Episode 2 of auditions has us in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Last week there weren't any joke auditions - some that were clearly not going to make it, but still had an interesting or heart warming story. And silly dad dancing is fine and not exploitative.
Mary Murphy took a dip in Lake Michigan for the Polar Plunge. (You might remember the event because Jimmy Fallon did it in a business suit.) She was "freezing her ----s off."
Our judges tonight are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary, and former principal dancer for the Joffrey Ballet, Fabrice Calmels. Fabrice, at 6'6" is a tall drink of water. I like. And he's French. Can't wait to hear the accent.
Our first auditioner Paul Brushaber, 18, from Mokena, Ill., is a kind of nerdy looking guy in glasses and a hoodie. He identifies himself as "The Puppet." He says "puppet," but I think he means "marionette." Oh, good, he just called himself a nerd, so I'm off the hook for thinking he looks nerdy.
He's rubbery as all get out and it's an interesting interpretation of animation style dancing. I'm betting they send him to choreography and it knocks him out later in the show. Nigel asks him if this is the first time anybody's seen "puppetting."
If not one of these judges tells him he's actually imitating a marionette, I'm losing all faith in them.
Mary wants to send Paul straight through to the next round. Nigel asks Paul if he's ever danced with a partner and he says no. Fabrice doesn't really want to break the tie, but sides with Mary, so Paul is through. They'll regret that.
Emily James, 21, from North Kingstown, R.I, auditioned before in both Seasons 8 and 9. She skipped Season 10 auditions because of school. In her interview footage, she's shown leaping in one of the glass boxes at the top of the Willis Tower. I couldn't even imagine standing in one of those, much less leaping inside one.
She's a contemporary dancer and very graceful. Mary says it's good that Emily's going to graduate, but she's a dancer. Nigel calls up Emily's little cousins, both of whom are very cute. The older one happily takes the opportunity to get up on stage on show her stuff. It's obviously less polished and sophisticated, but that's simply her age.
She's got some talent, for sure. Fabrice compliments her, as does Mary. Then Nigel gives the microphone to the littlest cousin, who tells her older sister to come get her ticket. It's all super adorable.
Franchesca Bass, 18, from Crown Point, Ind., has a form of alopecia and has therefore lost all of her hair. She says her routine is based on the idea that she's an alien. Well, that's working the baldness to her advantage. Good for her.
She does this cool move when she's in a backbend and kind of curves her head around her shoulder. It definitely works to the alien vibe she wanted. Nigel says, "Maybe the alopecia is the making of you." Nigel says she has an "alien quality" about her dance, so her choreography worked. He calls her mesmerizing.
Mary calls her captivating. Mary mentions how she came out of some of her backbends in a very unique and interesting way. Fabrice calls her "animalistic." Of course she's through to Los Angeles.
Jenna Scaccia, 18, from Chicago, is a ballerina and a total Fabrice fangirl. Can you even imagine how that would amp up your nerves? She's currently a trainee with the Joffrey ballet and Fabrice shamefacedly admits that he doesn't recognize her. It's OK, Fabrice, we realize you probably see a million ballerinas at work and they all blend together after a while.
Her music is very broody and haunting, but she's giving a megawatt grin throughout the whole thing. Despite some very good technique, her cheerleading face is distracting me. Nigel calls her feet "magnificent" in addition to praising her overall technique. Fabrice says she made him proud. Then he starts chanting "Joffrey! Joffrey!" and he's so cute. He's the one that hands her the ticket, of course, and she's ecstatic to get to hug him.
James Thomas, 18, from Chicago, is a hip-hop dancer who specializes in contortionist moves and something from Chicago called "bopping." It's mostly about moving your legs in and out.
He starts right out with the contorting his arms out of their sockets. He's at least doing more with the contortion moves than some of the other dancers we've seen try to use it in auditions. Mary said what he did was interesting but hard to watch. Fabrice calls it insane. He's done an after-school dance program for two years, in which he's learned ballet, jazz, African, and other styles. They send him through to choreography. Later during choreography, James decides to drop out after 40 minutes so he wouldn't be a burden to his partner.
Now we're on to the Los Angeles auditions, with guest judge Christina Applegate joining Mary and Nigel.
Jessica Richens, 18, from Yorba Linda, Calif., swears she's not a "sexy" person but when she gets on stage.
Super high five to Nigel for correctly identifying her hat as a trilby and not a fedora.