‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: Salt Lake City auditions
Dawn breaks in Utah as we start tonight’s audition episode in Salt Lake City.
Our judges tonight are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and guest judge Adam Shankman. We start with Mary reminding everyone with what she’s not looking for, while Adam Shankman demonstrates the moves: 1. No booty shaking, 2. No self worship (“the rubbing and the touching”) and 3. No “reaching” (HA! What will all the contemporary dancers do?)
Witney [sic] Carson has been ballroom dancing since she was 8 years old and she’s doing a chacha/tango that she describes as “sensual, sexy” even though she still looks about 14. It’s disconcerting, even if she is actually 18. Her 16-year-old partner isn’t old enough to try out for the show.
She’s got the speed and precision you look for in this kind of Latin ballroom dancing. Nigel compares her favorably to past contestant Anya Garnis and then says she has a “smoking hot face” -- NIGEL, she’s still wearing braces.
Mary calls her a “hot tamale” but thankfully does not screech. Adam likes her so much he swears. Of course she gets a ticket to Las Vegas.
We get a montage of “underground” dance styles showcased on the show, like the “bounce,” “the wobble,” etc. And now we have a contestant who claims to dance an alien dance inspired by the Pleiades.
A few years ago, “a force” entered her body and made her start dancing. She’s got three “spirit guides” -- “Devil Da Flame” as illustrated by footage of Nigel, “Divine Da Flame” (Mary), and “Rainbow Lite Bright,” (Adam). Cat asks what we’re all thinking, “Were there any hallucinogenic drugs involved?” The answer is only laughter.
She’s a very well-educated woman, with a masters degree, who worked in aerospace engineering for five years. She’s unemployed now while she finds herself. My heart hurts thinking about the likely student loan debt going unpaid.
When they show her name and age, she’s 33, which means we know already she’s too old to make the show. Now I’m mad we spent all this time on her. She’s whirling around to some dubstep and good for her if this is her bliss.
Back from commercial, we see a montage of good female dancers, and one of them coaxes her dad up onto stage and he’s endearingly goofy in that dad way.
Now we meet a woman from a large Italian family. In case you weren’t certain, we see them eating lot of food with red gravy (not sauce). Deanna Tomasetta, aka “Dee,” is just to Nigel’s taste as a cute, young blonde. He gives her permission to call him “N.”
She’s dancing to “I Can’t Make You Love Me If You Don’t” so the song’s halfway to ripping my heart out and her dancing is quite lovely on top of it, although she needs to smile less. A big cheesy grin right as you’re hitting a pose on “Don’t patronize” is not so good.
Mary loved “every single second” of the routine. She talks about her lines and breath. Adam says she’s “extremely special” with unbelievable technique and transitions. Nigel doesn’t say much beyond “Come get your ticket for Vegas.”
I have to think with a family clip package and high praise from the judges that included replays from her audition, that it will be shocking if Dee doesn’t end up in our Top 20 this season. I’m calling it now.
We see a little bit of an auditioner dancing Russian folk dancing (because that’s always gone over well on this show) and a Brazilian samba dancer with a feather headdress and furry boots. And then it’s on to a guy in green body paint. Hoo boy -- we better start a new paragraph for this one.
His piece today is the life cycle of the male praying mantis -- birth, sex, decapitation, you know. He’s from Las Vegas, which somehow doesn’t surprise me. Gene Lonardo starts on the stage in a crouch and for as weird as he is, there’s actually some technique and skill in his dancing. Strange, but not awful.
Nigel calls it intriguing, and entertaining. Mary says it certainly was unique and she loved it. Adam tells him, “You’re sort of brilliant.” They echo my thoughts that Sonya would love to work with this guy. They’re sending him home -- because remember he’s from Las Vegas, so he gets a “ticket” he’ll never have to use.
[Ha -- I follow Cat Deeley on Twitter and she confirms that our alien dancer earlier did indeed take drugs.]
Lindsay Arnold is the oldest of four sisters, all of whom are dancers. She’s trained in jazz, contemporary, hip hop, and ballet, but is a ballroom dancer. Mary’s making weird reaction faces, but this girl has legs that go on forever, so I think that’ll help her with Nigel.
Nigel says she was fabulous, a good performer and technician. Mary calls her a hot tamale and says she reminds her of Julianne Hough. Adam was in favor of her from when she walked out on stage. She’s through to Las Vegas.
Now it’s a montage of ballroom dancers trying out. What is it with Utah and the ballroom?
But now it’s a self-described “little blond girl” doing krump. Mariah Spears says she likes to do it because it makes her feel strong. She starts out with a tumbling pass and then goes into krumping and Shankman’s swearing again. I’m not sure how good she is, but I dig her attitude.
Nigel says he liked her “stank face.” Adam teases her about her background a little bit and then tells her she’s fantastic. Mary makes a lot of noises that add up to “really good.” Nigel wants to send her to choreography, and the other judges agree.
Murphy Yang’s parents never supported his dancing and six months ago the family moved to California without him and disowned him. His girlfriend Kylie gave him a place to stay and has been his constant during the tough times.
He starts up and I said aloud to my friend who watches with me, “Is this the real dancing?” Ah, he moves from his own version of “old-fashioned” dancing into hip-hop, which is clearly the real dancing. And then he lifts up his shirt to reveal “Vegas?” written on his stomach.
Nigel liked the humor, but needed there to be more moves. Mary says he needs more vocabulary in his dancing. Adam says Murphy’s love of what he’s doing transcends his technique. So, those lukewarm reviews send him through to choreography.
Choreography: Murphy is clearly out of his depth, but Mariah’s doing just fine. Murphy gets sent home. He meets his girlfriend in the hallway and there are tears. Mariah’s through to Las Vegas.
I have a theory about Mariah -- I bet she’s had lots of dance training in other styles, but came in as a “krumper” to get attention and stand out.
Day 2 auditions
A very fit young man chooses to not wear a shirt while talking to Cat. I do not object, although it makes it awkward to hear his story of growing up in abject poverty.
Dareian Kujawa is of Hawaiian descent and is dancing to Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which my parents describe as a “Why Dance” as in, “When you’re standing that close to one another, why dance?” During the routine, Adam looks like you just gave him a birthday cake with diamonds inside.
Nigel calls him tremendous, but asks if his teacher yells at him about his feet, and in replay, we see that they are terrible. Mary acknowledges the foot problem, but points out that he’s got tremendous heart. Adam stands up and yells he’s so happy and likes Dareian’s stamina, strength, and connection to the music. He gets a ticket to Las Vegas.
Our next auditioner has read a lot of books, watched a lot of DVDs and gone on hundreds of dates to get better at picking up women. It’s that horrible “pick up artist” shtick. Cat shuts him down quick, because she’s awesome. But then she lets him loose on unsuspecting females in the vicinity. His partner is auditioning as well.
Before the dancing, there’s far too much attention spent on this dating technique nonsense. Johnny Ahn, 29, and Whitney Hallam, 19, do what I think of as fairly standard ballroom. I predict she makes it farther than he does.
Mary points out that Johnny never looked at Whitney and that they had no chemistry, but they were fun to watch. Nigel found Whitney “striking” and compares her to Lady Gaga, while admonishing Johnny for all his “Oooh” faces. Adam suggest choreography (“with other people”) and the other judges agree.
And now we have a montage of dancers who’ve tried out before, some getting farther than others, and they’re all sent through to Las Vegas again.
Adrian was near top 20 in Season 7. And when Cat talks to him about it, she swears in the most charmingly bleepable way. He took last year off from auditioning for the show, but is back to try again this year.
More Otis Redding, this time “Try a Little Tenderness” in which the young girls do get woolly. This guy’s a great dancer, but no one can ever top Duckie’s dance to this in “Pretty in Pink.”
Adam didn’t love the choreography, but loved the lines. Mary wasn’t knocked out by the choreography, especially all the “self-worship” bits. Nigel also disliked the choreography but liked his sharpness. He’s through to Las Vegas.
Rachel was painfully shy growing up, and her mom thought dancing would help break her out of her shell. Given that she’s dancing in a long line bra and hot pants, I guess it worked. This is barely more than a stripper routine and it’s embarrassing for all of us. Nigel’s the only judge this has a chance of working on, sweetheart.
Mary and Adam can’t stop giggling. Adam says she’s fun and fantastic and confident, but didn’t see much technique. Mary says she did exactly what she described herself as being: “burlesque jazz.” Nigel said it was “too much burlesque, not enough jazz.” They send her to choreography.
Montage of bad auditions, including one so awful Adam falls out of his chair.
Our last contestant is a heavyset guy in a bedazzled baseball cap. Leroy is from Sacramento, where he runs a dance-based outreach program for at-risk kids.
Adam is “in love with this guy.” And he’s certainly energetic and engaging. Although forgive me for saying that he’s definitely tapping into a little of the “It’s fun to see a big guy be nimble.”
Adam finds Leroy inspiring and calls him [bleeping] awesome. Mary is proud of what he’s doing in the community, but is honest enough to doubt his ability to be competitive on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Nigel blathers on about the importance of dance. I’m sure I’d feel edified if I paid attention. Nigel is blunt that Leroy will not be competitive on the show. They send him through to choreography, even though Nigel is doubtful he’ll do well there.
Choreography: They paired Leroy up with the scantily clad “jazz burlesque” dancer from earlier. Leroy’s doing his damnedest to keep up, which Mary gives a “bless his heart,” so we know he’s toast.
Ballroom dancers Johnny and Whitney are both told no. Rachel was sloppy in parts and fabulous in other parts, per Mary, so she’s through to Las Vegas. Leroy gets a standing O which rhymes with NO, so he’s going home.
See you next week, when we’ll watch close to 200 dancers in Las Vegas. There’s going to be screaming and tears and an ambulance, oh my.
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.