E: Alrighty then. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Salt Lake City
In Salt Lake, we’ve got Nigel, Mary, and a judge completely new to the show – Robin Antin, founder of the Pussycat Dolls. (Also, for those who remember the Bravo show which aired before her group was famous, sister of Jonathan Antin, hairstylist to the stars.) Robin cannot turn off her day job and wants all the sexy strong girls to mold into Pussycat Dolls. In fact, she goes so far as to start asking whether they can sing. It’s kind of hilarious.
First up on Day One is a pair of 20 year old steppers, Devon McCullough and Micah Clark. They are utterly adorkable, in beautiful sync with each other, and the crowd loves them. Nigel of course loves their style; they both shoot through to choreography, where Micah unfortunately fumbles but Devon shines. He might be one to watch! When he gets his ticket, he practically beats his chest on the way to bear hug the head judge. Seriously, adorable.
Another one to watch is perky, blue-eyed Mena Suvari look alike Chyna Smith, a tiny blond rocket who hangs or works with a whole pastel of former SYTYCD cast members. When they first presented her as a superfan of the show, I thought ugh, crazy stalker, but no. She’s great, and she dances a piece by Allison, an All Star MVP of last season. She’s quick, athletic, and makes really cool, quirky shapes with her body; the choreography is terrific, too. Robin Antin tells her she’d cast her as a Pussycat Doll, which makes Chyna tear up. (Um, really? Okay.) And Nigel compares her to Mollee Gray and calls her sensual all in one breath, which creeps me out a little. But that’s Nigel and blonds for you. There’s much rejoicing and some weeping grandparents when she gets put right through to Vegas.
The family drama continues with self proclaimed spicy red head Annie Gratton. The 19 year old baffles me a touch at first, because she’s really sweet while she talks to the judges (especially about her dancer father) but she does bring the promised spice when she dances. She’s explosive, attacking the dance fiercely. Nigel makes her Dad – who turns out to be a complete ham – come on stage and dance with her, and he shakes his groove thing to “Boom Boom Pow.” They both get tickets to Vegas (though of course Mr. Gratton is too old).
I really wish they’d name these people when they do these little themed montages. These dancers were all hot girls who Robin Antin wants to poach.
He’s not a girl, but he is pretty cute; Tad Gadduang brings us the first b boying of the night, and he does it with real style. His use of the stage is amazing. His tricks are amazing, but his comedy and his timing are even better. He walks down the stage steps on his hands, and then crawls back up at first with his fingers – the choreography is just so clever, so diverse, and he backs it up with strength and skill. It’s good stuff. The theater full of competitors chant “Vegas! Vegas!” and the judges oblige them.
The next montage is of people getting hurt, and includes a dorky looking boy who makes Cat convulse in laughter when he talks about bruising his balls. The balls of his feet, of course. He’s quite funny – I’m sure it’s intentional – and Cat can’t even draw enough breath. She’s reduced to silent laughter and tears.
Finishing off Day One is Samantha Hiller, a first year dance major who got mono, fainted and woke up with amnesia three weeks before the audition. She doesn’t even remember that she used to love the show, but tried out anyway. She’s adorable, but she falls out of her spins and her extensions are unimpressive. The judges give her a shot at choreography because they see she’s got talent even though she’s got a lot to learn, but in the end, she (rightly) doesn’t make it through. Better luck next year, Samantha!
Day 2 somehow brings us much less of interest. We have nearly naked Chase Thomas, 22, twist and spin in his boxer briefs. (Well, fine, a dance version of those, since we thankfully don’t get flashed.) We get a weird story about how his fiance cheated on him, but now he’s happily married (seriously? at 22?). He’s good, and goes through to Vegas. He’s followed by a montage of unnamed cool guys in gray, who’re all wearing the same sort of shorts, and seem just as good if not more so.
Do you even want me to mention the psycho attention seeker they wasted our time with next? I didn’t think so.
New York, New York (a hell of a town)
Ah, New York City – Brooklyn, to be precise. Mary, Nigel and Aussie ballroom expert Jason Gilkerson make up the judging panel. And they start things off with one hot tamale – Princess Lockeroo, a diva dressed in black vinyl, who practices an underground style of dance called wacking. (This is a real thing. It’s not just her – there’s lots of stuff online if you’re interested enough to look for it. There are competitions, she teaches it around the world, etc…) This consists in large part of speedy arm waving; it’s weird and cool. I’m stunned the judges love her as much as they do (they think she could be a power house in the voting) – and then that they put her straight through to Vegas? I never expected it. Still, cool. I love that she’s not the typical anorexic female dancer body type.
Up next is 26 year old Brandon Jones, a light and bouncy fellow who does lyrical contemporary. His fellow dancers love him, and everyone’s moved by his tribute to his dead father. He has what Jason aptly terms “soft power.” I thought his hands were floppy (although it may just be that they’re unusually large?), but otherwise, pretty great. He loses his ticket to Vegas in the street outside the theater and has to scramble after it.
Who else was really entertained by the guys with guitars seeing “Well I Know I Can Dance?” Loved them! The musical interlude is followed by a quick montage of nameless contemporary dancers. Sigh.
They’re followed by 22 year old krumper Brian “Hollow Dreams” Henry. He’s an interesting guy – his face is sharp like a hatchet, and he speaks eloquently about how his style involves “writing with his body” – but then talks smack to the judges about Lil’ C and season six winner Russell. Mary chews him out for it after he dances. Nigel laughingly tells him that he needs to be more masculine, and Mary jokes that he’s a “a bit twee” because he so wasn’t; he growls and stops and tears his shirt off. And then he insists that he krumps for Christ and that it all comes from a place of joy. Um, right. Very joyful looking. Nigel asks him to put his feet where his mouth is, and sends him off to choreography (run by an unrecognizable Will and Katee), where he goes well enough to earn that ticket to Vegas. And that makes him cry. Interesting fellow.
A montage of dancers in unusual styles (flamenco – in full on, fantastic costume – and jungle ballet, African and Tahitian) serves as an introduction to competitive Irish step dancer Mary Kate Sheehan. She’s only 18, but she’s top 5 in the U.S. and – was it top ten? – at the Worlds. Wow. They love her use of the stage, and laugh at her origin story (why step dancers don’t move their upper bodies – she blames the British). She successfully moves from choreography to Vegas.
Closing out the day is 23 year old b boy Virgil “Lil’ O” Gadoon. He dances to Santigold’s “Creator” (used in Jason & Caitlin’s controversial alien impregnation piece) and he’s super strong and athletic. Nigel calls him “Little O” and Mary says he uses all the tools in his tool shed, which is funny. He goes straight to Vegas.
Day 2 starts with Broadway. Hurrah! We meet the potential heir to Evan Kasprzak’s throne, Jess LeProtto, an 18 year old musical theater phenom. He describes his style to Cat as “fun, technical and old fashioned,” and then he mentions that he maybe doesn’t smile enough, because he just got his braces off and he used to be self-conscious about them. And sure enough, he dances brilliantly (his spins go on for days, he pulls out of a split with no hands, it’s insane) but Nigel and Mary think he’s sullen. Jason Gilkerson and I think they’re crazy – he reminds me of Alan Cummings, and commanded my full attention – but they make him go through choreography before getting his well deserved ticket to Vegas.
His partner in choreography is stunning ballroom dancer Kristen Dobson, a 23 year old who started dancing Latin ballroom a mere 3 years ago. Damn. She’s crisp and awesome in sexy yellow fringe. The judges think she’s better connecting with the audience than with her partner (who they loved), so they make her work extra hard for her ticket. She and her washboard abs earn it handily, though.
I wish we’d seen more of the people in the ballroom montage, but I was pleased to see former auditioner Iveta Lukosiute (the platinum blond doing the partnered dance, wearing the bright scarlet dress) quietly grab her third ticket to Vegas.
The final dancer in New York was the Woo-man, Robert Taylor Jr., a 30 year old comical lothario. Before he dancers a step, we get a break down of what sort of things make him go “woo.” He pops and locks, hitting his positions hard, and does this great spinny jump thing into a split. He also stands on his toes and does a funny jazz hands move. Mary calls him the most entertaining dancer of the day – and while he’s no Princess Lockeroo, he’s certainly fun. And he’s going straight to Vegas.
So, some good stuff. Any new favorites? Who are you rooting for? The auditions end tonight.