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 — America’s Top 20 Revealed

12 06 2011

Vegas Hell week is over. Of the 31 dancers that remain, America’s Top 20 will be chosen. I loved having the all-stars last year. It immediately elevated the dance contestants to a higher level, but having only 10 of them go through was difficult. Some gifted dancers, like Ryan Ramirez, did not make the cut, but surely if there had been a top 20, she would have. A decision was made to bring together the best of both worlds: Have a top 20 and when it whittles down to the top 10, bring in the all-stars. I LOVE IT! Tonight they combine 2 shows into one, grouping the announcement of what dancers have made the cut into their dancing styles. Some of these dancers we’ve seen on screen before; some are new to us. After they were announced we would get to see the group dance.

Ricky Jamie auditioned in Salt Lake but this is the first time he has really been featured. He has been dancing since he was 9. He has great height and lines. He is confident that his answer will be a yes, and it is. Miranda Maleski then took the long walk to hear her fate. Nigel plays with her heartstrings, doing the bait and switch to pretend like she is leaving, but she is also in the top 20. One of my early favorites, Melanie Moore, from my sister’s former town of Marietta, Georgia, also joins the top 20. I look forward to her enchanting us with her pixie dust. Abigail Ruiz and Kate Linetka would not be part of this year’s competition. The Mallory sisters started this journey together and then walked together to receive the news of their fate: Sasha would be the one moving forward. I’ve known of Sasha since September of 2010 when I saw her performing with the Adam Lambert tour.

Melanie, Miranda, Ricky and Sasha then took the stage to dance a routine choreographed by Stacey Tookey to the song, “In This Shirt” by The Irrepressibles. In the champagne-colored outfits, they glided about the floor in an ethereal way. They all partnered well together, each being there for the other for some intricate movement. Since no one goes home tonight, there are no critiques, just praise.

Contemporary

Melanie, Miranda, Ricky and Sasha perform Stacey Tookey's routine

Back to the green mile, Chris Koehl of Texas has taken this trip before in season 7. Mary Murphy delivers the good news that he will be a part of season 8. Tadd Gadduang (from the Salt Lake auditions, who reminded me of Dominic) and Wadi Jones will be joining him. Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson, however, did not make it through, although Nigel complimented him on his wonderful personality; perhaps next year. Drace Reed was also eliminated. Robert Taylor (the Woo man) was not feeling confident about his chances to make it to the top 20. Being 30, this was his last year to try out. Bryce “Professor Lock” Johnson also wondered if there would be room for him. It was “Woo” versus “Indubitably.Robert, who previously auditioned in season 3 for American Idol, was in and Bryce was out.

Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi took to the stage to perform a routine by Dave Scott to the song “Everyday (Coolin’) by Swizz Beatz featuring Eve. Robert almost looked with Twitch with the red glasses on. I’ll have to say that Tadd had the best moves, but Robert’s personality stood out. The boys got swagga.

HipHop

Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi performed Dave Scott's hip-hop.

Ballrooms dancers are up next and out of everyone that made it to Vegas only 2 survived: Iveta Lukosiute and Lenny Progue. My guess is that both of them would make it as it is a male/female partnership. Mary delivers the news straight-up to Lenny: He was too weak in his other styles. Would 10-dance World Champion Iveta be in? This is her last year to compete in this competition. Mary Murphy is very emotional delivering the news to Iveta and it did not look like she would make it either. Iveta makes it!

They brought in Pasha to dance with Iveta, dancing to a Jason Gilkison routine to the song, “Ven a Bailar (On the Floor)” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull. She looked stunning as Pasha expertly guided her along the dance floor, in a paso doble complete with skirt-yanking-turned-cape. While Iveta showed us why she is a world champion, I still adore Pasha and Anya’s partnership. It’s hard to build chemistry with someone you’ve just met. When Iveta is described as a 10-dance World Champion, it is not that she won 10 different competitions, but rather is the champion in all the different ballroom dances.

Ballroom

Iveta finishes performing Jason Gilkison's routine.

Jazz dancers were highlighted next. Clarice Ordaz and Bridget Krouse were nervously awaiting their fate. Clarice received good news; Bridget was sent home as was someone named Tae Kwon. Another one of my favorites, Marko Germar, is the young man who was shot in the shoulder, the bullet still embedded inside. We will be seeing him in our top 20. Missy Morelli and Jordan Casanova (another of my early favorites) are the little vixens vying for our attention of their seductive prowess. Could the top 20 handle both of them? Yes we can!

Performing a dance choreographed by Sonya Tayeh to the song “Vanguardian” by Steed Lord, Clarice, Jordan, Marko and Missy took the stage. By Sonya’s standards, this was pretty tame, but was still fierce. Sonya’s describes her dance style as “combat jazz.” They all made her proud and had Tyce on his feet.

Jazz

Clarice, Jordan, Marko and Missy perform Sonya Tayeh's routine.

Broadway/Tap dancers were the next group. Although he auditioned in Atlanta, Nick Young was not one of the featured dancers, so we have not learned much about him. He is from Wisconsin and played sports in high school. Back in the early 2000’s, he toured with Kenny Rogers Christmas show as an actor/singer. Jesse LeProtto was one of my early favorites, reminding me a great deal of Evan’s dancing, but with a little bit more attitude, which actually bothered the judges. Jesse knows he is good and I feel sometimes that is not a bad thing. He also has a great sense of humor, saying that hip-hop was the dance he excelled in. He is in, as was Nick.

Nick and Jesse came together on stage to perform Christopher Scott’s immensely entertaining routine to Nina Simone’s “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter.” It showcased the dancer’s fun personalities and their mad skills as tappers. If I had to choose who the better tapper was Nick would have the edge. Jesse hams it up with the audience which brings a smile to my face. Nigel tells us that 4 of the girls are also tappers. He also said, “This warmed the cockles of my heart.”

Contemporary dancers were last. Caitlynn Lawson auditioned in Salt Lake City but was not one of the featured dancers on that show. She hails from Washington State and is a senior in high school. A bit of a tomboy, she likes to fish, camp and go four-wheeling with her family. She kind of reminds me of Lacy Schwimmer around the eyes. She sails into the top 20. Ashley Rich would also be joining her. With only one spot left for the girls, Ryan Ramirez found herself in a similar predicament as last year. Alexa Anderson waited nervously along with her. Only one of them would be moving on. However, they would have to wait as Mitchell Kelly’s fate would be determined next. Mitchell auditioned in Atlanta, but again was not a featured dancer on that show. Chicago, Illinois is his hometown, and started dancing relatively late at the age of 15. He receives a “yes” from the judges. Alexander Fost and Jeremiah Hughes were vying for the last spot for the males. Alexander receives the last spot. Would it be Alexa or Ryan? Both young ladies are very emotional. Ryan receives that coveted last spot.

Travis Wall has become a choreographer who has moved me to goosebumps and tears. He was on season 2 of “So You Think You Can Dance” and came in second, proving that you do not actually have to win on this show to become successful. “Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit played while Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Mitchell and Ryan took the stage. The dance was celebratory, soft and spiritful, floating and fluid. While everyone should be commended on a job well done, my eye was particular drawn to Ryan. All the judges were on their feet clapping for this one. Cat loves Travis’ bow tie.

Contemporary2

Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Mitchell and Ryan dance to Travis Wall's routine

But wait, that is not it. The audience is to be treated to three more routines. The 10 guys perform to a routine by Christopher Scott, where he mixes hip-hop with contemporary and pulls it off. The song is “Velocity” by Nathan Lanier. It was reminding me for some reason of The Matrix when all the infected versions of Agent Smith come out of the doors (ha, I wrote that about The Matrix before Nigel said the same thing in his critique). I have a harder time finding small faults with a large group, so for me, bravo to all of them for a job well done. Interesting comment from Nigel when he says that “this show doesn’t favor the boys all the time” (reference to American Idol).

The routine for the top 10 girls was done by Sonya Tayeh. Her theme is to “make a geisha girl creepy and twisted and excited.” Sonya is the perfect mama cub who pushes her pups to work hard but at the end of the day is the one hooting and hollering in the crowd in thunderous support and pride. The song is Pop Drop and Roll by Chonique Sneed and Lisette Bustamante. The timing and precision of the girls are flawless. Mary needs a bigger Hot Tamale Train. Lil’C has words for Sonya for the acronym of her hand which moves Nigel to come over and hug him.

After commercial, Nigel says that next week 2 dancers will go home, one male and one female. This year, we will be allowed up to 50 votes on-line for our favorite dancer.

The top 20 then performs to a Tyce Diorio routine to the song “Little Bird” by Annie Lennox. Some of Tyce’s routines have also made me cry in the past, but tonight it is about celebration and being upbeat. The show closes out without any comments but the pictures and names of this season’s SYTYCD.

Tyce

All the contestants perform Tyce's number

Good luck to all the contestants next week!





So You Think You Can Dance — Vegas Hell Week

11 06 2011

Vegas week for So You Think You Can Dance is for dancers what Navy Seal hell week is for those candidates. All the candidates are the best of the best. For these dancers, it will be the ultimate battle of mind versus body. Some are at SYTYCD hell week for the first time; others have been here before. They started out with 160 contestants and soon they would be whittled down to American’s Top 20.

Joining them on Day 1 were judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, a casted Adam Shankman, Robin Antin, Debbie Allen and Tyce DiOrio. After their solos, the dancers would be performing routines in hip-hop, Broadway, ballroom, and then the group round and onto contemporary.

Going in a completely opposite direction of this champion ballroom dancer, Iveta Lukosiute comes out wearing a very naughty outfit. Having been cut 2 times before in previous seasons during hell week, she sets her sights on Nigel. She captivates the judges as well as the “Woo-Hoo” man, (Robert Taylor, Jr.). It is very difficult when your strength is in ballroom, who is used to dancing with a partner, to do a solo, but her unique performance and nice cha-cha moves will leave an impression on the judges. After the first 15 perform, Iveta moves on.

Unfortunately, the only thing memorable about Marlin Pelayo’s performance was his unitard, made by his mother and painted by his friend. I understand the desire about standing out, but your dancing has to be equally impressive (like Iveta’s). After the first 15 performed, he was sent packing.

Pelayo_Unitard

Marlin Pelayo's unitard

I was worried about Wadi Jones’ b-boy performance when it first began, remembering the critiques they gave Legacy in seasons’ past about the pauses in between moves. He has a lot of great moves and I look forward to seeing more of him. I loved, too, his blue sneakers matching his shirt.

The final dancers of the solo rounds were Sasha and Natalia Mallory. I love the energy of them together. While Sasha is a typically built dancer, the rebel in me roots for Natalia is breaking stereotypes. The dance reflects the nature of their relationship: Playful, fun, teasing, antagonistic.

After the cuts from the solo rounds, the number of contestants dropped from 160 to 114.

The hip-hop round was choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, a.k.a. NappyTabs for those unfamiliar with the show. Chyna Lee Smith (from Idaho “where the potatoes grow”) apparently started to lose her mind at this point during the warm-up, and it went downhill from there. Wadi Jones develops intense muscle spasms in his legs. Three couples took the stage to perform the routine. Chyna’s mind goes totally blank and she begins to just make up the moves. I almost felt like maybe she was intoxicated, but sleep deprivation has been known to cause similar symptoms. Because of her audition in Salt Lake, she is given the first “dance for your life” card from the judges and asked to do the routine again later. Surprise cuts, and some of my favorites, included Hero McRae (from Japan), Patty Anne Miller (the drummer/Berkeley School of Music grad), Mary Kate Sheehan (the Irish step-dancer), Kristen Dobson (the young lady with only 3 years of Latin dance experience) and Samara “Princess Lockeroo” Cohen, a total of 14 cuts.

Wadi Jones works through his pain and is rewarded with a pass to the next round. Eight contestants had to return to dance for their lives including Chyna and Iveta. Nigel does not understand why some of the contestants did bad earlier but now are so much better. This is not rocket science; the first group had to perform soon after learning the routine; each subsequent group had that much longer to practice. The people dancing for their lives had hours and hours. They are all put through the next round.

Day 2

Tyce DiOrio teaches the group a very sexy Broadway routine. On the judges’ panel, Jason Gilkison sits in while Adam Shankman gets his knee checked out at the hospital. A fully recovered Wadi Jones pairs up with Jordan Casanova, who caught Tyce and Nigel’s eye in the original auditions. Also joining these two on stage were Jessica Watanabe and Virgil “Li’l O” Gadson. Jason said Jessica “owned” that routine. All four are put through to the next round.

Chyna Smith, Jess LeProtto, Sasha Mallory, Natalia Mallory, Derion “DC” Chapman, and the “Woo Man” Robert Taylor, Jr. did a fabulous job and moved through to the next round.

Rebecca Hart and Jeremiah Hughes have been to Vegas many times in the past, hoping 8 will be their lucky number. Jeremiah is notorious for having lost his temper previously. Time matures people, however. Despite his timing being off, the judges will let him through; however, Jeremiah needs to work on his facial expressions though because the anger is still there. People have to be able to take constructive criticism so that they will grow; he seems to find any criticism a personal attack. If Debbie Allen says you’re off, you…are…off. A tearful Rebecca, however, is sent to pack her bags once again. “Krumping for Christ” Brian Henry was given a ticket home.

Jason Gilkison teaches the group a jive dance, a notoriously fast dance, in the afternoon. The female dancers have their podiatrists or orthopedists on speed dial as their heels give them hell and ice packs are helping the economic downturn. Ryan Ramirez came inches close to being in the top 10 last season (all-stars round was the top 10 dancers instead of top 20 in a usual season). After delivering that sad news, Lil’C asked her to return to audition the next year. Her toenail is bleeding and I feel horrible for her.

In the first group, Natalia and her partner Josh Williams are given another opportunity but will be paired up with different partners.

In the second group are Sasha Mallory and Ryan Ramirez. Nigel tells Sasha that her knees are supposed to be together, but hers were open. She’s brought enough in previous rounds to get her through. Everyone else gets through as well.

Natalia performs her routine with Bryce “Professor Lock” Johnson and moves on to the next round.

The last group to appear on camera was Alexia Mason, sister of Jeanine Mason, winner of season 5. She does not do well; there is no joy in the jive. She gets the second “dance for your life pass” and returns to dance contemporary. After watching her solo, her level of dance is not up to the other contestants, especially in those facial expressions. Her lines needed to reach greater heights and deeper, but I believe because of Jeanine, she is given the pass to the next round.

At 10 p.m., there are 39 guys and 35 girls left. They are asked to stay up through the night and learn a group choreography number. Nigel says they will be looking for creativity and entertainment. This is when the drama occurs as people are nearing physical and mental exhaustion. This is when emotionality rules. All the dance numbers go well and no one is sent home.

After a break for lunch in the pool, contemporary style is on the dance card for this day. Cat Deeley says 67 remain, but the math does not add up (39 guys + 35 girls before group round = 72). Choreographing this year is the fantabulous Travis Wall, a former contestant from season 2 who has shown his extraordinary choreography skills during the last few seasons. Assisting were former contestants Jamie Goodwin (season 3) and Robert Roldan (from season 7). Ryan Ramirez hurts her back during practice and goes to the hospital. Natalia also goes to the hospital because her blood glucose level dropped.

Sasha and Bryce “Professor Lock” Johnson are in the first group to perform for the judges. I think contemporary is one of my favorites to watch. It is so beautiful and emotional. Both are put through.

More groups perform and more favorites like Robert Taylor, Jr. (The Woo Man), Wadi Jones, and Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson.

After returning from the hospital, Ryan gets a refresher with Jamie and Robert. She is paired up with the handsome Robert. They are a stunning pair. Debbie Allen tells her to ice her butt; she’s made it through to the next round.

The final group performs. In this group are Jeremiah Hughes and Arielle Coker. Both had made it to the contemporary round, 2 and 4 times respectively, and were cut. Derion “DC” Chapman is also in this final group. DC looks lost. Airelle looks shocked when she is sent home yet again and does not know how to respond to Debbie Allen’s remarks. Three times is the charm for Jeremiah who is overcome with emotion. DC makes an emotional appeal and Debbie Allen gives him a “man-up” speech and gives him free dance lessons.

At the end of the day 12 more dancers are sent home including Chyna Lee Smith.

The remaining contestants have to perform their solo and tell the judges why they deserve to be there. Natalia is given a free pass through the contemporary round. None are given “formal” feedback during the solos, but there are comments from the judges’ gallery, especially for Clarice Ordaz. Going home is Kelsey from the first group. Twenty-four more dancers were sent home including Kimalee Piedad, Chase Thomas, and Amber Williams. Alexis Mason danced her solo but showed her immaturity not only in her moves (when comparing her with others that made it through) but also her facial expressions. She has the ability to grow so much since she is only 18.

Thirty-one dancers remain, but, there is still one final cut to be made and only 20 will be dancing for American’s votes.





So You Think You Can Dance — Salt Lake City, NY, LA

8 06 2011

After watching these auditions, there seems no end to the talent still out there. Most of the people picked have contemporary or hip-hop backgrounds; very few ballroom dancers have been seen.

Salt Lake City

Robin Antin from the Pussycat Dolls (and sister of famed hair stylist Jonathan Antin), Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe served as judges for this segment of the trip. I found Robin annoying with her constant talking about the Pussycat Dolls and if this or that contestant would work for her group. This is not about them; this is about THIS show.

First to perform are a pair of steppers, Devon McCullough and Micah Clark from SLC. They were in-sync with a very difficult routine. During choreography, however, only Devon made it through to Vegas.

Chyna Lee Smith from Pocatello, Idaho, had overflowing enthusiasm and a long list of SYTYCD alumni with whom she has worked: Matt, Natalie, Brandon, and Allison Hooker did the choreography for her audition. She comes from a dancing family, her mother having danced with the Osmond’s. She’ll be one to look for during the Vegas auditions.

It was fun to watch Annie Gratton, of Phoenix, Arizona, with her father, Francois Gratton. I dare say that the father performed better than the daughter when they danced together at Nigel’s request, but Annie is going to Vegas; dad can’t meet the 30-year-old cut-off.

Tadd Gadduang reminds me of the playfulness of Dominic Sandoval. He performed his hip-hop routine to classical music. He was straight through to Vegas.

Samantha Miller many have lost some of her memories, but her muscle memory is still there. She was put through to choreography but was told to come back and audition next year.

Day two of Salt Lake City discovered the talents of Chase Thomas from Provo Utah. Performing a contemporary routine, he showed a lot of strength. His lines were not the cleanest, but he did okay. This is the young man whose former girlfriend cheated on him, but found someone else and is now happily married. He is through to Vegas.

I am not sure what I make of the Brittany/Ringo Starr thing. If her father was just acting, then no harm, but he was demented and has delusions thinking he is Ringo Starr, then that was wrong to have exploited him.

New York Auditions

From my birthplace, Brooklyn, Jason Gilkison, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe were judging this set of performers. I was introduced to a new term: Whaackin. It is a style of dance that came into prominence around the 70s in predominantly gay club scene. It draws from modern jazz, funk, soul and ballet to name a few. It also has distinct elements of vogueing and locking as well. Samara “Princess Lockeroo” Cohen from Brooklyn brought this unique style of dance to life and got a ticket straight to Vegas.

Performing a contemporary/lyrical dance was Brandon Jones from New Brunswick, NJ. He had great height and strength. He was given a ticket to Vegas.

Brian Henry from Brooklyn was an odd dude. Performing an energetic and aggressive krump dance, he looked angry. However, when he said it was his “praise dance” and that he “krumped for Christ” I did not know how to understand that. After choreography, he was given a ticket to Vegas.

Our Irish step-dancer, Mary Kate Sheehan, also from Brooklyn, was up next. She made great use of the stage and made step-dancing look easy and graceful. She was sent to choreography and then earned her ticket to Vegas.

Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson from Philadelphia was also given a ticket to Vegas.

Day 2 of the Brooklyn auditions brought out dance styles other than contemporary and hip-hop. Jess LeProtto from Little Falls, New Jersey performed a cute jazz routine. He reminded me of Evan. After choreography, we will be seeing more of him in Vegas.

One of the few contestants we’ve seen performing a Latin dance, after only 3 years of ballroom experience, Kristen Dobson impressed Mary Murphy. Jason gave her some constructive criticism about her performance. We’ll be seeing her in Vegas after showing her abilities in the choreography session.

The “Woo” Man, 30-year-old Robert Taylor, Jr., of Brooklyn, was a lot of fun in his hip-hop routine. He was not as tight as others we have seen, but he was given a ticket to Vegas.

Los Angeles auditions

Tyce DiOrio, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe were the judges for this last on-the-road auditioning segment.

Jordan Casanova of Chino Hills, CA, was a sexy spitfire. She said she “turns into something else on stage.” Indeed she did and earned the first ticket to Vegas.

Derion “DC” Chapman of Reseda, CA, reminded Nygel of Twitch, who was in the audience. He was given a ticket straight to Vegas.

Having tried out many seasons in the past, Arielle Coker of Los Angeles wowed all the judges with the improvements she had made. We will be seeing her in Vegas.

Hero McRae, hailing from Japan, was crazy good with her hip-hop routine which was rewarded with a ticket to Vegas.

The last day of on-the-road auditions brought us such potential as Alexis Mason, sister of Season 5 winner Jeanine Mason). Patty Anne Miller, a style consultant, also of Los Angeles, did a fabulous hip-hop routine. She had received a full scholarship for drumming to Berkeley School of Music and had graduated. Both received tickets to Vegas.

The last audition was for sisters Sasha and Natalia Mallory from Bakersfield, CA. Sasha had previously been a dancer on Adam Lambert’s tour. Nigel was surprised at the dancing that came from Natalia because of her weight. Nigel has a short memory (Donyelle Jones, 3rd place winner in season 2). They were sent to choreography and both sent through to Vegas.

Vegas week is grueling and only the strong (and those who avoid injuries) survive. I hope some of my favorites will be there.