Already? It’s the last night of auditions already if you can believe that. They must be pulling an American Idol and holding out on us, as I haven’t seen a top 20 yet that I could be wowed over. But I suppose if Kris Allen could win American Idol, despite us not meeting him until the final thirty, then it’ll all work out just fine.
We start off the night with the first day of Los Angeles auditions. Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined at the judges table by Adam Shankman, choreography/producer/director of Hairspray, Bedtime Stories, and 17 Again. He’s worked with the show as choreographer and judge the past few years. Some of last year’s top 20 are here for support, including the winner of season 4, Joshua Allen.
Bianca Revels, 20, of Detroit, made it through to Las Vegas last year, but was cut just before the top 20. I remember her! She was devastated, as she thought she did her best, but she’s never a quitter. She felt she was meant for the show, and that’s why she’s back. Her mom flew in just to support her here and has told her whatever you say, you speak into existence, so she’s never going to say anything negative and will just give it her all. She does a tap routine a cappella, and it’s a a lot of fun, getting a nice groove going on with it.
After Bianca tells Nigel she’s been dancing 17 years, he says she just demonstrated everything he ever wished to say to people that do tap. She does steps long enough for people that don’t understand tap to hear the rhythm, brings light and shade to it, brings a beautiful contained performance with her smile and face, is the consummate tap dancer, and he applauds her. Mary thinks Bianca is brilliant too, and says she’s the best female tap dancer they’ve ever had. Adam hopes to see very big things out of her, as she’s a monster up there, a real competitor. Nigel asks what she’s doing just standing there, prompting Mary to tell her to come down and get her ticket.
Xavier and Brynell Blanton, 19 and 21, of L.A., are brother and sister and always go places together holding hands, enough so that people think they’re dating, not siblings. There was a Friends episode like that. They hope people will see in their dancing that as close as they are, they have compassion and can do something to stand out big. Practicing, they don’t look like that. He’s not just saying it in front of the camera, but he loves his sister. If only he goes on to Vegas, she’ll be supportive, but if only she goes, he’s going to beat her up. What they’re doing on the stage doesn’t look any better than what they did practicing. It’s obvious they have no training whatsoever. Their lifts are painful to watch.
Nigel tells the siblings they are the strangest brother and sister he’s seen dance together. Mary agrees, saying being childlike and goofy can work if it’s layered on top of technique, and that’s why it’s not working, as there’s no base. Xavier danced at a ballet school, and says he couldn’t really move, but he’s fine not making it through, as it brought them closer together. Brynell is disappointed, as she’s been dancing since she was 4, off and on, prompting Nigel to say she’s still dancing like she’s 4. Adam doesn’t think she has any power in her jumps or extension. Nigel can’t get off the 4 year old thing, and says it’s very, very strange. They get four noes.
Debra Lawson, 29, of Dallas, TX looks like she’s stretching out, but it seems she was rocking her body to get it to move with her. She goes into a dance that is basically just running around the stage, like she’s looking for something. Nigel is glad to see that she’s smiling when she’s done, and says she definitely doesn’t fall into the boxes of a dancer with her “shape,” etc. But if she’s going to do this, she has to take movements and lines that suit her, and can’t do what people that are thinner with taller bodies can do.
Debra talks about her difficult position because of her Judaism, as she might have to perform on the Sabbath or dance in front of men which isn’t allowed in the extreme Orthodox version. She has to decide whether that’s for her or not. Mary wants her to continue to dance, because she loves it, but she doesn’t see a professional career in it for her. Adam tells Debra when he’s dancing and in the zone, that’s the closest he’s felt to God in his life, and he would never ask her to give it up. God doesn’t make mistakes. He made her a dancer, and that’s not a mistake. It may not be her profession, but if it is her passion, she should continue. She understands she’s not as technically good as the others there, but she thanks them for the experience. Mary admits its the first time she’s heard that before.
For another first, here’s Suzanne Fernandez, 30, of Oakland, dancing in quite the getup and not with any technique to speak of. She explains to Nigel that it’s a fairy medicine dance. He asks her what she’s on, and she explains joy. Next there’s John Fleming, 24, of Las Vegas, dressed as a mime and playing dead at the end. Michael Han, 23, of Reseda, CA, bounces on one foot, then does the rest on pointe. He’s on pointe! He’s told it’s too girlish of a performance.
Calico Sequeira, 30, of Irvine, CA, knows it’s her last year because of her age, and wants to do something a little different. Swing dancing is something you can do until the end of time, especially since the creator of the lindy hop is still dancing at 95. She hopes to do this for along time as well. She seems to enjoy it as much as Debra with slightly more talent.
Nigel feels Calico is a member of a lindy hop club which she acknowledges. Watching her was so enjoyable, he wishes he could dance with her, but on a social level, and not on a professional level. Mary agrees Calico is having a good time on a social level, yet it was entertaining. Adam doesn’t think it had a presentational quality, which means getting in there and having snap and taking possession of the dancing.
Calico gets three noes, and Adam says he’d dance with her too. She asks him to come up, and Nigel goads him into it. This is the opportunity of a lifetime that she’ll always remember, dancing the lindy hop to Stuff Like That There with Adam Shankman. I have even more respect for that man than I did before, that he got up and did this. Adam then has to come to the mike and the finalists from last year come to the table to judge him. Katee Shean asks how bad he wants this, and he says bad. Joshua tells Adam the show is about coming and performing, but Adam reminds him he’s he one that put him through, so he needs to be careful. Adam runs out with his ticket to Vegas.
Asuka Kondoh, 25, of Irvine, CA and Ricky Sun, 28, of Arcadia CA, are warming up. They dance international Latin ballroom, and know they stand out as Asians. They auditioned last year, and she made it to the final round, but wants to make it all the way this year. Nigel jokes he’d like her to look sexy if she can. They’re good, but aren’t always in time with each other, and I wonder if it’s because of their size difference with their legs.
Nigel tells Ricky he has a really tough job, and that’s because Asuka steals the limelight the minute she walks on the stage, with a quality to make every head turn to her. Yet, he holds his own as a fine, fine dancer, and Nigel doesn’t remember him being that good last year. He tells Asuka she is a stunning young lady, as the minute she walks out his head turns. She’s a great performer, she looks fantastic, and they are a very good couple.
Mary calls it absolutely breathtaking as the camera loves Asuka’s face, and she came back to Ricky several times thinking he was grounded and masculine, with a good rhythmical body. Adam tells Ricky to push her down a flight of stairs if she keeps doing that to him. He’s going to take the others’ word for it that he was good, as he couldn’t take his eyes off Asuka. Nigel gives Ricky a ticket, and Mary tells him to put the girl on a plane too, for goodness sake.