I mention this every year. It’s always so hard to get into the swing of things on So You Think You Can Dance. They time it purposely so that it starts the day after American Idol ends, and I get that they’re trying to keep that momentum going and everything, but it’s so hard to switch off singing and switch on dancing. And with changes to the format this year for “Dance Idol”, it might be even harder than usual to get into the swing of it.
We’re starting the 2012 season 9 auditions in New York City. Cat Deeley is once again hosting, and our judges are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Tyce Diorio. As usual, the dancers will perform for the judges, and they will either be sent home, sent to Vegas, or sent to choreography if the judges are undecided, just to give them a clearer picture of their talent.
Up first tonight is Amelia Lowe, 18, of Butler, NJ, who says she has been dancing since she was 3. Taking one look at her, Nigel asks if she has seen The Artist, and suggests they do her audition in black and white. Her biggest inspiration for her look and style of dance is the 1920s. She’s fascinated with the era, the over-dramatics and theatrics. Silent movie stars are so much like dancers, in that they don’t speak, but still need to get their message across. Her dancing is indeed reminiscent of that era, yet not that era’s style of dance, if that makes sense. The judges give her a standing O.
Nigel asks Amelia if she has ever been to Paris, and she hasn’t, but wishes to. He asks if she has ever seen the Eiffel Tower, but of course she’s only seen the picture in her room. He notes that there’s an Eiffel Tower in Vegas and a Paris Hotel. He wishes she could see it. Yeah, she’s going. Editing turns this part into a mini silent film complete with text that says “Vegas!” and “I made it!”
Toshihiko Nakazawa, 26, of Niigata, Japan, has come all the way to New York to audition. He explains, or tries to in broken English, that he was born to challenge so came here to New York. He’s performed a little bit of hip hop, locking, popping, and ballet. He hope the judges will send him to Vegas. He and British Nigel have quite the language barrier. With all those styles of dance that he claims to be proficient in, he combines them for a very unique performance.
Nigel explains to Toshihiko that there have been very few who entertained him in that dance style, and Twitch is one of the few, as you never knew what he was going to do next. That’s what’s so enjoyable about watching Toshihiko as well, as Nigel doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Mary loved every single second as well. Tyce tells him his body is like a musical instrument or puppet. It did whatever the music was doing, and that is such a gift. Nigel invites him to stick around for the choreography.
Austin Freeman, 21, Long Branch, NJ, seems like he might be leading up to the first bad audition of 2012. He’s going to be dancing “The Wiggle.” He claims it’s something that no one has ever, ever seen before. He does The Wiggle all over New York City, and it draws attention. When people see him do it, they sometimes laugh and make fun of him, but sometimes they call him a good dancer. He asks if it’s okay if he says sometimes they videotape him. It’s not clear why he thought that would be tabu.
Tyce is already laughing as Austin walks out onstage. Austin hopes to someday be a celebrity, and he wants to see now if the judges have the Freeman Fever. He explains he’ll be doing The Wiggle, and that he invented it, to no one’s surprise. He does The Wiggle tonight to Sexy and I Know It. Mary is predictably cackling. He also fits in a little bit of the Running Man.
Someone in the audience shouts out, “Vegas,” requiring Nigel to want the owner of the encouraging words to be kicked out now. Mary tells Austin there are very few men she’d like to see wiggle, and he’s not one of them. Tyce was sad, because he totally liked Austin’s personality, and he thought he was cool and interesting, but he started dancing and he got even more sad. Nigel tells Austin he needs to do a little more than what he just did. He needs to be a little more entertaining than shaking his leg like he’s in the middle of an earthquake. Austin suggests it’s the wrong song, but … no. He wishes he would have danced to Lady Gaga instead.
Street entertainer Shafeek Westbrook, 22, of North Philadelphia, PA, wants to prove a city boy can do this too. He likes to flip off of stuff, onto stuff, over people, etc. He started with chairs and trains like a lab rat. Like Toshihiko, he, too, combines many different styles of dance. He promises to blow the judges’ minds and show them that breakers can also do different styles of dance. He dances to classical music which is very unique for this style of dance, but then his dancing is unique as well … and very good.
Nigel tells Shafeek that every year they say that they want to see people doing different things, as if they keep seeing the same things, they won’t get better as a show. With what he’s doing, he extends the entire program. It’s a pleasure to see him do what he’s doing. Mary notes that Shafeek went into his own world, and a fabulous world at that. He took some of the power moves down on his elbows down to an artistic level. He is really gifted. She jokes that this ripped guy needs to work on getting in shape. Nigel wasn’t sure what Shafeek was going to balance on next.
Tyce tells Shafeek he moves like silk and was completely effortless, and it was so loud and great. He really appreciated his artistry. Shafeek explains the story of the dance, saying he had a friend who passed away during 9/11 inside the twin towers, and he was acting as if he was his soul, climbing out from under the twin towers. Somehow, he just became even more impressive. Nigel tells him that soul can fly up there, because that soul is flying to Vegas. Shafeek knows his friend would be absolutely proud, because this was his dream too.
Toshihiko joins thirty-five other dancers onstage at the end of the day for the choreography round as season 7′s Robert Roldan and season 4′ Courtney Galiano guide the contestants through the moves. After just twenty minutes, Toshihiko is struggling. and he decides he’s had enough, explaining he can’t do lifts. Ten others are lucky enough to move on to Vegas.