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

So You Think You Can Dance, May 24 – Back Into the Swing of Things

On day two in Dallas, Daniel Baker, 23, is up first. He’s originally from Newcastle, Australia, but currently lives in San Francisco. He loves his adopted city. His dad bought him a book about the U.S. when he was 7 years old, and Daniel claims it changed his life. The only way to move here, though, was to become a ballet dancer. He’s with the San Francisco Ballet, and some would think he’s crazy to give that up, but he feels the show will be a great pathway to teach him what he hasn’t been able to learn so far from ballet. The crowd goes crazy when he walks in without a shirt. So You Think You Can Dance’s gain will be the San Francisco Ballet’s loss. And the ladies love him.

Nigel isn’t going to let the crowd influence him. Then jokes it was alright. Mary echoes this, saying it was kind of good, if you like that type of thing. C thinks it was kind of semi-buck. Nigel thinks if Daniel wants to comes to Vegas, he supposes he can. Yeah, it was fakeout, but we knew that, didn’t we?

Sam Shreffler, 21, Lubbock, TX, is hoping to impress the judges. He admits to Nigel that he’s nervous. He’s currently studying at the Burkhart Transition Academy for Autism Students and Research. He’s in the autism spectrum, but it’s not concrete. He admits sometimes he can feel like a social wallflower. Nigel tells him that just to have the guts to be up on the stage and answer the questions means the center is doing him remarkably proud. He hasn’t trained in dance and says his style is lyrical freestyle. He’s definitely not right for the show, but in some ways inspirational.

After watching Sam’s arm movements, Nigel asks him what swarm of wasps he was fighting off. Sam explains it was his ocean full of waves and stuff. Nigell tells him everyone is proud of him and asks how he feels when he dances. Sam feels free to express himself and just to let himself go. Nigel encourages him to not stop dancing no matter what. It’s a no for him today, but he does not want him to stop dancing. Mary agrees and tells Sam not to be sad, but to be proud of what he did today. C gives him the ultimate compliment and tells him his hat is off to him and that he is one of the buckest individuals he’s seen all day. Nigel then instructs the whole audience in doing the swarm move and Sam gets a standing O.

Another PSA from me. This is where I have to give it to Nigel, Mary, and C. They aren’t Randy Jackson laughing behind papers. They recognized that this guy was putting everything he had into this and how much effort it must have taken on his part just to stand on that stage despite his disability. My hat is off to them tonight. That young man left possibly somewhat disappointed, but he left feeling good about himself, and that’s exactly what he needed.

Yet, the very next person in for an audition, Von “Legend” Kipper, 22, of Houston, asks to be honest, then says this show crushes people, and that’s all it does. If he wasn’t on contract, he would bash this show every day of his life. He’s against auditioning for the show and thinks all the other B-Boys are just trying to impress the judges with flash moves and being cute. Although he has a hamster costume with him, he doesn’t think he needs it, as he’s super-dope without it. He doesn’t want to be a part of the show, as he doesn’t want to be a part of mainstream success. Cat asks the obvious, “Then why put you on?” If he gets cut, he won’t care. Cat is glad, as she’s pretty sure he will be cut.

Nigel brings up to Von that he’s heard he doesn’t like the show. Von says he does, but he doesn’t agree with how they run it sometimes. He says that with the Ocean guy (who is still in the audience, mind you) that there are harder working people who deserve that position. Nigel asks why they shouldn’t allow someone with good energy and spirit who entertained the audience to be on. Von doesn’t think they should since they’re promoting high-level dancers. Von gets his chance to dance and is an okay B-boy dancer, but certainly far from being the best the show has seen. It’s a good thing he won’t care if he’s cut.

C tells Von that he thinks he let his conversation with Nigel hinder his performance. Von admits he did a little bit. C points out that when you’re a street dancer, focus is everything, and once you’re out of it there’s no way to get back. Von says he wasn’t expecting to be questioned on his opinion. Mary didn’t find it entertaining despite a few power moves, as it was more spastic and just throwing himself all over the place. Von thought it was more filled with intricate patterns.

Nigel sums it up and says at the end of the day his dancing, not his mouth, has to be at the top of his game. C was right that he needed to focus on his dancing and not concentrate on the others doing the ocean. He has a bad attitude and needs to just listen and relax. Von says he came up there with the utmost energy and positive attitude until he was questioned on his opinions. Nigel tells him he never had a positive attitude, and he has the worst attitude ever seen on the show. What he said to Cat was disgusting, and he’s only using it to get on TV. As he leaves, Nigel tells him he should have stayed a gerbil.

Moving on, Jarell Rochelle, 22, of Huntsville, TX, knows most people would be nervous, but he’s ready to rock this thing, because he has so much inspiration revolving around it. He has to give it his all, as there is no “what if you go home.” He’s made up his mind he’s just ready to go. His family is supportive of him and is out in the audience. His mom is there watching and the reason he’s there. He wants to do something with his dance before she goes blind. She will someday be completely blind, and he decided he was going to put every drop of blood and sweat into this. Nigel asks Mom if she can see from back there, and she can’t, so he invites her up to the table. Nigel tells her not to touch his water, as it’s vodka.

Nigel holds Mom’s hand while Jarell dances, and does a very moving contemporary routine. His mom smiles. She sees just fine right now. It’s a great story he tells with his dance. Nigel tells him it was absolutely thoroughly delightful. It engrossed him from the beginning and he loved the way he used the music. At times he mimed, and others he danced. His smile is engrossing and it beams across and sucks everyone in. He would have picked up a telephone for him.

C says every millisecond of the performance touched him. He loves, loves, loves talent, but what he loves more is when talent meets skill. He’s a fan and loved the performance. Mary calls it completely entertaining from beginning to end. Nigel gives Mom a ticket to give to Jarell. He says having her in front made him feel like he was dancing directly for her.

This was most definitely the best season opener we have ever had on So You Think You Can Dance, and I’ll also go as far as to say it’s one of the best audition nights ever on this show and possibly other competition shows. You don’t need to fill a show with bad auditions to entertain people. Heartwarming is good too. Everything from the extreme talent, to the little kids, to the Ocean move to sons dancing for their moms was just incredibly moving. Yeah … they found a way to get me into the swing of things tonight.

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