So You Think You Can Dance recap: Unleash the Dragon House
The audition tour of season 11 has come to an end with a final stop in the dirty south in Atlanta, Georgia. Jookin’ dancer Lil Buck joined Mary and Nigel on the panel for a successful first day overall. That was until someone decided to speak up against Nigel and learned the hard way that that’s never a good way to get a ticket to the next round. The auditions this season have been pretty good, but it’s about time to get to the real competition and have the callbacks start next week. But let’s not sashay ahead of ourselves just yet.
Mariah Reives, 18: The first dancer of the night was this Georgia peach, who had her supportive mother in the audience cheering her on. Her jazz routine was pretty great, full of big splits, big kicks, and most importantly, big smiles. Mariah was able to show a bit of everything in the performance, which seemed to go a bit long—not that it’s a complaint, but they could have stopped and given her a ticket a full 30 seconds earlier. The panel gave it a unanimous standing ovation and all complemented Mariah’s great technique on top of her premium performance skills. Mary called her a real actress on stage with a massive vocabulary to pull from. Luckily, she will have a lot more time to show off what she can do. Next stop: Hollywood
Eric “Silky” Moore, 24: Did no one advice Eric that maybe wearing a shirt that reads “I’m Not OK” for his audition wouldn’t be the best idea? Considering that his freestyle piece was said to be inspired by his grandmother and her time spent in an insane asylum, I’m gonna go ahead and assume Eric didn’t really have any help whatsoever in preparing for his third opportunity back on the show, after auditioning in seasons five and six as a tapper. Now Moore has concentrated his time in between to learn well, more. Except ballroom. “Here’s my thing about ballroom…” has to be one of the top 5 things not to say in front of Mary Murphy during your first audition at this point, right? After a false starts of sorts (aka Nigel stopping after 10 seconds, questioning what he was doing, and letting him proceed), Eric actually surprised everyone with a creative performance that showed versatility, musicality, and some very clear personality. Though he probably needed sent to choreography to be seen in a more structured setting, the panel had a lot of fun with Eric and want to have some… more. Next stop: Hollywood
Kelly MacCoy, 18: Many dancers (see Mariah above) come to the auditions with their parents as their support. Kelly’s parents may have had another idea and tried to steal the spotlight from their daughter as a pair of performers themselves. There’s always some pressure being from a show-biz family and Kelly didn’t seem to show off as much personality as her dad. That was until she started her jazz routine and showed way too much. Her parents are to blame here and the mentality of “turning it on” when performing. Though her ponytail head spins and splits were impressive, it seemed like there was an on and off switch with her from the start. She needs more of a dimmer switch and turning it down just a little bit because there is clearly a lot of natural talent here and confidence, which is still important and shouldn’t be confused with being conceited. And who doesn’t love some hysterical back falls? Also: Who ever referred to a back fall as hysterical before tonight? Next stop: Hollywood
NEXT: Welcome to the freak show
Chris “Mr. Strange AKA Freakshow” Griffin, 25: Chris was the first of two dancers from the Dragon House crew, you know the one that brought us Cyrus in season 9 and Blueprint in season 10, to audition in Atlanta. Chris had some humility to him, which was refreshing (especially considering what his peer ended up doing later in the day). He didn’t seem to understand how a microphone worked but he definitely knew how to dance and show amazing flexibility and syncopation in his performance. And anyone who not only performs with their glasses but then also uses them as a prop is a winner. 10 points to Dragon House! Next stop: Hollywood
Conrad Decharbert, 26: Last year, Conrad was told that he danced too much like a girl at his audition and needed to bring more masculinity into his performance. So he got rid of the makeup (that’s a good first step) and got his body pretty much covered in free tattoos over the last year to “man up.” Without passing judgment, his back story was a little distracting before the music was even cued. But once the animal prints inked on his back were translated into an animalistic performance on the dance floor, Conrad proved his talent in a very strong performance. Nigel thought his face still felt a little light, which contradicted the rest of his body. To be honest, who wasn’t really looking at his face and still trying to count how many tattoos he had? Good thing we can continue counting again next week. Next stop: Hollywood
Taveaus “Dynamic” Woods: Taveaus is a humble street performer out of Las Vegas who literally learned from the best, who just happens to also be his best friend and the winner last year, Fik-shun. Taveaus said he just wanted to try his best (don’t they all say that?) but the judges seemed to think his best was pretty good. An early hat fall was handled well and Lil Buck was impressed with the diversity he was able to show, calling his bone breaking crazy. Yes, any dance style replicating bones being broken is also crazy, but it was meant in a different way. Taveaus showed he had extreme talent but limited overall range and didn’t show enough in his initial audition to prove he had all the same abilities as his friend. Next stop: Choreography
Branden “Side Show” Feimster, 22: This man belongs in a circus, and I can say that because he admitted it himself. Unfortunately, he doesn’t belong on this show. Feimster was the second Dragon House member to show up in Atlanta and was proud to show off his legit pop and locking and his trademark top hat that he must have stolen from an Abraham Lincoln museum. Even though his nickname served as a warning, things got pretty weird pretty fast. While talking to the judges before his audition, Branden got extremely caught up in the emotions of the moment, screaming that he had been dancing ever since he was in his mother’s belly to the point that others thought she was possessed. Umm… okay then. Can you just stop talking and start dancing? “I don’t want to talk no more Nigel, I want to dance.” Okay good—glad you agree.
Be careful what you wish for. I can barely remember Branden’s actual performance at this point, but it definitely wasn’t bad. It also though, as Nigel pointed out, wasn’t very original and wasn’t really a true pop and lock routine, more of a pantomime. Mary said she enjoyed it which apparently was all that mattered to Branden, except for the second after when he remembered what Nigel had just said and suddenly became very offended and defensive by it, even saying that it had hurt his soul. This began a little argument between the two after Nigel said he wasn’t able to take criticism at all and that he was simply rude. It’s likely he would have been given an opportunity to at least go to the choreography round given his Dragon House allegiance and audition, but his attitude got him absolutely no where. Next stop: Home
It was nice that the rest of the crew came over to the judges afterward to apologize for the side show that had just happened on stage as day 1 came to an end. 15 dancers, including Taveaus, made it to the choreography but only 7 of them (not including Taveaus) made it through with 12 total dancers getting tickets to the Los Angeles callbacks.
NEXT: The boy and the beast
Mrs. Channing Tatum, aka dancer and actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum joined the panel for day 2 of auditions in the south and urged dancers to show their own style and passion in their performances and the first dancer of the day went well above that… literally.
Ricky Ubeda, 18: So You Think You Can Dance premiered in the summer of 2005 when this teen from Miami was only 9, but Ricky has been waiting for the opportunity to audition, aka become old enough to actually enter the competition. He chose to dedicate his contemporary piece (though he has dabbled in other styles) to his mother as a thank you for all of her dedication and support. We all would like to thank Ricky’s mother for raising such an incredible dancer and so far, my favorite male contestant this season on the show. Ricky took his performance to new heights with amazing elevation out of his jumps and leaps into flawless turns and an overall very controlled, structured, and detailed piece. Jenna noted Ricky’s ability to have an incredible amount of strength while performing but also stay light on his feet, and Nigel said he was one to watch to go all the way. Next stop: Hollywood
Marissa Milele, 18: Apparently a string of boys were doing well in Atlanta, so this wildcat had to be brought in to tame them down, whatever that means. Marissa had made it to the green mile last season therefore her ability to dance was never really put into question and she wanted to make sure of that. The performance was a little too hard and rough for me personally, but the powerhouse performer was also able to show extreme athleticism in her movements. That impressed Nigel enough to call her the beast of the season and the performance overall as stunning. No surprise here, but will Marissa be able to walk that green mile again this year? Next stop: Hollywood
Elaine Kimble, 26: Elaine’s life completely changed a little more than 10 years ago when her mother had a stroke; it also revealed a condition with a hole in her heart, a trait Elaine discovered she shared with her mother, which gave her the ability to live life seriously each day and without regrets. She didn’t tell her mom that she was auditioning, though, just in case things didn’t work out. The judges said that the performance, though beautiful, was very safe. It could have been nerves or the emotion of the moment, but it just felt as if there was a little something extra missing, mostly because Elaine was still able to show incredible potential. That at least gave her a second chance. Next stop: Choreography
NEXT: Crank it up
Brandon “Crazy Legz” Jacobs, 23: Brandon and his friends gave the audience a brief lesson on his style of dance, known as cranking, before his audition to inform them of its background around Atlanta skating rinks and inspired by those wheeled moves. Clearly a house favorite with the audience inside, Brandon was able to get Jenna and Nigel moving along in their seats, too, for his robotic and energetic routine. It seemed to even bring Jenna back to the ’90s a little, but that could have just been his leather jacket. His winning smile left a mark on the judges, but the style of crank still left a lot of questions about his overall dance ability. Next stop: Choreography
Angelina Granitz, 18: Angelina must have been one of those kids who started to dance because she was too nervous to say anything in large groups of people and needed to find a different way of expressing herself. The teenager was extremely shaky when she got on stage and revealed it was actually her older brother that inspired her to dance. She even admitted that he was probably a better dancer than her, but he quickly denied that from the audience. (That’s known as being supportive.) Her brother’s one big piece of advice actually turned out to be her only problem when he said “Don’t be blah.” Angelina was able to show off some good control and flexibility, but it was a little slow and boring. Nothing exciting happened. Nigel told her that she needed more dancing in the audition but felt that she was a different person once she started performing. No more dancing needed—the judges were convinced enough to let her through. Next stop: Hollywood
Cristina Moya-Palacios, 18: You know that saying, “Save the best for last”? Cristina Moya-Palacios was made for such a statement. Her audition was simply breathtaking and had a bit of everything from jumps and turns to an incredible demonstration of her artistry and musicality. If Nigel asks if you are a miracle dancer, there isn’t much more you can say. And considering the fact that Cristina started to dance as a way to get out of the hospital when her younger brother was ill, makes it even more impressive. I loved the concentration in both Cristina and the judges face during the performance. Clearly, she is one to watch with a very close eye. Next stop: Hollywood
Jerrod Swain, 25: Okay, so technically Cristina wasn’t actually the last, but close enough. The final performer of the day was another Atlanta cranker who seemed a little cranky and tired during his interview with Cat, though he may have been too distracted by her accent. The smooth talker admitted a little crush on Mary before he started, but quickly America had a crush on his adorable son Colby, who came on stage for a little pop and lock before his dad. Tough act to follow. The performance was cute I guess, but that seems like a weird way to explain a pop and lock piece. There simply wasn’t much there beyond the simple entertainment factor of moving along with the music. However, Colby got his dad another chance to prove his dance worth. Next stop: Choreography
A much larger group of 32 dancers ended up in the choreography round at the end of day two, including the two crankers. Only nine dancers made it through, though, including Elaine Kimble, who definitely was able to give a little more this time around. At least the crankers have each other!