The latest episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE featured the second round of Los Angeles auditions. The opening montage featured plenty of screaming from a recently-returned Mary Murphy, as well as Cat Deeley’s promise that the “best dance show on television is back and better than ever.” Between all of that build-up and the level of talent present in the season premiere, expectations were high. Unfortunately, this group of dancers didn’t quite live up to the hype. Were there some praiseworthy moments? Sure. Was a second hour of Los Angeles auditions really necessary if this was that second hour? That’s…not quite as certain. Check out our SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE recap to see where it all went “meh.”
The afternoon’s first audition came courtesy of Tristen and Jensen from Provo, Utah.
When former hip hop student Tristen was twelve, he was given the opportunity to dance with a cute eleven-year-old by the name of Jensen Arnold. If the last name Arnold and the mention of ballroom dance are giving you a sense of deja vu, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you: Jensen happens to be the younger sister of Lindsay Arnold, who was a part of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE in season 9.
Nigel Lythgoe recognized Jensen as Lindsay’s sister right away, and Mary quipped that Jensen might even be wearing her sister’s dress. After that weird exchange, Nigel wanted to know if there was any romance between the two dance partners. Tristen’s denial seemed to be of the “doth protest too much” variety. Take that as you will.
The couple did a samba as their audition piece, and I thanked all the dance gods that Mary Murphy was here to explain it all. My thoughts were basically of the “whoa, fast feet!” and “ok, but I’m not feeling any chemistry here” variety.
Judges’ comments: Mary was first to speak (as she should be), and she wasn’t totally impressed with the couple’s connections (or lack thereof). “Some of the connections weren’t quite there as nice and tight — especially the ending. You know you always want to end that final position.” Vanessa Hudgens called Jensen a star and said she sparkled — even called her adorable — so those happy pills from the first round of Los Angeles auditions were still going strong. Nigel said girls like Jensen were what got him into dancing.
The verdict: Despite the complete lack of chemistry, the steps were enough. The judges were unanimous in advancing Tristen and Jensen to The Academy.
Cody Ostrenga was the next dancer to audition, but first we had to see some…horseback gun-slinging video or something.
Seriously, internet: Was this whole “western film” by Nigel Lythgoe really a good use of time and advertisers’ dollars? I’m going with no. Not. At. All.
He has “the deadliest hips in the west,” really? Sure, Jan.
Cody’s plan to do a belly dancing and hip hop fusion for his audition was almost as strange as Nigel’s “film.” On top of the trip to the wild west and the interesting getup, Cody was given time to tell SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE viewers all about how he learned to dance: He hid in his room to watch Britney Spears and Shakira and taught himself. Somewhere underneath of all of the — well — mockery, there was a message about pursuing your passion and being yourself. Unfortunately, the setup was just too ridiculous for any such meaning to come across.
Then, there was the dancing. It was…well. Entertaining, at least? I guess?
Judges’ comments: Mary was surprised that Cody could actually belly dance, but she realized that he didn’t have enough skills to make a “real fusion with hip hop and belly dancing.” Vanessa thought he could improve with the right training. Meanwhile, Nigel applauded Cody’s courage for what he’d done in his life — forget about the guts it took to actually audition with that.
The verdict: Mary Murphy said it was a no from her (glory, amen). Vanessa let Cody down easily, saying he should keep training because what he did was “so beautiful” (um, ok but no). And Nigel didn’t really give a yes or a no, but it was obvious what he was thinking.
Back to the ranch, buddy.
After Cody’s failure, Cat thought maybe we needed “someone with a pure hip hop pedigree.” Enter Sade Keinu Austin from Brooklyn, New York.
Sade started dancing when she was two years old, and both of her parents were her inspiration. Her father, Buddha Stretch, choreographed for the likes of Michael Jackson (!!!) and Mariah Carey. Her mother danced for Mariah.
Sade Keinu Austin’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE audition was amazing. Internal monologue: “yas, waacking, yas.” That’s really all there is to say about that.
Judges’ comments:Nigel was all about Sade’s energy, calling her “a little ball of dyanmite.” Mary said she was “on fire” and complimented her precision, then set Sade up for some name-dropping on her mom’s behalf. Cue Nigel calling Mom up on stage to dance.
Of course. It’s not SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE without the dancers’ parents getting a chance to show their stuff, too. (10/10 for the mother-daughter butt bumps.)
The verdict: Vanessa didn’t really get a chance to spew glitter and rainbows, but all three judges held up tickets to The Academy. So, that answers that.
Matthew Deloch was the first contemporary dancer of “Los Angeles Auditions #2,” and I wanted to vomit all over whoever thought putting him in sneakers for his introductory package was a good idea.
Way to make the feet looked flexed, whether they’re stretched or not. Ugh.
Matthew’s grandmother put him in dance classes when he was two years old, and he cried about it every day. “She said I could cry all I want, but I’m also going to dance.” He didn’t fall in love with dance until he was twelve and went to a performing arts school that “wasn’t just dance.” Somehow, though, Matthew’s only eighteen years old but has watched SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE since the series’ first season.
SYTYCD is in its fourteenth season. One (awful) year featured two different seasons. Add everything up, and that means season one aired twelve years ago. Matthew would have been six at the time, but he didn’t stop crying about having to go to dance classes until he was about eight. Mathematically, that means he’s either caught up online or was watching a reality dance competition at a time when he…hated dancing so much that he cried about it. But auditioning for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE is a dream come true.
Let’s just stick to dance.
Take very high leaps, very controlled pirouettes and very calm, cool choreography that doesn’t quite fit the music. Add the desire for just a bit more tension and a little bit of emotion, and you’ve got Matthew’s audition. It was lovely in an unexpected way and mostly technically sound. But I just needed a lot more. SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE has featured some insane contemporary dancers over the years, and most of them managed to be equal parts trained and passionate. Matthew was clearly a winner when it came to technique, but the passion…Well. Maybe being forced to dance as a little boy just didn’t allow him to develop that side of things quite so well.
Judges’ comments: Nigel asked Matthew if he’s ever counted how my pirouettes he can do. His record? Seventeen. (Isaac Lupien — Eldon from THE NEXT STEP — can do at least 30. Just saying.) Pirouette bragging out of the way, Nigel complimented the dancer’s “amazing center” and “terrific elevation,” but he “wanted to feel a little bit more.” (Same, Nasty Nigel. Same.) Mary Murphy called it “mind-blowing” and was particularly impressed with those weightless leaps. Vanessa agreed with Nigel (and yours truly) that Matthew needed to deliver more emotion. “But, like, man, are you a good dancer.”
The verdict: Grandma gets thanks for keeping Matthew in dance because he’s going to The Academy.
My crack. Meanwhile, how are we at the thirty-minute mark with zero hot tamales?