After last week's questionable auditions, including J-South, I was a little skeptical of watching more SYTYCD auditions. But I held on, and I'm glad I did.
We started with Asaf Goren, and it he was playing a shofar. He said he does Israeli break dancing. He does some weird stuff, and it's like, what's his deal? I'm not sure about this. And then, he danced. And danced. And put his shirt over his face and did a flip. It was pretty incredible. He did a great job of tricking us into thinking he's some kind of joke, and then breaking out some incredible moves. Definitely a top contender.
The street dancer was followed up by a stage dancer from Armenia named Avo Kraapetyan. While he was completely different than Asaf, he was also incredible. His passionate dance was full of ballet-like twists, turns and jumps. The judges' faces showed pure awe as his emotion poured through his dancing.
The next contender, Jana "JaJa" Vankova returned after being cut in season 11. She knew that with the new stage vs. street format, she'd found her place. Her robotic style was incredible. She was truly convincing. You could feel the music through her movements. She wasn't given that much time to dance, but she was given her pass to the next round.
Allen Genkin, a 24 year old from Philly, danced a partner dance, and he radiated pure joy throughout his energetic performance. Paula tried to trick him by saying he couldn't dance, wasn't sexy, etc., but then revealed that she was kidding. He was given his paper for the next round.
Next we saw some brothers, ages 29 and 30, who were break dancers. Their dances weer Burim and Illijaz Jusifi. They did a lot of flippy moves and dances on their heads. They had incredible stamina - the crazy moves kept going and going. They succeeded and became the newest members of Team Street.
Jazz dancer Mary Kate Levoir was next. She brought her "dance dad" with her. He bedazzles her and her friend's costumes. Mary Kate's dancing was great - you could really see her strength in her movements. Her dancing seemed be part gymnastics and part acro - they weren't super complex like the street dancers, but her ability to control her movements was amazing. She told the judges her dad thinks he's a dancer, so he was called up onstage to dance for the audience. Dad said everyone their thinks they can dance, he knows he can't. He said he likes 80s music. Mary sat at the judges' panel to critique her dad. Dad went into start position on the floor, and the music began. He was hilarious. He pumped his fists in the air, moved his feet, etc. Mary had chance to critique, and she said she'd seen better at the kitchen table. Paula said it was some of the best walking she'd seen. Jason said he connected with Paula really well. After all the jokes were done, Mary was awarded her ticket to Vegas.
James "BDash" Derrick was next in the street category. His moves were crazy - so robotic and technical. It looked like he was a robot short circuiting, but in a really amazing way.
The next person, Jim Nowakowski, had gone through many surgeries in his lifetime for facial reconstruction. Born in South Korea, he was adopted by an American family. Though growing up was tough, dancing made him feel beautiful. He decided to pursue it professionally, and wants to inspire people by saying that people have gone through difficult times but come through it. His dancing was...whoa. Just whoa. Very technical, yet very tribal to go along with his tribal choice of music. His ability to stretch and hold positions was amazing. His dancing was almost animalistic, but in a really great way. When he was given the cue to stop dancing, his ending was so sharp and clean - it was nothing short of awesome. I give him so much credit. He's been through so much but came through all of it. He can dance - he absolutely can dance. Of course, he made it through.
Next, we saw Cody Carlson, who did freestyle hip hop. Cody had a bit of a dorky look and a lisp, and he asked his mom, who was in the crowd, to stand up. It turns out he has down syndrome, and he doesn't let that slow him down. He definitely had courage and creative moves. He earned a standing ovation from the judges. Jason said Cody's a born entertainer. He started a chant with Cody's name and he loved it. We learned that dance is being introduced into the Special Olympics, and Cody may represent us one day. Jason Derulo, his inspiration, gave him a big hug, and said he'd bring him to Vegas on his own dime, so I'm not actually sure if he made it into the next round or just would be going as a spectator.
Jacy Jordan was next, and she was escorted by her mom. When she was seven, Jacy was in a bad car accident. Jacy laid on the side of the road and her mom was trapped in the car. Her mom begged the medical team to not remove her leg. She spent a long time in a wheelchair was told that she may never walk again. She did physical therapy, began walking, began dancing and began competing. She truly was a beautiful dancer. She ultimately, although not unanimously, was given her ticket to Vegas.
Jessica Rabone lived in her sister's shadow. Her sister was a TV host in Japan, and she tried to follow in her footsteps, until she was told that they already have her sister, so they don't need her as well. She then turned to dance to find her way. She could definitely move in funky ways. Her style wasn't my favorite, but she had undeniable talent. She was commended for her personality, but was told that her dance needs more moves. She was given a ticket to move on to Vegas.
Kareem Ali was next. He was doing some crazy street moves, and you could tell that he really felt the music. He made it through.
Brandon Armstrong competed previously with a partner, Lindsay Arnold, but was too young to go through. He was invited back to try again, but was on a religious mission so he missed an opportunity. Now he's back to compete for himself with Lindsay's sister, Jensen. Jensen was given a ticket to come back next year when she's old enough. Brandon got his ticket to Vegas.
And that was it for today!