SYTYCD 11–The Audition Diaries, Part 3


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.


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