It’s a quick hour of Dallas and Nashville auditions before the Las Vegas callbacks begin, as the latest “So You Think You Can Dance” episode kicks off.
Broadway choreographer Tyce DiOrio and newcomer ballroom expert Toni Redpath join Nigel in the judges’ chairs in Texas (with Nigel, they make the “TNT panel”!), while Broadway’s Joey Dowling sits in with for the Nashville tryouts.
Then it’s a brief glimpse at the first two days of the Vegas auditions with former regular Mary Murphy joining Nigel and Adam for the ride, along with several choreographers.
Off to Vegas!:
Ida Saki, 18 (contemporary; Dallas) — When the first strains of Ida’s song played, Tyce and Toni were already in love. Not even 10 seconds in and you could tell that she had fantastic form. Frankly, everything was superb! When she did a crazy split in the middle of her routine, Tyce freaked out. They even bring her mother and brother onstage to cherish the good news! No doubt she’s off to Vegas.
Nicole Knudson, 18 (contemporary; Dallas) — Marge Simpson in the flesh! According Tyce, she’s one of those talents that comes “along every hundred years.” Wow, that’s some high praise right there. It’s kind of funny that Tyce made the comment that she’s “everything and a bag of chips.” Will she make it far in Vegas? Let’s hope so.
Marcella Raneri, 24 (contemporary; Dallas) — Who knew the mob would make an appearance on “SYTYCD”? Apparently, Marcella’s father was born into the mob and was caught money laundering (yikes) and tax evasion. That pretty much sets you apart from the rest of the kids no matter where you are. Now, she’s a part-time lingerie model (for her mom’s company) and working to dance. A big 180 from the life of luxury she was used to back when life was comfortable. Her audition was OK, but didn’t set her apart from a lot of dancers we’ve already seen from the other cities, but she’s got the looks. Nigel notices that she has no heart and soul in her performance, and I agree. It’s one thing to look pretty, but it’s another to be able to communicate that through the dance and she doesn’t do it. When Nigel finds out her dad was a mobster, he quickly tells her she’s off to choreography (ha!). She surprises the judges and makes it to the next round!
Jordan Johnson, 26 (hip-hop, gymnastics, contemporary, etc.; Dallas) Former drug addict Jordan met his biological father and you can tell it’s something that’s still running through his mind. It’s a sweet story and it’s pretty heartbreaking to hear that when he decided to reach out to his father again earlier this year, he told him to stay out of his life. Hard stuff for any child to have to deal with. Thankfully through dance, he puts all his emotions into it, and it shows. Guest judge Toni even gets hot and bothered! He’s different, but I like it. There’s some depth to him and it’s clear he answers to no one. He has an edge to him and he’s unpredictable. Jordan’s going to have that shock factor. Vegas baby!
Other dancers going to Vegas include Robert Rolden, 19 (contemporary) and Rebecca Hart, 21 (contemporary), along with a bunch more who weren’t featured. Seven dancers from Nashville make it to Vegas, none of which were featured.
And the Rest:
Haylee Durbin, 18 (contemporary; Dallas) — The night’s first sob story. With her father dying of brain cancer, auditioning for “SYTYCD” was one of the three things she had to do. She wears an interesting choice of wardrobe, with an unbuttoned oversized plaid shirt, bra, baggy sweats and white socks. First question: Why is she doing contemporary when she should be doing hip-hop? Nigel makes this observation, and the judges are a bit hard on her, but they give her the benefit of the doubt (as they should) giving her the greenlight to choreography. Sadly, she doesn’t make it to Vegas.
Conor “Scooter Rocket” McLaughlin, 29 (scooter style; Dallas) — The first weirdo of the night. Scooter Rocket is apparently another way to see the world, in addition to Conor’s alter ego … OK? And he writes music, yikes! Host Cat Deeley asks the tough question: What does this act have to do with dance? Er, yeah. His costume is pretty elaborate, with an Iron Man-esque contraption on his chest, bike Spandex-type shorts over his pants, rollerblades and a “designed” helmet he takes off during the middle of his routine. Scooter style, based on his performance, really consists of rollerblading backwards, pumping your fists in the air a lot and trying not to fall. I smell a complete waste of time. Scooter Rocket tries to angle it his way, making some argument that included the economy (Tyce didn’t buy it), but obviously loses the battle. Nigel even likened him to Clay Aiken, but that might’ve been a little nice. Sayonara!
Deroccius Harris, 29 (a little bit of everything; Dallas) — Though his song choice was fierce (can’t go wrong with Britney’s “Toxic”) for a girl, his dancing was quite toxic. Maybe he should think about trying out for the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders … kidding.
Faith Looney, 18 (a very boring “flamenco”; Nashville) — Faith and her best friend Kelsey dance a flamenco number and it’s a major snoozefest. Nigel says it best: “You make dead people seem like party animals!” Next!
Shanya Vaughn, 22 (grooving; Nashville) — What was that? It is odd to see someone not really using their feet at all.
Brian Gaynor, 23 (his own style; Nashville) — He first auditioned in Season 3 and impressed the judges so much that he returned in the finale and performed onstage. This time, fan favorite Brian returns to wow the judges again. Dancing to Owl City’s “Fireflies,” the song might as well be his personal mantra. Since then, he’s joined up with two other dancers and formed a group called Remote Control. Though he won’t be making it through to choreography of Vegas, Nigel promises him that they’ll feature his crew on the show. Can’t. Wait.
Vegas Week Begins (Already):
Things are happening quicker than ever this season as Vegas auditions (and the first cuts) begin with roughly 50 minutes left in the two-hour episode. Since only 10 are supposed to be chosen, the competition is a lot tougher than the previous six seasons.
Before the auditions begin, Cat gives us a peek of what the criteria will be like for each week’s episode. While the all-stars will be returning and dancing alongside the new finalists (who will be revealed Thursday, June 10), they will not be competing for the title. Instead, they will act as guides for the top 5 girls and guys throughout the season, and the finalists won’t be paired up with each other like in previous years. Makes sense? Let’s get on with the auditions!
Day 1 (Vegas):
The 122 aspiring dancers arrive inside and greet judges Lil’ C, Mary Murphy, Tyce, Adam, Toni and Nigel. In the first round, the dancers are asked to perform solos in front of the judges. Two dancers from previous seasons got free passes to Vegas and are the first ones to audition in Vegas.
Alex Wong, 23 (contemporary), was a standout in Season 5 and chosen for the top 20 that season, is back to prove he can make it through to the top 10. (A contract with his ballet company at the time prohibited him from taking a legal absence to appear on the show.) Alex performs a fantastic solo and it’s not surprising the judges still adore him.
Billy Bell, 19 (contemporary), is the other, having previously wowed the judges in Season 6 but had to drop out of the top 20 after falling ill. He does what he came to Vegas to do and it will be shocking if he doesn’t make it to the next round.
After pulling a hamstring, Anthony Burrell, 29 (contemporary), who auditioned in New York City, gets cleared by the doc to perform. You would never know that he has in excruciating pain, and he pulls through. He aces the choreography round later that night and gets through to Day 2.
Afterwards, the judges cut 26 dancers, and it starts to set in for the rest of the dancers. The group with Anthony, Kent Boyd, Alex and Billy, however, are a little luckier and the judges have marked some of their favorites.
The next round is all about hip-hop. The judges each give a “yes” or a “no.” Each dancer must receive at least three votes of confidence, otherwise they’re packing their bags.
Tabitha Dumo choreographs the dancers’ routine. Struggling with the choreography is rhythmic gymnast Rachel Girma, who has a mental breakdown, and breakdancer Jose Ruiz, who seems to be OK. All the judges give Rachel a no. Sad to see her go. Jose gets through to Day 2. Melinda Sullivan, Lauren Froderman, Alexie Agdeppa are onto Day 2, while favorite Teddy Tedholm is axed. Sarah, who auditioned in New York City and recently hurt her back, wasn’t so lucky either and with Tyce giving her the only yes, she was gone. Just wanted to give the girl a hug!
Day 2 (Vegas):
Only 69 dancers remain. The second round is ballroom and that Toni Redpath is a hard choreographer! The first group disappoints the judges, with them axing almost everyone. Yikes! Complete with swearing and drill sergeant ways, Toni is probably the show’s most hardcore teacher ever.
Eleven more dancers are cut by day’s end to bring the total now to 58.
Nicole (aka Marge!) gets another chance and she partners with a pro ballroom dancer to help. In the end, she makes it to Day 3.
Contemporary dancer Adéchiké Torbert made a big mistake by doing tap for his solo routine which set him back. He just scraped by the hip-hop round and got another chance to dance for his life later that night after splitting the judges’ decision after his so-so ballroom routine. His solo dance is mind-blowing and he makes it through to Day 3, not without a word of caution from Nigel to stop his silly behavior. Whew.
Next week, a dancer withdraws from the competition and for the first time ever, the judges travel to the dancers’ hometowns to tell them if they’ve made it to the top 10. Bring it on!
What are your thoughts on tonight’s two-hour episode? Were there any surprises? What do you think about the new system? Discuss below!