idiot family. He had quite a mixture of styles in his dance. There was a good sense of humor, good musicality. Then he lifted his shirt with “Vegas?” on it and I loved it. He has had no formal training. I bet you if Debbie Allen had been the judge, she would have offered him free lessons at one of her schools. Adam Shankman was on the verge of tears. Murphy was sent to choreography but for this year it was a no to Vegas. Murphy–Keep on refining your technique. You are SO close to getting a ticket to Vegas. Do not give up. I ADMIRE you.

Murphy Yang

Dareian Kujawa; Boulder City, Nevada; contemporary: He, too, had a very rough life. They were very poor and it was a depressing, dark life. He decided to create a roadmap for himself and dancing pulled him out of this dark place. This man is filled with inner strength and it showed in his dance. It was filled with great emotion and great athleticism. He had beautiful lines. Of course he was going to Vegas!

Dareian Kujawa

Leroy Martinez; Sacramento, California; hip-hop. He also has had a rough life, but turning to dance helped him. He is the only one in his family to live a straight life. It was his first audition ever. He works at a doggie day care by day and gives back to the community working with the Peacemakers program, a group who works to establish afterschool programs in the community. There is an article done in a local paper about this group. Please click here to read more about it.  Because of his larger size, one thinks he is going to be unable to do impressive moves. He breaks stereotypes. He was AWESOME. Adam was crying and hesitated to say it, but said it was “fucking awesome.” Of course it was bleeped out. He went on to choreography and it was a no for Vegas, but something inside of me tells me that Adam is going to do something for this young man.

Leroy Martinez

Who I Thought Was Average

Deanna “Dee” Tomasetta; Millbury, MA; contemporary: She was beautiful to watch. I really liked the backbend move she had which showed really excellent control. The one thing that did not match for me was the smile with the song, which then reminded me of Ryan Ramirez. The song she chose was “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. The song is about unrequited love. But she is smiling the ENTIRE performance. I should have felt angst in there. That is the only reason why she is in the “average” category for me. But the judges loved it and she is through to Vegas.

Deanna “Dee” Tomasetta

Adrian Lee; Los Angeles, California; contemporary: In season 7 he came so close to being in the show, but that was the year they picked the best 10 and had them dance with 10 all-stars. He was not invited. His family became very down on the show after that and he chose not to tell them he was auditioning this time. However, between then and now, season 8 happened–the top 20 best dancers EVER chosen, and his dance looks very amateurish when comparing it to people from last season. He is doing the self-worship moves despite being told that the judges did not want to see that. Mary was crying because the emotion of having to tell him “no” in season 7 came flooding back. He did get a ticket to Vegas and Nigel gave him another ticket for his mother to come along. He has to do better in Vegas or he will be cut.

Adrian Lee

Rachel Applehaus; Denver, Colorado; burlesque jazz: She claims she was shy growing up. She hoped that her dance would make Nigel uncomfortable.  She was hot and sultry but she rolled on the floor too much. Then I started thinking this reminds me of a dancer in a gentleman’s club and I became uncomfortable. There was not enough substance in her routine. Then they said she was doing burlesque jazz (Is that like Anchorman’s jazz flute?) and she is through to choreography and then on to Vegas.

Rachel Applehaus

Odd-Ball LOT

Lynn Gravatt; Portland, Oregon; space dance: The story was being set up as a disaster. She claims that her energy comes from the Pleiades constellation. She has three spirit guides (Divine DeFlame–which is her highest self; they flash Mary Murphy on the frame; then Devil DeFlame (which is her “male” dancer, and of course Nigel is flashed on the screen; the third is Rainbow Light Bright, which is of course Adam). Before Lynn starts, Mary is giggling a lot. Lynn is a former aerospace engineer that has worked on aircraft we will see in 10-15 years. Very intelligent woman. She was not that bad considering she has had no formal training. Being 33, that automatically disqualified her from being part of the show, but the judges were very kind to her.  She left with a wonderful message for people to never give up on their dreams, no matter what their age.

Lynn Gravatt

Johnny Ahn and Whitney Hallam; Orem, Utah; ballroom: This guy is so full of EGO it isn’t funny. And the look on his partner’s face the entire time she is with him is one of contempt. I do not blame her. He should spend less time on watching videos on how to get dates and more time on how to be a good dance partner. There is a 10-year age difference between them. She is unimpressed with his MAN-GO. His ballroom “O” face bothers me. He NEVER looks at his gorgeous partner. The dance is all about him–“Hey look at me–I think I’m hotter than I really am.” They are sent through to choreography but it is a “no” to Vegas for both of them. My advice to Whitney is to get another dance partner quickly and come back next year. I would never pick up the phone and vote for him, so he should just not come back to audition for the show.

If looks could kill….Whitney Hallam and Johnny Ahn

Next week is So You Think You Can Dance Hell Week! I cannot wait.





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.





The X-Factor Los Angeles and Seattle Auditions

22 09 2011

By Hilda Clark Bowen

The X Factor

I was not sure what to expect with X-Factor. After the premiere and success of “The Voice”, I thought perhaps it would be close to that model. What I got was an upgraded version of American Idol, like American Idol 2.0. Perhaps when the mentoring begins, things will look differently. The auditions in front of a live audience made the experience more realistic and gave immediate fan reaction. However, Paula Abdul sitting next to Simon Cowell was too much American Idol. To give credit to the producers, however, it appears they noticed this and when they went to the Seattle auditions, Nicole was seated next to Simon instead. Having Steve Jones as host was refreshing, but he stayed mostly in the background.

Starting off the Los Angeles auditions with judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul, and Cheryl Cole, they showcased why The X-Factor is a great show: It seeks out talent that is left out by the rules of American Idol. Rachel Crow, a 13-year-old-going-on-22, was charismatic and feisty. She gave a tremendous rendition of “Mercy” by Duffy. She had the crowd on their feet and the judges loved her. She was followed by Terrell Carter, a 36-year-old, who did a lovely version of “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder. After four yeses were given to consecutive auditions from Ellona Santiago (age 14) and John Lindahl (age 14), it looked like things were going great.

Introducing a cocky, Prince-wanna-be Siameze Floyd, age 30, who believes he is the next megastar. Simon Cowell would have said absolutely no to this person on an American Idol audition, but called him “fascinating” and said yes. L.A. Reid is the only one to get this one right by saying “no.” And thus began the face-off between Simon and L.A. Reid. Felicious1908 on Twitter said it best, “He’s like the love child of James Brown, Prince and Terence Trent D’Arby that can’t sing.”

Day two of the LA auditions brought out the Dan (age 70) and Venita (age 83) who were former entertainers from Pahrump, Nevada. I give them kudos for courage. Their performance of “Unchained Melody” was horrific, but the couple was nevertheless adorable. The duo “You Only Live Once” sounded like a schizophrenic horror film. Linda “Jetta” Ostrofsky, age 61, traumatized me so badly I will never be able to listen to The Divinyls “I Touch Myself” again. Miranda Singleton, age 30, could not get one note of Katy Perry’s “Firework” on key and was shocked to be told she could not sing.

Simone Battle (age 21, college student) became the next battleground between L.A. Reid and Simon, with Simon saying yes, and L.A. Reid saying no. Simon had Simone sing something else which he felt confirmed his point.

Disagreements were also made between L.A. and Simon on Thomas Slade, the group “Late 2 Fame“, Nickayla Guadalupe, Andrew Muccitelli, and Charlie Cruzer which left us to question their fate since they only need 3 yeses to go through and the other judges’ vote was not shared.  I assume they are gone, but are they?

The star of the evening, Stacy Francis, and so far my favorite, emerged. She is a stay-at-home mom, age 42, with two small children and was surrounded by people who told her she was too old now for a singing career. Originally from Brooklyn, New York (shout-out to my hometown!), she had been in LA for 10 years. Her version of “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin had the audience on their feet and she received a standing ovation from the judges. Simon said it was one of the best auditions he has ever heard in his life.

Next we move on to Seattle where we get a shock of a lifetime–a judge change (no more Cheryl, now Nicole Scherzinger)–but wait that’s not all–The Full Monty. Geo Godley, classically trained, internet blogger, age 43, sang his original “I’m a Stud” while pulling off his pants–totally. Simon’s face is horrified, but then there is a slight grin in his look, maybe admiring his audacity. Paula leaves and looks like she is throwing up off stage. The audience boos. L.A. Reid said it was offensive, disgusting, distasteful and upsetting, and to get him out of the building. Nicole said she was traumatized.

Marcus Canty (age 20) got the shock of his lifetime when the judges all put him through after singing “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. His mother gave him 2 years to break into the music industry and his time was running out (his mother obviously does not know the realities of the music industry and how hard it is). L.A. Reid felt like he had a Bobby Brown thing going on (hopefully just in comparison to the music and not the personal life).

The group “Anser” (pronounced “answer”) gave us a mash-up of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Britney Spears’ “Till The World End.” They were put through, but I think they should have been disqualified for singing one of the most overused songs in a talent competition (Adele).

Nici Collins, event planner, age 23, who has been lied to by others all her life that she could sing, took the stage next and tried to sing “Emotions” by Mariah Carey that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and my dog howl. Also leaving the competition were the mother/daughter duet T for Two“, Darren Michaels, and the group “The Sonnets.

The judges were moved by Chris Rene’s story of being a trash collector and celebrating his 70th day of sobriety. His original song, “Young Homey”, resonated with the audience and the judges gave the young man a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment for him. I did not think it was so great. Simon said that what he liked about this job was being able to sit in that chair and meet a star. They let him through with the admonishment that he must remain clean and sober. Having only 70 days of sobriety, this will be a tough challenge for him as the pressures of the competition weigh down on him. We will see if he can do it.

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