Two of the dance world’s toughest judges are taking the biggest challenge of their careers. They are looking to make the world’s best singing and dancing supergroup.

This is Dance War.

Drew Lachey introduces us to the show from the Dance War stage (which looks an awful lot like the Dancing with the Stars stage, by the way). Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba went around the country in a nationwide casting call, bringing the top 30 to the Hollywood callbacks. And from there, they selected 14 of the most talented to bring to Dance War. Bruno and Carrie Ann are backstage now with these 14. But before we can meet them, we have to sit through two hours of auditions.


They kicked off their search in New York City’s Central Park. Hopefuls lined up at the park, and they were first tasked to do open dance auditions in groups of 15. The dancers all seem really promising, and so far, there’s no sign of that perennial reality show auditioner who goes by the stage name “Sex.” After the dancing are the voice auditions. Monica from Long Island has a nice set of pipes and a rockin’ set of abs, but she tends to close her eyes too much. She can also dance, man!

There’s Quandrell from Buffalo. His freestyle dancing is amazing, but his singing is lacking.

Naturally, there are some duds. There are some great dancers who can’t sing, and some awesome singers who can’t dance. So many of them are singing “My Girl.” Is that a coincidence?

There’s Anthony from North Carolina who is great at dancing tumbling, but just okay at singing. He’s better than the duds, but he doesn’t really have the pipes. It’s perplexing that the judges think he’s so good at singing, though. I guess there’s a reason why Carrie Ann and Bruno are judges for Dancing with the Stars and not American Idol. Another thing about this show is that I don’t think the contestants are as strong in singing as the kids on Idol and the dancing ability is not as impressive as on So You Think You Can Dance, but I hope to be proven wrong about this.

Samuel is a great dancer who tore up the bottoms of his feet in his dance audition (ew!), and also has a beautiful, buttery rich baritone voice. Wow, I hope he makes it.

There is Sasha from Fort Lauderdale who is mad pitchy, dawg, and nearly runs off the stage crying. She’s too delicate for this kind of competition, I’d say.

The next stop in the search for the best singing and dancing stars is Los Angeles. The audition stage is set up on the beach somewhere, and things get off to a weird start. There were strippers as well as a dancing chicken and a gorilla.

There’s Shari, a bigger girl who Carrie Ann wanted to see more of. She’s definitely got personality and she’s surprisingly nimble, but her technique isn’t great and her voice is only so-so. Then there’s Casey, who can definitely sing, but she dances like she’s in a high school variety show.

Zack who is a pre-med student kind of steals my heart with his really earnest singing. His dancing is good, but not great.

There is one girl, Angela, I think, who is probably one of the best dancers that they’ve seen so far, who doesn’t have the voice talent, but is just adorable. She eventually makes it to the Hollywood callbacks, and I am so glad.

Nashville is the final stop on their casting tour. They held the auditions at the Tennessee state fair, which involves such things as milking cows. Carrie Ann and Bruno are looking for raw talent that they can mold in their hands like putty. It doesn’t look good at first, though.

There are three best friends from Louisiana who show talent. The first of them is Kelsey. Not terribly bad at singing. Her friend Megan has a better voice, though. Finally, there is Mary Alice, who butchers “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” Unfortunately, only Kelsey and Megan are asked back to the callbacks. Poor, poor Mary Alice. Not only is she, like, a 23-year-old who is best friends with 18-year-olds, she also lacks the talent that they have.

Finally, the top 30 are brought to Hollywood for two days of intensive singing and dance training. They perform one last time for Carrie Ann and Bruno to make their final cut down to 14 performers. So far my favorites are Zack and Angela. I’m one for two, however: Zack is in the final 14, but Angela is not. She accepts the decision graciously, saying that she is proud of herself for even opening her mouth to sing in the first place, which she’s never done before.

And finally, after nearly two hours of casting footage, we finally get to see the first live performance. The final 14 are Charity, Zack, Phillip, Mariel, Allysa, Maxx, Corina, Lacey, Kelsey, Tony, Marquis, Chris, Bradley and Elizabeth.

I don’t know who is on which team yet, but I mostly like all of them. Their performance is a bit bland, but they only just started dancing with each other, so I’m sure their chemistry will improve over the weeks.

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