This week, SYTYCD left Los Angeles behind and headed east to look for more incredible dancers in New York City. The auditions are nearly over, and we have yet to be disappointed by any of this season’s contestants. If New York City holds up Los Angeles’ audition standards, voting later in the season is going to be more difficult than usual. Last year, Season 14 winner Lex Ishimoto auditioned in New York City. Will America’s next favorite dancer be found on the same stage?
First up and coming to New York from Springfield, New Jersey, Emily Carr was nervous to take the stage, but there wasn’t anything shaky about her incredible contemporary performance. The judges were impressed by everything from her control to her choreography, and there wasn’t a moment of hesitation when they sent her on her way to The Academy.
Next to take the stage was Gabriel Alvarez. Most contestants aren’t brave enough to risk prop work during auditions, but Gabriel took the stage with a metal hoop that he turned and twirled with. The judges were concerned that the hoop took over the audition and that there wasn’t enough dancing. Gabriel asked them to provide him with music and took a more dance-focused approach to his audition with a dynamic hip hop freestyle. While tWitch was happy to send Gabriel on t0 The Academy, the other three judges still wanted to see more unique dance talent from him.
Returning after getting cut from Gabby’s team last season, tap dancer Evan DeBenedetto wanted to show the judges that he has spent the past year growing and improving. His audition included his signature tapping along with influences from other styles including ballet (pirouette on tap shoes??). The judges seemed certain that this could be Evan’s chance at taking the competition by storm, and there was no question about his spot in The Academy round.
Jazz dancer Rachel Blanchard brought a gorgeous, retro routine to the stage. The judges felt like her routine was trying too hard to live up to her nickname, “Baby” (from Dirty Dancing), but they loved her personality and saw potential in her if she were willing to put in the work to clean up her transitions. Nigel made the ultimate decision to send this dancer from the 80’s on to The Academy.
Another familiar face to return for another chance at the title of America’s Favorite Dancer is Kyle Bennet Jr. Like Evan, Kyle was sent home during The Academy round last season. His audition had tWitch grooving in his seat, but he wasn’t the only one impressed. The entire auditorium gave Kyle a standing ovation for his incredible tutting. The judges were happy to send him on to The Academy, but not before Nigel reminded him how important it is that he succeeds in other styles of dance if he wants to go far in the competition.
Following Kyle to The Academy was contemporary dancer Victoria Neukom. She used her audition to show off her ability to dance with precision and strength. Nigel wanted to see more ballet from her contemporary style and less gymnastics, but in the end, the decision to send her forward was unanimous.
The first round of New York auditions was full of talented solos, but one of the last auditions showcased last night had us seeing double. Twins Gratsiela and Desislava Sandeva came from Bulgaria to make it as a hip hop duo. If these two had been dancing in a diner instead of on the SYTYCD stage, it would have been easy to believe you were watching a music video instead of a dance competition. Gratsiela and Desislava were a lot of fun to watch, but unfortunately their hip hop style wasn’t strong enough to send them on to The Academy.
The last contestants to take the stage were also siblings. Brother and sister Elan and Jordyn Lurie grew up under the instruction of their salsa-dancing mother. As if dancing for Nigel, Vanessa, Mary, and tWitch isn’t nerve-wracking enough, Nigel invited the siblings’ mother, Dana, up to judge their performance as well. The judges (and mom) gave Elan and Jordyn a unanimous yes and sent these siblings salsaing on to The Academy.
Next week, the auditions will wrap up in New York City, and we will get a final glimpse at all the contestants that will be trying their best to make a solid impression in The Academy and secure their spots in the live show.