The episode begins with the announcement Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo are permanent judges this season. No hint as to whether there might be the occasional fourth judge as guest. There's also a brief clip of Nigel asserting Jason's dance history of ballet and tap prior to his current pop-music career.
• The first to audition is Christine Shepard (Columbus, Ohio), who hopes to get to Team Stage with a jazz solo. She's adorable and justifiably proud of her smile. I feel like the frequency and duration of judge-reaction shots during auditions is greater this year, or maybe I'm just cranky. Christine's great audition piece showcases grace, humor, strength and abandon. Jason singles out the African touch she threw into the routine. Basically, she just showed that she can do jazz, contemporary, ballet, African jazz and hip-hop, all in one routine. In the lobby, after getting her ticket to callbacks, Christine bashfully tells the camera that Jason is so attractive he almost distracted her. She's cute.
• Next up is Kenya Sutton, the "Queen of Detroit" who is "well known in the state of Michigan." She says her nickname is "Standing Ovation," and when Cat Deeley asks her where that came from, Kenya points to her breasts. Cat clarifies, "The boobies?" and after Kenya confirms it, Cat says, "I don't know anything about that." Ha!
She's auditioning for Team Street and the breasts do figure into some signature moves, including some groping. Her hip-hop technique is good, but I wonder how well she'd do with other styles. Jason likes that she brings sexiness and femininity to animation. Paula says she's "everything they're looking for in this competition." That seems a bit much. When Nigel asks why she didn't audition before, Kenya explains that she hadn't trained in ballroom and such, but with Street vs. Stage, she feels more confident. When Nigel asks her if she'd mind leaving Detroit for Las Vegas, she immediately replies, "No, it's negative two outside." Smart woman.
• Stage dancer Kelly MacCoy and street dancer Tyrell Noll, (both from Cincinnati, Ohio) are engaged after having met in line for last year's auditions in Atlanta. Apparently they got engaged two weeks after they met. Kelly is first to audition for the judges with a contemporary routine. This looks like the kind of routine she's been doing for years, complete with outdated music. There's also a bit more purposeful walking between moves than I'd like. But the judges seem happy -- Nigel enough to compare her to Ginger Rogers. Really, Nigel? She's through to Las Vegas.
Tyrell is up next, and when Nigel asks about his style, Tyrell answers, "You might call it animation, but I consider it freestyle." He's cute as a button, but I don't think he's that good. Paula applauds his music choice (some piano/sad-girl thing) and likes that he went against the grain of his style to tell a story. Nigel says he's in total disagreement because he didn't see a whole lot of dancing, but a lot of acting, including some cliche heart-beating music. Paula tries to argue with Nigel, and he shuts her down. Jason gives the tiebreaker to Tyrell to put him through to Vegas.
• Corey "Mission" Whitfield is a Detroit native, which elicits wild cheers from the crowd. He's also a dancer for the Detroit Pistons, a fact pointed out by former Laker Girl Paula. And he's 30 years old! Is that still the age limit for the show? He's high energy, and I can imagine him firing up the crowd at a basketball game. Jason is really impressed. Paula is inspired by him and points out his advanced age. Nigel says that before they make a decision, he wants to see Corey dance with the two kids he's taught, who are in the audience. It seems less about them dancing together and more about each of them doing solos, but maybe such is the nature of breakdancing. Mission is through to Las Vegas.
This sets off a montage of some successful auditioners for Team Street, including a Boy Scout-looking white kid.
• Brooke Fong (Dublin, Calif.) auditions with a jazz routine. Her dad is in the audience, and when Nigel asks Brooke if Dad can dance, he starts shaking his head no furiously, while Brooke says, "He likes to think he can." This is a jazz routine that definitely veers into stripper territory ... with dad right there! It's not to my taste, but she clearly has tremendous technical skill. The judges love it, with both Nigel and Paula using the word "sharp" repeatedly. She gets a ticket to callbacks. Outside the theater, her dad is so proud of her that he's crying. Aw.
In a quick montage of Team Stage hopefuls, we see some contemporary dancers and a tapper.
• Chelsea Harold and Samantha Reyes drove 13 hours from the Bronx, N.Y., to audition. Their interactions crack me up, especially when Samantha says, "We had to stop six times for this female to urinate," and Chelsea warns Samantha against getting lipstick on her car's headrest.
Chelsea starts crying in her interview, recounting how she was a bullied a lot as a kid. She auditions for Team Stage with a contemporary routine. Her style is sleek and aggressive, but I can't gauge the judges' reaction. Paula calls her a "proficient" dancer but says there are areas where she needs to extend more. Nigel says her legs were sometimes tense but not straight and the performance wasn't quite there for him today. Jason says her performance was too internalized. The judges all say no.
• We get a montage of all the dancers auditioning with various nicknames, leading into a woman Cat tells us is the first stage dancer with an "AKA." She's Jessica Southwell (Orlando), but her dancer name is "J-South." She explains that it's "a little more ghetto" than she is in person. Now might be an appropriate time to point out that she's white. She says her style is "tap Charleston." She falls during her routine, but only on her knees and gets right back up. She definitely has some tap skills, but she's probably more suited to a burlesque revue than "So You Think You Can Dance." Nigel says her routine was juvenile, even if her appearance isn't. Paula says her taps weren't as clean as they could be. Then Jason and Nigel are gross about her sex appeal and Paula calls them "horndogs."
• Up next is Samantha Reyes, who we met earlier with Chelsea Harold. When Nigel asks what she does for a living, she says she got kicked out of school for fighting but she plans to go back to school. Not exactly an answer. Apparently, she's one of those people who dances on the subway trains in New York. Her mom is disabled and her dad has alcohol issues, so she's kind of the parent in her household. Her audition is a freestyle, and she certainly has more of a connection with the audience than her friend. Jason loves her spirit and passion and commends what she's doing for her family. He thinks she needs to add more to her repertoire. Paula says she sees a softness, and Samantha says, "Don't say that -- we're on TV." Paula says she shows a lot of promise but needs more structure and choreography. She is through to Las Vegas.
At the end of Day 1, 10 auditioners were put through to Team Street and five to Team Stage.
• Day 2 in Detroit starts with Miranda Wilking (Macomb Township, Mich.) and her 18th birthday at the audition. (The whole theater sings "Happy Birthday" to her. How much did that cost, Fox?) Her style is jazz, and it reminds me of what dance teams at sporting events might do with a little bit of more traditional jazz style thrown in. Nigel calls her fierce. The directors keep cutting to what I assume must be her family in the audience. She gets a ticket to Las Vegas as her birthday present.
• Aaron Viland (Verona, Ill.), is here for Team Street, and he's doing a self-named style he calls "Pop-a-Loc-A-Mation." He's wearing those Vibram toe-shoes that always creep me out. Wait, his song is The Lonely Island's "The Creep." Man, between this and Julianne Hough's recent outstanding routine to "I Just Had Sex" on "Lip Sync Battle," Lonely Island is having a moment. Nigel says it was an enjoyable moment but not strong enough to let Aaron continue in the competition. Paula predicts he'll be an "Internet sensation" after this, but he's not going to callbacks.
In a montage of Team Stage auditions, there's a bearded-lumberjack-looking dude who gets a callback and a scantily clad young woman who Nigel says could be a professional dancer in videos right now.
It's time for the local dance style segment about the "Detroit jit." One guy interviewed says that it started on the west side and that "jit" is short for "jitterbug." Then we get an interview with Johnny McGee and Tracy McGee, identified as the originators of the jit in the 1970s. They said it started out as a gang thing, and Tracy says they stole a lot of cars, and then Johnny gives a terrific smile and says, "But we're reformed now." Oh, these gentlemen are a lot of fun.
• Michael Manson (Ingster, Mich.) immediately flirts with Paula real cute like. He says he started as a popper before getting into Detroit jit. His routine is high energy and the footwork is fast. Nigel likes that he mixed the jit with different styles. He gets a ticket to Las Vegas.
• Kelsey Rose Young (Canton, Mich.) is a tap dancer with a super high, squeaky voice. She makes Jennifer Tilly sound like Kathleen Turner. She's got some crazy two-tone, red-and-yellow tap shoes and heaps of energy. She has a great, expressive face, too. Nigel calls her a born performer and says he reminds her of a young Paula Abdul. Paula doesn't immediately knife him under the table. Paula tells Kelsey her taps were clean and calls her a little firecracker. She's through to Las Vegas, and about 20 people mob her in the lobby in celebration.
A quick montage of more Team Stage auditions has some contemporary dancers and a Broadway-style dancer.
• Team Stage hopeful Gaby Diaz (Miami) already auditioned in Dallas, a week before the Detroit audition. She's a tapper, and the judges told her the routine was too busy and needed punctuation. Nigel says the difference between her Dallas and her Detroit auditions is night and day. Paula likes both her routine today and her demonstrated ability to take constructive criticism. This time, she gets a ticket to Las Vegas.
• Detroit native Roydell Shannon is a krumper, and he describes himself as a beast. He talks about hardships growing up after his father died and is proud of his girlfriend and son. His son is there when he's talking to Cat, and she says of the kid, "He's gorgeous." And he is a scrumptious little tot, using a knit cap to play peekaboo with Cat. During Roydell's audition, he's got a more engaging face than you typically see from krumpers. He has a tough face, but there's almost a flirty glint to his eye, too. Charisma-plus, this one. I wish he'd auditioned not wearing a hat so we could see his face and eyes even better.
They call the son "Bam Bam," and his mom brings him up onstage to dance with his dad. Mom sits with the judges while Roydell and Bam Bam dance together. It's little-kid dancing at its best, including the falling on his butt at the end. Roydell holds Bam Bam during the judges' comments, which are all directed at Bam Bam. C'mon, let's hear if dad is going to Vegas. Nigel thinks Roydell is as good as former "SYTYCD" krumper and winner Russell Ferguson. Paula applauds his attention to detail. Jason says he's an entertainer as well as a krumper. He's good looking, athletic, has great musicality -- I bet Twitch will love working with him.
Next week: Los Angeles auditions, with a promise of krumping, klowning and b-boys. Also some ballet.