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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

So You Think You Can Dance 5, May 21 – Making Mary Love Her Job


The reality of Kris Allen being our next American Idol has barely sunk in, and here we are ready to start the next So You Think You Can Dance. I’m trying to switch modes from singing to dancing, from artists I feel I know after four months to meeting some new people. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

We’re in Brooklyn tonight for auditions, and everyone is warming up outside, chatting and dancing with Cat Deeley. She lets them all in, and they do a little more warming up as Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy reach the judges table, along with Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, the husband and wife choreography team we met last year. It seems to be the same rules as before.

First up is Gabi Rojas, 24, Albuquerque, NM. She was born and raised in the circus as her mother was a trapeze artist. She taught Gabi how to juggle and do acrobatics. She has rheumatoid arthritis, and it does hold her back sometimes, as it’s not good for her joints in the long run. Her mother has inspired her, emphasizing to be diligent about her training. Dancing is her life and makes her day meaningful. She has an interesting contemporary dance going on that Mia Michaels is going to love For having painful joints, she moves with such ease, even getting a little popping in.

Gabi gets a standing O from some of the other dancers in the auditorium, as well as the judges. Nigel tells her that if she’s not in this year’s top 20, he’ll be surprised. He doesn’t even want to say any more, except that it’s one of the best auditions they’ve seen in five years. When they talk about mixing technique and performance, she’s just done that. Mary tells Gabi she had every single person eating out of her hand. She has another thing to say, and that’s a scream. Is it wrong for me to have missed that? Tabitha compares Gabi to a bird, saying she landed and made their day. She obviously gets a ticket to Las Vegas.

Saalim “Storyboard-P” Muslim, 18, of Brooklyn, has green makeup on his face and even paints up Cat’s face a little. He’s half of the team Mutation, and Habby “Hobgoblin” Jacques, 20, also of Brooklyn, is the other half. He does joint-tortionism” while they bring change to the dance world following Obama’s lead. The green they call the Schmean character. Storyboard isn’t much for the dancing, and Hobgoblin just contorts so much it looks painful. They come climbing up on the desk, making Mary scream, and all the judges huddle together.

Nigel asks if it was cold in the ground this morning, and then asks if that type of dancing is called anything, to which they answer Mutation. Hobgoblin then contorts into more moves. Nigel suggests their whole group would be good for a Dawn of the Dead Musical. He and Mary agree they might not be able to pick up any other choreography. Napoleon thinks it’s cool and says there are so many things you could do with it, while Tabitha is just curious to see how they dance. They all agree to send them on to choreography, just based on them being so different.

It’s time for the bad auditions, as we see Katherine Leach, 26, of Nashua, NH auditioning with some ballroom. But this is dancing you do at a wedding, not on a national TV show. She calls herself Crazy Kate. Her partner is Ron, who says his nickname is Ron. Wow, imaginative. Kate is called this because she’s crazy about dancing. Again, imaginative. She started with West Coast Swing, then moved on to the Lindy Hop. She admits she’ll quit her job if she makes the show. Mary tells her it’s just not strong enough. She says she does more, but not anything as strong as this. She’s dismissed. and seems okay about it. I’m sure her boss will be happy to be retaining Crazy Kate.

Peter Sabasino 21, of Philadelphia, wants to challenge Nigel to a tap duel. He comes from a typical Italian family, loud and obnoxious. (His words, not mine) Family comes first for him. He was going to audition last year, but was scared. Nevertheless, he’s going for it this year. He’s tapping it out. It’s hard not to just stare at his feet.

Nigel tells him he’s like a tap dancing boxer because of the mean face, the stank face. He thought Peter was tremendous, while Peter admits he does all other styes. Mary saw a great variety and a great look, but feels he needs different clothes. Napoleon thought his performance was sick, with a buildup of his energy, with him looking down. Tabitha wants to see more, and Nigel proposes a ticket, based just on the tap routine. The others agree.

Tiffany Geigel, 23, Brooklyn, was born with a spinal disease where her spine didn’t straighten. When she was born, they didn’t think she would live, and here she is. People assume she can’t do anything, and don’t believe she’s a dancer. It hurts a lot when people laugh, but she has to try to ignore it and remember she’s a dancer. Her mom taught her to be a fighter, telling her she’s doing it no matter what. She dances beautifully, but I don’t know how she would fare in partner dances.

Nigel tells Tiffany he’s not going to pretend it’ll be easy to critique her, as he’s not sure it is. He asks what she suffers from, and she explains she has less vertebrae, three out of the seven she should have. Everything is stuck like in a box, but her arms and legs are fine. He critiques through the dancing side, saying she doesn’t quite straighten her legs, and she explains she suffers from bad knees. Her hands and arms aren’t going up either, but her long hair is magnificent when she spins.

The bravery Tiffany has to come on a show like this is stunning to Nigel. The people in their lives that sit on their asses not doing things should be inspired by her. They all give her a standing O. But is she right for the competition? No. Mary calls her a beautiful inspiration, and Tabitha notes everyone after her will now hit the stage bursting, with Tiffany inspiriting them. Tiffany admits she didn’t expect to get through, but she wanted to make a point and is glad she came.

Maksim Kapitannikov, 25, of Brooklyn, is doing a cha cha today with Faina Savich from season three as a partner. Hopefully the judges will remember her and like him. He’s pretty good, but seems short on some of the moves, like he’s hesitating between or something. Nigel tells Faina he forgot how beautiful she was when she dances.

Nigel then tells Maksim what he likes about him is there weren’t any grimaces or falseness with the face, apart from one or two winks, but he thought it was very good and first class. Mary asks how long Maksim was practicing that, and he admits a week, but says they’ve danced before. On his own, Mary can see he’s very strong, and she realizes it’s hard not to watch Faina when they’re dancing. She thought he had a presence about him. Napoleon and Tabitha agree and would love to see him do choreogrpahy later.


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