SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: The Train’s Last Stop Before The Academy

auditions

The latest episode of SO YOU CAN DANCE featured the second batch of televised New York auditions. More importantly, it was the last chance for dancers to make an impression on the series’ “jedges” in hopes of earning a ticket to The Academy. In other words, it was the hot tamale train’s last stop before depositing dancers at The Academy. Featuring a frustrating mix of impressive talent and time wasters that caused a lovely mix of slow blinks and outrage, “New York Auditions #2” was even further proof that SYTYCD has returned to its roots. Check out our recap to hear all about the highlights, low points, and everything in between.

The opening.

Nothing says “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” like Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy doing that thing they do. So, when this last round of auditions opened up with Nigel joking that he hoped Mary would lose her voice one day, there was that same distinct feeling of finally being home that accompanied this season’s premiere. With a week off between the first half of the New York auditions and this week’s conclusion, the series was actually greatly missed — a sentiment that wasn’t exactly present during breaks in either the kids’ edition or that whole “Street vs. Stage” debacle.

But those missteps are (thankfully) in the past, so let’s hop on that hot tamale train and see where it takes us.

Oh. And by the way: Bonus technique points to Mary for letting Vanessa Hudgens join in on the Nigel-slapping fun. It’s a “yes” for me.

The first contestants in “New York Auditions #2” were Magda and Kiki, who were here to show off their cha-cha skills.

Magda was born in Poland, raised in Toronto, and currently living in New Jersey. With all of that moving around, you’d think she might have some trouble with communicating. But it was her partner, Kiki, who couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence. Luckily, Magda was more than happy to do all of the talking for him.

Cue my soulmate Mary Murphy cackling over this on television, just as I was doing the same back home on my couch. (So, she was taped. So what?)

If nothing else, Magda and Kiki were on trend: They set their cha-cha to “Move Your Body,” a Sia song. All they needed was a nude leotard and blonde wig to complete the picture.

Joking aside, the footwork just seemed sluggish and out of sync with the tune, making yours truly wonder whether this couple had fallen victim to the same editing sorcery as Ryan Bailey had. The cha-cha wasn’t even actually slow or imprecise; it just didn’t work with Sia, especially toward the second half of the audition piece.

Judges’ comments: Your regularly-scheduled commentary has been replaced with “three esteemed jedges” (more like two, but who’s counting) standing up and waving tickets to The Academy. After Magda and Kiki left the stage, ballroom queen and hot tamale train gatekeeper, Mary Murphy, had this to say: “I’d like to dance with him a paso doble, I tell you.”

Tell me more. Better yet, show me.

Magda and Kiki’s performance was followed by a montage of ballroom wins.

Sorry, folks: No time to show any of these dancers’ hard work in its entirety because we needed to save air space for insanity, which will come later. We’ll just have to take Mary’s word for it that she was having “the. best. day. everrrrrr!!!!!”

The next full audition came from Zachary Downer.

This was Zachary’s second time auditioning for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. He was lucky enough to get all the way to The Green Mile in season 12 without making the final cut. Yes, I said he was lucky. No, I won’t hear any arguments on that. I mean, would someone this insanely talented really want to be associated with having been on that gimmick of a season? The answer should be a resounding no. If it isn’t, our priorities are out of order here.

Zachary promised a “very masculine and aggressive, animalistic” performance; and he more than delivered. His solo was a gorgeous interplay between different types and dynamics of dancing that fit very well together. And those leaps? Be still my beating heart. Talk about effortless.

Bonus: Zachary’s leg form was even great in his acrobatic elements. Hashtag so blessed.

Between the power, the technique, and the great mixture of an African vibe with contemporary, it was all I could do not to start muttering “Ailey” under my breath.

Judges’ comments: Much like Magda and Kiki, Zachary Downer found himself on the receiving end of a standing ovation. Once the judges took their seats, it was time for my favorite part of SYTYCD and yours: Mary Murphy screaming about the hot tamale train.

Iconic.

Vanessa Hudgens’ critique started out as the embodiment of fangirls’ live tweeting everywhere: “Oh, my gosh. I’m dying. You are so frickin’ fierce. Like, the fire in your performance is just overwhelming.” But then she started talking about a bird? I wish I understood — honestly, I do — because I’d love to fangirl over dancing with Vanessa. I just need it to make sense.

Nigel Lythgoe brought the chatter back to the land of the normal. Proving that he and I should totally talk dance over coffee sometime, he mentioned that Zachary’s dancing was very Ailey-like. A bffdom in the making, if I ever saw one.

Verdict: The Academy. (Obviously.) Pro-tip to the Ailey team: If y’all don’t give this guy a call soon, someone else definitely will.

The hot tamale train’s next potential passenger was Ramita Ravi, who came equipped with her own unique blend of dance styles.

Ramita’s parents were originally from India. In order to keep their culture alive in their daughter, they signed Ramita up for classical Indian dance lessons when she was five years old. At the same time, she also enjoyed learning “jazz, ballet…all that stuff.” So, her choice to marry classical Indian dance to contemporary was a way to make her passion more accessible to her parents.

I’d be hard pressed to try to comment on the Indian portion of Ramita’s solo, given that I know nothing about the style. With that being said, though, the second she exploded into showcasing some of her contemporary moves, right on target with one of the big moments in the music, was worthy of nothing more than just…wow. That’s it. “Wow.”

From that point on, watching the interplay between the Indian dance and the other technique was fascinating. The whole audition just had something unique — and almost quirky? — about it.

Judges’ comments: Nigel found Ramita’s piece to be interesting and uplifting, while both Mary and Vanessa were all about the hands. Vanessa was all, “oh, my gosh. I love your hands. I want them,” just before moving on to critique the moments where Ramita lost an awareness of her face. And really, it’s impossible to fault Vanessa for that response because I’ve been there, time and again, with certain dancers’ feet. (Ricky Ubeda and Brooklin Cooley, I’m looking at you — among others.)

After showing several clips of dancers discussing how they’d worked hard their whole lives to perfect their art, it was time for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s latest absolute waste of time: Peter Mangione.

Peter started training a whopping six months ago. Obviously, that means he deserves to be shown on television when there are professional-level dancers whose SYTYCD auditions get left on the cutting room floor. Add in the fact that Peter and his friends think he’s “not that bad. I mean, I’m not…good. But I’m not that bad,” and it’s time for yours truly’s weekly fit of rage.

Ummm. He couldn’t even pronounce ballet properly. So, really, the folks at SYTYCD are just lucky that Mary Murphy is back or else I would’ve broken my television and sent them the bill.

Everything about this audition was awful, from Vanessa Hudgens’ giggling over Peter’s abs, to whatever that guy was calling “dancing” in his baggy shorts.

Judges’ comments: Vanessa said she wanted Peter’s performance to show people that they should just go up there and have fun. Then, there was something about Nigel wanting to “see more people come down here and take the chance.”

Y’all are kidding me right now. There’s taking a chance, and then there’s…that. Just no. The train has gone off the rails.

Still with us? Click through to the second page to see if SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s New York auditions improved after whatever that just was. Spoiler alert: They did.

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