The second audition episode of So You Think You Can Dance brings us to two cities they’ve never held auditions in before and two people new to judging preliminary rounds. We’re one step closer to Vegas, peeps.

Salt Lake City, UT welcomes the crew with cold and snow. Joining Nigel and Mary Murphy for her first foray into judging is choreographer Mandy Moore (who quickly became one of my favorites in her first season with the show thanks to the Pasha/Sara "Body Language" and Neil/Sabra "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" numbers). Travis returns for the choreography round. Also, a great number of the folks auditioning are married and have all kinds of kids (one potential contestant has seven).

Immediate Tickets to Vegas:
Chelsie Hightower/18/Utah/Ballroom – She’s our first. Her backstory is an unfortunately familiar one – her family had gone through some financial issues but all chipped in so she can continue dancing. Borrowing someone else’s partner for the tryout, you can tell from the way she walks across the stage at the beginning that she’s got it. Her legs are great. She’s maybe not the best technician I’ve ever seen but she really knows how to perform, even with her face as Nigel mentions. Like Benji but not notched up to 23. Mary compliments her legs and calls her a hot tamale and Mandy points out her star quality.

Lindsay Judkins/22/Utah/Jazz – She’s got great technique and control but, as Nigel points out, she needs to work on her facial expressions. I like her vibe but she was a little too smiley for my tastes, like this was a recital. Mandy is concerned that she may be a little one-dimensional but everyone agrees she’d breeze through the choreography. Which means she gets the proverbial Golden Ticket.

Kelli Baker/18/Utah/Contemporary – Her mom is Bonnie Story, who won an Emmy with the other choreographers for High School Musical. Yeah. No pressure there. But Kelli doesn’t get a free pass and pushes herself so that when she auditions, she earns her spot. And she’s wicked good. For me, she’s what Kherington from the first episode should’ve been. Mandy, at one point, says "Get it girl" out loud and gets goose bumps. Now that’s a dancer for your behind. Nigel and Mary say she’s one of the best dancers they’ve seen so far and Mandy calls her amazing. Also, Mary would’ve wooed but she was too emotional.

Matt Dorame/21/Utah/Contemporary – It’s an odd song choice for his style of dance (crappy quasi-rock). As a matter of fact, I think it was more of a distraction then anything. But he’s got great lines and technique. Nigel makes him a deal – if he never wears the bright red basketball shorts he has on again (it doesn’t help his lines), he gets a ticket. Of course Matt agrees. He’s the first they show going straight through on the second day.

Thayne Jasperson/27/Utah/Contemporary – Mia’s gonna love him. His hair is terrible (hail Caesar!) but he’s great and has a very organic quality to him.

Brett Banford/25/Utah/Hip Hop – Brett has Down’s Syndrome but doesn’t consider himself "disabled." He’s also a martial artist and a spokesman for the Special Olympics. His performance consists mostly of modified Tae Kwon Do. Nigel says respectfully that, while he’s got great musicality and can definitely move, his skill level is not high enough to be on the show (a sentiment shared by all the judges). But Brett got his point across – that people with disabilities can have a normal life, a statement that elicits cheers, high fives, and hugs from fellow potential contestants.

Michael Moore/26/Utah/Breaker – He has 1 brother, 5 sisters and almost 25 nieces and nephews. Yikes! His family is part of a Native American dance company called "Morning Star" that travel the world and perform, he’s not part of it though. He’s not so hot during his audition but I can see that he has a lot of potential. I think it was the nerves. Awesomely, he admits that he was entirely too all over the place and that it was a mess, agreeing with the judges critiques. Unfortunately he won’t be moving along but the side-flip he did off the stage makes me hope he’ll pull it together and come back next year.

Gev Manoukian/21/Utah/Breaker – Originally from Kazakstan, he ice skates and breakdances. Like, at the same time. Stupendous! He also tried out two years ago and didn’t make it to Vegas. That motivated him to train more and diversify his dance portfolio. And man, did he ever. He was hitting some great lines on top of his great tricks. All the judges complimented his control and asked him to stick around for choreography. And, after a fake-me-out from Nigel, he’s through and he does a booty bounce of celebration in the hallway.

Ryann Race/26/Utah/Hip Hop – He’s a strip club DJ. I didn’t know there were strip clubs in Salt Lake City. He also dated one of the dancers (whom he’d known for years before she started…performing) and she just broke up with him so he’s looking to channel his emotions. For all his piercings and height and such, you’d never think he could move the way he does. He’s one of those Cedric/Ivan types, though not as good. Nigel likened him to Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) which is a perfect analogy. They all loved it and move him to the choreography round. After another Nigel fake-out, he’s through to Vegas.

Kortney Pearson/25/Utah/Contemporary with Hip Hop flavor –  She doesn’t have enough content in her number but I do like her. It’s her first day dancing in 5 years because she lost her love of dance. Nigel tells her that she has to work and remember what she was taught. Mary and Mandy both see her potential so she’ll stick around for the next round. And she managed to impress the judges so she get a plane ticket.

Michelle Stringham/25/Utah/Contemporary – She and Kortney are best friends, they were both married and divorced at the same time. She’s slipping about in her socks but you can tell she’s a strong dancer. She’s also been away for 5 years but her technique is far less rusty. One thing about Michelle I really like is the look in her eyes when she dances – they’re focused and in the moment. She’s to the next round as well. And she’ll be joining Kortney in Vegas.

The two-day ticket total from Utah is an impressive 42 and now it’s on to Dallas, Texas where they’re greeted by more cold weather. It’s like the production is being followed by a frost pixie. At least it’s not snowing. Joining Nigel and Mary this time is choreographer Adam Shankman who did Hairspray and I adore. It’s just a great big love-fest when I watch this show (mostly).

Immediate Tickets to Vegas:
See John Dix & Arielle Coker below.

Chad Agnor/29/TX/Hodge Podge of Styles – He trains mixed martial artists and he also teaches dance – Ballroom, Hip Hop and Country Line-dance. He’s quite the Renaissance Man. Unfortunately, he jacks up his hamstring while warming up. Ouch! But he insists on going on (the fighter mentality), limping terribly on the stage. Nigel advises he not try-out but cannot override Chad’s determination. You can tell he has some skills but the pulled (torn?) hamstring is too much of a hindrance. Nigel stops him fairly short and tells Chad to get better and come back next year. Poor thing.

Paige Jones/19/TX/Contemporary – She’s a pageant girl and it’s very apparent. She’s basically Elle Woods. Paige has great technique and I feel like there’s intent behind her moves. Nigel calls her "a pirouetting set of teeth" since she’s so smiley. Can’t tell if that’s a compliment or not. The judges all agree that it’s a little too "competition dance" and not raw/emotional enough so they push her to the choreography round, advising her to drop the facade. Which she must have done since she gets her ticket.

Joshua Allen/18/TX/Breaker – He’s really good, easily the best this episode. His locking technique was fantastic and the jump-split he did was crazy high. He gets a quick "woo!" from Mary and all the judges are impressed so it’s off to the choreography round. Adam tells him to really pay attention because they like him. Joshua makes it on to Vegas and does a triple spin with a turnout in celebration. Okay.

John Dix/23/TX & Arielle Coker/18/TX/Contermporary – They did great lifts. And something about him makes me think he’s a male cheerleader – no fear with throwing her about but very solid. Nigel said they were very Step Up (which Adam was a producer on) with the rough but talented male dancer and very polished female partner. Mary and Adam also gave them kudos on their lifts. Arielle gets straight through (the first they show getting a ticket) while John sticks around for choreography. Unfortunately John doesn’t make it on.

Seventy-two dancers (!) participated in the choreography round in total and 38 more get plane tickets. But you’d never have thought there would be that many the way the segment was cut together.

Assorted Other Bits:

  • We barely saw any great auditions in Dallas, just a montage. What’s up with that? Note to producers: If Nigel calls a girl "the best female Hip-Hop dancer [he’s] ever seen" you SHOW THE BLOODY AUDITION.
  • Have I mentioned how cool it is that Travis Wall is around for the choreography rounds? I think I have, but I had to say it again. Hopefully he’ll get to do a number for the finalists.
  • If you’ve noticed, I’ve decided to stop giving the bad and the delusional a spot on my recap. Because I don’t want to encourage that sort of behavior.
  • I liked having Adam around. Hopefully he’ll be back in another city. And I can’t wait to see Shane Sparks again. Love him.
  • I’ve decided that Mandy is the less celestial version of Mia.
  • There are so many dancers moving on to Vegas this season – over 100 through two episodes – I can’t fathom how difficult it’ll be to manage the second stage of auditions.

Who’s your favorite from tonight? Anyone make it through that you’d prefer didn’t or vice versa? Any comments, questions, thoughts? Discuss my fellow dance fanatics, discuss!

Posted by:Tamara Brooks