As with all cities, a crowd of excited dancers runs in as soon as Cat gives them the go-ahead and they get settled in to audition in front of Nigel, Mary, and Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Cat gives us the rundown of format — kids go to Vegas, to the choreography round for a second look, or home, crying. Mary tells us that they should not lip-sync, self-worship, and “no booty shaking all over town unless you’re really fabulous at it.” I was glad she said that before I did — not because I agree, but because my eardrums have nearly burst from too much hot tamale screaming from Mary when it comes to shaking booty. Jesse, on the other hand, is a booty shake enthusiast.
Alexa Anderson is first — she was cut last year when it came down to her and Ryan since they couldn’t have two uncannily similar-looking blondes in the same season. She’s a contemporary dancer and is very good, with a lot of long lines and flexed feet. I will admit right away that some of the contemporary rehearsals run together for me at this point; I don’t mean to take away from the level of the dancing but at the same time, after nine seasons, it’s easy for the movements to start to look the same. Someone get Travis Wall and his inventive choreography up in here to help these people! Nigel loves her so much he just sends her straight to Vegas without any critique.
Outside, Cat tells us that the dancers are all trying to get her attention, all but Jontel “Johnny Waacks” Gibson. He says that this style is “sing[ing] the music through our bodies.” He’s dressed like a long-lost Jackson cousin but I mean that as a compliment because he’s adorable. Nigel thanks him for bringing Soul Train back and then falls all over himself with adolescent waacking jokes, aided happily by Jesse. I mean, the jokes are aided, not the waacking… it goes downhill quickly. Once he starts, the style really is very Soul Train, and involves a lot of intricate arm work. He needs polish, but he’s super cute and Nigel points out that he has incredible musicality. Mary also finds him adorable and Jesse calls him the littlest Lenny Kravitz Russian nesting doll. And when one is a nesting doll, one is sent to choreography.
Our next dancer is Eliana Gerard who is a ballet dancer but can also does a lot of amazing Cirque du Soliel moves hanging from various things. And hey, as it turns out, she was a cast member of Viva Elvis as a “dancer/aerialist,” which Cat thinks means she hung from silks but Eliana corrects that she actually danced on a pole. Dude, I have friends who do that and they are strong, amazing and gorgeous and can do moves I can only dream of, so I’ve got nothing but respect for it. And her audition, wow. Her lines and her legs are kind of unreal — an opinion I share with the judges, who give her a standing ovation. Nigel gives her props for giving a full performance and not just a sequence of moves, the others shower her with love, and she goes right to Vegas. Cat tells us that she kicks off a sequence of amazing dancers, and we see a montage of two gorgeous contemporary dancers and one tapper who of course goes straight through because this show (Nigel) is nothing if not a champion of tap. All are off to Vegas.