Tightening Up the Teams: SYTYCD Season 12 Callbacks, Part 1

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Thinning the ranks--who will survive?

We’re on to the Vegas callbacks to see how our hopefuls shape up!

Marissa Milele, 20, Nashville, TN, Team Stage
First up for Vegas solos is Marissa, who came from the Memphis auditions as a contemporary dancer. Going for hard-hitting, hard-hitting, powerful, and sexy with her solo, she has lots of flexibility moves, but little skill. Her transitions were good, though, and good enough for the judges to keep.

A montage of dancers begins next, with a few highlighted auditioners:

Darion Flores, 19, Hartford, CT, Team Stage
This is where my television transmission breaks up, so I’m unable to tell exactly what audition city these dancers came from. Darion is a ballet dancer and has great form.

Gaby Diaz, 18, Miami, FL, Team Stage
Gabby auditioned in two different cities a week apart, getting her Vegas ticket at the second one. Tapper with great feet and good rhythms.

Derek Piquette, 18, Chicopee, MA, Team Stage
A contemporary dancer with belly like line and good acrobatic ability. His turn sensor look off, but he may get by in spite of that.

Early favorite Jim Nowakowsi is among the dancers in this montage and, along with the others mentioned above, makes it to the next round.

The last ten Stage dancers are up, and this group includes Kelly McCoy, the dancer from the Detroit auditions who came with her fiancé Tyrell Noll, who auditioned for Team Street. We take a brief pause from the auditions to see them take full advantage of being in Las Vegas and actually tie the knot. So it is Kelly McCoy Noll auditioning for the judges today–and alone, since Tyrell is in the Street division. Kelly makes it through the first round to choreography. But there are other dancers who don’t make it through, among them Paula’s favorite fan from the New York auditions, Darius Drooh.

The dancers on Team Stage that survived the cut move to the first day of of choreography, with the Team captain himself, Travis Wall. (It is interesting to note that I have seen at least three female Stage dancers of color among those remaining….a virtual wealth compared to previous seasons.)

While the Stage dancers are getting ready to learn their contemporary routine, we shift to the Street dancers auditions. First up is Tyrell Noll, Kelly’s brand new husband, auditioning to stay in Vegas. Nigel was not impressed with him at the Detroit auditions, but he made it through on Paula and Jason’s votes. And, just as with Kelly’s audition, he has to perform without her in the audience and she has to wait for word on his results. (Thankfully, my full audio is back.) Unfortunately, of the first ten dancers, Tyrell is cut and has to go tell Kelly the bad news. So the newlyweds are separated on the first day, and Mike Manson and Courtney Barnes also join Tyrell on the trip home. However, locker Alain, house dancer Jessica, and hip-hopper Megs all get through.

Yorelis Apolinario, 19, Tampa, FL, Team Street
Yorelis auditioned in Season 11 as a contemporary dancer but got cut; she decided to spend her next year training exclusively in street dance, thus her placement on Team Street. She gets through, but we lose liturgical/mime dancer Michael, freestyle dancer Kareem Ali, and krumper Roydell Shannon in the process, along with two other dancers (Lamar and Brianna). However, Street tapper Justin Ballasy and Dragon House member Boris managed to make it to the next round.

The next montage of survivors include Eliazer from the Bronx, Ladia Yates, JaJa, Andre, Asaf the Hebrew breaker, and a few other highlighted auditioners. Last up is Kenya “Standing O” Sutton, who wowed the judges in Detroit. Shown in the middle of a panic attack, we are made to wonder if she will even get through her audition here. She winds up being the only one of her group of ten to move to the next round. So the newly culled Team Street move into choreography with Jamal Sims, choreographer for the Step Up movies.

As Team Street works on their choreography, Team Stage move back to the auditorium to perform their routine for the judges. First group includes Antonina Skobina, a ballroom dancer who auditioned in Los Angeles with her partner Denys, and tapper Kelsey Rose Young. Antonina impresses the judges, but Kelsey doesn’t go any further and is cut. Jazz dancer Mary Kate Levoir, tapper Gaby Diaz, Antonina’s partner Denys, Marissa and Kelly Noll all get through this round. Struggling were Brandon Armstrong, Kenya Welch and Avo Karapetyan, and though she tried her hardest, this round was the end of the line for Jacy Jordan, the miracle accident survivor.

Team Street takes the stage next with their first combo, and Eliazer Chapman, Virgil Gadson and James “B-Dash” Derrick are in the first group. Virgil and B-Dash make it through, but Eliazer falls through. He’s pumped though, and ready to work toward next season. Next up are jooker Montrell Britton and locker Lil B, and neither are getting a grasp of the actual choreography….though they are freestyling their asses off. Neither moves on, but Lil B tries to fight for a spot by asking to do it again solo. He throws all of his energy into it but does not change the judges’ minds. Megs and Jessica are featured in this all-ladies group….and all five ladies kill it, followed by Ladia, Mary Poppins and Queen Kenya. But the news is not so good for Andre Rucker (who at least didn’t walk out this year) and Korey Cleveland….though he did come into Vegas with his 90 day chip.

Samantha Reyes, the Bronx freestyler, is having an attack of nerves over learning the choreography, and Coach tWitch gives her a heart-to-heart to help boost her confidence. She, JaJa and Yorelis are in the next group, and while JaJa and Yorelis do enough to stick around, Samantha doesn’t get enough of a grasp and is let go. Hopefully she’ll refocus and return next season.

Day 2 begins for Team Stage and young Cody Carlson gets to sit in on the action today. On The Town choreographer Josh Bergasse takes the dancers through a Broadway routine, and Allen Genkin, our West Coast swinger, aggravates an old injury in rehearsal and has to leave for the hospital. Alyssa Guerrerri, Ryan Rafflouer and Kelly Noll perform in the first group, and while she had a great rehearsal, Kelly falls several counts behind and rings out here, joining her new husband on the trip home. Alyssa and Ryan move forward, though, along with Gaby Diaz. Edson from the Dallas auditions and ballrom dancer Denys are in the next group. Denys sails through the routine but Edson struggles, ending with an injury. He gets through on the strength of his rehearsal but is cautioned to be honest about the condition of his leg going forward. Contemporary dancers Moises Parra (18, Garden Grove, CA) and Guillermo Morales are among the following group, along with Brandon Armstrong and a contemporary girl, Kate Harpoolian. The girls are hanging tough but the guys in this group are having a lot of trouble. Kate and Brandon are impressive enough to move forward but Guillermo’s dream ends here. Moises earns the opportunity to dance for his life, with only the three judges making the decision whether he stays or goes. He pulls all of his strength, jumps and freakish flexibility into his solo, but the judges call him on maintaining the high level of power and connection as he performs. Still, it’s enough to get him through.

Allen returns diagnosed with a small tear in his foot–an injury he’s dealt with before–but on crutches, and unable to perform. So he’s out of the running this year.

Team Street is back up after yesterday’s bloodbath, and it’s Dave Scott up next to teach this round. After only an hour the first group is up, which includes B-Dash, Jessica and Alain. The whole group of five slays and moves forward, followed by a host of favorites including Queen Kenya, Boris and Yorelis. The B-boy brothers Burim (B1) and Illijaz, are up next and having somewhat of a hard time but are determined. B1 dances in the first group but doesn’t impress enough, and is asked to dance for his life. Older brother Illijaz is in the next group, along with Steven Ban, my New Orleans geek street animator. Having been at this for the last eight years with not one family member to support him or see him perform, he’s got a little extra to prove. He performs and is asked to dance for his life due to his beginning not hitting strongly. Illijaz is not as fortunate, and is cut from the competition. He stays on to watch his brother B1 try to save his spot on Team Street…and he delivers. Steven’s turn is next, and it’s a split vote between Jason and Paula. With Nigel as the deciding factor, he sends Steven home. (I certainly hope I can find him here and encourage him to continue.)

Next week completes the Vegas experience and reveals the Top 10 for each team. We’re almost to Hollywood, and I can’t wait!

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