With only a few more episodes before the top 10 (or is it 11?) “So You Think You Can Dance” finalists are revealed onstage along with our beloved all-stars, the judges take on Los Angeles and Chicago.
For the first time, choreographer Hi Hat, who has worked with Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Mary J. Blige, fills in for the L.A. auditions and surprisingly, she offers great advice and even a few zingers! In chicago, it’s contemporary choreographer Stacey Tookey taking the guest judging reins.
Off to Vegas!:
Lauren Froderman, 18 (contemporary; Los Angeles) — Not quite sure what type of dance she does, but it’s a “sexy one,” according to the chipper blonde. And damn, when the first beats of “Let’s Get It On” played, the judges were already into it, as tjhey should be! The girl showed her flexibility, moved well and is her body impressive! Nigel thought she was “tremendous,” while Hi Hat did tell her to “acknowledge the judges” which Adam thought she did. (After which Still though, not a bad start for Hollywood.
Rachel Girma, 18 (contemporary/rhythmic gymnastics; Los Angeles) — The rhythmic gymnast (and almost Olympian!) has only been dancing for two weeks, but like she mentions in her tape, gymnastics is very similar to dance. Even without watching her audition, I already know she’ll make a very big impression on the judges, and sure enough she did. The stuff she did during her short routine were leaps and bounds beyond anything I (or the judges) have seen. Nigel and Adam seem to think she has theA potential concern for her in the future? Whether or not her unique style of dancing will translate to other choreographers, but Hi Hat’s down for the challenge! One down, only a couple more to go!
Cristina Santana, 24 (salsa; Los Angeles) — It’s always awkward when dance partners go in and audition thinking both of them will make it to Vegas, when only one ends up getting the plane ticket. This happened to Cristina and partner Pepe Alvarez, 30. Cristina auditioned last season, made it to Vegas (hitting her partner in the nose) and didn’t make the top 20. This time, the judges went crazy over her, but didn’t really connect with Pepe, and honestly, I couldn’t agree more. He was bland and didn’t have the flavor and strength his partner had throughout the routine. While Cristina goes straight to Vegas, Pepe decides not to stick around for choreography, dropping out of the competition. Lamesauce.
Alexie Agdeppa, 26 (contemporary; Los Angeles) — Lots of returnees, I’ve noticed. Alexie made it to the finals in Vegas for last season, and the judges absolutely remember her, even making the observation that she’s improved since. Always a great sign. So when Nigel started by ragging on the poor girl, I thought to myself, “What is he watching?!” Turns out, he saw exactly what we saw and Alexie makes it to Vegas!
Melinda Sullivan, 22 (tap; Los Angeles) — Sometimes it pays to be interesting! She might’ve stumbled a bit using a Stevie Wonder ballad for her audition song, but she wasn’t too unforgettable for the judges to pass on. Melinda is cleared for choreography and makes it!
Ryan Ramirez, 18 (contemporary; Los Angeles) — Choreographer Mia Michaels paid a huge role in Ryan’s development as a dancer (see: Season 4 rehearsals), but unfortunately, she didn’t connect with the judges, which is a big no-no. Yikes. Nigel gives us a clue on how to win “SYTYCD”: The best performers have won the show, not the best dancers. Duh! She makes it to choreography and gets the ticket to Vegas.
Kent Boyd, 18 (contemporary; Chicago) — He’s from Wapakeneta, Ohio. Say what? He’s pretty adorable. I didn’t have high expectations, but the dude can dance. Technically superb, he just has to work on putting his personality into his dance. Kent just might be my new favorite. Please make it far! Biggest city he’s been to? Columbus! Aww. He’s off to Vegas after passing the choreography!
Andrew Phillips, 18 (contemporary; Chicago) — Second heartwrenching story of the episode. His fraternal twin was born with a spinal condition and so Andrew took it upon himself for he and his brother. Still growing, but Nigel and the judges want to keep him around for choreography but don’t expect him to make it to Vegas. They have a sweet spot! Perhaps the biggest shocker of the episode, what was supposed to just be an experience thing for Andrew turned out to be a trip to Vegas!
Adrian Lee, 20 (contemporary; Chicago) — OK, seriously, what is up with all these contemporary dancers from L.A. and Chicago? Anyway, Adrian’s nerves are getting the best of him and during his audition, it took a few moments to get into his potential as a dancer and he’s pretty impressive. So far, Season 7 is looking like “SYTYCD’s” toughest season. Stacey praises Adrian and Adam is in awe of his incredible control. He’s the best contemporary dancer that day and they want him to go to Vegas!
Jarrod Mayo, 20 (contemporary; Chicago) — It’s sort of a cross between contemporary and tribal-esque dancing. I’ve noticed it’s always a great sign when the judges are talking during the routine, it means they’re buying into it. Nigel notes that he kind of has the problem Neil had in Season 4 (shoulders are a bit too close to the ears). But crazy awesome moment was when Nigel asked if his mother was cute, to which Jarrod said, “Uh, I guess … yes?” Awkward! They bring her up onstage and they are so cute together! Off to Vegas he goes!
Joining them on the trip to Vegas from L.A. include Lindsey McLevis, 26 (contemporary); Missy Morelli, 18 (contemporary) and Cheryl Smith, 21 (contemporary). Making the Vegas trip from Chicago include four girls we don’t quite know anything about.
And the Rest:
Hung Van Lam aka “Hella Hung,” 30 (an amalgam of stuff; Los Angeles) — Wow. That’s all I gotta say when we are first introduced to this oddball. And it doesn’t help that he showed up wearing baggy gold pants and layers of … stuff. So he’s serious about wanting to go to Vegas? He’s definitely a bit delirious about his own “talent.” “Wow,” was Nigel’s response, while he posed in front of the judges after his 15 seconds of fame. “You are a very special talent,” Adam says, laughing. Yeah, that about says it all.
Taylor Costello, 18 (contemporary; Los Angeles) — We have the night’s first heartwrenching story. Taylor’s been through a lot for a teenager, with her birth mother dying when she was 11 and trying to figure out her place in the world. Thankfully, her dancing — which she says is driven by her birth mom (and it shows) — is fantastic (musical taste is also great). It was probably the shortest routine up to this point on the show, but after her backflips, did we really need to see more? When Adam asked how her birth mother died, Taylor shared that she was murdered in her apartment, which is still an unsolved case. Heavy stuff. She’s off to choreography. Sadly, she doesn’t make it but hopefully she’ll try again for Season 8.
Malinda Jacobson, 28 (hick-hop; Chicago) — She’s a weirdo. So according to Melinda, hick-hop is a bunch of different Western dance styles, including line-dancing. Really can’t wait to see where this is going. And it’s exactly what you think it is, complete with a song that starts with a rooster. Oh boy. It’s pretty ridiculous and the judges are beside themselves. Adam provided the best zinger when he said he’d probably change the channel if she was on. Ouch.
Kellen Borchers, 25 (“hip-hop”; Chicago) — He wants respect. From who? Everyone? He rubs the judges the wrong way and frankly, I don’t care for him at all. Stop talking while others are trying to give advice!Some people aren’t meant to be onstage .. at all. And did he give Nigel the finger during his dance? Can someone confirm? And did he just salute the judges?
Christopher Gilbert, 21 (Urkel-inspired something or other/”spiderlegs”; Chicago) — I must say, even though he was playing a “grandfather” role, he clearly had some skill and I am so glad the judges saw that (underneath that questionable sweater). Adam and Stacey are enamored, but is Nigel? They pass him off to choreography, but he doesn’t pass.
Jarrell Robinson, 25 (hip-hop; Chicago) — Though he wasn’t born deaf, Jarrell uses dance as a way to feel and “taste” the music. It’s pretty inspiring to watch because he’s just feeling the beats and rhythms as he goes through his routine. The judges are in awe, but aren’t afraid to tell him what he needs to work on, but it’s amazing how he uses the vibrations to keep track of how many steps he needs to take. Not even seasoned dancers can get that sometimes.
I wasn’t very impressed with the two-hour episode as a whole, but there were some bright spots. Among the dancers who we’ll be seeing next week in Vegas, I’m very curious about Kent Boyd and Andrew Phillips. Adrian Lee, however, looks like he’ll make it very far just based on technical merit alone. Of the girls, Alexie Agdeppa seemed to have the most promise, though I’m rooting for rhythmic gymnast Rachel Grima to make it far.
It seems like contemporary always makes up a good percentage of the dancers, and it doesn’t look like it’ll change this year. All in all, a solid group is making their way to Vegas, but hopefully the next stops will produce some standouts.
Tomorrow, the “SYTYCD” train goes to Dallas and Nashville.
What are your thoughts on the Los Angeles and Chicago auditions? Were there any standouts that you think may make it far? Discuss below!