Say it in your best Cat Deeley voice: So You Think You Can Dance has landed in “Los Angeleze.” And while L.A. is always a reliable city for stand-out auditions, it’s really outdone itself this time. More than one of these dancers made me cry—and I, unlike Jason Derulo, am feeling completely secure about it.
Nigel tells the auditioners that they’ll need to be “exquisite, fantastic, exciting, and different,” so I’ve taken the liberty of fashioning the acronym F.E.E.D.—as in, who will F.E.E.D. Nigel this week? This is my gift to him. Let’s get to it.
Asaf Goren, 23 (Team Street): Asaf is originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, so people are always asking him if he has a camel. (“Bro, why should I have a camel? Why?”) He charms Cat by teaching her how to play the shofar, then charms the entire crowd with a performance of what he calls “Hebrew breaking.” (Paula: “Is it Kosher?”) Asaf’s legs are like elastic. We’ve seen cleaner footwork, but we’ve never seen anyone dive into the air like this before—or pour a bucket of water onstage halfway through a routine. Cyrus and Fik-Shun are going crazy in the audience. Asaf has the judges in the palm of his hand; Paula’s this close to asking for his autograph or (her words) “throwing her panties” at him. Nigel compares him to Rock Hudson. Jason compares him to Aladdin. While I get Jason a map, Nigel gives our new rockstar a ticket. Asaf is going to Vegas.
Avo Karapetyan, 29 (Team Stage): Avo, originally from Armenia, is a classical ballet dancer, and he’s here to take your breath away. As he glides downstage to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” Paula practically melts into the floor. I assume that there’s dancing happening, but we’re all having such a Moment that it’s hard to take in the details. “Why am I so emotional?” Sam Smith croons, presumably about this performance. Avo creates an experience so pure and good that Nigel looks almost mad about it. Paula tells him that she can’t critique perfection. Can’t deny it a ticket to Vegas, either.
Jana “Jaja” Vankova, 22 (Team Street): Jaja is the latest good thing to come out of this Stage vs. Street format. She auditioned last year as a krumper and animator and made it to Pasadena (the Vegas of season 11), only to get cut in the top 50. Now that stage dancing can’t hold her back, Jaja is here to try again—and she’s as good as everyone remembers. She is so precious when she’s not dancing and so terrifying when she is. “You became another being,” Jason says. “You, like, were a robot. I believed you were a robot.” I’d believe it, too. Jaja is going to Vegas.
Allen Genkin, 24 (Team Stage): Allen started dancing when he was 12 because his mom told him that there’d be a lot of pretty girls there. That’s one way to do it. He’s already been through the wringer: His mother died when he was 15, inspiring him to take dance more seriously, and he battled testicular cancer three years ago. But he’s doing okay now, as evidenced by his upbeat, saucy jive—which has Paula duckfacing as she yells, “Yeah, go!” from the judges’ table. Paula’s shouts of approval are quickly becoming my favorite thing about auditions. She also uses the compliment “all that and a bag of Doritos” without apologizing for it. Nigel and Jason agree that Allen proved his abilities in approximately three seconds, and he’s got the personality to match. Allen is going to Vegas.
NEXT: Dammit Nigel, he’s a dancer, not a math student