Welcome to Hotlanta! The audition rounds of So You Think You Can Dance have come to a close in Atlanta, Georgia and this time judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined by jookin’ dancer Lil Buck. I feel like such a tool, not knowing what jookin’ is. I had to look it up like some ignorant old person. I don’t understand you kids today and your loud music and your gangsta walking! Anyway, turns out that Lil Buck is pretty effing spectacular and if you’re a huge know-nothing like me, you should check him out on the YouTube, where the young people watch their videos. But anyway, back to Hotlanta. It’s the last leg of the auditions and Cat Deeley wonders, “Will the judges still say O-M-G in the A-T-L?” Oh dear. Cat, you’re lucky you’re pretty, because that was bad. Hopefully, the dancers will be better than that.
First up is 18-year-old Mariah Reives, who’s got her mom along to support her. Mariah has a huge smile and a pretty impressive jazz routine to go along with it. She does a lot of jumps and kicks and it’s all very theatrical without being cheesy. When she finishes, the crowd goes wild. Nigel says she puts good technique with good performance and she’s got herself a ticket straight to callbacks. Next is Eric “Silky” Moore, 24, who’s auditioned for the show twice before. He’s auditioning now as a hip hop dancer, but in the past he’s been a tapper. Why the change? He says he’s been studying the show and and I guess he decided that he had a better chance at making it through with hip hop. Today’s number is inspired by his grandmother, who spent some time in an insane asylum. Silky’s got on a shirt that says, “I’m Not Ok” to set the mood. Silky is kind of a trip, you guys. He’s maybe a little nuts, just like granny. Fortunately, he’s also a pretty amazing dancer. He’s got such a unique quality about him, and not just his crazy personality. He gets a ticket.
Our next audition is Kelly MacCoy, 18, and she comes from a show biz family. I mean, if you can call some guest appearances on The Love Boat and performing on the “supper club circuit” a show biz career. I don’t really think that counts, but I guess we’ll give Kelly’s parents the benefit of the doubt, because they’re kind of cute. They’re also…a lot. Kelly probably spent plenty of time being embarrassed when she was in high school. Her jazz routine is…okay, I guess. She pulls a face a lot, which bugs me and I’m pleased when Nigel points it out as well. I don’t really think she needs to ham it up quite so much – and no one wants all those ponytail swings. Despite this, she gets a ticket to callbacks. After Kelly, it’s time for Chris “Mr. Strange” Griffin, one of the founding members of the Dragon House crew. Dragon House is the crew that brought us Cyrus in season 9 and then Blueprint in season 10. Now Chris, 25, is here to continue the tradition. He’s definitely um, strange, but there’s no question of his talent. There’s pretty much nothing like watching the guys from Dragon House perform. He gets his ticket.
Someone quite different from Dragon House animation is Conrad Decharbert, 26. Conrad auditioned last season, but the judges said he “danced like a girl.” They told him he needed a more masculine quality to his dance, so this year he’s back to prove he can be a man, or something. I find this kind of irritating, because “like a girl” isn’t really a thing. Saying he needs more presence or he lacks power in his movement? That’s fine. But “you dance like a girl” is a little annoying. Regardless, Conrad is here now and he’s covered in tattoos. His audition is definitely strong and he gets a ticket to the next round. After Conrad is the adorable Taveaus “Dynamic” Woods, who looks like he’s about 12 years old. He’s actually 18 and his best friend just happens to be last season’s winner Fik-Shun. He’s great, but his audition leaves Nigel wondering if he can do any other styles. It’s the choreography round for Taveaus.
Following Taveaus is another member of the Dragon House crew, Branden “SideShow” Feimster. The 22-year-old is one of the few members of the crew who doesn’t animate. Instead, SideShow does “legit” popping and locking, which I guess is different than illegitimate popping and locking. He also wears a top hat, like one of those really tall ones. At first, SideShow seems to be very jovial and fun, but his attitude quickly takes a turn. He’s um, nuts. And not in a good way. First of all, he’s screaming about how he danced in his mother’s belly. It doesn’t help that his mom is in the crowd like, “THAT’S RIGHT. KICKED SO HARD PEOPLE THOUGHT I WAS POSSESSED.” Um. Be quiet, mom, you’re not helping. So then he gets all emotional and starts to yell and…I don’t know what’s going on.
The truth is, I really enjoyed SideShow’s audition, but he didn’t actually do any popping or locking, not in the sense that I understand it, anyway. Nigel calls him on this and…well, it goes downhill from there. SideShow is offended that Nigel questioned his “legit” skills. He talks back and gets rude. In the crowd, Blueprint and the other members of Dragon House are all like, “Oh man stop talking. STOP TALKING.” SideShow does not, in fact, stop talking. The thing is, had he just said he was doing his own original style, it probably would’ve gone well. But all three judges agree that SideShow should go home. He’s a real ass about it, but Blueprint and the other crew members actually go up to Nigel and apologize on his behalf at the end of the day. After that, 15 dancers hit the choreography round. Taveaus unfortunately doesn’t make it, but seven dancers do.
Day two of auditions in Atlanta bring a new judge, Mrs. Channing Tatum herself, Jenna Dewan Tatum. You guys, I love her and I love Step Up. Tyler and Nora forever! And yes, I did just link to a Tyler/Nora fan vid on YouTube, why do you ask? Don’t hate! Anyway, Jenna Dewan Tatum is in Atlanta and I am excited about it. Ricky Ubeda, 18, is excited to audition and dedicate the performance to his mother as a thanks for all her support. Though his primary style is contemporary, Ricky says he “dabbles” in a little of everything. I don’t know why, but the SYTYCD producers now want us to use #dabble to talk about this on Twitter. Guys, you’re trying too hard to hashtag. It doesn’t matter, though, because Ricky is #outstanding. God, he is just gorgeous. I could watch him all day. The judges are thoroughly impressed with his skill and he gets high praise and also a ticket.
It’s been a pretty male-heavy audition day so far, so it’s nice when Marissa Milele, 18, shows up. You guys, Marissa could kick your ass. I don’t care who you are – she will whomp you. This chick is buff and the hashtag #PrincessWarrior is much more appropriate than “dabble.” Marissa gives a commanding, powerful solo and after calling her a powerhouse and a beast, she gets a ticket to callbacks. Elaine Kimble, 26, is today’s big tear jerker. I say this lightly, but she actually did make me tear up a little. When Elaine was 15, her mother had a stroke due to a heart defect and it left her paralyzed on one side and mentally handicapped. Elaine happens to have the same heart defect, so she tries to live every day to the fullest and without regrets. Her audition shows a lot of potential, but the judges feel like she was a little safe. They want her to go to choreography and dig a little deeper.
Next is up Brandon Jacobs, AKA “Crazy Legz,” 23, who wants to introduce SYTYCD viewers to the world of cranking. An Atlanta-born street dance, cranking is inspired by old school roller skating rink moves and involves a lot of, well, crazy legs. The crowd is loving Crazy Legz, guys. I am loving him, too. Not only does he have a great smile, but cranking is super enjoyable to watch. It reminded me of my days at the Galaxy Skateway. The judges really like him, but they aren’t sure he’ll be able to tackle other styles, so it’s the choreography round for Crazy Legz. Side note: someone should tell Mary that “crank” is not the same thing as “cranking” and one is not a dance.
Angelina Granitz, 18, is really nervous. She’s also very shy and not very good at expressing herself. That doesn’t mean she isn’t cute, though. With Angelina is her older brother, who happens to be her inspiration – and they are just adorable together. You can tell how much they really care about one another. Her big bro’s advice is to not be boring – and fortunately for Angelina, her quietness melts away when she begins dancing. She comes alive. The judges connect with it and give her a ticket to callbacks.
Justin Bieber time, which means it’s time for me to fast forward. NOPE TO THIS. After the Biebs, it’s time for Cristina Moya-Palacios. The 18-year-old started dancing because her brother has been very ill and she spent a lot of the past 10 years with him in the hospital. Her mother put her in dance as a way to get her out of hospital waiting rooms and boy, did it pay off. Cristina is just beautiful to watch. She’s going to be one to beat in the competition, I think. She gets a ticket straight away.
The final dancer of the day is another ATL cranker, Jerrod Swain. Jerrod is 25 and he’s really, really quiet. I don’t know if he’s tired or what, but he’s definitely lacking the energy of his buddy Crazy Legz. However, Jerrod has something Crazy Legz doesn’t have, and that’s his adorable son Coby. After watching Coby dance, I don’t even care about Jerrod’s audition, I have to be honest. It’s the cutest thing ever. Jerrod is alright, I guess. He makes it to the choreography round, but neither he or Crazy Legz get that final ticket. Elaine Kimble does make it through, along with eight other dancers. Next week:
Vegas California callbacks!