Our audition tour to find the contenders for America’s favorite dancer continues with the second half of the Los Angeles auditions and the auditions in Philly. Let me again point out how wonderful it is that SYTYCD chooses to focus principally on the GOOD auditions…this was a jam-packed episode of talent. What’s telling is that I feel like we were shown a FRACTION of the good people due to all the montages of dancers who made the callbacks…especially among the guys. Come ON Nigel…less time on Justin Bieber (who really isn’t doing anything for the ratings anyway), more time on the dancers! Let’s get right to the episode, shall we?
Cat Deeley Scale of Awesomeness
For an audition episode, we got a LOT of Queen Cat this week. Cat’s best moment came early in the episode when she was interrogating ballroom dancers Serge and Alla about their relationship and she grabbed the boom mic and shoved it in Alla’s face to get an answer. Only our delightfully daffy host can make that charming! And then when Alla DID give an answer about wanting to get married and have all the babies, Cat replied “You skipped a few steps, girlfriend!” I actually seal clapped when she said that.
Also wonderful was Cat’s obvious delight that Jenna honored her promise to her partner to come back and dance with him for HIS audition now that he was old enough. As Sage pointed out last week, her relationships with her little ducklings are real and she is ALWAYS happy to see them and watch them succeed. Cat is EVERYONE’S big sister and I just want to gossip and have cocktails with her. And have her take me shopping because I had some SERIOUS clothes envy over that maroon and gold blazer she was wearing for the Philly auditions.
This Week’s “Jidges” Score of Awesome: 10/10. It’s never NOT going to be 10. Really we’re just in a holding pattern till we get to the live show and discuss her outfits week to week.
Audition of the Night: Jourdan Epstein
I must admit that I rolled my eyes a little bit over her story about her brother dealing with addiction. I’m a terrible person, okay? But my eye roll immediately stopped when Jourdan began her solo. First of all, I am amazed at ANYONE who dances En Pointe. Seriously. HOW do they do that?? Even though the extent of my ballet knowledge is essentially culled from Center Stage, I can tell that Jourdan has AMAZING feet and incredible strength and control. When she essentially does a standing split and then extends her leg FURTHER beyond her head (all while managing to NOT fall over? When she does the en pointe plie in second position that made my hamstrings SCREAM on my couch? The slow sliding split to the floor? This girl is fiercely talented and her expressiveness as she moves proves she is not just a robotic prima ballerina. I fully expect to see her go far on this show.
Top 20 Material: Stanley Glover
Stanley is another total package SYTYCD contestant. He has the triumphant personal story of being abandoned by his dad’s side of the family after his mother died and being taken in by a family friend and he also has the talent to back that story up. Stanley’s leg extension is ridiculous and he has a very fluid and boneless sense of movement. His slim body (seriously, look at his shoulders to hips ratio) and large eyes give him the alien/creature quality that often does so well on the show and his face lights up when he dances. He’s the total package.
Also Stanley’s audition produced the runner-up for this week’s INCON: “I don’t normally like to go with strange creatures.”
We’ve said it before but one of my favorite things about SYTYCD is the fact that people come back after being cut in a previous season…and usually they come back after spending the time WORKING to get better. Shafeek made it to Vegas in season 9 where he was cut in the Jazz round when he couldn’t keep up with the choreography and then threw a fit. Shafeek returned to season 11 much more focused and clearly having done the work to be able to keep up. While his initial audition lacked the explosiveness that so often sends B-Boys straight to the callbacks, it was still full of moments of great power, control, and humor. I loved watching Prima Ballerina Misty react to him pulling himself up from a split by the crotch and his incredible control when he did that backbend on the floor. He was sent to choreography where the work he had put in between seasons paid off when he passed that routine with flying colors. If he can figure out how to integrate both his charisma and his new-found self-control, Shafeek is going to be a contender.
Malene Ostergaard and Armen Way
This week was a BIG one for ballroom dancers but this routine was by far my favorite. Armen notoriously dropped his partner Malece on her head last year and was back this season to acquit himself. He did so very well, but at the risk of sounding like Nigel, I couldn’t keep my eyes off his partner Malene. From her FIERCE eyebrow game to her coquettish grin at the camera right before the routine began, everything about Malene screams “Put me in the Top 20”. She is incredibly sexy when she dances and I feel she will have a permanent ticket on the Hot Tamale train should she make the show. The only thing that may be a factor with her is her height, but that just means they will have to cast a big guy like Aaron (mmmmm….Aaron. PLEASE let him come back as an All Star) to partner with her.
Casey will definitely fill the “Cute and not sexually threatening to the Tweens” quota should he make the top 20. His pirouettes in this solo are INSANE. He also has beautiful extension, wonderful expressiveness, and a very distinct look. Can he do other styles like hip-hop? We’ll see in the callbacks.
Tear Jerk of the Night: Bridget Whitman
Bridget’s story about being the only girl in her family and the way her dad supported her and pushed her to go for her dreams before he passed away really got to me (and Mary, who wept through her entire solo). I thought it was incredibly impressive how she pulled herself together after crying during her pre-dancing interview to give a beautiful solo. Bridget is a beautiful dancer for sure…but I just don’t know if she is special enough to stand out in a sea of contemporary girls. We’ll see at the callbacks.
Best Performance by Someone Not Right For The Show: J-4
While I would have loved to see more of all the incredible male dancers in Philly that got lumped into a montage, I can’t deny that the segment devoted to 9-year-old b-boy J4 wasn’t a true delight. The kid has undeniable skill and his delight in dancing with Cyrus and Fikshun was undeniable. It is a true testament to the reach of SYTYCD that a kid comes to the auditions and totally fangirls over previous dancers. His joy at meeting Twitch melted my cold dead heart.
Keep dancing J4. We’ll see you season 20.
Inappropriate Nigel Comment of the Night
Nigel was relatively well-behaved tonight with no blatantly politically incorrect statements (though there WAS a lack of opportunity really). Instead he reverted to the pervy Uncle Nigel we all know when it came to the inordinate amount of sexy ballroom girls in the episode. But like I said…in Nigel’s defense, those girls DO make it hard to watch the dudes. But, when drooling over his pet from last season Jenna, it IS slightly unfair to her partner Landon, who was the one actually auditioning…
INCON: “I’ll do my best not to look at Jenna at all.”
Who knows how well he kept to that promise, but Landon did make it to the callbacks and Jenna was named an All Star.
Another runner-up was his inability to resist all the masturbation jokes when the Waacker returned for a second audition…
INCON: “Have you ever waacked?”
I mean…that style DOES make it too easy.
The Mary Murphy Tamale Level of Screaming
Like I have said over and over, this was a big episode for ballroom (and they weren’t even in Salt Lake City) so we had a lot of screaming for Mary’s favorite genre. Really, it’s just a preview for the live shows.
Tamale Level: 5/10. The auditions are winding down, so Mary’s getting revved for the live shows.
– I loved the “slow krump” done by James Banks Davis. Was sad to see that he couldn’t cut it in the choreography, so hopefully he gets himself into some classes and comes back next year.
– Apparently next week is the last week we’ll be subjected to Bieber and his useless dance crews. Until they inevitably come on one of the live shows, that is. Thank GOD.
– Please stop trying to make all the random hashtags happen, Nigel.
– I was surprised that they sent “Funky Ballerina” Amir Sanders to choreography. She definitely has the SYTYCD look, but clearly the judges saw something in her technique that wasn’t quite up to snuff for a straight pass to the callbacks.
– Far too many montages of dancers that made it through. How can they show Mary saying “that was one of the best auditions I’ve seen” and NOT SHOW IT TO US IN FULL? I blame Bieber.
– Lovely to see Tony Winner Billy Porter as a guest judge!
Next week we head to our final audition city…Atlanta! Join us then and leave your comments about your favorites in the comments!