I’m still riding high over the feel-good season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance last week. Will tonight be more of the same? I hope the Los Angeles auditions don’t let us down.
Joining Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy at the judges’ table tonight is last year’s guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family. Mary warns the dancers before they start that they don’t want any lip-synching, self-worship feeling yourself up, nor booty shaking all over town unless they’re fabulous at it. Jesse, though, wants to see booty-shaking and people feeling themselves up.
First up tonight is Alexa Anderson, 19, of Chandler, AZ, who was cut after walking the green mile last year while Ryan made it instead. She never even considered not coming back since she got so close last year. Since then, she’s learned so many more things, such as learning to relax, breathe, and explore different things. She hopes the judges notice. I don’t remember how good she was last year, but she’s definitely good this year. She has a fierce determination.
Nigel tells Alexa the greatest compliment he can give her is he’s not even going to talk to her. He’s just going to send her straight to Vegas … again. For some inexplicable reason, Jesse just breaks out in song.
Jontel “Johnny Waacks” Gibson, 20, of Portland, does the Waack, a dance that sings the music through your body. You have to hit every beat, every lyric, and make it look amazing without looking crazy. He picked it up from one of the original waackers, Tyrone Proctor. Princess Lockeroo, who auditioned last year, also did waacking. He practices for a few hours every day to make sure he’s on every beat. Cat Deeley loves his outfit, which is striped pants, and a patterned shirt. He believes he should have been born in the 70s.
Nigel tells Johnny he’s new to America, so missed Soul Train, but thanks him for bringing it back. Nigel asks how long he’s been waacking, then realizes what he has just said. Jesse refuses to help him. Johnny originally saw it on YouTube, then began training himself. This has Mary in absolute stitches. Finally he gets to his audition, and he’s doing it to old soul music, so it all works. And his waacking is really good.
Nigel tells Johnny his favorite wacker ever is Princess Lockeroo, but what Jontel has is incredible musicality. He’s using the music, including every small flourish. He thinks he’d make a good choreographer because he’s hearing things a lot of other people don’t here. He asks if he has any other training, and finds he has contemporary as well as hip-hop.
Mary finds Johnny as cute as a button, plus the whole audience likes him, so he also has the accountability factor. Jesse compares him to if Lenny Kravitz was a Russian Nesting doll, he’s be like the little one inside. He’s absolutely precious. Jesse would like to keep him in his pocket all the time, to take him out and let him waack, let him waack around the room. wind him up and waack him up. They decide to send him on to choreography.
Eliana Girard, 20, of West Palm Beach, FL, is auditioning in contemporary, but actually does a lot more than that. She went to Joffrey in New York City, and got the opportunity to be there on scholarship. After, she went to Alvin Ailey and auditioned for Cirque du Soleil and got a call asking her to be part of the cast for Viva Elvis. She was a dancer/aerialist on a pole and finds that’s her true love and what she’s addicted to. She has to wear a bikini when you do it, because you need the skin for a lot of the tricks you do. It’s an amazing workout and gives her a lot of confidence with its sensuality.
Eliana dances her contemporary routine and is actually quite good at this as well. Nigel is very impressed with her legs. She also does work on toe with pointe shoes, although they are so matching to her skin tone that from the audience, they disappear and make her look barefoot. When she finishes, the judges give her a standing O.
Nigel has to be honest. The only reason he isn’t calling Eliana straight out to give her a ticket to Vegas is because he needs to say a few things. He hopes that the people watching realize why they continually say they need performance from the face and the heart, as it isn’t a matter of just putting on a smile or grimace. It’s feeling it, and he felt as though she felt the music, making it beautiful to watch. It was a beautiful transition and didn’t feel fake. The dancing and technique were superb. When her leg went up, it felt like it was going on forever. He feels this was one of the best dances this year.
Mary thought the music was so haunting, like Eliana was an instrument playing the song with her body. She is one of the few ballerinas that dances with so much soul. She’s already top 20 material to her. Jesse feels so privileged to have been in the room to have the best seat in the house to watch that. What makes her even better is her spirit now. It’s so genuine and he already loves her. It’s the quality Melanie Moore had last year. It was in her pores and she could draw you in just be being. It’s a special thing she owns forever. She obviously gets a ticket to Vegas.
After watching some duos, we get introduced to James and Nick Aragon, 32, of L.A, twins. They do everything together, eat, shop, get pedis. They even have the same bedroom. “If God is good, God is on the throne.” I’m not quite sure what that means They see themselves as the socialites of L.A., the broke Paris and Nicole. The living room is their dance studio, and they feel they create in there like Andy Warhol. One of them is a celebrity stylist, and the other a server at a restaurant. They talk so much, Cat has to ask to get a word in.
They explain how they came up with the name of Ninja Twins, N-I and J-A from their first names. Nigel sees them as ninjas with attitude. Asked their age, Nick explains they’re 728, as they’re vampires. They’re actually 32. James is worried about their age being on national television. But really they’re too old for the show, so that should be the bigger worry. Before dance, they played baseball and football, as that’s what their daddy wanted. He asked them to pick one and they chose dance. They’re so together, that Jesse says it’s like they rehearsed. They just go off talking with each other, and it makes Jesse feel like he’s at home watching television. They are going to do a contemporary routine to Man in the Mirror and dedicate it to their first dance teacher who passed away this week. It has just as much personality as they do.
After a judges’ standing O, and a crowd chant of Vegas, Nigel hopes they realize that this age group only goes up to 30, so they can’t be part of the competition, but it’s been a real pleasure, and he means that sincerely. They have made the show because of their personalities, their exuberance of their routine, and the passion they put into it, never mind the humor. They really danced. Mary agrees they brightened up her day. She doesn’t think they’ll be forgetting them any time soon. Jesse wants them to realize the impact they made on the whole room. Nick keeps telling his brother, “We may be old, but we ain’t dead. Dang!” They just wanted this one moment, and it was an honor and a blessing. I hope we see them again in some capacity.
Sam Lenarz, 18, LaVerne, CA, feels the story behind her audition is that “everything is going to end up good in the end … pretty much.” She starts crying and explains six months ago she came home from dance and her bedroom was all packed up. She and her mom didn’t get along, so she kicked her out. She’s been living with her best friend’s family. Her friend’s mom can’t imagine a mom telling their child they can’t live with them anymore. Sam now feels like part of the family with them. She wants people to know even if others don’t believe in you, you can always believe in yourself.