These were my favorite auditions from this week's Memphis episode:
Dorian "BluPrint" Hector – A member of Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer's Dragon House crew, this astounding animator, who compared his dancing style to the moves of a "malfunctioning robot," wowed all of the judges, including guest panelist Wayne Brady. (Yes, Wayne Brady. I don't know why he was there.) "I could sit and watch that for hours," raved Nigel Lythgoe. "You've left a blueprint on my brain!" howled Mary Murphy. BluPrint was so awesome, Nigel didn't even put him through to choreography to make sure he could handle other dancing styles. "I don't give a s***," Nigel shrugged, as he handed BluPrint a ticket straight to the Vegas Callbacks. I hope BluPrint can keep up with the other dancers once he gets there.
Curtis Holland – Curtis wasn't the best tapper "SYTYCD" had ever seen, but what he lacked in technique he made up for with "machine gun"-style frenetic energy and oodles of personality. (Nigel actually said Curtis's personality was stronger than his routine itself.) Mary's face just lit up when Curtis hit the stage, and it wasn't long before Wayne actually got onstage to hug Curtis. Yes, Curtis's likability was that off-the-charts. Nigel must have realized that Curtis is the type of contestant who could get viewers to pick up their phones, so he put Curtis through to the choreography round. And once Curtis got that chance, he made enough of an impression to "fly like an eagle" all the way to Vegas.
Tucker Knox – Tucker was once in a car accident so serious, doctors weren't even sure if he'd walk again, let alone dance. But you'd never know it from watching his stunning contemporary audition. Clearly the guy made a full recovery, and his routine was just thrilling and inspiring. Mary called him a "miracle." Wayne told Tucker, "You are a perfect dancer in my eyes." Tears, and a ticket to Vegas, followed.
Courtney Thurston – Raised by a single dad who proudly identifies as a "dance mom" (and later married his daughter's dance teacher!), Courtney showed up at her audition with her biggest fan, her father, by her side. "I will do everything I possibly can to make this kid's dreams happen," said Papa Thurston. Aw. Courtney then delivered a very joyous, spunky, athletic routine, full of daring flips and splits, that kind of reminded me of Season 7 winner Lauren Froderman. Courtney is definitely the type of contestant who goes far on "SYTYCD." It was no surprise that she got a ticket straight to Vegas.
Nico Greetham – This guy had a sassy, bad-boy edge that I appreciated. He was a real showboater, and I could actually see how he might get annoying after a while (he's quite the ham). But for now, his too-brief routine had me wanting more. Mary also complained that his audition wasn't long enough. But Nico made it to Vegas, so we will see more of him very soon. I am intrigued, I must admit.
Novien Yarber – Novien made a big point of saying he wants to be a "masculine" dancer, which was smart, because Nigel had always had a real hang-up about any male dancers who seem too effeminate to him. (I don't know what Nigel's problem is.) Anyhoo, Novien achieved his manly goal. His ferocious routine was pure male id. "This is what I want from this show," raved an unsurprisingly impressed Nigel. "This is what will force people to pick up a phone and vote for you." Said Mary: "You laid it all on the floor. You served us." Said Wayne: "You are a man, there's no doubt about it. You look like you could kick somebody's ass while you're dancing." I expect to see Novien kicking some proverbial ass in Vegas.
Caleb Brauner – Over on the other of the "SYTYCD" spectrum was this lovable dork, and I already predict he will be a major fan favorite this season. He's already one of my favorites. The judges seemed to be in love with him before even started dancing, just while talking with him, and they had their "fingers crossed" that he'd be just as charming in motion as he was in conversation. Luckily, Caleb did not disappoint. His contemporary routine was fun and funny, but also solid. While his bow-tied persona reminded me a bit of past hopeful Teddy Tedholm (who really should have gone farther on the show), Caleb was ultimately utterly unique, and utterly himself. "I'd like to adopt you," cooed Mary, who praised his "technique under all this quirk." Wayne described Caleb as a "Norman Rockwell painting set to music." I have a feeling Caleb will make it to the top 20. He's too much of a star to pass up.
Larry Booze – Speaking of stars, was there ever a more marquee-worthy superstar stage name than "Larry Booze"? This guy was just awesome. His fancy footwork literally had me yelling, "HOW DOES HE DO THAT?" at my television screen. The way he was gliding, it looked like he wasn't even touching the floor. Wayne called him a "born showman." Nigel called him "pure, sheer entertainment." Unfortunately, Larry decided to quit during the choreography round, but I hope he'll consider trying out again in the future (like another past choreo-round quitter, Hampton Williams, did this year). I am hooked on this Booze, and I am thirsting for more!
Jasmine Harper – Jasmine is Cyrus's ex-girlfriend, and he broke up with her while he was competing on the show last year. The way she talked about him during her interview with "SYTYCD" hostess Cat Deeley (and with Nigel, when he uncomfortably grilled her about their relationship) made it clear that she hasn't quite gotten over him yet. But fortunately, she channeled all that raw emotion into her audition. Dancing to the Destiny's Child version of "Amazing Grace," Jasmine was truly amazing and truly graceful. Wayne told her that watching her dance was like listening to Destiny's Child sing the song. Mary said her body was telling a story of heartache through movement. Of course Jasmine got a ticket to Vegas. Will she go as far on the show as her former flame, who made it all the way to last season's finale? She may actually be a better (as in more well-rounded) dancer than Cyrus, so possibly...
So next week, all of the dancers move on to the Vegas Callbacks, where there will be blood, and sweat, and tears. (Literally. Vegas Week always has a couple injuries, and more than a couple meltdowns.) But what I'm looking forward to most is lots and lots and lots of fabulous dancing. So cue music…and see you then.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Nigel Lythgoe
- Wayne Brady
- Mary Murphy