American Idol S15 The End…Or Not?

9 04 2016

And the winner is…….

I’m just kidding. There are 2+ hours of filler before we find out who wins the very last spot as an American Idol.

President Obama made a speech at the beginning in a pitch to get people to vote and exercise their rights as citizens to vote in elections.

The opening number included Idol contestants from previous seasons. My mind instantly went to one Idol who will there be in spirit, Michael Johns. His death was so sad. The song started with the top 3 of this season and then moved out of to the broader focus that included all the contestants from this season. Then more contestants. I recognized Nick Fradiani, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, (was that David Archuletta, too, next to him), Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, Ace Young, James Durbin, Carly Smithson, Jasmine Trias (from season 3 who wore a flower in her hair), Bo Bice, Scotty McCreery, and Caleb Johnson. I am sure there are others I will see and be shocked at how much they’ve changed (like Bo Bice).   Tonight I believe more often than not we will be saying to ourselves, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to” fill in the blank.

Brian Dunkleman, the co-host of season 1, joined as a surprise guest, a nice book-end to the beginning of Idol history. But the jokes he continued making got old and they didn’t get many laughs in the audience. Awkward.

Trent and La’Porsha teamed up to sing “It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with pictures of their journey this season playing behind them.

Season 10 and 11 judge Steven Tyler began a series of retrospectives of their participation in Idol. Later Nicki Minaj shared her wishes. Notably absent was diva Mariah CareyEllen DeGeneres sent a video.

Former seasons 8 and 9 judge Kara DioGuardi performed and I wished she hadn’t. She is a better songwriter than singer.   Also among the people in this medley segment were Colton Dixon from season 11; a duet with season 1’s Justin Guarini and season 6’s Jordin Sparks; season 2’s Kimberley Locke; Tamyra Gray (season 1); Allison Iraheta (season 8); Larry Platt from season 9 (“Pants on the Ground” song fame but was never a contestant); finally ending with Pia Toscano (season 10). Sanjaya was spotted in the audience in a “Where’s Sanjaya” segment.  Glad he didn’t sing.

When Kelly Clarkson was visiting a few weeks back as a mentor, since she was pregnant and it was unlikely she could attend the show, she pre-recorded a montage of all her most popular hits. It showcased why we love her and the show that served as a gateway to all the music she brought to our lives. The medley ended with the song that started it all, “A Moment Like This.

Male Idol rockers did a medley of songs. The members included Bo Bice from season 4 (the biggest physical appearance change I have seen yet this evening); Caleb Johnson from season 13; Constantine Maroulis (season 4); James Durbin (season 10); and Chris Daughtry (season 5).

Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood (season 4) joined forces to sing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” originally by Stevie Nicks featuring Tom Petty (Tom Petty actually wrote the song). I wish Carrie would have had a crossover rock career. When Carrie sang rock songs on Idol season 4, they were my favorite and had me looking at her like a winner.

Next was a country medley of songs starting off with Diana DeGarmo (season 3); Skylar Laine (season 11) who wasn’t sounding so great; Kree Harrison (season 12) who I loved during her season also sounded not so great either (you were pitchy dawg). They were then joined by the boys are of country Bucky Covington (season 5); Ace Young of season 5 (who is married to Diana DeGarmo); and confusingly Constantine Maroulis (season 4). Constantine filled in for Josh Gracin who declined their invitation because he didn’t want to sing a medley of covers with other contestants (per his report on tasteofcountry.com). Then Lauren Alaina (season 10) and Kellie Pickler (season 5) came on stage. Lastly Scotty McCreery (season 10) came out.

Harry Connick Jr presented a very emotional segment along with his friend, Marley Fletcher, from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the heart of the 9th Ward in New Orleans to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

He then introduced some of the best singers Idol has had on center stage.   Katharine McPhee (season 5) and Casey James (be still my heart from season 9) singing a duet; Carly Smithson (season 7) doing a solo; Clay Aiken (season 2) doing a solo; Ruben Studdard (season 2) and Amber Holcomb (season 12) doing a duet; and finishing up with Jessica Sanchez (season 11) in a solo of ‘The Prayer” where the others joined at the end.

Jennifer Lopez sizzled up the stage with her new song “Ain’t Your Mama.”   I would have loved to see that in person. That was stellar. And she ended with “Let’s Get Loud” to get Idol pumped up, the perfect halftime song. This whole thing left me breathless.

Season 3 ladies Latoya London, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson performed a trio “Bridge Over Troubled Water. Jennifer Hudson sang a solo of her song from Empire “Remember the Music.Brandon Rogers (season 6), Clark Beckham (season 14), George Huff (season 3), Danny Gokey (season 8), and Elliott Yamin (season 5) banded together to sing a medley of Motown hits.

Fantasia came back to do some of her song, “Ugly.” Latoya London (season 3) came back on stage with Taylor Hicks (season 5) “Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Season 11 Joshua Ledet took the stage; wow he looks fantastic. He sang “It’s a Man’s World” by James Brown. He rocked that stage!   And more Idol joined in. Candice Glover (season 12) and Melinda Doolittle (season 6) along with a variety of other Idols including many of the season 15 contestants to sing “Joy to the World.” Even Harry Connick Jr was up dancing.

A tribute to David Bowie was done featuring Idol winners Phillip Phillips (season 11), Lee DeWyze (season 9), Nick Fradiani (season 14), David Cook (season 7) and Kris Allen (season 8) which included Bowie’s hits “Starman” from 1972, “Rebel Rebel” from 1974, and “The Jean Genie” from 1972.

Next was a playback of the worst or funniest auditions or moments during the early years with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest including that awful Simon and Paula kiss. Randy and Paula came on stage and of course you were just waiting for Simon to make a “surprise” appearance. Paula and Randy gifted Ryan with the American Idol sign that Ryan will put it on his nightstand. Simon didn’t have a black T-shirt on. He dressed up for the occasion. Fatherhood looks good on him. And just when you thought the surprises were over out pops the non-surprise, William Hung who performed “She Bangs.” He ultimately released an album which sold 200,000 copies and made it to number one on Billboard’s Top Independent Album chart. He now works for the LA Sheriff’s Department as a technical crime analyst. Ryan Seacrest did a little dancing with him on stage.

Contestants throughout the 15 years shared how much they loved doing the Ford video segments. Trent and La’Porsha received keys to their cars for this year.

Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood sang her song “Something in the Water.”   She got tearful when talking to Ryan Seacrest.

Now it is time to learn who is the winner is of the very last American Idol. The winner is TRENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am just as shocked as he was. With everyone chanting La’Porsha’s name in the audience the night before I felt certain the win was hers. He deserves it just as much as she did but I thought it was hers. I thought Trent was going to pass out. Jennifer pointed to Keith as if she was saying, “you called it.” Jennifer looked shocked and Harry looked shocked too and mouthed “wow” to Jennifer. Trent was sweet when he said that La’Porsha pushed him during the competition.

Ryan Seacrest then signs off the show by saying, “We say to you from Hollywood, goodnight America.” The room goes dark and you hear him say “for now.”   For now? What the hell does that mean? Do they think in 10 years from now, they’ll bring back like X-Files for a limited event? Let American Idol die in peace and go out on a high. They weren’t going out on tour for that very reason so what makes them think bring the show back is “going out on a high?”

I heard later on during the Twitterfest that the producers were going to shop the show to another network. If this is true, it is a mistake. American Idol is forever associated with Fox Broadcasting and to try to resurrect it as the same show or anything that has the name American Idol even if it is in a different format, is just a mistake. American Idol had a great run but like all things, they come to an end, and so should this.

Thank you American Idol for the many years of entertainment; you will live on in television legend.  Guess I will need to get back to blogging about other things, too.





American Idol S15 Atlanta Auditions

9 01 2016

(I know the Atlanta and Denver auditions were in the same show, but I’m splitting them up because the blog was just too long).

And so it begins….the beginning of the end of a 15-year run on American Idol. There will be surprises galore this season. Back of the judges panel are my favorite three judges: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. While some will argue that the original three judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell were the best, I prefer the constructive criticism that is given to the contestants versus the ridicule that left some contestants baffled as to what went wrong with their performance. I have been blogging about American Idol in one forum or another (including on the Fox 26 Houston blog site) since season 2 of the show when I first began watching.

If you are a newcomer to my blog, there is just one thing you need to know. My goosebumps never lie. Music truly rocks my soul. My mother had a beautiful opera voice and had auditioned for the NY Met, but didn’t make it. Because of her influence, I have been singing my whole life. I went to music school and my last public performance was at Hamman Hall at Rice University here in Houston. Stage fright got the best of me, my recital bombed, and I decided that this field was not my career path. My vocal coach was going to do a road trip and asked me to come along to be her background singer, a compliment that was not lost upon me, but the idea of being on the road, in gross motel rooms, singing in smoky environments (because there were no smoking bans in bars back then) just didn’t appeal to me. My childhood had been unstable and I decided to keep my stable day job. That didn’t mean, however, I gave up singing, writing songs, and challenging myself. My stage fright, however, has never left me. When I see singers crash because of stage fright on Idol, my heart truly feels empathy for them.

The first stop begins in Atlanta. Michelle Marie has been waiting to audition on Idol since she was 4 years old. She is 15 years old and is from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her song choice is “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. I got goosebumps when she sang the opening “Blue” inflections. Jennifer thought it was pretty. Harry thought she did a good job with a song that is technically difficult to do. Keith loved it too. She is through.

Some of the previous contestants came to do screening judging on the audition part of the tour including Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Kris Allen. I am not sure if that was a gift or a curse for them.

Showing off classic country is 18-year-old Josiah Siska from Dacula, Georgia. Singing Johnny Cash’s “Riders in the Sky” in the key of Johnny Cash, this big old deep bass voice came out of this young man. It was interesting, but I am not sure he would make it far in the competition; he would need to learn how to change “theme” weeks into a range he could sing and people would enjoy. Harry got up and did hand clapping and sound effects for him. Keith loved his voice. Harry said they have never heard anything like him yet. Three yesses.

Lindita is a 26-year-old personal trainer who was ridiculed her entire life for being obese. They would say, “She has a great voice but she is fat.” She decided to make lifestyle changes and dropped 150 pounds in preparation for her audition. She also married her own personal trainer. She is from Kosovo. She sang “This is a Man’s World.” Goosebumps! Jennifer says to Keith that she has soul. I loved it. Harry thinks she is a powerful singer. Jennifer and Keith loved it. Keith thought she had too many runs, but she will learn to cut some of that out. She receives three yesses.

Billy Bob Evett, 25 years of age from Punta Gorda, Florida, is a self-described honky-tonk man who is quite the Jennifer Lopez fan. He picks a Waylon Jennings song. He is another contestant with a deep bass voice. He was a lot of fun but it was not as good as Josiah. Keith likes him as a person but felt the singing wasn’t strong enough (the pitch was all over the place). Jennifer and Harry agreed.

Fifteen-year-old Lee Jean, from Bluffton, South Carolina, sang “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. Immediate goosebumps for me. His voice is so pure. I think when he added the guitar his voice went off pitch quite a bit. My suggestion would be to lose the guitar so he can concentrate on the vocals. Jennifer wants to squeeze him he is so cute (and she loves his talent). Harry thinks he has a tremendous amount of talent. The singing-in-tune part needs a lot of work which is doable. Keith loves his tone and has a singer/songwriter quality about it. They all give him a yes.

Sylvia Lee Walker, a 16-year-old that likes to talk (A LOT), from Rayle, Georgia got a standing ovation from Keith for her tales of her life that were told at the speed of light. Her song choice: Yodeling. And at the end of that Keith did a “mind blown” reference and collapsed in a ball of laughter. Jennifer and Harry thought it was awesome. Keith thought she had an amazing accent and he could listen to her stories all night long. Keith said she is entertainer as a person, but this was a singing competition and her pitch was all over the place. Jennifer thought she would be a lot of fun at Hollywood week but she also was a no.

Joshua Wicker, age 25, is the creative director at his church. His wife is 3 weeks away from her due date of their first child. He decides to sing, “Stay” by Rihanna. Oh my gosh. From the first note, I had goosebumps. I don’t think it was from the ice on my foot either. Jennifer said it was an interesting voice with a lot of pretty colors. Harry said it was compelling and that is all he cares about. Keith thought he sang it like he wrote it which is the highest compliment you can give someone who didn’t write a song. Three yesses. And three weeks later their daughter Branch was born.

This adorable couple with a new baby are both auditioning. First up is Alex Sasser, a 23-year-old worship leader from Raleigh, NC. She sings Bruno Mars’ song “Count on Me” while playing a ukulele. She is cute and has a sweet voice. Harry thought she had a pretty voice but it was just not passing it at all. Keith felt it was just too light for him as a performance. Jennifer needed to hear more of a compelling voice. It’s a no from all three. Jordan Sasser was next up. He chose Celine Dion’s song, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” He too is a worship leader at his church. He is definitely the stronger voice in the couple. I got some goosebumps. He has a nice face and a nice smile, too. Jennifer thought it was really good. Harry thought he is incredibly talented and smart. Keith thought it was great. Three yesses. What was sad to me is that I think she really believed she was the better singer in the family and it wasn’t just a joking around in the package before the singing. When she left she blamed Jordan for dancing around with the baby which made the judges not like her singing as much because it was distracting the judges. She says to him that she has never been good enough—she’s sat and watch him follow his dream and it’s heartbreaking. He looked shocked at her words. But he reassured her how proud he was of her and that he loved her. He really is the better singer Alex. It wasn’t the distraction of your baby in the room. And no offense, but you are a worship leader and we just witnessed one of the seven deadly sins:  Envy.

 





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 New York Auditions

7 07 2015

SoYouThinkYouCanDanceThe final leg of the auditions for season 12 were in New York. Virgil Gadson had auditioned in season 8. He had almost made it into the top 20 but got cut. He kept practicing and got a part in “After Midnight” on Broadway. He chose “Uptown Funk” to audition with this time for Team Street. As he got started, Paula whispered to Nigel that he reminds her of Fik-shun. He glides like ice across that stage which is hard for hip-hop. He has great star quality. Nigel said he set the bar for that day for hip hop. It was unique, great things in it, lots of different angles, wonderful personality. It was exactly what he was looking for. Paula said he was a like a day of Disneyland in a minute and a half. He is born to entertain. Jason said his technique was the dope part about it. It was amazing to watch. He gets a ticket to Vegas.

Alexia Meyer was up next trying out for Team Stage. The choreography had a lot of thought to it. I thought the eye wink was a bit odd. I really enjoyed the dance overall. Paula said she had great showmanship. The hardest thing for her is that she saw moments of great connection, and then she kind of went off and lost it a little, and then would fall back into it. Paula got booed! She thought nerves got to her. Jason got booed before he even started. He didn’t know if that was the end of Paula’s boos or the start of his. He thoroughly enjoyed it and he is not just saying that because they booed. Nigel enjoyed it, too. She gets three yeses.

Korey Cleveland had a tough road in getting to the audition. His dad was never there and his mom was battling her addiction. He, too, has struggled with crack cocaine to the point where he was incarcerated for 2 years in Missouri. Dance saved him. He would rather dance than do drugs. He said if he made it to 30 days clean he would come to the audition. He danced to Keys and Krates “Treat Me Right.” That was wicked. When he was moving his upper trunk around his head (or is that the head around his upper trunk) that was phenomenal. It has been awhile since I saw someone do that so well. Paula said she is proud of him because he proves you can live your passion and inspire people. Jason said he was inspiring. A lot of people can relate to his situation. He felt his passion. Paula and Jason both say yes. Nigel said that it is 2 months before Vegas. That means he is going to have to stay clean for 90 days. He said he’ll bring his 90-day key to show them. He gets a conditional ticket to Vegas.

“Hoofing” dancer Justin Ballasy wants to show what he can do to the song “Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down” by Jamie Cullum. His tapping was insane. I didn’t see the tapping story translate into the song being played however. Paula said she felt like she just saw the movie “Whiplash” with tap. It was very impressive. Great timing, fast, clean. She didn’t know where the music and the tap made sense. Nigel asked him what time signature he was using. He said 4/4. Nigel said, no, and Justin asked three-four? That was Nigel’s complaint to him. He loved his tap and loved what he can do but it had absolutely nothing to do with that music. Justin said it was difficult to hear himself up there in his defense (not sure that was a good idea—the judges don’t like excuses). Nigel said he is so against people coming in and laying down machine-gun tap. Jason said it made him feel something—his heart started to race. But at the same time the musicality in it means so much to tap. If they didn’t say something, all the tappers out there would have been saying “What?” He is worried. He asks to do something a capella. They say no, but they say yes to Vegas.

The next auditioner’s family call him “Mr. Hollywood.” I smell trouble. Thomas Condello chooses “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber. He has some rhythm and some moves, but they were sloppy. The competition is fierce this year and he dances fine for entertaining, but not to win the show. All the judges were smiling but you know they are just going to thank him for making them smile. He said he did impressions, like Jason Derulo, and they invite him to show them. Paula said he has a lot of heart. He is not through.

Angely “Cookie” Deaza and Angela “Angyil” McNeal try out together for Team Street. I don’t know why they reminded me of Japanese robots that I saw on an episode of Almost Human on Fox. I loved them. Jason looked like he was really getting in to it (and, in fact, gave them a standing ovation). Jason said he would pay money to see that. Angyil and Cookie are a yes for him. Angyil is a yes for Paula. She thinks Cookie is limited in her style. Paula advises her to lift it and elevate it and get out of that monotone aspect and add character. She doesn’t think Cookie is ready. Nigel says a yes for Angyil and a no for Cookie for this year.

Allyson Wilcox works on the Vegas strip as a dancer in a show that is similar to Medieval Times. She is trying out for a spot on Team Stage. She chose “Wasting My Young Years” by London Grammar. Some of her moves I liked. I thought she spent too much time on the ground. Sometimes her lines were fabulous; other times they weren’t. Paula thought she had tremendous control. The start of her choreography was spot-on, but then she felt like her ability was far better than her choreography. Jason thought he saw things he hadn’t seen yet that day. Her arabesque was beautiful. Nigel gives her a ticket to Vegas.

One of the last auditions for this day was from a special man named Alain “Hurrikane” Lauture from Haiti. He chose Jeremy Joshua’s “Thinking About Your Face” to show his locking routine for the judges. His routine demonstrated a great command for choreography and the nuances of the music. He has a lot of talent. I was drawn to him. Employing the stairs as a prop to his routine was different in a smart way. Nigel liked it because it was fun. Paula thought it brought back the 1980’s fun and saw influences of Shabba Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp. All agreed his smile was terrific. He gets three yeses.

Kenya Welch and Connor Bermingham decided to audition together versus separately. They chose A Great Big World’s “Say Something.” Their decision proved to be the right one. I felt the choreography of the number as well as the performance of the number was something you would actually see on this show. I loved their emotion. Well done!!! Paula said she didn’t expect that and it was a very nice surprise. Paula kind of got lost in it. Nigel chimed in that it was one of the best they had seen all day. Jason thought it was awesome and a joy to watch. He said more like a fan than a judge. Both of them are through to Vegas.

As day two begins I am not sure who I like better, the contestant or his mother! Ryan Raffloer decided to try out without a partner in Latin ballroom to Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb.” He was a surprise! I felt certain he was stoned out of his mind, but he turned into someone else while he was dancing. I could have done without the overindulgence in facial grimacing but his dancing for a Latin solo was unbelievable. I had a feeling Nigel was going to compare him to Dmitry Chaplin. Nigel thought he was excellent. It was over the top and too much but it is what you have to do when you are auditioning yourself. Paula thought he has this “je nais sais quoi”, a presence about him, it stands for something important. Jason felt he brought this grand presence. Jason thought “expensive” was the right word and Paula went “ooo”. He gets three yeses.

Bobby “Anime” Major dances to District 78’s “I Need an Explosion.” Wow!!! He is FANTASTIC! The judges were on their feet. There was no feedback; just a ticket to Vegas.

Eliazer Chapman brought “The Bronx” break dancing to the SYTYCD audition stage with a song from Madcon called “Beggin.” He had some really great moves. Nigel said it was raw and exciting. Paula thought it was entertaining. Jason said he was a strong b-boy and he wants to see what else he has. He is going to Vegas.

The next audition combines break dancing and ballet to form his unique style. Ian Williams surely doesn’t lack confidence as he dances to “Clocks” by Coldplay. His extensions and lines aren’t even there for his ballet. I saw no waacking. Jason looks like he is trying hard not to break out laughing. Nigel is a no. Paula said he is not ready yet. Jason said it was a no for sure.

Darius Drooh has a huge crush on Paula Abdul. She inspired him to dance. He chose Michael Buble’s “Cry Me a River.” He was fabulous. Jason said it was awesome. The choreography didn’t have a lot of the bing, bang, boom, but he liked the straightforward choreography a lot. Nigel said it was beautiful, but he just wanted the flow to stop every now and then. But it was magnificent. Paula thinks he has a beautiful technique and strength. Darius calls up a friend from the audience to do Paula’s “Coldhearted Snake.”

The last contestant of the day is Alyssa Guerrieri. Her grandmother was a dancer. Alyssa dances to “Take Me to Church” by Sofia Karlberg. She has beautiful lines and great personality in her dance. Paula said she is a breath of fresh air. Her technique was beautiful and her choreography was seamless and yummy. Jason felt her confidence was through the roof. Her acrobatics were right on. And it fit right in with the contemporary. Nigel said she is like a little ray of sunshine. Three yeses.

And this concludes the auditions for season 12. This gives Team Travis 114 hopefuls for a spot in the top 10 for stage dancers and 105 would join Team tWitch for a spot in the top 10 for street dancers.





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