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America's Got Talent recap: Judge Cuts 1

Things get twisted on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ And Piff the Magic Dragon is back!

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Eric Liebowitz/NBC

America's Got Talent

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Reality TV

The preliminary auditions are over on America’s Got Talent. It’s time for the judges to start culling the competition. In this round, there are 20 acts with only seven available spots bound for Radio City Music Hall. Nick, in a jaunty hat, calls for reinforcements. Make some room on the panel, people. Welcome Neil Patrick Harris to the stage.

Tough decisions will have to be made. Let’s see which acts advanced to the next round, and which acts stopped short thanks to Howard’s itchy buzzer finger…


Dance Company

Why you remember them: Dancers performing with very cool video mapping

Freelusion’s principal dancers once again squeeze into their flesh-colored leotards and perform a stunning routine with vivid colors and video work. The story picks up where we last left our dancers—in the Garden of Eden. A haunting rendition of “What a Wonderful World” provides a creepy platform to introduce Evil into the group. It was extremely creative. I like that there is a clear theme. That’s what’s going to set them apart from other dance groups.

Paul Ponce


Why you remember him: Juggled hats that moved like boomerangs

Paul unwisely decides to bounce a soccer ball on his head in sync to the beat of EMF’s “Unbelievable.” While the nostalgic musical walk down 1991’s Memory Lane was a nice surprise, the act was not. Howard buzzed him from the very beginning. Howie followed when Paul touched Howie’s face. Strike two. At one point Paul pulled out a glittery whip to add some whimsy to the moment. Strike three. The only one who seemed to enjoy the performance was Paul’s mom who was waiting in the wings. You remember Sylvia Sylvia, right?

Sylvia Sylvia

Extreme Crossbow Shooter

Why you remember her: Likes to shoot arrows at her husband Victor

Sylvia’s first trick is child’s play. She shoots at a balloon Victor holds in his mouth. There was a bottle involved and it was a lot cooler than I’m explaining, but I have to get to this next part. Sylvia places an apple on her head, picks up her bow, and shoots in the direction of several other bows forming a zig-zag pattern. Her arrow flies back and forth, setting off various other arrows (think domino effect) and the last one shoots at her face. It lands directly through the apple. She begins crying. We don’t know if it’s because she’s relieved the trick is over, glad she didn’t get an arrow to the face, or sad that she totally just upstaged her son. Peace out Paul.

Chapkis Dance Company

Dance Group

Why you remember them: You don’t, so you checked the AGT YouTube channel

Even though it feels like there is a small army of dancers on the stage, Chapkis moves as one unified group. They also manage to dance while using the flashlight app on their iPhones. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but they did use some sort of lighting device to boost the numbers in the creativity column. Howard tried really hard to dash their dreams, but the other judges filled the dancers with encouragement.  

Samantha Hess

Professional Cuddler

Why you remember her: How could you forget?

Samantha has been busy preparing for this round of competition. She has clocked 10,000 cuddling hours and invented a dozen new positions in the process. This includes “The Fortune Cookie” position, which she would like to demonstrate on one lucky judge. Neil is the chosen tribute. When Howard presses his button, NPH gives him a look of gratitude. I had to cover my face during “The Romeo.” Bless Samantha’s heart. All the judges smack their buzzers and our certified cuddler mopes off the stage into the waiting arms of Nick. Ironically, this time she is the fortune to his cookie. Way to pay attention, Nick!  

Alondra Santos


Why you remember her: Young girl with a big voice

Alondra glided onto the stage in an enormous hot pink dress. She commanded every part of the song, including the raw emotion of the Spanish lyrics. It’s a bit shocking to hear such a mature voice come out of a 13-year-old body. I loved seeing her dad mouth the words to the song in the audience. Everyone agrees that Alondra definitely has something special.

Michael John


Why you remember him: Attractive former baseball player who almost kissed Mel B. in round one

Sweet, hot Michael. Oh how I wish he had a more dynamic personality. His “coin in the can” magic trick was interesting, but he lost all credibility when he couldn’t get the quarter out of the can at the conclusion of the bit. Even if he did use his muscular elbow to rip the aluminum, his stage presence was lacking. Enter Piff.

NEXT: He’s a magic dragon