Atlanta. Apparently, the place known as Hotlanta (mentioned twice) and the ATL (five times) is also home to furry coats, a Cat Deeley lookalike and a whole bunch of rather incredible dancers.

Atlanta is also the home (more or less) of last season’s winner, Melanie Moore. This of course necessitated a bit of a Melanie retrospective at the beginning of the show. And several (four) references to her when speaking to and about dancers this season.

So no pressure or anything.

Debbie Allen was the guest judge for these Atlanta auditions, joining the ever-present Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy.

Which Women Are Going to Vegas?

Audrey Case: The cutest little girl you could possibly imagine (even if she can fart with her neck), Audrey suddenly turned into a bendy sex kitten when the music started. Overall, she gave one of the most musical and exuberant expressions of dance love I’ve ever seen — even on this show. Or, as Nigel put it, “You’re like a little Tinkerbell!”

Danielle Dominguez: She likes bacon. A lot. To the point that they made an entire production video of Danielle featuring bacon. This included Danielle dancing in a shower of bacon strips. Bacon is good. The dancing was good too. Described by both Danielle and Nigel as “weird,” Danielle did have an odd style — jerkier than most contemporary dancers. But interesting. Very interesting.

Janelle Issis: I love it when the weird styles get through! Janelle’s a belly dancer, giving a performance that rightly put Nigel in danger of a heart attack. I was actually surprised that she got sent to choreography (the dance seemed lyrical enough to almost count as their beloved contemporary), but it was still OK. Janelle totally rocked the choreography and got a plane ticket.

Courtney Kirby: Rule of thumb on So You Think You Can Dance: If you have a cute relative, bring him/her along! Courtney did this right, with her rather aged-but-spunky grandmother in attendance. Courtney’s dancing was legitimately impressive (the kind of dramatic performance that makes you think she might pull out a sword at the end and kill you), but her cause was definitely helped by Grandma. Nigel was totally bullied into submission.

Brittany Ortner: A girl from a town filled with chickens, we definitely knew that Brittany was hungry to dance. Despite a terrible choice of music (there was barely a rhythm to dance to), Brittany’s jazzy dancing — and occasional chicken flaps — impressed the judge to qualify for choreography. Once there, she did just fine and won a Vegas ticket.

Which Men Are Going to Vegas?

Joshua Alexander: Most notable about this guy: his voice. He had a really weird voice. I’d like to hear Joshua sing… As for the dancing, it was very modern. Very snake-like. Seriously, I thought he was slithering at times. The judges thought he was amazing and simply held up three tickets when Joshua finished.

Tim Conkel: If there is a more personable and charismatic dancer seen in season 9, I will be surprised. We’re talking about a guy who has apparently won every award they give in the karate universe but still carries a Selena Gomez backpack onto the stage. The dance almost looked like it was on fast-forward and consisted on breaking, hip hop and more flips than I could possibly remember. Tim almost got sent to choreography but avoided it with a “ballet” demonstration. I’m pretty sure the technique was abysmal, but the performance was kind of amazing.

Jackson Alvarez: Jackson put on a show of hip hop and breaking somehow mixed in with mime — the guy “climbed a rope” at one point! Everyone liked Jackson, and not only because he led half of the audience onstage to dance something called the Wobble (Is this a southern thing?). Sent to choreography, Jackson did well enough to make Vegas in the end.

SYTYCD-Wobble.jpgAsher Walker: Because these auditions were in Atlanta, there had to be at least one token Country Boy. And this season, it’s Asher. Amusingly, Asher is a hip-hop dancer from deep in the redneck-filled countryside. He still managed to be good with an almost casual style — he incorporated a whole bunch of artistic falls into the routine. The judges were almost cheerful as they sent Asher to Vegas (en route to being a Justin Bieber backup dancer).

George Lawrence II: This former track star needed to get to Vegas in order to win his father’s love. Or at least that’s how they made it sound for TV. Whatever the truth of the matter, George got his tickets with nothing but praise. Mary declared the audition her favorite in Atlanta, while Debbie said he was born to dance.

Damon Bellmon: One half of a hip-hop duo, Damon actually auditioned back in season 8 and then got into a lot of trouble for apparently ripping off choreography from YouTube. This season’s audition was both original and fun — even if it did mark the second time “Moves Like Jagger” was used in one audition show. Alas for Damon’s partner, Deon, only one half of the pair could make it through choreography and on to Las Vegas.

And then came the Dragon House Crew, made up of three rather incredible dancers including…

Boris Penton: Boris made the odd choice to perform hip hop to piano music… And it worked? Boris’ style was most reminiscent of a marionette being danced on its strings. Every jerky bit flowed smoothly into the next one. I know that makes no sense, but sometimes dance doesn’t make sense. By the time the dance was done, Boris fully earned a standing ovation and a ticket to Vegas.

SYTYCD-DragonHouse.jpgAndre Rucker: The second Dragon House guy was even more robotic than his friend. Andre had some crazy, unfolding sorts of moves throughout — think the patterns on a kaleidoscope or a Rorschach test. With some slow motion in the middle, Andre looked like the oddest of dancing cartoon characters

Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer: The final Dragon House dancer was the “cheerful” robot. He smiled throughout most of his dance and even threw in a humorous butt-wiggle toward the end. The judges were obviously loving every second and let Cyrus dance longer than usual. Considering that the performance consisted of perfectly timed moves, simulated swimming and a jump off the stage, this was a good thing.

Also Going to Vegas?
Six dancers were profiled briefly before receiving Las Vegas tickets for their performances:

  • A guy from an impoverished and difficult life in Chicago who found his path through dancing
  • A girl who used dance to overcome Tourette’s syndrome
  • A guy who had lost his mother
  • Abigail Ruz
  • Calvin Turner Jr.
  • Aubrey Klinger (she had pink hair)

Who’s NOT Going to Vegas?

Deon Lewis: They don’t often break up pairs on So You Think You Can Dance, but this proves that it does happen. Deon’s auditions was a very entertaining (although not terribly technical) performance. While hip-hop partner Damon did make it through choreography, the judges deemed Deon not quite up to the task.

And that’s it.

That’s it from the dancers we saw up close and personal, anyway. There was a whole depressing montage of bad dancers meeting with failure. But we fortunately were not asked to care about any of them.

Did you have a favorite dance? Any standouts from the Atlanta auditions? Leave your comments below!

(Images courtesy of FOX)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.