Note: Since I recap both Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance and they’re overlapping seasons this week and next, I’ll be covering both nights in one recap for these first two weeks.
They open with past winners and notable contestants being interviewed about how their life changed by putting on a number and getting in the audition line. My favorite bit is Mary with a giant, tight, curly hairdo, like when we had perms in the '80s.
Tuesday Night – Los Angeles Auditions
We’re in Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theatre. Tonight’s judges are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Remember that season Mary wasn’t on the show? I’m glad they got her back and kept her. Even if I find the “hot tamale” and the screaming a bit annoying.. I like that she comes from the competitive ballroom world.
Our first auditioner is Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall from Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s a whole lotta name, kid. He’s a popper and his body control and isolation are terrific. But you almost always have to see these guys try the more traditional dance styles before you know if they’re going to be a successful contestant on the show. He has booty pops, full splits and this crazy move rotating his arms, torso and head in seemingly different airports at the same time. He gets a laugh with the Michael Jackson pose and then does a move that makes my ankles hurt – performing for most of the last 30 seconds of his audition in the world’s winningest limbo position. He gets a ticket to Las Vegas. So, you know, home.
Audition #2 is from 19-year-old Malece Miller, a contemporary dancer from Salt Lake City. (It sounds like she says her first name to kind of rhyme with Elise.) She has an emotional backstory and a devoted mom. There’s no way she doesn’t make it through based on 1. Contemporary, 2. Utah, and 3. Emotional back story. She has trouble hearing Nigel at one point and apologizes, saying she’s deaf. When Nigel asks her sincerely if she’s deaf, I think, “If she says ‘yes,’ we’ve got our Season 10 winner already.” She answers, “I’m partially deaf in my left ear.” Nigel says, “Are you really?” And she replies, “No, not really.” It’s a much drier sense of humor than I would’ve expected from her.
I’m a terrible judge of contemporary dance because it all seems so the same to me after having watched nine seasons. I will say, she threw herself around the stage with greater abandon than some. Mary likes her look, short blond-bleached hair, saying it’s “fresh” and “different.” Mary’s got that right. Mary’s worried about some of her transitions today, though. Jesse calls her “striking” to look at. Nygel likes her too and she’s through to Las Vegas.
They show us quick glimpses of folks getting the ticket to Las Vegas.
Paul Karmiryan was a contestant on the Armenian version of “So You Think You Can Dance” and won the whole thing. Should he even be allowed to audition for this version? He’s a Latin ballroom dancer. He’s dancing with a partner who is not auditioning. They’re out of sync at times and I can’t tell if that’s his fault or hers. Nigel says Paul reminds him of Season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer. The judges faff around with a lame joke before giving him his ticket to Las Vegas.
This guy is wearing a black tutu around his neck and his body moves in crazy ways. His name is Elijah Laurant and he auditions wearing only the tutu/ruff and black tight fitting shorts. He’s clearly a gifted dancer, but I question his choreography choices. Nigel found it artistic, beautiful and androgynous. Elijah jumps up and down at “androgynous” because that’s what he wanted for the piece. Mary says she won’t forget the piece for a long time. Of course he’s through to Las Vegas.
Quick montage of people getting held for the choreography session later. Jesse Tyler Ferguson is adorable when admitting he’ll cave and send a contestant through to choreography.
Taylor Ward was a jock, with scholarships to college for softball. She gave it all up to pursue dance, especially with the support of her grandfather, who passed away a month before these auditions. Just as she’s getting ready to dance, they go to a break. She’s practicing in the rehearsal area and comes down from a leap in way that does not look good for her knee. If your wide receiver on your fantasy league team came down like that, with a knee twisting like that, you’d start drinking. The show cuts to commercial before we find out the extent of the injury, though.
Back from commercials, there’s no mention of Taylor; instead we get a montage of women who’ve danced well enough to get sent to Las Vegas.
Taylor now has a bandage on her left knee. Apparently her left kneecap popped out of place because she has “naturally loose joints.” She tells us it’s happened before and that she just popped it back in. I’m glad we didn’t see that. I would’ve fainted, thrown up, then fainted again. Yowza.
Taylor’s on the stage to audition and says she’ll be using more of her upper body during her audition piece. As she’s describing the injury, Jesse is clearly as squeamish as I am. She’s doing surprisingly well despite the knee injury, even putting her weight solely on that leg at points. But noticeably not doing the same leap that injured the knee in rehearsal.
Jesse said he watched the whole routine worried that her knee might pop out again and that he was going to throw up if that happened. See? I was right. He liked the “effortlessness” of her dancing. Mary calls her a “true professional” with “stunning technique.” Nigel wants her to go to choreography, as do Mary and Jesse. I’m not sure about making her dance more on that knee.
Morris Isby is a b-boy who says he’s one of the more well-known b-boys around the world. So far it looks like every other b-boy routine we’ve seen over the previous nine seasons. It’s good, but it’s what b-boys do. Until he twists himself into a painful looking pretzel. Nigel points out a move he calls an “elbow pirouette.” Jesse compares him to last season’s Cyrus and the judges send him to choreography.
Montage of b-boy auditions, ending with a guy who pulls a flat out contortionist move and I worry, like Mary, how he’ll unfold himself from it.
Armen Way “raps” in Russian and had been doing so for 10 years. He even made a professional music video with models washing a car. So he’s bona fide. It turns out “Armen Way” is a stage name and his actual name is Armen Avasitov. He’s got his hair gelled in that way that guys do when they’re prematurely thinning on top and trying to hide it. He’s, unsurprisingly, a Latin ballroom dancer. As far as I can tell, he’s good, but I always wait to hear what Mary says about the ballroom auditioners. Before Jesse can even start to give his critique, Mary interrupts him to give him his ticket to Las Vegas.
Now there’re 3 b-boys, two of them brothers, who started dancing because their dad was a b-boy in the 80s. After his untimely death when they were young, they joined with another guy to start a program for kids involving dancing. It’s only the two brothers, Eric & Lorenzo Chapman, auditioning, but all three guys are dancing. I don’t care if they don’t actually have a shot at getting on the show or not, I’m glad they got to plug their group. Nigel calls them “inspirational” and then tells them they’re not “built like dancers.” Which is his way of pointing out the one guy is on the heavy side. Pretty much the judges say, “Great charity work you’re never making it on the show.”