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.
Halfway through her dance she whips off the hat to reveal waist-length blond hair. Then the routine gets closer and closer to something that you'd do for dollar bills. The judges love her and she's through to callbacks.
Valerie Rockey, 20, from Indianapolis, is totally adorable and has some terrific shiny red tap shoes. Nigel likes how the audience connected to her routine, but criticizes her "step ball changes." That's, like, the first thing you learn in tap dancing. Christina loves her smile and her general demeanor. She's through to choreography.
Jana "JaJa" Vankova, 22, is living in Chatsworth, Calif., but is from the Czech Republic. She's a former student of past "SYTYCD" contestant Phillip Chbeeb. She's a krumper. With her flame-colored curly wild hair and her accent, I keep picturing her as the Helena character from "Orphan Black."
I want her to say, "I dance for you. You give ticket. Or I kill you."
Anyway, she's doing movements that we've seen before from other animators, but it's her face that really sells the choreography. She gets a ticket immediately. In her celebratory dance, she shows some hip isolation that has me looking forward to seeing her do Latin dances.
After a quick montage of former contestants, including last year's winner, Fik-Shun, who have shown up to watch the LA auditions, we then see an even quicker montage of really terrible dancers. Perhaps my favorite moment is Christina saying to an unseen contestant, "Well, the good news is, you have passion," in the driest tone possible.
Kyle Taylor, 28, from Wichita, doesn't know a lot of dancers in his hometown and feels too old to relate to a lot of the dancers he's met at the auditions in Los Angeles. He's a "popper." When asked where he dances, he says, "my living room."
He apparently doesn't perform in public a lot and I'm now terrified we're about to get our first humiliation audition. But, surprisingly, he's not terrible. Nigel says he looks like he should be battling people. He then calls Fik-Shun, Cyrus, and Legacy up to the stage. How old is Legacy now? Should he still be doing this? They all get their turns and then Kyle goes last and holds his own. After the battle, Nigel wants to see him go to choreography, as does Christina. Mary agrees and so we'll see him later.
Justine Lutz, 19, is from Minneapolis, and has studied jazz and ballet but not contemporary. So of course she's auditioning today with contemporary. She's weird and amazing. It's like no contemporary I've never seen before. Mary and Christina give her a standing ovation and she's through to callbacks.
Deise Mendonca and Mauricio Vera are auditioning together and are a couple. They fell in love the first day they met at the "I Have No Idea What He Said with His Thick Accent" Ballet Company.
He's 27, she's 23, and they're currently living in Santa Barbara, Calif. Their dancing is beautiful and they partner together beautifully. Christina is reduced to tears by the performance. They both get tickets to callbacks.
Bieber's back along with choreographer Nick DeMoura. Last week's winning crew was Syncopated Ladies, despite their competition, Poreotics, having already won Season 5 of "America's Best Dance Crew."
Tonight's first crew is Breaksk8, also "ABDC" alumni, and they do breakdancing on roller skates. I'm a former roller rink rat, so they've got my vote. The second crew is the Academy of Villains. They dance with rubber bands on their arms and legs at one point. They dress like mimes, dolls and clowns. Basic nightmare fodder.
Hailee Payne, 19, from Roy, Utah, has short blonde hair and often gets comparisons to Miley Cyrus. She's going to dance jazz/funk. Nigel says he loves her quirkiness. After some business about her mom and dad and softball, she gets a ticket to callbacks.
Sebastian Serra, 24, from Orlando, Fla., is a returning auditioner from last year. He made it all the way to the very end of auditions last year, getting rejected only at the last cut. His leaps are so light and so powerful. Mary calls his elevation "amazing" and wishes they had a bigger stage. Christina compares him to former contestant Chehon . He's through to callbacks.
Dani Platz, 18, from Moorpark, Calif., began dancing when she was 3 years old. She stopped dancing for two years in high school because she was in treatment for an eating disorder. Good for her to admit it and good for "So You Think You Can Dance" for allowing the subject to be discussed.
Nigel says there were parts of her body going in places he hadn't seen before. Gross, Nige. He talks about how she had both beautiful and ugly parts in her choreography, but he means ugly as a compliment. Christina talks about how her choreography really told the story of the healing process. Christina wants to send her straight through to callbacks, but Nigel and Mary say choreography.
Marie Bonnevay, 27, is from Paris, but now lives in Las Vegas, dancing as a street performer. She doesn't know if she's talented, but she has so much love for it. Her stage name is "Mary Poppins" because she's a popper and her name is Marie.
She's using Sade as her audition music, which is an odd fit for popping, but she's making it work. During her routine, she comes down from the stage and comes up by the judges table. Fik-Shun joins her for an impromptu duet and they go back on stage, continuing to dance together. Nigel calls her absolutely sensational and loved it. Mary calls her the "epitome of a true artist." She's through to callbacks.
Kyle Taylor drops out early during choreography. Tapper Valerie admits the choreography is challenging. Good news, though, she gets to stay. Dani also gets through to callbacks. Oh, and before that, some dude throws up and we have to see it spewage and all.
Gross. Perhaps not coincidentally, he's cut.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun