Say goodbye to the feel-good audition rounds: We’re not grading on class participation anymore, kids. This is the Academy, where graduation is based solely on merit. It’s about to get brutal. On day 1 alone, 100 participants are slashed to 50, as the 10 All-Stars select five dancers per team. (Math is a class at the Academy.) Whatever else this season gives us, at least it promises more All-Stars than ever before; they’ve even replaced the judges this week. Could the real stars of The Next Generation be The Last Generation? Think about it.
Maddie Ziegler is backstage and ready to mingle. Let’s meet the teams and compare class schedules.
Team Kathryn (Contemporary): The dancers start their Academy experience by performing solos for a panel of All-Stars, who whittle down their favorites to a list of five dancers and two alternates. At least three members of the All-Star’s team have to be in their style of dance. In a Voice-style twist, if two or more All-Stars both want the same dancer, the All-Stars plead their case to the contestant, who makes the final call.
The best part of waking up is going to battle over a dancer who’s half your age and will one day push you out of a company. Kathryn and Sasha start the day by trying to win over Tate, our Canadian contemporary dynamo, whose solo has all of the All-Stars on their feet. Robert is “WOWED.” Can you even imagine wowing Robert? Sasha makes a polite case for Tate, but Kathryn goes big: “I’m, like, shaking inside with how inspired I am by you.” Tate is putty in her perfectly poised hands.
Brooklin, Brightyn, Quinn, and Avery round out Kathryn’s team.
Team Robert (Contemporary): Robert is here, and everything’s going to be okay. He picks up Sage, a 13-year-old contemporary dancer, along with Gavin, Enoch, Joziah, and J.T., who continues to be the human embodiment of his polka-dot bowtie. But J.T. falls short on day 2. He forgets the choreography to Warren Carlyle’s Broadway routine, and he doesn’t even try to fill the space with jazz hands. Robert gives him a stern “I’m not mad; I’m disappointed” speech but lets him stay, cutting Enoch instead. Was Enoch really that much worse, or is J.T. just sticking around because he’s cute? Robert says he sees something in him. Robert, be honest: Is that something cuteness?
As impressive as some of these auditions and solos have been, these kids are not as adaptable as older dancers when it comes to styles outside their own. Can we all admit that Sage and Ruby’s Broadway performance is only great by comparison?
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
Team Sasha (Contemporary): Sasha may not have won the Tate Battle, but she’s doing just fine, thank you. Sasha picks up a powerful dancer named Jordan, who walks to her dance classes and sleeps in her living room while her family tries to make ends meet. She keeps practicing on her own when they can’t afford classes. She says this like it’s nothing — like anyone could teach herself to be that good. Anyone could not.
Diana, Jade, Ashley, and Bostyn round out Sasha’s team, but Diana is cut in the Broadway round.
NEXT: An indecent proposal