So You Think You Can Dance auditions always seem to go on forever, but I appreciate that this show – above most reality TV competitions – seems to focus on the talent and not humiliating the wannabes. Right now, we’re on day two of the Los Angeles auditions and judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe are joined once again by Christina Applegate. Side note: it’s so weird to think of her as Kelly Bundy now, isn’t it? She’s so smart and poised and mature. But I digress! Let’s get to those auditions.
First up are Alla Kocherga, 24 and Serge Onik, 25, a couple who might actually be a couple. You might remember Serge from season 10 auditions, where he made it all the way to the green mile before being sent home. Now Serge is back with a new partner, ballroom stunner and part-time twerker Alla. The two of them have a ton of chemistry and their ballroom audition is fabulous. So sexy. Alla has legs for days, you guys. They naturally both get tickets to callbacks – and Alla agrees to be Serge’s girlfriend. Next up is B-boy Timothy Joseph, 24, and his specialty is #InsaneFlips, as we’re helpfully told by the hashtag on screen. This guy is kind of nuts. Yes, his flips are insane, but it’s his suicides that really get me. I don’t know how this guy hasn’t broken his back yet. It’s incredibly impressive and a little scary to watch. Then he gets cocky and does an extra flip, hurting his leg. Too far, Timothy! The judges are impressed by his moves, but feel like he’s all tricks and no rhythm. I’d agree with that. He’s sent to the choreography round, but only if his leg injury will allow him to continue.
Nineteen-year-old Casey Askew has very tall hair. Also, I just noticed this, but is Nigel wearing a Hogwarts uniform? What the hell. Anyway, Casey’s contemporary audition is beautiful. Great lines, great emotion, great everything. He gets a ticket straight through to callbacks. From there, it’s a montage of successful auditions. Mary tells one performer that it was one of the best auditions they’ve seen so far – do we get to see this audition? No? Okay. Nigel tells another how amazing she is. Can we see her? No? Alright then. I guess we’ll have to take your word for it, SYTYCD. In the meantime, let’s watch J-4, a nine-year-old who cannot actually be on the show. Now don’t get me wrong – this kid is adorable and also super talented. Watching him freestyle with Cyrus and Fik-Shun was very enjoyable. But I also would like to some more amazing auditions. Then again, when J-4 meets Twitch and looks at the camera with awestruck eyes and says, “This is the best day of my life”? I have to admit, my heart melted.
The first sob story of these auditions comes from Jourdan Epstein, 24, who dedicates the performance to her brother. Her brother battled with addiction for years and now he’s finally sober. I don’t really care, though, because her dancing doesn’t need a sob story to be moving. Her contemporary routine is en pointe and it’s stunning. She has so much control and it’s so openly emotional at the same time. I loved it. Mary screamed like, a lot. Needless to say, Jourdan got a ticket. After Jourdan, it’s the return of “Johnny Waacks” Gibson. Do you remember him? He auditioned a few seasons ago and it was basically one masturbation joke after another. He um, loves waacking. In front of people. Hey guys, waacking. It sounds like he means masturbating! HA HA. Johnny swears that this time he’s serious about his, uh, waacking, but honestly this whole thing feels like a joke. Then again, you have to appreciate a guy who likes waacking to Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?”. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. He’s honestly much better this time around and the judges are impressed. Johnny waacks his way to the choreography round.
The last auditions before the choreography round are ballroom couple Malene Østergaard, 25 and Armen Way, 28. Malene is insanely gorgeous. It’s like, distracting. Despite being such a knockout, Malene has struggled in her career – after having a bad experience with a partner, she lost faith in herself. That is, until she found Armen. We’ve seen Armen before, remember? Last year, he dropped his partner on her head in Vegas and Mary angrily sent him home. He’s a lucky guy, because they let him back and he’s got a fantastic new lady – who he did not drop this time. The two of them are excellent and hot-hot-hot together. They get their tickets without question. After that, it’s choreography. Timothy Joseph decides to take the medic’s advice and rest his leg, but Johnny Waacks shows he’s not just a joke and makes his way through.
Moving on, the auditions travel to Philadelphia, where judges Mary and Nigel are joined by ballet dancer Misty Copeland. Yay! A dancer! Misty is not only an extraordinarily talented ballerina, but she’s the first African American female soloist to dance for the American Ballet Theatre. Awesome. First up in Philly is our second sob story, courtesy of 19-year-old Bridget Whitman. It’s an awfully long time spent on a relatively common story – her father died in a car accident. Sad? Of course, but come on. This show is strange with who it chooses to be melodramatic about. Luckily, Bridget is also a beautiful dancer, even though she performs to a terrible cover of “Que Sera, Sera” for some reason. Ugh. Between the tear jerking story and the song, I don’t want to like her, but I have to admit that she’s great. She gets her ticket.
Next up is Amir Sanders, 21, who is a #funkyballerina according to our on-screen hashtag. Amir is pretty funky – she’s got a wild ‘fro and a septum piercing, neither of which are standard for a ballet dancer. Amir wants to change the face of ballet, but she also wants to be “just like Misty.” Misty smiles through her teeth like, “Oh honey, no.” I am going to be honest with you: I effing loved Amir. Her pointe audition was this beautiful, feminist performance to Beyonce’s “Flawless” and while it wasn’t reeeeally flawless, it had such style and strength – oh man. I just adore this girl. The judges were also taken by her, but felt her technique needed work. LAME. SHUT UP, JUDGES. Amir is sent to choreography. Boy, I hope she makes it.
Speaking of people who have made it, Jenna Johnson is back! This ballroom dancer from season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance returns to help her partner Landon Anderson audition. Landon partnered with Jenna in her audition last year as well, but the youngin’ wasn’t old enough to be on the show. Now he’s 18 and ready to make it. Of course, he and Jenna are fantastic because duh, we already knew that. Can someone get Landon a better haircut, though? Yikes. He gets a plane ticket, obviously. Also, Jenna will be back as an all-star later this season!
You know what? I’m so tired of Justin Bieber and I am tired of Twitter voting and I am tired of the horrible editing of this dance crew thing. I am not even going to talk about these segments anymore. Dance crews did some dance crewing, guys. Tweeters did some tweeting. MOVING ON. Real talk: does anyone even audition for this show anymore who hasn’t auditioned at least once already? Have we literally seen all the dancers in America? Return auditioner Shafeek Westbrook, 24, tried out a few years ago, but stormed off in a dramatic huff after messing up. He gave major ‘tude. Now he’s back and ready to show off his positive side. Also, his leopard print pants. In all honesty, Shafeek was good but not as good as I remember him. The judges feel the same way and it’s probably his previous audition that gets him through to choreography. Great news: both Shafeek and Amir make it through!
Day two of Philadelphia auditions bring a new guest judge: Tony Award winner Billy Porter from Broadway’s Kinky Boots. Billy wants the dancers to tell him a story and the first audition takes that quite literally. Stanley Glover, 19, was four years old when his mother died of a heart attack in her sleep. He was lying right next to her. He woke up to find her dead. That’s…terrible, wow. So that’s Stanley’s story, but it’s not all of it – his father never showed up to court to take over guardianship of him, either. Good lord, Stanley. Luckily, he was taken in by family friends. Whew. Okay, so maybe I teared up a little at that one. Jeez. Stanley’s audition is not going to be sad, however. He describes it as “creature-like.” And ooh, it is! Stanley’s performance is kind of creepy and very interesting. He is bendy! I liked it. The judges do, too and give him a ticket, but not before an excruciating “monster” impression from Mary. Ugh, shut up, Mary.
Our last audition from Philly is from James Davis, AKA “Banks,” 24. James is a krumper who’s been given a second chance at life, literally. Four years ago on Halloween, he was shot while dancing in Union Square. He was dancing for some girls and one of their boyfriends shot at him. What?! That’s nuts. Guys, chill the eff out with your guns, Jesus. James almost had his leg amputated, but he was able to fully heal. Gonna be honest – not entirely into James’ krumping. It’s very slow and dark and interesting, but it felt more like performance art to me than dancing. Like, it was definitely art, but I don’t know if his art belongs on a dance show? The judges seem to think he needs more experience, so they send him to choreography. Unfortunately, he doesn’t make it, though 11 other dancers do. Next week: HOTLANTA.