SYTYCD 11 Audition Diaries–The Callbacks

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

Season 11, Episode 4—Pasadena callbacks and Top 20 reveal

Guest judges: Adam Shankman, Stephen “tWitch, Tara Lipinski, Irene Dvoravana

First solos are up:
Tanisha Belnap (ballroom)
Steven Kador, 27, Baton Rouge, LA, Hip-Hop (New Orleans) *survives first cut

Puppetmaster (Paul Brushaber) cut in Round 1

Dance Round 1 – Hip-Hop w/ Christopher Scott (Jasmine Harper assisting)
–learned in one hour, but got to practice overnight

Steven pair with Malene (Armen’s partner); last couple in the rehearsal room

Marie “Mary Poppins”—put through despite mediocre performance
Jessica (paired with Donovan)—gets to dance for her life
Amanda Mitchell (dancing with Marcquet)—Marcquet impresses and all get through
Also through: Tanisha, Armin, Serge, Landon

Steven and Malene barely get through

Trevor Bryce, Caleb Brauner—Trevor gets cut, and so does Caleb.

Megan Marcano and Francesca Bass also cut
Jessica saves herself, though….

Immediately to next round with Sonya Tayeh—Jazz

Zach Everheart (tap, Atlanta auditions)—shined in jazz round and moves on
Alla (Serge’s partner, LA)—injured her knee in practice; cut from jazz round

Serge, Johnny Waacks, Jourdan, Rudy also go through

Steven’s back…and has a bad round. On his way home….
Shafeek and Marie also cut from jazz round

So naturally, Cat tells Jaja about Marie right before SHE has to dance….no pressure there….has to dance for her life. Considering Twitch’s brain exploded and oozed out of his ear, it’s safe to say she’s safe.

Round 3—Ballroom with Dmitry and Anya from Seasons 2 and 3 (I need you to make up your damn mind about the hair color—I finally resigned myself to the blonde); another overnight rehearsal.

Zach with Valerie Rockey (LA tapper)….well damn, they have some ballroom swag. It had issues but the performance level was excellent—and the judges took notice. Through to the next round.

Johnny and Haylee, Rudy, Christopher, Jessica, and the remaining ballroom dancers, natch….also moving through.

SKKKKKKKR…..Jaja’s rehearsing to go up next, and she’s dancing with…..EMILIO?!? That’s right…it’s Emilio Dosal. What a swerve…the judges let him jump right in at callbacks due to last year’s withdrawal-causing injury. Good call though—they did the same with their buddy Phillip when he passed auditions but got pneumonia. Their IaMmE chemistry helped, because the heat and energy was on, and despite some errors they were good enough to go through.

Round 4—Contemporary with Travis Wall (assisted by Makenzie Dustman)
Bridget Whitman (Philadelphia auditions)—partnered with Landon Anderson; looked like there was a bobble in the middle where they fell off-balance….Bridget has to dance for her life; Landon (and Malene, who’s also on stage) get through.
Bridget channels her dad, dances for her life, and manages to get three yeses to move on.

At 50 contestants (29 boys, 21 girls) before the start of the group round

Group 1—Ryan Johnson, Ryan Redmond, Carly Blaney, Novien Yarber (Contemporary), Sarena Parr(?) (Latin Ballroom) “One Love”
The rumba/contemporary fusion did not go over well with the panel—in fact, EVERYONE called it a mess, and Nigel charges them with the task of deciding who goes home out of the group.

Three more groups got trashed (including Donovan’s)….and a bunch of folks get cut right off the top.

Next group up—Trenton Williams, Camille Upshaw (contemporary), Zach Everheart (tap), Malene Ostergaard (Latin ballroom), Johnny “Waacks” Gibson (waacking)
The first group to get a positive review and all go through.

And as One Love comes back and tells Nigel they could not in good conscience vote off any one person from their group, even if it means ALL of them go home….Nigel commends them for their loyalty and puts them through.

Down to 44 dancers and the final solos before Green Mile…..

Ricky Ubeda shaves and now looks like a cross between Billy Bell and Jakob Kerr. Since he dances a lot like Billy, that’s just fine.

Crew Battle—Control Freakz wins last week’s vote, so they’ll join the Syncopated Ladies, Academy of Villains and Wanted Ashiqz on the stage for the finale performance prize.

And now to the decisions…..

Ricky Ubeda is into the room first….considering the panel called him “the best dancer in the bunch” immediately after his solo, I’d be mightily surprised if they tell him no…..yeah, I knew better. He’s in.

Jessica Richens follows suit and is the first girl in, followed by ballerina Jacque LeWarne, hip-hop dance Teddy Coffey, contemporary dancer Stanley Glover (not surprised AT ALL), and jazz dancer Carly Blaney.
Emilio Dosal is back up….and back in. Nice try at a swerve, Adam. However, it’s a no for Jaja.

Novien gets cut AGAIN, as does Sarena, Armen AGAIN, and the one that pisses me off most, Johnny Waacks. Keep trying boo-boo….

Bridget Whitman’s up….and on the show. Dad’s smiling from heaven.

And following Bridget, tappers Valerie Rockney and Zach Everhart, ballerina Jourdan Epstein, contemporary dancers Casey Askew and Emily James.

Landon Anderson is up….and is cut due to a bad two last rounds.

And also going home are Ryan Johnson, Hayley Payne, and Justine

Nick and Rudy….Nick’s in first….and accepted. Followed by Tanisha, Serge, Malene, Brooklyn and Marcquet!!!!!!!

Eric “Silky” Moore and Rudy are up—Eric is cut, Rudy makes it in.

And still no coverage of Donovan…and as Eric and Rudy were announced as the “last two,” I take it he didn’t make it either. AGAIN.

So the Top 20 Roll Call is…..
1. Tanisha Belnap, 19, Payson, UT, Latin ballroom
2. Brooklyn Fullmer, 18, Provo, UT, Latin ballroom
3. Marcquet Hill, 18, South Jordan, UT, Latin ballroom
4. Nick Garcia, 18, Miami, FL, Latin ballroom
5. Rudy Abreu, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
6. Emily James, 21, North Kingstown, RI, Contemporary
7. Jessica Richens, 18, Yorba Linda,, CA, Jazz
8. Valerie Rockey, 20, Indianapolis, IN, Tap
9. Serge Onik, 25, Upper Saddle River, NJ
10. Casey Askew, 19, Seattle, WA, Contemporary
11. Jourdan Epstein, 24, Plymouth, MN, Pointe
12. Bridget Whitman, 24, Tempe, AZ, Contemporary
13. Stanley Glover, 19, Chicago, IL, Contemporary
14. Ricky Ubeda, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
15. Emilio “Milli” Dosal, 23 from Houston, TX (hip-hop)
16. Carly Blaney, 20, Wyckoff, NJ, Jazz
17. Zach Everhart, Kennesaw, GA, Tap
18. Jacque LeWarne, 18, Des Moines, IA, Ballet
19. Teddy Coffey, Rochester, NY, Hip-Hop
20. Malene Ostergaard, 25, Studio City, CA, Latin ballroom

Let the competition begin!

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Season 11's Top 20!

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SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 4

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

SYTYCD – Episode 4

Auditions: Atlanta

Guests judges:
Charles “Lil Buck” Riley – Jooking aficionado (I wonder if he’s the same guy that tried out a few seasons back in Memphis? *Author’s note: it’s not–the guy I was thinking of, Meriko Flake, auditioned in Season 5)

Jenna Dewan-Tatum – dancer/actress. Started as background for Janet Jackson—I vaguely remember Take The Lead and still have yet to see Step Up, but she’s definitely got the credentials. And the co-star, as apparently the Tatum is as in Mrs. Channing. Well now….

Mariah Reives, 18, Sanford, NC, Jazz
A little smiley and face-pulling for me but she’s got some badass jumps. Even the one section it looks like she got lost was on point…Lil Buck’s favorite term, BTW. Ticket, please….

Eric “Silky” Moore, 24, Hip-Hop
Auditioned in Seasons 5 and 6 as a tapper—pity, because I loved him as a tapper. And without that two-toned, alien-looking Afro. Took some time to study the show to hone his audition—and he’s definitely memorable. So memorable in fact Nigel cuts him off in confusion to ask about his freestyle motivation—and comedy ensues. Anyway, audition, take two: Nigel is still amused, until Silky pulls off the one-handed balance/drop to the floor move….NOW he’s sitting at attention. Silky goes on to throw in some contemporary-like moves, air flares and an aerial, plus some sock-footed tap moves for good measure. The judges are quite impressed….and the third time is indeed the charm. Callbacks for Mr. Moore.

Kelly MacCoy, 18, Cincinnati, OH, Jazz
The child of entertainers inspire a Partridge Family introduction—the dad DOES kinda look like Dave. Solo gets a good review with some critiques about face pulling and sway back, but she still goes straight through.

Christopher “Mr. Strange” Griffin, 25, Atlanta, GA, Animation
Dragon House founder coming in and Goin’ Back to Cali. Decent skills but he’s way subtle—the puppet dude might eclipse him. But he is, indeed, going back to Cali for callbacks.

Interesting costume montage—the chick with the Asian garb and fan looked really cool.

Conrad Dechabert, 26, Louisville, KY
Auditioned in Season 10 and was told he danced feminine. I think it was more hesitant, but a year and several tattoos and muscles later, he’s trying again. This year, his stage presence is much stronger, so that’s a good sign. Not to mention there’s more power behind his movement…I have to agree about the smileyness—not necessary for the mood of this routine. Still, it’s enough to get that ticket.

Taveaus “Dynamic” Woods, 18, Las Vegas, NV, Hip-Hop
Fik-Shun’s Vegas partner in crime decided to give the competition a go. Fik-Shun taught him well, plus he can bone break. He needs to maintain his facial energy, though—I saw a couple of weak flashes in his smiles. Lil Buck nitpicked his glides but really loved the number, and Mary was impressed as well. Nigel is gun-shy about the rest of his repertoire and sends him to choreography.

Brandon “Sideshow” Feimster, 22, Detroit, MI
“A funk-style dancer, legit popping and locking.” His words. Gets a little hyper-emotional in the judges’ pre-interview and storms to position to start dancing. Nigel and Mary are confused but commence with the music. And it’s a pretty entertaining audition—Mary and Lil Buck are smiling through. Nigel, however, is wondering where the promised “original pop-locking” was in the routine, and says so to Mary before addressing Brandon about it (I know little to nothing about hip-hop technique, so I’m perfectly willing to give the British guy who has produced a busload of dance showcases the benefit of the doubt). Brandon immediately tries to argue with him about it, and the Dragon House crew in the audience is all but waving semaphore flags for dude to SHADDUP. Dude, when your MAMA is trying to cut you off, leave it alone. And he does…right up to the point after Mary’s positive comment and he basically dismissing Nigel and the horse he rode in on. You DO know you are insulting the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER of the program you are auditioning for, right? YOU BIG DUMMY! I’m changing your name to Lamont just so I can sic Fred Sanford on you. Lil Buck tries to diffuse the situation but he kept sticking his foot in his mouth about his hurt feelings. Get all in your feelings AFTER they give you the ticket…now all you’re going home with is the lint in your pockets. Meanwhile, ALL of Dragon House descends upon Nigel to apologize for this arrogant idiot to salvage their reputation. Fortunately, Nigel didn’t hold it against them.

Choreography: Markko and Kathryn
Poor Taveaus has no lifting skills and is a touch off-center, so that’s a no-go this year. We need to get you in the lab and get some more overall training, because you have promise.

Day 2—Atlanta
Jenna Dewan-Tatum on today’s panel

Nigel takes a dig at Mary about the improvements since Season 1, and she chases him off the dais. That was mean, but honestly, Mary…there’s some truth to that. You were a lot more serious ALL THE TIME back then, and like your hair you gradually lightened up. (That wasn’t nice either—I’ve read about some of the struggles she’s dealt with in her life, and that might have influenced a few things. Nigel is rubbing off on me, and not in the good way.)

Ricky Ubeda, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
Fan since Day 1, and it took all this time for him to get legal. He makes me feel ancient too, Cat. He kind of reminds me of Matthew (Season 9) a little, though his dance style is a little more Robert Roldan. The judges are well pleased. He gets a no….to choreography. After all that hollering Mary did, his callback was a foregone conclusion.

Contemporary guy montage….

Marissa Milele, 18, Nashville, TN, Contemporary
I honestly don’t remember her at all from last season, let alone getting to Green Mile, but if she says so…..very powerful and tribal in energy. Dubbed “this year’s beast” by the panel. I GUESS she’s ticketworthy from that audition.

Girl audition montage…there’s another ballerina in the mix…these are going to be interesting callbacks.

Elaine Kimble, 26, Kansas City, MO, Contemporary
Mom suffered a stroke due to a hole in her heart, and it’s sadly genetic. I hope Elaine has the stamina to contend with all of the physical trials this process is going to put her through. Really good technique and very graceful…but they want her to dig deeper and not play so safe. Yes to choreography for her.

Brandon “Crazy Legs” Jacobs, 23, Atlanta, GA, ATL Cranking
Or, as Mary put it, “kind of a fast stepping.” One of an entire crew auditioning…Jenna was definitely into it and Mary had fun watching it, Nigel loved his smile and energy and left it to the ladies to agree to choreography—which they did.

Angelina Granitz, 18, West Palm Beach, FL, Contemporary
Nervous as all get out and idolizes her dancer brother. Nigel loved her inner energy and control but wanted more choreography, while Mary and Jenna were drawn in by her stage presence as well. They string her along with the “no choreo” bit before they hand her her ticket….and a proud brother meets her at the stage steps with a big hug.

Final Crew Battle! Winner’s of lat week’s vote: Wanted Ashiqz

Jungle Boogie: ABDC vets that got pretty far, and among the crews I liked. Not sure if the kid with them qualifies, but alright…..ATL cranking represented here.
Control Freakz: Popping with a little animation thrown in.
I was split again but figure voting history is going to get the Freakz on….

Cristina Moya-Palacios, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
Miracle brother with intestine and heart issues inspires her, and dance was Mom’s way of getting her out of the hospital and otherwise distracted. When a simple effacé position looks incredible you know she’s gotta be going to callbacks.

Jerrod Swain, 25, Atlanta, GA, Animation/Popping/ATL Cranking
I believe he’s in that cranking crew with Crazy Legs….and he brought his kid with him. So naturally we have to wake him up out of a dead sleep and put him on the stage. Gotta love that Black parent performance on demand thing….and having been to house parties where my friends were trotted out for the adults’ amusement, I can say that’s not an insult or an exaggeration. Jerrod’s animation is more well-developed that his cranking, but it was funny and engaging. Nigel thought it was fun but static, and everyone was entertained. Jenna and Nigel put him through to choreography.

Choreo round: Jerrod and Brandon wash out but Elaine goes through.

Next week goes straight to callbacks, Green Mile and the selection of the Top 20 out of 157 dancers. If the promos are any indication, we’ll see more of this guy:

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My friend Donovan Gibbs....looks like a Green Mile shot to me....

Fingers crossed…..

SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 3

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

SYTYCD 11 – Episode 3

Auditions: Los Angeles, Philadelphia

Christina Applegate, guest judge in Los Angeles
Misty Copeland and Billy Porter, guest judges in Philly

Serge Onik, 25, Upper Saddle River, NJ, and Alla Kocherga, 24, Los Angeles, CA, Latin ballroom
Serge is Brittany Cherry’s (Season 10) former partner—they brought the pair in together for Green Mile and cut him—and still looks good. Alla is a serial twerker (?) but has great ballroom skills. Both move on to the next round, naturally.

Timothy Jason, 24, Sacramento, CA, Hip-Hop
Did lots of flips and tricks but the transitions need smoothing. I heard him land wrong when he tried to pop flip up from the floor, but the judges gave him a pass to choreo anyway. (He wound up dropping out because of the injury; maybe he’ll do some healing and some more work and try next year.)

Casey Askew, 19, Seattle, WA, Contemporary
This kid has shades of Nate Tresoras and Billy Bell (both Season 6) with a touch of Travis Wall…he definitely has Travis’s hair. Nigel basically threw the ticket at him like Gaga tossed those shoes.

Cue montage of contemporary callbacks…..

Enter J4, age 18 ½. LOL This precocious little 9 year old came for the experience, and Nigel decides to help him along by hustling the old fogeys—ie Fik-Shun and Cyrus—out of their seats and onto the stage as backup dancers. Kid tears it up. He’s got good improve and some pretty decent tutting skills. Oh, and he gets to meet tWitch afterwards. I’d hate him if he wasn’t so cute.

Jourdan Epstein, 24, Plymouth, MN, Pointe
Dedicated her piece to her brother who had a difficult time with substance abuse. Her auditions gave me Eliana-worthy feels. She moves to the next round.

Johnny “Waacks” Gibson, 22, New York, NY, Waacking
Kid covered up his Afro and shaved off his mustache and looks even younger this year. And again, the panel reverts to 12 year old boy mode and giggles the entire time about waacking when the child’s trying to be serious. A completely different style is promised and Johnny delivers—while I much preferred the first audition he did, this style of “lyrical waacking” was almost reminiscent of praise dance. The palazzo pants helped with that image…but it did move something in the judges, as Nigel called him an artist and both Mary and Christina were quite entranced with his performance. They give him a choreography berth.

Armen Way, 28, Glendale, CA, and Malene Ostergaard, 25, Studio City, CA, Latin ballroom
Another returning contestant from last year, Armen has the dubious distinction of dropping Malece on her head on the concrete floor during group rehearsals. The irony that his current partner’s name is MALENE would be too epic if her name wasn’t pronounced muh-LAY-nuh. Their steamy, glasses-fogging routine nets them two tickets to the next round.

Apparently ballroom was hot this day, as a montage of ballroom dancers follows, with all getting tickets.

Choreo round:
Johnny Waacks gets the thumbs up and moves to the next round.

Auditions – Philadelphia, PA

Bridget Whitman, 24, Tempe, AZ, Contemporary
We have a busload of tragic backstories this season—Bridget’s dad and brothers were in a horrific car crash and Dad didn’t survive. He was her biggest cheerleader regarding dance and pursuing her dream to be on the show. She’s kind of a mashup of Amelia and Amy—all the power and shades of quirk. Next round? Of course!

Her berth leads to a contemporary boys’ montage (pretty much, if they’re in the montage, they’re in the next round).

Amir Sanders, 21, Baltimore, MD, Pointe
I’m trying to remember if there’s ever been a black ballerina on the show…outside of the one sitting on the panel, of course. And this one’s a studded and piercing naturalista…that wild hair under that knit hat she loves wearing make her look like Parappa the Rappa. However, her Dance Theater of Harlem training blends with her street flava and the “funky ballerina” puts out an interesting piece. It’s got to be nerve-wracking performing pointe in front of Misty Copeland, and to be expected, Misty is hyper-critical on even the minute details. Still, she loved the routine and Amir goes on choreography.

Weirdest montage with the dancers’ supporters as the main focus—including the Philadelphia Mummers, which is what I assume is a Klezmer band that would fit right in at Mardi Gras.

However, it serves it purpose to segue into the most notable of supporters—last season’s ballroom bombshell Jenna Johnson, auditioning with her partner Landon Anderson (18, Springville, UT) who was not of qualifying age last season. Dude looks like Benji and dances like Ryan Dilello—there’s a lot of power and strength under that Opie-like exterior, and it’s enough to get a berth to the next round. But wait—there’s more! Nigel takes this moment to pull Jenna aside and officially offer her an All-Star invitation, the first of its kind for a one-season veteran. Sooooo……the partners might get to be on the show together after all.

Crew battle time—Academy of Villains wins last week’s vote.

This week’s contestants:
Wanted Ashiqs: a hip-hop Bollywood fusion crew. Very intriguing.

Mix’d Elements: fusion of several forms of hip-hop; also ABDC vets. If the last two weeks are any indication, none of the former ABDC crews are getting any love this year.

Shafeek Westbrook, 24, Upper Darby, PA, Hip-Hop
Ah, the return of Shafeek. After his temper tantrum and dismissal from Vegas callbacks in Season 9, I didn’t think we’d see him again…but after some reflection (and I imagine a lot of crow eating) here he is. Just as athletic as the last time but it didn’t quite flow all that smoothly…I get that he was trying something different but he needs a backstory when he dances—that 9/11 inspired piece he did was riveting. Still, he gets a choreography berth and a clean slate.

Both Amir and Shafeek handle choreography well and get their callback tickets.

Philadelphia – Day 2

Stanley Glover, 19, Chicago, IL, Contemporary
These tragic backstories are going to do me in this season—not only to have your mother die right next to you as a small child but to have your relatives basically abandon you and get taken in by a friend of your mother’s? Man, that is beyond heavy. He’s a strong and aggressive dancer—quirk and skill at the Ellenore level. That’s more than enough to send him to the next round.

James “Banks” Davis, 24, Brooklyn, NY, Krump
And then we hear about this guy getting shot in both knees and nearly losing a leg….if this isn’t proof that dancers are resilient I don’t know what is. First time seeing a slow, lyrical-like krump—I liked it. I thought it was very articulated and forceful considering the usual angry energy that comes from krumpers. The judges were entranced as well, but only enough to send him to choreography. If you don’t count Jaja, Russell is about the only krumper to get an immediate callback bid on their first audition…and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

After choreography, James (and his partner for the day) is let go….I hope he keeps at it, because I think he’d be good for the show.

SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 2

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I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

SYTYCD 11—Episode 2
Auditions: Chicago, Los Angeles

Guest judge: Fabrice Calmels – former model and principal ballerino/danseur, Joffrey Ballet

Paul “The Puppet” Brushaber, 18, Mokena, IL, Puppeting (fluid blend of animation and robotics), Mary pushed for next round while Nigel wondered about partnering skills….but he puts him through anyway.

Emily James (Season 8 and 9 return auditioner), 21, North Kingstown, RI, Contemporary, straight to next round. Not to be outdone, one of her little cousins gets on stage to “audition”; good gymnastic skills and flexibility—with some time and polishing, I could see Season 18 in her future….

Dancer montage—of course all of them went through (the two girls and a guy thing must be the set montage format)

Francesca Bass, 18, Crown Point, IN, Contemporary—bald by alopecia (she’s still cute); alien quirk that Sonya Tayeh would LOVE, through to next round.

Janice Scaccia, 18, Chicago, IL, Ballet/Contemporary, Joffrey Ballet trainee, idolizes Fabrice, auditioned barefoot, through to next round

James Thomas, 18, Chicago, IL, Hip-hop/Contortionism/Bopping, dude is double-jointed, through to choreo but it overwhelmed him

Marko and Ellenore doing choreo in Chicago

On to Los Angeles!

Guest panelist: Christina Applegate

Jessica Richens, 18, Yorba Linda, CA, Jazz, audition reminiscent of Lo-Fro’s (how she danced with all that hair flying is amazing), through to next round (got the “she could win” pronouncement from the judges)

Crews up tonight: Academy of Villains vs. BreakSk8 (they didn’t win ABDC but the lead dude’s conceited air already has me voting for the other crew. Still, I’ll be fair.)

Valerie Rockey, 20, Indianapolis, IN, Tap, passable style but clear taps, through to choreo

Jana “Jaja” Vankova, 22, Chatsworth, TN (originally Czech Republic), Animation, third IaMmE member to audition (Phillip Chbeeb and Emilio Dosal), poor Christina didn’t know where to look…lol; I think the three-way standing ovation pretty much guaranteed the callback ticket.

(Thrilled to see Jasmine Harper in these Degree commercials)

Cue the alumni…and the wretched auditions…..

A white boy from Wichita, KS—Kyle Taylor, 28—is going to do some popping, apparently self-taught. He’s got some skills….though the performance energy was a bit low. Oh snap—a battle including Fik-Shun, Cyrus and Legacy? Alright nah….yeah, dude needs to battle, because that energy shot WAAAAAY up. He’s a contender. That battle saved him from going straight home.

Justine Lutz, 19, Minneapolis, MN, training in jazz and ballet but auditioning Contemporary…go fig. She almost looks like she’s breakdancing with some of the floor moves and she can shift her joints. Another Sonya lump of clay. Another three standing O ticket wave.

Cue next round montage….blonde contemporary girl, Latino Latin Ballroom couple and a brunette ASIAN ballerina. Editors, you shock me. Add the Asian male contemporary and another blonde contemporary girl and that’s five straight tickets.

First ballet couple auditioning—and they’re literally a couple. Mauricio Vera, 27 and Deise Mendonca, 23, both of Santa Barbara, CA; made Christina cry. The zebra/mesh leggings threw me a little but their form was just gorgeous. He looked nervous, which surprised me for the level of skill and technique he has. But naturally, they both got tickets straight through.

Time for the Crew Battle—the Syncopated Ladies won last week’s contest. Yay!

This week: BreakSk8 is up first. Still as good as ever.

Their competition: Academy of Villains. Theatrics heavy (their words). Could have done without the creepy clown makeup but the doll-like costumes and the puppet strings were cute. I’m tempted to give them the edge mainly because BreakSk8 has had their 15 minutes, but since unlike Poreotics they didn’t walk away with a victory, I’m torn.

Hailee Payne, 19, Roy, UT, Jazz/Funk, QUIRKY a la Ellenore this time, but from a spiky-haired blonde who also has acrobatic skills. Just throw the girl her ticket, whydontcha? She says she has a Miley Cyrus look….the hair, maybe? But I really don’t see it. More Liza Minelli to me
Sebastian Serra (returning contender from last season—cut just before Green Mile), 24, Orlando, FL, Contemporary Ballet; he must have auditioned in front of Christina because she remembers him….as does the rest of the panel. He better have gotten that ticket….

Dani Platz, 18, Moorpark, CA, Contemporary, recovering anoxeric, another double-jointed girl, I really love her aura….the last person I saw dance with that much fluidity and peace was Eliana Girard. Can’t necessarily call Top 20 but I would not be surprised. Christina got the feels…and got voted down 2 to 1 over sending her straight through, so off to choreography she goes.

Marie “Mary Poppins” Bonnevay (and yes, the puns were pushed to the limit), 27, North Hollywood, CA (originally from France), Popping. Damn she’s smooth with it….and I hate that I said that seeing as she’s dancing to Sade’s “Smooth Operator”….but then to not only take the moves to the audience but transition into a badass freestyle with Fik-Shun….boy, if she doesn’t get that ticket….. (they weren’t stupid—she did.) *My friend Judi just pointed out that she’s in the Roomba commercial….)

Choreo round: Kathryn and Robert (Barbie and Ken of his season, the first with the All-Stars concept)

Dani and Valerie doing well but Kyle has a rough time and drops out; both girls get tickets.

I wonder what happened with the poor dude that threw up onstage….(he got cut, but he had a good attitude about it. I hope we see him again next year.)

Next week wraps L.A. and moves to Philly….and what rhymes with Philly? BILLY!!!!!!!! I can’t wait! (And I just checked my TiVo listing and am THOROUGHLY embarrassed that I didn’t recognize Misty Copeland…but to be fair, I’ve never see her in anything other than still photos. Double excited!)

SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 1

SEASON 11 IN FULL EFFECT! image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

SEASON 11 IN FULL EFFECT!
image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

I know y’all didn’t think this summer was going to pass without me saying ANYTHING about So You Think You Can Dance, did you? I’ve had a full plate and I STILL owe you guys a Tour Review from the last cast, but I am about to dive in headfirst and give my usual dish.

My intent was to start at the very beginning with the first week after….and I actually did watch and take notes. And then stuff happens, and the notes sat there. So I’ve decided in order to get up all on track, I’m going to share my notes as is to catch up the folks who haven’t seen anything AND to give you all a glimpse into my thought processes as I’m trying to get out these blogs. Like the regular show posts in previous years, I “type live,” which means I watch the show (usually on TiVo delay because the commercials make me impatient) and type as I’m watching for initial impressions, then watch again to fine-tune and make any corrections on anything I’ve gotten wrong. So I hope you enjoy!

Auditions: New Orleans

Guest judge: Wayne Brady

Shelby Rase, 18, Covington, LA, Contemporary
Nice to start with a “hometown” girl–Covington is right across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, so on the national stage, we’ll claim them under the same blanket. 🙂 She’s got some really good technique, and the judges move her on to next round. (Dad does the “Bottle Dance”–yes, America…this is the stuff our dads do here. We embrace OUR crazy. LOL)

Tanisha Belnap, 19, Payson, UT, Latin ballroom
One of 12 kids; gymnastic ability in addition to her ballroom skills—on to next round

Shelby “Skip” Skipper, 25, and Shane Skipper, 21, New Orleans, LA, Bounce
Still not that impressed with the whole bounce phenomenon but at least it’s not twerking. Skip to choreo, pass on Shane.

Megan Marcano, 22, Houston, TX, Contemporary
Still trying to place who she looks like but she’s quirky like Amelia. She makes it through to the next round.

Cue the dueling bad dancing dads….Bottle Dance guy vs. Gray and Fuzzy. I told you we embrace our crazy down here….

Trevor Bryce, 18, Orlando, FL, Contemporary/Hip-Hop fusion
Danced to a mix of that Windows error sounds song; insane musicality, humor and balls-to-the-wall skill. Dubbed one of the greatest solos of the show and put through to the next round.

Choreo: Markko (who snuck into town and didn’t come and get me) and Kathryn; Skip bowed out of choreo.

Day 2

Courtney Barnes, 22, Jackson, MS, ????
The personality is what got him the interview because it was NOT the dance ability. And I GUESS it was a dead-on Wendy Williams impression…he’s cuter. He DID get Nigel to try it (sounded like the original Cowardly Lion). Nigel wishes him well, but Mary and Wayne give in to let him try choreography.

A full-panel Wendy Williams impression….oh goody…. *eye roll*

Novien Yarber, 22, Huntsville, AL, Contemporary
Auditioned last season in Memphis….still fantastic, three ticket standing O.

Dancer interview/montage….

Caleb Brauner, 21, Blue Springs, MO, Contemporary
Auditioned last year in Memphis and got to duet with his dad. Back this year without him, as Dad had a massive heart attack and passed away. Still has that Teddy Fourance vibe in a lighthearted, silly-romantic piece. Judges send him to choreography.

Jacobi Jimmerson, 18, Mount Pleasant, TX, Hip-Hop
“Aerobics instructor”; dubbed the “Big Black Swan” by Wayne after talking about a ballet class experience, then challenged Wayne about not being able to hang in his class….so of course Wayne gets up on the stage and does the routine he set down. Of course, that sadly wore him out to the point of making a so-so audition even more mediocre. Thank you, love your spirit, but no.

Brooklyn Fulmer, 18, Provo, UT, and Marcquet Hill, 18, South Jordan, UT, Latin ballroom
NEVER remember seeing a Black ballroom guy. Well, the time he was 16 and helped Witney Carson with her audition for Season 9 doesn’t exactly count, but we’ll work with it. He and Brooklyn dance at the same studio and decided to team up for audition. Marcquet kind of reminds me of what Stefan Urquelle would be like in Cuban heels, and Brooklyn’s got a little sexpot vibe going. Great technique from both, though Mary called Marcquet on his chemistry. Still, we knew they were getting tickets.

Choreo round—we knew Courtney was ringing out but I was a little sad about Caleb. He just really got lost during the routine and was weak in the partnering area. Hopefully, he’ll keep trying. (Which he does…in Chicago.)

Crew battle #1: Poreotics vs. Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies
Poreotics won Season ? of ABDC (which I thought was unwarranted then); I first saw the Ladies in a YouTube video doing a Beyonce mix—women tappers who are sexy without being raunchy. Guess who gets MY vote….

Auditions: Chicago, IL

Guest judge: Jenna Elfman

Welcome to “Chi-beria.” Standing in the cold waiting and dancing in that glass observation deck in the Willis Tower (you know, the one that recently discovered cracks in the floor?)—yeah, y’all can have ALL of that.

Nick and Rudy—buddies from Miami (but they remind me of the Jersey Shore dudes)

Nick Garcia, 18, Miami, FL, Latin ballroom
He’s got killer solo skills—can’t wait to see him dance with a partner. Earned a Mary scream….and of course a ticket to the next round.

Rudy Abreu, 18, Miami, FL, Contemporary
Rudy has a scar across his midsection from some childhood surgeries and uses it as inspiration for his dancing. ‘Cause that’s typical. Warrior aura, he says….and his athleticism backs that up. He needs to stretch his feet more, but he’s got skills. And, like his buddy Nick, a ticket to the next round.

“Hot” dancer montage….

And then enter Caleb Brauner for a second time. This audition he’s doing a piece centered around the last voicemail he got from his Dad. Well received again and sent back to choreography.

Unusual styles montage….

And bring in the skrippers—FAME crew, who want to make sure you know they can actually dance (hip rolling and “jitting”); apparently it’s enough to get all four guys to choreography. But not, of course, before Mary returns to the stage and brings Jenna with her for a PG-13 double-team lap dance. Bodhi, I KNOW you see your wife…. (Mary certainly ran off that stage when Nigel yelled, “Your turn, girls!”)

Choreo round…and this time Caleb gets through. Yay!