The solo auditions come to an end in Memphis, where everyone bring the spunk, but no one is actually from Memphis

By Samantha Highfill
Updated June 05, 2013 at 03:56 AM EDT
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If you all were judging me tonight, I wouldn’t even make it through to choreography, and no, it’s not because of my limited flexibility. My favorite dance partner, my DVR, failed me tonight. Confession: I missed the first seven minutes of the show, which I’m sure included a long montage of people standing in line and dancing on sidewalks, and for that, I’m very sorry. If someone could catch me up on anything good that I missed, I would be eternally grateful. In the meantime, I will try to find a new dance partner.

The good news is that we have made it to the final weeks of solo auditions, which means that next week takes us to Vegas, and from there, this show just gets better and better! Tonight, the birthplace of rock ‘n roll is joined by guest judge Wayne Brady. Why? I’m not really sure. Do I care? Nope. I love the Bradester. He’s the bomb.

Now that we’re all limbered up (and a little behind), let’s twirl our way into the action!

CURTIS HOLLAND, 18

You can imagine my surprise when I turn on my television and am introduced to this adorable young tapper with a frighteningly deep voice. But once the (very loud) music starts, Curtis explodes like a ball of energy in his sweatpants and adorable plaid shirt. His feet splay out as he begins what I like to call “controlled spastic tapping.” The smile on his face is contagious, and Wayne agrees, calling him his little brother and running up onstage to give him a hug. And Wayne isn’t the only one “jazzed” about Curtis. Mary thinks he’s adorable but also warns that he needs to learn how to give the audience a moment as opposed to a full minute of crazy all-or-nothing joyful dancing. Nigel thinks his personality is stronger than the routine, but he’d like to see more. Did Curtis remind anyone else of Shirley Temple? I loved her tap routines when I was a kid. That’s a compliment, I swear. Just ask my grandma.

Next stop: Choreography, unless you’re Wayne, in which case it’s “I’ll see you at home.”

TUCKER KNOX, 22

Sob/inspirational story time! Tucker was accepted into Juilliard before experiencing a horrific car accident that broke his spine. Stop right there. I’ve heard enough. We can skip right to the part where Tucker has made a full recovery (a.k.a. now). Sadly, in all of his preparation for the show, it appears Tucker hasn’t had time to make it to the barber shop just yet, but I’ll let that slide, because this boy is miraculous. He is strong in his movement and has some (I never thought I’d say this about a man) beautiful feet. I love them. Mary thinks that he is breathtaking, and Wayne is very jealous of the way that he can move and calls him a perfect dancer in his eyes. Nigel makes sure that he’s not scared of flying because…

Next stop: Vegas!

NEXT: A dance dad takes the stage and drops it low

A quick montage I call “contemporary on crack” introduces us (barely) to three contemporary dancers who all do something crazy for the judges, and all three get to Vegas. Woop woop!

COURTNEY THURSTON, 18

Real talk: Dance moms scare the crap out of me. Dance dads, on the other hand, are some of my favorite peeps. Double standard? Possibly. But have you seen the show Dance Moms? I digress. Courtney brings her dance dad with her to her audition, along with her lucky pig (don’t ask), which she sets on stage before she begins. Within the first second of music, Courtney jump starts like someone lit a fire you know where. Her speed and spunk smack you in the face. Man is this girl good. I kind of heart her. Nigel thinks she’s very good technically, and Mary calls her a force to be reckoned with. But after Nigel reads that dad married Courtney’s dance teacher — ulterior motives, y’all! Men are sneaky! — he brings dad up onstage, where he too puts his lucky pig down before #DanceDad pumps up the crowd and then drops his booty down low. As Wayne puts it, “That was Chris not-so-Brown.” Regardless, Courtney is going to Sin City. Now for the important question: DID THEY REMEMBER TO PICK UP THEIR LUCKY PIGS?!

Next stop: Vegas!

Memphis auditions are all about being “unique,” which can only mean one thing in this world: Quirky montage! There’s the animator who dances in the form of animals, such as “a monkey drinking water,” and then there’s the girl who calls herself a perfect 8. Perhaps she lost two points when she put on a leotard that was shorter than her underwear. So why we’re on the topic, what’s your definition of unique? Let’s chat about the important things in life, shall we? I’m kidding. Don’t get your showing-under-your-leotard panties in a bunch. Back to the dancing!

SHANSHAN QIAO-ROTHLISBERGER, 25

Other than the talent and the quirk (and Nigel’s pervy remarks), what I love about this show is the cultural element. Take Shanshan, for example. A traditional Mongolian dancer, Shanshan performs a balancing bowls dance (don’t ask me to spell it), and she’s absolutely breathtaking. After she establishes that the actual dance typically features horse milk — #horsemilk — and not whores’ milk, she captivates the judges with her unbelievably fluid motions. Shanshan receives a standing ovation and high praise from the judges, who talk about her elegance and her tranquility. They want more. And Wayne wants to know where to find some whores’ milk…

Next stop: Choreography

Best line of the night from Wayne: “This is not So You Think You Can Yell” to the audience when they starting booing Nigel before he could finish a sentence. He is from Who’s Line Is It Anyway? people. The man can improv. Also, if it were So You Think You Can Yell, Mary would have herself a title if she doesn’t already: America’s Favorite Yeller!

NEXT: A Colombian invasion

NICO GREETHAM, 18

If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably thinking, at this point, this show could really use a Colombian MILF right about now. And just like that, dreams really do come true. Nico takes the stage while Nigel hits on his mother in the crowd. Thankfully, Nico quickly draws the attention from his mother’s legs to his own. Another spitfire, Nico leaps around the stage with such control. Personally, I think he’s cuter than his mom, but then again, I prefer the male sex, so around and around we go. Regardless, Mary’s on my team — “Papi is on the train!!!” — and Wayne is on Nigel’s. At the end of the day, there’s only one place where such attractive people should go next.

Next stop: Vegas!

ELYSE FRELINGER, 23

This flying trapeze instructor is ready to get her feet back on the ground (for now). With a rather revealing referee-esque top and some short shorts, Elyse performs a very controlled contemporary routine. When I’m not staring at her breasts — don’t tell me they aren’t distracting — I’m very impressed with how graceful she is. Nigel loves her flow of movement, and Mary finds her so effortless, like butter. Wayne agrees on the butter statement. Yes. Butter. Liquid. Yes. Vegas. Yes.

Next stop: Look out, Vegas, the boobs are coming for you! I’m sure you of all places can handle them.

Good news: Curtis and Shanshan are both through to Vegas along with six other dancers! Day one in Memphis is a fireball of success… despite the fact that no one actually seems to be from Memphis.

Moving on to day two and Wayne Brady’s ah-maze-ing sweater. The man looks good, am I wrong? Well, if you’re not hyped about Wayne’s sweater, get hyped about something, because Nigel is looking for some energy. Bring on the fringe!

JENNA JOHNSON, 18

Did someone say energy? Jenna and her just-too-young-to-audition partner, Landon, take the stage for a little cha-cha action. The couple holds four national titles, and we can immediately see why. Their routine is fun and sexy and all things the cha-cha should be. Personally, I can’t stop watching him even more so than her. Damn if I’m not incredibly envious of his hips. However, I’m equally envious of her calves. Either way, the judges have no words. But who needs words when you have tickets?

Next stop: Vegas!

NEXT: What’s a Novien?

NOVIEN YARBER, 21

A little ball of muscle, Novien wants to show off his masculine side when he dances. And boy oh boy if this little train that could isn’t successful. Holding some incredible poses and flexing through every movement, Novien gets the judges’ attention, even despite the fact that he isn’t able to hold his final pose. Nigel says he is gasp-worthy, fantastic, everything he wants for this show, what people will vote for, and so on. Mary thinks his legs were slicing through the air like samurai swords (obviously) and gives Wayne the yell he asks for. He thinks it’s hot. Nigel? Not so much. Personally, Wayne gets the masculinity memo and thinks Novien could kick ass while dancing. Now there’s a movie I’d watch.

Next stop: Vegas!

ISABEL FREIBERGER, 26

From cha-cha to salsa, Isabel and her partner are all about the crazy tricks. The routine is high energy and definitely enjoyable. It’s a bit of a trick-palooza, but it’s enough for the judges. Mary puts Isabel on the Hot Tamale Train sans yell, and Wayne pretty much just says yes. Nigel thinks the speed of the routine didn’t stop her from still being able to hit everything. However, I think there’s just a little fire missing. But I guess we’ll see soon enough.

Next stop: Choreography

CALEB BRAUNER, 20

Stop the presses. We have found our Kent Boyd of this season, and I could not be happier! He’s quirky. He’s hilarious. His dad is precious. He’s wearing a bowtie. And the boy can dance. Like, really dance. After giving us one of those comedic contemporary auditions that we love so much, Caleb turns the attention to his father, who yells “That’s my nerd!” and warms my soul. Mary says she wants to adopt Caleb, and all the judges agree that he has so much talent and technique underneath his quirk that it just works. Nigel invites dad, an “undercover dancer,” on stage to do some hip-hop. There’s stripping involved, and when dad hits the floor, the judges get on their feet. I would also like to point out that on top of that being so adorable, Caleb can legitimately do some hip-hop. I’m so very excited for this guy!!

Next stop: Vegas!

What is with this next montage? You can’t just show me really sexy, really talented men and then not give me their full names. You also can’t throw Wayne Brady’s Lil C impression in there like it’s NBD. This is quality material, guys. This better be on my DVD extras. Speaking of, why isn’t this show on DVD?!?!

NEXT: Cyrus’ ex takes the stage

Moving on:

LARRY BOOZE, 29

Larry Booze is the definition of cool. And no, it’s not just because his last name is Booze, though that never hurts. With a signature move called the swinging door and crazy bendy ankles, Larry pops and glides his way across the stage and into my heart. Nigel and Mary agree that he’s creative and pure entertainment. Wayne thinks he can dance his ass off. But does he have what it takes?

Next stop: Choreography

Also, I would like to hereby propose that this show be called So You Think You Can Dance Your Ass Off. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

JASMINE HARPER, 19

Spoiler: Jasmine is Cyrus’ ex!!!! The producers didn’t even see this one coming, and everyone (including Nigel) seems to want all the details. Apparently, Jasmine and Cyrus dated until he got on the show and then you can fill in the rest. Jasmine gets emotional talking about it, so Nigel lets her get to her even more emotional performance. Dancing to Destiny’s Child’s rendition of “Amazing Grace,” Jasmine exudes both power and passion. She gives me chills. Nigel compliments the music and her superb skill. Mary commends her tremendous heart and soul, and Wayne thinks watching her dance is like watching Destiny’s Child perform that song. The judges attempt to fake her out by saying no to choreography, but they give in quickly. P.S. The no-to-choreography bit is on its last leg. Also, I love that this was the hashtag the show chose for Jasmine: #myturnnow. Take that, Cyrus. Just kidding, I love you.

Next stop: Vegas!

PAIGE PELLICANO, 19

Another dancer, another memorable father. This time, Paige brought along her dad, the Elvis impersonator, who takes the cue from Nigel to sing a cappella for the crowd. Oh Nigel, sometimes I wish you would just let things go. Sadly, dad’s song is only slightly more difficult to follow than his daughter’s audition. She’s clearly a good dancer, but the whole thing feels a bit disjointed for me. Nigel thinks she’s good, but says she needs to find that missing magical piece. Mary thinks she has tons of potential, and Wayne says it didn’t quite connect with him. Luckily, Paige barely escapes falling off the stage so that she can give it another shot later.

Next stop: Choreography

After cool cat Mr. Booze withdraws so as to not hold up his partner (so sweet), Isabel and Paige are both sent home in choreography. And just like that, dear old Elvis goes back to being dear old dad with crazy sideburns. Seven other dancers make it through to Vegas.

Okay, dance fans, who was your favorite of the night? Did Jasmine capture your heart? Is anyone else just in love with Courtney (and her father)? And how cute is Caleb?! Also, do people from Memphis dance? Why was no one repping the hometown tonight?

Next week, we travel to Vegas, where we say goodbye to Mary’s hair and hello to her attitude. It’s time for the blood, sweat and tears portion of this process. Oh hey, what’s up Nappytabs?!

Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill

Episode Recaps

So You Think You Can Dance

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