Four episodes, three judges, two cities, and one Hot Tamale Train later, the season 14 auditions are in the bag. So You Thought Auditions Were Held Across the Country? I mean, technically they were, yes. But this bi-coastal audition system really stuck it to every other city. (Thanks, COASTAL ELITES.) Sure, contestants could audition online, but I’d still like to spare a thought for the dancers who didn’t have the means to make it to New York or Los Angeles this year — and for all of the dresses-that-are-shorts Vanessa never got to wear.
Anyway, before we head into The Week Formerly Known as Vegas Week (now held in L.A. because there are only two cities), let’s meet the rest of New York’s hopefuls. Snap to it, before Nigel starts yelling, “CUE MUSIC” at, like, the MTA workers. (Just kidding! Can you imagine Nigel on the subway?)
Magda, 26 (Toronto, Ontario) and Kiki, 25 (Teaneck, New Jersey)
Every ballroom couple on this show is either very together or so not together that one of them has to launch into Leslie Knope’s Speech of Denial. (“He is terrible, face-wise.“) Magda and Kiki are in the latter camp, and mmm, let’s keep it that way. Their interview package is pretty awkward. Magda’s habit of speaking for the pair of them is also awkward, even though Kiki agrees it’s for the best. But when the music starts, the Polish-Canadian girl and the Jersey boy are [chef’s kiss] just right. Their cha-cha is so sharp and sultry and fiery, it’s got Mary fantasizing about doing the paso with Kiki (as with all things Mary, that’s a sexy metaphor but also literal). Magda and Kiki are going to the Academy. Finally, Kiki speaks. “Kiki says thank you,” says Kiki.
BALLROOM MONTAGE: Jorge and Claudia, Jaryd Farcon, and Allen Genkin: all ballroom dancers, all making Mary’s day, all going to the Academy. This show missed you, Mary.
Zachary Downer, 20 (Paterson, New Jersey)
Like a lot of the dancers featured in this episode, Zachary has been on SYTYCD before; in season 12, he made it all the way to the green mile. Not to get ahead of myself, but if he doesn’t make it to the top 10 this year, I’ll run a mile. MAYBE MORE. Zachary is fierce. His splits? His body rolls? His running man? “Oh my gosh I’m dying,” gushes Vanessa, who is still me. Give Zachary an African jazz routine choreographed by Sean Cheesman! Partner him with Darius Hickman! I need it to liiiiiive. And is that the best ending pose ever? I THINK IT’S THE BEST ENDING POSE EVER. Just watch it again right now. You know he’s going to the Academy.
To be clear, Nigel’s spot-on Alvin Ailey comparison is not enough to make up for the old “go buy yourself a shirt” line. It’s a LOOK, Nigel.
Ramita Ravi, 22 (Murraysville, Pennsylvania)
For this audition, Ramita fuses classical Indian dance with contemporary, which is a sweet gesture to her parents. I really wish I were more into it. Her audition is, to quote Nigel, “uplifting,” and she’s doing some intricate work with her hands, but her contemporary just doesn’t seem strong enough to stand out otherwise — not on this show. But Vanessa is very “it puts the lotion in the basket” about how much she loves Ramita’s hands, so the judges send her to choreography, where she eventually earns a ticket to the Academy. I mean, okay. Impress me, Ramita! I want you to.
Peter Mangione, 20 (Lindenhurst, New York)
This week’s “bad auditions” aren’t the kind with the fake movie trailers and the plink-plink music. They don’t get any fanfare. They’re just kind of quietly bad — which is nice because it’s over more quickly but also annoying because why are we showing the bad auditions at all? Was there any point to this one? New York bro Peter marches onto that stage in white basketball shorts and a fedora and starts dancing to Song of 2014 “Uptown Funk” (OH, YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE FREE?), backflipping and cartwheeling like he’s doing tricks around the pool at a frat party.
Good for Peter for having courage and confidence (I feel like he might actually be a sweet person; don’t quote me), but we’ve got plenty of other auditioners out there reminding us to attack life with joy or whatever. “I’ve never seen anything quite like that before,” Mary says. That’s her lie of the week. Peter is going home.
(Recap continues on page 2)