So You Think You Can Dance auditions head to the judges’ hometown of Los Angeles in their search for America’s next top dancer. Before the start of auditions, Nigel tells the auditioners they are looking for exquisite, exciting, fantastic and different dancers. And they find all of that and more with most of the dancers spinning, flipping and bouncing on their heads during the Los Angeles auditions. From a South Korean ballet dancer to the break dancing brothers from Switzerland, the judges see it all as the competitors battle it out for tickets to Las Vegas on both Team Street and Team Stage.
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Bring on the Krump
The first half of day one in Los Angeles sees a lot of Street dancers. But in the second half, Team Stage shows up. At the end of day one, 15 dancers will join Twitch’s Team Street, while 18 will join Travis on Team Stage.
Some of the standouts for Team Street include Hebrew break dancer Asaf Goren, a 23-year-old from Tel Aviv who actually head dives to impress the judges; Jana “Jaja” Vankova, the 22-year-old who was cut after Vegas in season 11, who Jason says basically turns into a robot; the Swiss brothers Illijaz & Burim “B1” Jusufi, who audition together and get Paula flustered when they take off their shirts; and James “BDash” Derrick, an animated krump dancer. Krump, for those who don’t know, is a style derived from clown dancing in the ’90s. Those who created the krump style say it involves arm swings, chest pops, stomps and jabs.
On the Stage side, Avo Karapetyan, a 29-year-old originally from Armenia, lights up the stage, in my opinion. He works the stage with his incredible ballet moves and wows all the judges. Also joining Travis in Vegas are Allen Genkin, a 24-year-old from Philly who dances for his late mother; Mary Kate Levoir, a 21-year-old who clearly doesn’t get her moves from her father; and Jim Nowakowski, a South Korean ballet dancer who can stretch for miles and miles.
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The Pressure is on for Day 2
As day two begins, Jason warns the audience that they need to be sharp as day one saw the best auditions he’s seen in the competition so far. And, boy, do the dancers bring it. In fact, we actually see a lot of female street dancers representing, which makes the judges proud. One of those female street dancers is Jessica Rabone, a 29-year-old living in the shadow of her sister, who is a famous TV host in Japan.
Also joining the Street side for the men is Kareem “Anointed” Ali, who describes his style as spiritual street. I was leery of him at first, but he brings it, as he spends most of his audition on his head and hands.
Joining Team Stage on day two is Jacy Jordan, a 19-year-old from Texas who was in a car accident at a young age and told she’d never walk again, but despite her leg injury, she dances her heart out. Though Nigel doesn’t think she’s right for the competition, Jason and Paula are inspired and send her through.
Then there’s Brandon Armstrong, who we saw in 2012 when he helped his partner Lindsay Arnold during auditions. Since he was 17, Nigel gave him an IOU ticket to Vegas for the next year. Brandon, however, took a year off from dancing for a church mission in Arkansas. After his audition, the judges not only give him a ticket, but they give an IOU ticket to his 17-year-old partner, Lindsay’s sister.
At the end of the fourth city of auditions, both Team Street and Team Stage have 84 dancers each. The last audition city is New York before choreography in Vegas. Team Stage will not only work with Travis, but also Sonya Tayeh and Josh Bergasse. The Street Team will work with Dave Scott, Jamal Sims and Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo.
I have to agree with the judges when they mentioned that Los Angeles saw some of the best dancers yet this season. I really, really enjoyed Avo’s performance at the beginning of day one, as well as Asaf’s. And I have to disagree with both Nigel and Jason who thought he looked like Rock Hudson and Aladdin, respectively. To me, he looked like a young Ralph Macchio. But what do I know?
Once again, we didn’t see much of the “bad” auditions, though there were a few tossed in during the montage of auditions. I’m still on the fence about how I feel about that. While it’s nice to really highlight the strong performances, I do like the funny ones too. Perhaps New York will bring the quirky and weird? That city is always good for that.
So You Think You Can Dance airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)