So You Think You Can Dance: L.A./Chicago Auditions

E: Did anyone else think it was odd that we got all women in L.A. and all men in Chicago?  Sure, it’s a great excuse to use Katy Perry’s new song.  And we did see in some montages that there were men who got through in L.A., and women in Chicago.  BUT.  Nobody got air time if they were a successful candidate from the wrong gender. Just odd.

Then, let’s see.  I know contemporary dancers are the show’s bread and butter, but we got to see almost nothing else, except when host Cat Deeley was dancing with the hip hoppers in line (which was, of course, adorable).  And.  What was up with the sob story overkill?  While not meaning to mock other people’s tough lives, I could have used a little more dancing and a little less sorrow, ‘kay? I could have done without the dreadful and dreadfully dumb “hick hop” dancer (line dancing/hip hop fusion) and Hella Hung, but I suppose that’s how it goes.

Here are the highlights:

L.A. : Nigel, Adam and High Hat (a hip hop choreographer new to the show) judging

Day 1

The judges loved sexy cheerleader Lauren Froderman, who twisted acrobatically with her contestant number stuck to her thigh, and put her straight through to Vegas.  Whatever.  I’m not precisely certain I’d call what she did dance, and would have sent her to choreography myself, but whatever. What I really like to know is why they – I think it was Adam – told her she’s not an R & B girl, but that she made an R&B song (“Let’s Get It On”) work?  I mean, if she made the song work,  and that’s all they’ve seen her do, how do they know she shouldn’t be doing R&B?  Because she was white?  Blond?

The next successful contestant isn’t a dancer, either; Rachel Girma, a rhythmic gymnast.   I’m telling you – I had a friend who had been  Sweden’s rhythmic gymnastics champion, and if you want to see a boy drool, well, you should just casually throw that into conversation.  Rhythmic gymnasts are sick flexible.  The judges left their jaws on the floor.  High Hat wants to choreograph for Rachel.  Straight to Vegas!

We had a medley of girls who looked terrific, but we don’t know any of their names.  Sigh.  We do know, how ever, that Adam thought one was “the perfect stew, and I want to eat you.”

We got to see a pair of latin ballroom dancers, Christina Santana and Pepe Alvirez.  Christina made it to the very end last year (though she’s probably best remembered as the person who elbowed Billy Bell in his soon to be profusely bleeding nose) while Pepe danced with her, but without trying out.  They send her straight through, but ask him to do choreography.  He gets so intimidated by this (needlessly in my mind, because it’s a ballroom routine!) and doesn’t even try.  Moron. Seriously.

Day 2

Last season’s almost finalist Alexie Agdeppa is a terrific dancer and a great presence on stage – she beams, she makes eye contact, everything they want.  (She’s also dancing to a really fascinating version of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.) They think she’s even better than when they last saw her.  (I will bet you anything she didn’t make it last year because they won’t cast more than one tiny Asian pixie at a time, and Pauline Mata was it.) Straight to Vegas, with a good shot at the top ten!

We get another “California Gurls” medley, this time with names – sleek blond Lindsey McLevis, one Missy Morelli making a very creepy face, and Cheryl Smith, who I swear makes a loser sign on her forehead during the dance.

Melinda Sullivan is a life long tap dancer, part of a tap company, who makes sure we know she also acts and sings.  Nice marketing, honey.  She tapped to a ballad.  Tapping to music is odd on it’s own, but this is extra strange.  She makes it through to choreography (thankfully for her she’s hot, and Nigel likes tap)  where she earns a ticket to Vegas.   One to watch?  Maybe.

Finally we have the hard luck story of Mia Michaels protege Ryan Ramirez, whose family lost their house to the recent foreclosure boom.  Can they keep their child in dance classes and keep their house?  Ouch.  It may surprise you to know that this Ryan is a girl (being that Mia is much much harder on female dancers) and has been on the show before, to act out Mia’s choreography as a teaching assistant.   Nigel tells her that she needs to work more on her connection with the audience, observing that the best dancers don’t win So You Think You Can Dance, the most charismatic performers do.  Truer words, sir.

And there’s L.A.  A bunch of boys do get through choreography, including a tapper, and someone who blows by Cat, screaming his head off.  He doesn’t give her (or anyone else) the customary hug at the theater door.  “I even had a protective layer on for the sweat,” laughs Cat, cuddled up in a coat.

Chicago: Nigel, Adam and the excellent Stacey Tookey judging

Day 1:

The day starts with a bang – adorkable small town boy Kent Boyd, who’ll be off to NYC in the fall for college.  For dance.  So you know he’s going to be good.  And WOW!  The boy from Wapakoneta was more than good.  I thought he was astounding.  The height of his leaps!  Damn.  The judges weren’t as blown away as I was, so they sent him to choreography, where – happily – he sailed through.

We another lengthy back story package next on Andrew Phillips, whose wheelchair bound twin brother has spina bifeda. “I dance for both of us,” Andrew repeats tearfully many times.  He seems too raw for the show, passionate but technically lacking, but they send him on to choreography mostly out of kindness/canny exploitation of his sob story, and to everyone’s surprise, he makes it through. I can’t imagine him going anywhere but straight home, but hey, there’s always next year.

The judges fall all over themselves to praise Adrian Lee.  I wish we’d seen a little more of his dancing, but the snippets we did get were pretty terrific.  They call him best dancer they’ve seen, and gush about his strength, his control, and how light he is on his feet. Stacey’s ready to create routines for him.

And that’s it – other than a montage of dancers getting cut, in which a mohawked dude weeps “I stand for way more than this competition!” and I laugh hysterically.

Day 2:

Was Chicago incredibly thin on talent or what?  The only successful candidate we see is Jarrod Mayo, a contemporary dancer with a shrieky, enthusiastic (but cute) mom.  There was a montage of 4 girls making it through, but the show didn’t bother with their names.  Or with their dancing, really. We saw a deluded guy who danced like he had his left arm in a sling.    We met thoroughly entertaining hip hop dancer Christopher Gilbert, who used a cane to create an aged, Grandpa character in his dancing.  I thought he was fantastic; Adam called him a dancing Urkel.  Nigel wanted him to know if his oversized glasses were part of a costume. “I’m really a dork,” says Christopher, “so I just embrace it.”  Love him!  Unfortunately, he doesn’t make it out of choreography.  Try out next year, dude!

The show ends with Jarrell Robinson, a deaf hip hop dancer.  He’s really pretty good, and he’s very musical.  They acknowledge they can’t use him on the show – it’d be too hard, I think, and he’s not spectacular – but they commend him for trying out and showing viewers at home the range that the deaf are capable of.  I know I’ve been complaining about the sob stories (don’t get me started about the way they exploited the adoptee with the murdered birth mother), but this was actually pretty fantastic.  Jarrell was thrilled to get such positive feedback, and his giddiness was a delight to see.  And I like that the show gives the differently abled a platform.

And that’s it!  The last two audition cities air tonight, and then we’ll be on to Hell Week in Vegas.

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