Yet more auditions! Yet more amazing people! Yet more totally disillusioned people! This time, auditions were held in Miami and Memphis, with Tyce Diorio and Lil C joining the panel respectively. I will straight up tell you guys that I am not a Tyce Diorio fan. He and I have completely different ideas about what dancing on Broadway should be, and I liked the Broadway routines from last season that were created by In the Heights‘ Tony-winner Andy Blankenbeuhler far more than any Tyce piece. To me, while Tyce inherently understands movement, I think he fails a little bit to interpret Broadway pieces in a way that makes sense with the music, lyrics and the story of the show as a whole. In short, he can be very antiquated. And he can be very literal. And he likes Fosse way too much. Unless you’re Bob Fosse, you just can’t Bob Fosse every single thing. That said, I love when Tyce choreographs Jazz pieces and contemporary pieces. That piece with season two’s Ivan and Allison set to Annie Lennox’s “Why?” That was Tyce at his best. (And to give credit where credit is due, the group number he did to “Money” from Cabaret was his best fusion of story and Fosse ever, and I liked it quite a bit.) And apparently, I also love that Tyce is a catty bitch, because he was a total catty bitch during Miami auditions. Like so catty, I thought he had been fucking Mario Cantone in the off-season. It was delightful. But, amidst all the hissing, he did offer up one golden piece of advice that I think we should all take to the grave: “If you’re gonna do drag, drag it up on the stage and do it right.” Word.
On to auditioners!
Tony Reindeau: Miami started off with disillusionment. This guy dances in a style he calls Tony Style, and it’s horrible. He even overdoes it so much that he nearly passes out after his audition. Bad times. Clearly, a no.
Priscilla Marrero: First of all, I’m so impressed with Cat Deeley for trilling the r’s in Priscilla’s last name! Second of all, this girl is amazing. She punctuates the music with her body in such a cheeky, unique way that he actually makes Tyce gasp. I bet Wade Robeson would love to choreograph her, because I immediately thought of his work when I watched her dance. She goes straight to Vegas.
Jeanette Maurara and Romolo Villaverde: This couple auditioned last year, with Jeanette going to Vegas, but Romolo staying behind. This year, they come strong and hard with some of the most amazing tricks I’ve ever seen, including one where Romolo lifted Jeanette upside down and she extended her leg up in such a way that I’m amazed she didn’t drive her stiletto right up his nose. I was worried their footwork wouldn’t live up to their lifts and tricks, but it did. The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count stands at 1, and Jeanette and Romolo both go straight to Vegas this year.
Jennifer and Jessica Guadix: The first set of dancing twins of the evening seem like they might be normal, but turn out to be batshit insane. I have no idea what’s going on, why they aren’t dancing in unison, why they’re wearing those pants or what those pants are. Clearly, a no.
Joseph Smith [of the non-Mormon variety]: He does a hip hop routine with a lot of humor and some funky, funky isolations. He reminds me a little bit of Twitch, but less impressive. He stays for choreography and, afterward, gets his ticket to Vegas.
Wislande Leting: Day two of Miami also started off with disillusionment. There was a whole lot of crazy going on with this girl. She wore a shirt that only covered the top half of her breasts, to which my husband immediately said, “Goddamnit! Put your boobs away!” That was topped off by a really bad red weave and some choreography that looked like it was straight from beginning ballet . . . except for the part where she very ungracefully opened her crotch to everyone. I’d say there was a lot this girl needed to put away, especially because, as Mary noted, she and Tyce were clearly not the people for whom that dance was intended. A no.
Erik “Silky” Moore: Tapping + Michael Jackson + Break Dance Moves = Pretty damn cool. I don’t think he’s as impressive a tapper as Peter Sabatino from NYC, but he does have a lot going for him. And I admire that he’s the kind of guy who knows it’s smart to get into dancing to get babes. He gets a ticket straight to Vegas.
Paris Torres: A former Miss Washington, Paris does a contemporary dance to the fucking coolest-sounding version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” I’ve ever heard. (Turns out it’s Yael Naim’s version, cementing the fact that I should buy her album.) She moves with a mix of syncopation and fluidity that reminds me very much of Dmitry and Ashlee’s Brian Freedman routine to Fall Out Boy’s “Dance Dance” in which he played a ringmaster and she was his doll brought to life. (You can watch it below). She is totally mesmerizing, and wins a ticket straight to Vegas.
We’re then treated to a montage of three folks who win tickets to Vegas: Henry Rivero, Megan Kinney and Alex Wong.
Geo Smith: Geo performs an African dance in a feathered mask, and here’s where I feel it’s appropriate for me to tell you that I know how to do the Funga. He was very powerful and freaking leapt offstage toward the judges table, prompting Nigel to make a naughty joke about Mary’s fear of French ticklers. They send him to choreography, after which he receives a ticket to Vegas.
Talia Rikards: While I’ve had my fill of widows/widowers thanks to Danny Gokey, I’m very sympathetic towards the fact that Talia lost her husband so suddenly in a motorcycle accident. I also can’t take my eyes off her abs, which is probably why I didn’t notice her routine wasn’t much more than rhythmic hip shaking/ab shimmying. Still, the judges see something in her and send her to choreography, after which she gets a ticket to Vegas, bringing the Miami total of Vegas-bound dancers to 32.
Mary and Nigel were joined by Lil C in Memphis, where the first dancer of the day taught me about a dance style I have never, ever heard of, which is one of the reasons I love this show. I’m learning!
Marico Flake: He’s a Memphis peace officer and he has opened my eyes to the world of Memphis Jukin’, an underground dance style that combines, I think, hip hop and the moves of Elvis Presley. He was entertaining enough to earn both praise from Lil C for doing some straight, true Memphis Jukin’, as well as a ticket to Vegas.
Dustin Dorough: Second cousin to the Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough, Dustin learned all of the dances from BSB videos. I am beyond thrilled that he knows the dance to “Everybody” and unabashedly performs it in the lobby before his audition. His audition, however, is way too goofy and weird to be good, but I think he actually has some potential deep down within him. He gets a no, but Lil C advises that he combine his love of martial arts with his dancing and learn a style called Tricking.
Chris Carrozza: I have no idea what I’m looking at, but if I were rolling at a rave at 4 in the morning, this dude would totally be my new ginger boyfriend. From an aesthetic perspective, he’s got to lose either the beard or the dreads. And from an attitude perspective, he needs to stop being so defensive through the veil of kindness. His whole interaction with Nigel about being critiqued was just plain bizarre. Obviously, a no. After his audition, Cat provided us with a montage of How to Give a Good Audition, which featured many other people being douchebags to the judges and/or falling on their asses.
Caitlin Kinney: Her sister Megan was one of the people in Tickets-to-Vegas montage in Miami, and she hopes to also have her sister’s luck. She dances a fantastic, technically adept and artistic contemporary routine to one of my favorite songs, “Winter Song” by Sarah Barielles and Ingrid Michaelson. Like season three winner Sabra, she’s only been dancing for 5 years, which is totally bananas, but she’s also had significant experience as a gymnast prior to that. Furthermore, she’s already had hip reconstruction, which is even more bananas to hear that she can move the way she does after a surgery like that. Rightfully, Caitlin earns a ticket to Vegas.
Anna Dunn: She’s first up on Memphis Day 2 and performs a way-too-intense-for-the-music contemporary routine to “Winter Song.” Her choreography was definitely too much for the music, but, man, did she hit it well. After hearing she lost her father a year ago, Lil C reminds her that the best place to put her pain is into her art. The judges send her to choreography, after which she earns a ticket to Vegas.
Travis Prokop: Travis is the son of a football coach, but prefers dancing to sports. He has great leg extensions, but his dancing itself is a little clumsy. Nigel and Mary tell him to strengthen up, especially because he’s so, so tall. They see a lot of potential in him, though, and send him through to choreography, where he improves enough over the course of a day to earn a ticket to Vegas.
Evan Kasprzak: I was so heartbroken when Evan, a modern-day Gene Kelly, didn’t make it into the Top 20 last year. And I’m so glad he’s back. He dances with such incredible technical ability, strength and athleticism that it’s hard not to fall in love with him. This year, showing up in a hat and suspenders and defying gravity with his leaps, he blew me away yet again. Seriously, ya’ll, I think I teared up a little bit, that’s how much I love him. Once again, he earns a ticket straight to Vegas, and straight to my heart. He has to make the Top 20 this year. He just has to.
Lauren and Lydia Guerra: This second set of dancing twins is much better than the first. Much, much better. But although Lauren and Lydia are dancing together, it’s clear that they both have different strengths. One girl is more technical, the other more performance-based. The judges want to see how those strengths manifest in the choreography round, where each sister proves she deserves her own ticket to Vegas.
Ryan Kasprzak: Evan’s older brother who taught him everything he knows also decides to audition this year with an a cappella tap routine and a whoopie cushion. As much as Evan blows me away, Ryan totally entertains me. He’s a great tapper, has a wonderful Vaudevillian sensibility about his performance and dresses like a newsie. I mean, punctuating that routine with the whoopie cushion was a stroke of genius. If neither of the Kasprzak Brothers end up making the Top 20, I want them to immediately revive Vaudeville and go on the road with their own show. (In fact, Kasprzaks, call me in a year and I’ll join you as a burlesque act. It’ll be amazing. Seriously.) Like his brother, Ryan earns a ticket to Vegas.
No idea what the count was for tickets to Vegas from Memphis, but I know there were 6 awarded the first day, so I guess we can safely assume at least 12 were awarded. Two more auditions to go before Vegas fun begins and we start building our Top 20!
As with any television blog writing about SYTYCD, I feel I have to address the uproar over Nigel’s comments last week regarding Misha and Mitchel, comments that could be taken as homophobic. While Nigel’s attempt at humor didn’t go over very well, I’m pretty damned sure the comments were only intended to be constructive. While it’s questionable that he should have brought up what “America might think” as well as his Brokeback Mountain comment on his Twitter, he’s right that this show has a certain format, and that format, so far, hasn’t had two men doing close ballroom, and that they hadn’t proven themselves adept at anything other than a mild play on gender roles. He’s damn right about that last part, because they failed enough in choreography to even get by to Vegas, which only tells me that their act was more of a gimmick than a display of technical abilities. And hey, don’t blame the choice of music, either. It was, technically, rainin’ men.
It’s difficult to be homophobic in the world of dance and theatre, and there’s no way that Nigel would have lasted this long in the industry if he had any semblance of that. He just has a certain (somewhat valid) understanding of certain traditional measures in the dance world itself. Because first you have to prove yourself as a dancer and that you understand the tricks of the trade, and only then can you become something unique and greater.
Homophobic? Please. I’m as P.C. and sympathetic to the cause of LGBT as they come, but I’m also not a reactionary idiot.
And really, would a homophobic man choreograph the following?
I don’t think so.
(Okay, you got me. I just wrote this section of the post as an excuse to post clips from 1980’s The Apple. You can’t blame me. NO, YOU CAN’T!)