Auditions in Los Angeles and Philadelphia bring out the funky, the waacky, and the very, very young

By Samantha Highfill
Updated June 12, 2014 at 03:42 AM EDT
Jeff Neira/FOX

So You Think You Can Dance

S11 E3
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Hey dancers — or whatever we So You Think You Can Dance fans call ourselves? — your regular recapper, Jake Perlman, is out for the evening, so I will be auditioning for the role of temporary recapper. I will be doing a contemporary routine set to Matthew Mayfield’s “Fire Escape”, which essentially means I’ll be listening to that song on repeat while I write this recap. Let’s get into the auditions, shall we?

Welcome to day two of the Los Angeles auditions featuring the ridiculously charming Christina Applegate, who asked all of the dancers to give her show her a part of their soul. That shouldn’t be difficult, right?

Alla Kocherga, 24 and Serge Onik, 25: First up, we had a ballroom twerker — who sadly didn’t twerk in her audition — and Serge, whom most of you will recognize from season 10. Serge was cut just shy of last year’s top 20, and this year, he was back with his “more than friends” partner and ready to dance. Also, she agreed to be his girlfriend if they made it to the next round. Just sayin’.

Basically, I loved this routine. Their footwork was sharp and incredibly fast. They were perfectly synchronized. I instantly fell in love with him, and my love for her came quickly after. Plus, you know it’s a good sign if Nigel’s seen enough to start making inappropriate jokes to Mary about that time “you put your leg on my shoulder.” Oh, those two.

All in all, the routine was hot. It was sexy. And this boyfriend-girlfriend duo walked away with two tickets to wherever they’re going. Next stop: Hollywood

Timothy Joseph, 24: This was one b-boy who needed to take a chill pill. After kicking off his routine with an undisclosed (but very high) number of back flips, Joseph never slowed down enough for me to catch my breath. However, I will say that his suicides were the slowest part of the routine, and I thought they should’ve been quicker. Do I have my facts backwards or something?

Look, his tricks were impressive, but I found them to be a bit much. Don’t believe me? Just ask his leg, which he hurt after the routine when he attempted one last flip.

The judges agreed that he’d needed to take a moment but wanted to give him an opportunity for more. Next stop: Choreography (unless he listened to his psychologist paramedic)

Casey Askew, 19: I’m not going to lie: His hair was a major distraction for me. It was very tall and very floppy, and I wasn’t always able to focus on his movement. However, when I did notice his movement, it was amazing. As I wrote in my notes, his lines were clean, and I’m always a sucker for a Sam Smith song. But was it just me, or did you all think he needed more emotion in his face? All I’m saying is that hair and that face almost ruined it for me. Almost.

But in the end, Askew’s ability to follow through on every move got him a ticket. Next stop: Hollywood

[Important note: Christina Applegate’s signature move is now picking a wedgie. Also, how dare they claim a routine is the best performance of the day without showing it to us. Come on, SYTYCD! Give the people what they want!]

NEXT: A 9 year old wins this game we call life

J-4, 18.5 9: As Bachelorette Andi would say, “Stop.” This child is perfection. When Nigel called Cyrus and Fik-Shun up on stage, I was a little worried that the poor kid wouldn’t know what to do. Dancing with others is complicated, and what if Nigel had just ruined his plan? Needless to say, I was a mess. But then, J-4 and his bow tie KILLED it. His hashtag should’ve read #crushedit, because he was amazing. The way he played off of Fik-Shun and Cyrus and knew exactly what he was doing? This was definitely my favorite moment so far this season. Next stop: Meeting tWitch and warming the hearts of America: “My dream came true. This is the best day of my life.”

Jourdan Epstein, 24: With a dance dedicated to her brother, who’d battled with addiction, Epstein was the most controlled dancer we’d seen tonight. She was so strong and so together, and all-around just captivating. Christina put it best when she said, “Forget about it. I can’t.”

After that audition, Mary was all fired up and ready to scream to her heart’s content, which meant Epstein needed to get out of there ASAP. Next stop: Hollywood

Johnny “Waacks” Gibson, 22: He’s baaack. After auditioning in season 9 and making Nigel laugh about “waacking,” Gibson wanted to show the judges a more serious routine. Only, he’d have to wait until they stopped laughing. Sorry guys, but masturbation jokes never get old. And you’re never too mature to laugh at them.

The routine itself was much better than last time. I found myself really enjoying how fierce the movement was. However, I can’t be the only one who didn’t like the way he held his face. He kept talking about how this routine was serious, but he looked like he wanted to smile the entire. time. Regardless, the judges thought he was an artist. Next stop: Choreography

Malene Ostergaard, 25 and Armen Way, 28: Armen, a.k.a. the super hot ballroom dancer who dropped his partner on her head last year, was back! And this time, he had a super hot new partner with him. Together, the two were too hot to handle. I was hooked from their first step. Their movements were sharp and precise. And those hips? Don’t even get me started.

The judges were equally obsessed with both of the freakishly attractive and talented people. Next stop: Hollywood (Also, Armen’s married?)

In choreography, Timothy decided to take the paramedic’s advice and not compete further. Meanwhile, Johnny waacked his way through to Hollywood along with five others who would join 18 more dancers from day two L.A.

NEXT: #funkyballerina

From one coast to another, we moved to Philly, where Mary and Nigel were joined on the judges’ panel by ballerina Misty Copeland, who asked the contestants to show themselves to her. Geez, these people and their demands, am I right?

Bridget Whitman, 19: I’m always torn about sob stories, because I don’t ever want them to influence how the judges look at an audition, but I think it’s safe to say that Whitman deserved to make it through. Yes, losing her dad made Mary cry even before the dance began, but the dance itself was also pretty great. I just wish the music had been different. Hearing someone say “Que sera, sera” over and over again made me think of that Will & Grace live episode with Alec Baldwin, but that’s neither there nor there. She was a beautiful dancer, and that’s the point of all of this. Next stop: Hollywood

Amir Sanders, 21: #funkyballerina is all I need to say to describe this audition. I was loving everything that was happening on stage, from the hair to the attitude to the music selection. I didn’t know it before tonight, but I am a fan of funky pointe.

However, the judges didn’t totally agree with me. They liked her, but they thought her “feet articulation” could use work. (How could I forget feet articulation?!) Next stop: Choreography

Landon Anderson, 18: Everyone, say hello to Jenna Johnson’s non-boyfriend! Jenna was back to help her partner, who was too young to join her last season, audition. And after making confusing jokes about how they make out pray before they go on stage, it was Landon’s turn to shine. Despite his awful haircut, he did just that. I thought he danced hard and really hit his marks, which I appreciated. The judges thought he was in control and a great partner, so they decided to keep him around. Oh, and the same went for Jenna. Next stop for him: Hollywood. Next stop for her: Coming back this season as an all-star.

Food for thought: Did they just steal Landon’s moment a little bit?

Shafeek Westbrook, 24: After storming out of Vegas week in season 9, Shafeek was back to show the world his positive side, courtesy of peace and meditation. However, positive Shafeek wasn’t quite the dancer that negative Shafeek was. For me, the audition needed to be simplified. I loved his popping and footwork, but the majority of the routine was about tricks, and that stuff didn’t resonate as much with me. It felt a little sloppy.

Thankfully, the judges remembered how amazing he could be. Next stop: Choreography

NEXT: Krump is better when it’s slow

In the choreography round, both Shafee and Amir made it through, along with 19 others from Philly. And that led us right into day two of Philly with Broadway star Billy Porter on the judges’ panel. Unlike the last two guest judges, he didn’t care about collecting souls. He wanted a story.

Stanley Glover, 19: After waking up to find his mother dead next to him as a child, Glover certainly had a story. But could he tell it through dance? Yes and no. Yes in that he definitely told a story. And no in that it had nothing to do with his mother (I hope).

Glover’s creature-like routine was very powerful. I was sucked into what he was doing, but I also wanted him to be a bit more grounded. His movement could’ve used more ferocity, if that makes sense. His face, however, had a bit too much ferocity. In fact, he scared Mary … scared her right into giving him a ticket. Next step: Hollywood

James “Banks” Davis, 24: It’s official: I’m never going out in New York on Halloween again. He was shot in Union Square because he was dancing for some girls?! Seems I’m going to have to keep my mad moves to myself next Halloween.

But let’s talk about the audition: From his first movement, I was in love with #slowkrump. It was absolutely mesmerizing. Every tiny movement was so understated and yet so powerful. He hit hard when he needed to, but he balanced that with being so smooth and flawless. He reminded me of a smoother version of Russell, whom I loved.

Unfortunately, the judges weren’t nearly as obsessed. Nigel did comment on the expansiveness of his movement, which I agreed was phenomenal, but they only sent him through to choreography, where he eventually was turned away. Please, please, please come back next year, James! Slow krump must live on.

Oh, and 11 others made it through choreography.

So that’s that. I hope you all liked my audition. Perhaps I’ll label it #getoffthecouch. Thoughts?

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So You Think You Can Dance

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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