And, tonight we're in Atlanta, where all the streets are named Peachtree and from where our last champion, Melanie Moore was launched. Along with Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, tonight's special guest judge is Debbie Allen.
Our first contestant is Audrey Case, from Oklahoma. Nigel mentions some of the things she said on her bio sheet for the producers, including that she can "fart with her neck and lick her elbow" and that she doesn't have a boyfriend. She goes on to demonstrate the farting with the neck, which should get her a date with SOMEone after this. She is remarkably limber and flexible, which might also help her appeal to the menfolk. Maybe. That's actually cheapening the very nice talent she has, which Nigel calls "magical" and "stunning." She's through to Las Vegas.
Now we meet three hip-hop guys who are in the "Dragon Crew." They live with eleventy billion other people in an apartment, where instead of a dining room they have a "dance floor." I really, really hope this is a ground floor apartment.
Boris Penton is the first of these guys to dance and he's doing the b-boy moves but to a classical piano piece, which I think is an intriguing choice. His face is so intense, though, and I feel like the music is perhaps lighter than the emotions he's letting us see.
Nigel says it was "mesmerizing" and calls it a privilege to have seen. Mary says it was "extraordinary" and that she needed years of training to be able to do what he did on stage for his audition. Debbie Allen calls him an artist and says that was "amazing." After Nigel asks him (kinda like a jerk, I thought) if he's "had enough compliments" a ticket to Las Vegas is proffered.
I don't know if it's my TV or their audio or what, but Joshua Alexander sounds like he's talking through a fan. I am not at all sure about his choice of mid-calf black socks with shorts. It's like watching your grampa with a really hot body and dance skills. He's got moves and he's got a ticket to Las Vegas.
And now we get kind of a weird montage of folks who are good dancers making it through to Las Vegas -- so, they're good dancers, but either not good enough to showcase their audition or they don't have interesting enough back stories. I'm happy to see more good dancing, but it's not as engaging as you'd hope.
And now we have a championship karate guy from right in Atlanta, GA, who will do a combo of hip hop, breaking, and martial arts. He started dancing because he wants to get girls. I'd suggest losing the admittedly ever-present Selena Gomez backpack. I don't think we knew before tonight that Nigel says "karate" in a funny sketch comedy kind of way.
So, this Tim Conkel starts up and his dancing isn't great, but the kicks that are clearly from his martial arts background are impressive. And he's kind of fearless, flinging himself around and onto the stage, going into splits with no hesitation.
Nigel wanted to have seen the crane move from "Karate Kid" and agreed with me that he would have liked to have seen more dancing. Mary calls it explosive and Debbie says that he's "the boy next door" but that she can see some "naughty." Oh, Debbie, don't encourage the kid. They start grilling him about his dance training and he says he had "seven days of ballet." Nigel tells him to do some ballet and they'll decide his fate.
The kid's game for it, and gives his all to some plies and pirouettes and leaps and is generally charming enough that I imagine he gets a Las Vegas ticket. And I'm right.
Back from commercial and we're just after lunch for Jackson Alvarez to show off his "power moves" according to Cat. I can't believe he's really dancing to C + C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)." If I'm doing my math correctly, he was 2 when this song came out.
Apparently, Justin is a DJ at a club and they do a lot of line dances, including "the wobble" Nigel invites everyone who knows the Wobble to come up on stage while the song plays. I am officially old because I know nothing of this Wobble, which Justin then tries to teach to Cat backstage. Oh, and we'll see Justin later in choreography.
And now we have a belly-dancer auditioning. She does her belly dance routine in nursing homes and I hope all these old men are on heart monitors when she does so. Mercy. She tells the judges she's had training in several other styles of dance beside belly dancing.
So, Janelle Isis starts her routine and it's kind of the "stripper" version of belly dancing, not that it's not good, but that I've seen more traditional belly dance and this is not it. The technique is there, but the presentation is what makes it seem flashier.
Janelle says she's "full-blooded Palestinian." Mary and Debbie are both full of praise, but that only gets Janelle through to choreography.
Danielle Dominguez drove seven hours with her parents to the Atlanta audition. She describes herself as a "weird" dancer and she loves bacon. If you're her age (21) and an active dancer, sure, you can eat piles of bacon five times a week. Me, I smell bacon and I go up a jeans size.
Danielle further explains that she started out as a cheerleader. I'll leave it to you to remember the line from "Bring It On" about the relations between dancers and cheerleaders. Nigel gets Danielle's mom to do a cheer move out in the audience.
Cue music and Danielle's dancing is exactly the kind that will make Sonya Tayeh salivate. I swear Danielle dislocates at least two joints during this audition. Nigel calls her unique, Mary makes the same Sonya connection I did, and Debbie calls her sexy. They're sending her to Las Vegas.
Andre Rucker from Atlanta is another Dragon Crew member, like Boris earlier. He does that weird robot contortionist kind of dancing -- I don't even know what to call it. At one point, we see his shoulder blades doing freaky, freaky things underneath his jacket. I love what this kid is doing, but I bet there's no way they don't make him do choreography.
Debbie Allen calls it magical and mystical. Nigel says he doesn't know what Andre's partner work will be like and he's sorry he won't see it because ... dunh dunh dunh ... they're NOT sending him to choreography, they're sending him straight to Las Vegas.
And now we get the third and final roommate from Dragon Crew, who already has sweat stains showing -- poor dear. Alright, Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, let's see what you've got. It's more robot isolation moves and he does this shudder move and then a tiptoe thing that is incredible. While I don't want to watch a whole lot of this style of dance, I am amazed by the control these guys have over their movements.
I'm surprised by how long they let this audition go on. Nigel usually cuts off even the best dancers way before this point. He's unsurprisingly through to Las Vegas.
They've handily paired up the two contestants we've already seen (Janelle and Justin) during choreography and they don't leave much suspense, telling us almost immediately that they're going to Las Vegas.
On Day 2, they've found a blonde waiting in line who does a passable imitation of Cat. Love it.
Here's Grandma Everdine with a young contestant. Everdine used to be a dancer and dance instructor and she's there in her full-length fur coat and I kind of love her. Granddaughter Courtney Kirby tells Nigel Grandma is in the house and Nigel has her come up and sit with the judges. Nigel is utterly charming to Miss Everdine, until he tries to throw a leg up over her. Nigel! It's ok; she slaps him for being fresh.
Nothing so far about Everdine suggests I wouldn't love getting a drink with her. Courtney is impressive -- athletic, powerful, and strong in a way that I really like. Debbie calls her a "beast" but Everdine would rather she be called a "butterfly." Mary calls her gorgeous and dynamic. Nigel makes another dirty joke about Grandma and now I want to slap him. For reasons I don't understand, Nigel wants to send her choreography, after Debbie's already said Las Vegas. Tiebreaker Mary decides Las Vegas.
Grandma says to Nigel, "Are you sure you don't want to change your mind so you don't look ridiculous?" LOVE HER. LOVE HER SO MUCH.
Our next contestant lets us know there's about "zero hip-hop" in Franklin County, Virginia. Cat has a hard time hiding her shock at that (not really) -- hee. Asher Walker has not brought his grandmother. He says he wants to be a backup dancer for Justin Bieber. Bold choice, young man.
Asher Walker and his blue sneakers certainly have the personality he said he wanted to show, but he's not groundbreaking in this hip-hop. I mean, he's great for a redneck ... But the kid really does have personality plus and he's cute as a button. If he can survive choreography, he's exactly the kind of contestant this show eats up.
Debbie loves him, but Mary points out that he doesn't have all the skills they've seen from other hip hop auditioners. She points out that he'd be a fan favorite. Y'all, I'm nervous how I'm mind-melding with Mary tonight. Nigel likes Asher's musicality and gives him a ticket to Las Vegas.
Our next contestant participated in a lot of sports, including track, to please his father. He was really, really good at running and it "crushed" his dad when he quit sports to focus on dancing. I'm not saying anything for sure and this show sure won't, but I would be shocked if there are not also issues of sexuality at play here. SYTYCD has always had a very "don't ask, don't tell" policy, particularly for its male dancers.
George Lawrence II is a beautiful dancer, with gorgeous long lines and extensions. Debbie makes a face while he's dancing that is a VERY good sign. if I were George, I'd freeze frame the playback of that face, print it, and frame it.
Nigel plays tonight's round of "Let's see if we can make the contestant cry" by asking George about his dad. George hangs tough, though, and doesn't give up the tears. Debbie says he was "born to dance" and, of course, he's heading to Las Vegas.
Montage of good dancers, with names even(!), who are being sent through to Las Vegas. I was all excited that we hadn't had any joke auditions yet tonight, and then the pre-commercial teasers let me know that's coming up next. I will attempt to contain my ebullition.
Montage of bad dancers, followed by a couple of bad interviews, including a Brittany who's having a very hard time of it. Brittany is from a tiny town in Florida known for its chickens. You get the sense she'd like to kill all those chickens with her own bare hands. Poultricide.
Brittany Ortner does a goofy little chicken move on her way back to start her dance and during her actual routine she does maybe a few too many moves that are reminiscent of chickens. I think she's one of the contestants that's an OK dancer, but because she's pretty and young and fit, she's going to get a good chance at it. Nigel's code words for this are "photogenic" and "good physique." She's through to choreography.
Brittan is left out as bait on the luxuriously carpeted staircase of the Fox Theater for a couple of guys that auditioned last year. One of them tried to mack on Cat last year and is making his excuses for why he never called. And apparently they totally copied their choreography from a dance duo called "Les Twins" who put the routine on YouTube. Oh, wait, not copied -- "paid tribute to."
They've apparently taken a lot of grief in the last year for the Les Twins tribute/plagiarism. And they are clearing the air tonight. Damon Bellmon and Deon Lewis are auditioning with a two-man routine again this year, but they swear it's original choreography this time. Their synchronization is pretty slick and there's a nice playfulness to the routine.
Nigel gaypanics at Damon and Deon offering to show their partnering skills on one another. The judges are sending them through to choreography.
Choreography: They're sending Deon home. They praise Damon's effort and give him a ticket to Las Vegas. Deon is overjoyed for home. Brittany is heading to Las Vegas as well, not at all surprisingly.
You guys -- with the exception of a quick montage, we didn't have any joke auditions tonight. Wasn't that a much more pleasant way to spend two hours? Take note, show.
Next week's auditions are in Salt Lake City with guest judge Adam Shankman. See you then!Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun