!" Oh Cat Deeley, how I've missed you.
It's been awhile but we're finally embarking on another glorious journey of dance and excitement. This year, the auditions kick off in Brooklyn, New York. Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are on hand as always and are joined by guest judges Tabitha & Napoleon, the choreography duo who brought us all those lovely Lyrical Hip-Hop numbers last season.
Immediate Tickets To Vegas
Gabi Rojas/24/Modern -The first featured audition, she grew up in the circus with her mom and, despite being plagued with arthritis, dancing matters enough to risk deteriorating joints. Not only is she talented, she gives great emotion. Gabi had the audience hooting and hollering and got a standing ovation when she finished. She's so unique and interesting – she's the female Mark Kanemura. Nigel said it's probably the best audition he's seen in five years and she got the first Mary Scream of the season.
Peter Sabasino/21/Tap – He was going to try out last year but hesitated. Peter was good – he showed a lot of personality and skill, which is exactly what you need to do to stand out as a tapper. It's interesting because he was wearing clothes for a pick-up game of hoops but has these awesome tuxedo taps. Nigel asks if he can do anything else and he claims at least basic skill in Ballroom, Ballet, Contemporary, and Hip Hop among others.
Arielle Taylor/20/Contemporary – Arielle auditioned in season 3 and made it to Vegas but figured out that she wasn't quite ready for the whole experience. Now she's back and has done well for herself in that time. She has great lines, interesting movements, and is strong yet graceful. Nigel remembers her and remembers liking her every time he saw her. Happy thoughts all around and the first Day 2 auditioner gets a ticket.
Kellen Stancil/23/Contemporary – A good deal of his number involved an umbrella which could've been disastrous but was quite beautiful. He's got great lines and extension. When Mary asks about it, Kellen explains it represented his aunt who recently passed away. Tabitha is totally right when she says the number was great because he had that emotional connection to the piece. He was totally dancing from a pure place. Off to Vegas he goes.
"Storyboard P"/18 & "Hobgoblin"/20/Mutation – They're some of the originators of a contortionist-based form of Hip Hop, kind of like the Ringmasters from "America's Best Dance Crew" but with a much more macabre feel. The music choice was terrible but the style is fascinating (if not a little gross). The judges all found it really interesting but needed to see if they can pick up choreography. Though they appreciated the experience, seeing what they were up against lead them to leave without going through the second round of the day.
Maksim Kapitannikov/25/Ballroom – He's auditioning with former finalist Faina doing a Cha Cha. Maksim is a strong partner with good stage presence. The judges enjoy him but want to see him in the choreography round to make sure. Fortunately, he did well enough to get a ticket.
Nobuya Nagahama/27/Locking – He has great musicality and mixes some other styles in like Vogueing but, of course, the personality is what really shines in his piece. As Napoleon points out, he's doing a newer style of Locking that's very popular in Japan where they link their movements as opposed to keeping the stops tight. Nigel has concerns since Lockers tend to not be able to do anything else. Those concerns are thankfully unnecessary and he's heading to Vegas.
Nina Estrina/18 & Igor Zabrodin/23/Latin – They're both auditioning with a Cha Cha and perform a 15-second sit spin (called a "Pot Stir" apparently) at the end. Very impressive. She outshines him a bit, but that's not new. Both their technique and stage presence is great, but he looks a bit young and that distracted me a bit. Mary was impressed that the Pot Stir was high speed the whole way. They move on to the choreography round and, while Igor makes it through, Nina doesn't.
Chimezie Nwosu/20/Breaking & Locking – The music he dances to is basically a back-beat with car noises which he choreographed wonderfully. A really great number, reminded me of Twitch. Though all the judges loved his performance, the only minus came from Napoleon & Tabitha because there wasn't a lot of "meat" in there. But there was enough "meat" in the choreography round so it's off to Vegas with him.
Tiffany Geigel/23/Contemporary – She was born with a spinal displacement condition and wasn't expected to live long after being born. She has three out of seven vertebrate. Despite being disproportionate in body, her movements are very fluid and she has grace. Her technique is solid but needs a little refinement. Nigel gave great constructive tips and expressed how impressed he is by her a a person, leading to a standing ovation from everyone. She won't be moving on but she has the respect of everyone in that auditorium and everyone watching at home.
Forty-five dancers went to the choreography round on Day 1, lead this year by Lauren Gottleib, and twenty-seven were given plane tickets. Day 2 saw only fourteen total dancers move on.
Joining Nigel and Mary on this stop is Sonya Tayeh who, after only starting last season, has quickly become one of my favorite choreographers. Her mohawk is full of win.
Immediate Tickets To Vegas
Kayla Radomski/18/Contemporary – She's the first shown on the first day and she is really, really good. May I even say she was Radomskilous? Sonya even gave her snaps during the performance. Nothing but lengthy orations of praise and deservedly so. I'm not sure if Sonya or Nigel loves her more.
Natalie Reid/23/Contemporary – You might remember Natalie as Katee's roommate who auditioned with her and made it all the way to being the last person cut from Vegas. Sonya loses her mind over her during the audition. During feedback, she says she's Natalie's biggest fan and almost started crying. Mary lauded her sincerity when she dances. If she doesn't make it to the Top 20, I'll be very angry.
Brandon Bryant/19/Contemporary – Oh, Brandon. He's the ridonkulously talented gentleman who tried out when he was like 15 and would've made it had he been the proper age. Then, last season, he was the last guy cut in favor of Gev. This episode, he's the last audition of Day 2 and first person to dance to a strong piece. He tore. It. Up. Mary was reduced to tears in awe and admiration and says if he doesn't make it to the Top 20 she'll die. Nigel hopes he'll bring some personality. What does that mean? Danny didn't show any personality until at least half his season was over and still made it. Whatever. If he doesn't make it through this year, I'm going to set fire on something.
Misha Belfer/26 & Mitchel Kibel/26/Latin – While I know couples that consist of two male partners in Ballroom, specifically Latin, exists, I've never seen it before. Technique-wise, I found Mitchel to be more tentative than Misha. He didn't always attack his moves. It also didn't help that they fell during a lift at the end of the number. Nigel, Mary and Sonya were all a bit confused since they would trade off as to who was leading and who was following but appreciated the skill involved. I can't say I disagree with Nigel that them dancing together might alienate some of the audience. They're sent to choreography to see them "dance with a girl." Unfortunately, neither did well enough and won't be getting that Golden Ticket.
Elias Holloway/18/Popping & Locking – He's auditioning with his brother despite him being too young to actually be on the show. Though not the best lockers I've ever seen, certainly they're some of the most entertaining. Quality comedy and personality for sure and well choreographed. He's off to the next round but he needs some more training and doesn't make it through. He vows to come back next year.
Twenty-two dancers made it to the choreography round on the first day, seventeen on the second. Only nineteen total from both days got plane fare. That seems like a really small number.
Overall Thoughts: Is it just me or were there far less dancers making it through than last year? Granted, they haven't hit Los Angeles yet, but I seem to remember New York pulling huge numbers. I'm glad Brandon and Natalie returned. Now I'm waiting on pins and needles for that Gene Kelly-esque dancer. I heart him. I liked having Sonya as a judge. Her enthusiasm was fun to see. Also, if you haven't heard yet, "SYTYCD" is coming back in the Fall and audition start very, very soon in Boston. Check the FOX website for more info.
What are your thoughts on the premiere? Have any favorites yet? Did you miss the show as much as I did? Are you as glad as I am that the terrible auditions are kept to a minimum?