While every dancer might think they have the moves, less than two dozen make it to the top 20 on the dance-competition series “So You Think You Can Dance.” The path to that coveted spot requires a pass through the grueling callback auditions in Vegas, the first of which was underway on Wednesday night’s episode.
Hundreds of dancers pushed, pulled and injured their way into and out of the show, as they endured a week of intense choreography that tested their skills in all the major styles of dance featured on “SYTYCD.”
The week began with solos, graduated to group routines and culminated with 35 dancers making it to the final week before the top 20 announcement. Some had to “dance for their lives” in an attempt to win the judge’s hearts, all of whom came out to scrutinize the lot. Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Tyce Diorio, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman and Lil’ C were on hand to make the tough decisions, along with the day’s choreographers.
Solos and hip-hop set up the first day, though it also brought a large amount of cuts, including Gen Lonardo a.k.a. the human praying mantis, as well as an early favorite, exorcist dancer Hampton Williams, who chose to bow out gracefully after succumbing to the challenges of the choreography. Unfortunately, a couple of the Dragon House dancers also failed to impress the judges.
Tyce Diorio and Sonya Tayeh led day two with Broadway and jazz, respectively. “This routine, honestly, is so hard,” Diorio confessed to the cameras, as the dance styles not only require precision and texture, but strength and a lot of performance. Burlesque jazz dancer Rachel Applehans was eliminated, with judge Debbie Allen commenting, “Your whole appeal is just sex.” Although silent dancer Amelia Lowe had to dance for her life, she prevailed at the end, moving forward another day.
The dreaded group routines were assigned to the remaining dancers on day three, with a little twist: The dancers could choose their own groups. Injured dancer and bacon lover Danielle Dominquez found herself unable to cope with her group’s routine, as she just returned from the hospital after suffering a blow to the head in a performance. Unfortunately, the judges had no sympathy, and Danielle was sent home, as were several other dancers. But Alexa Anderson, eliminated at the last stage of the season eight Vegas auditions, got more than she bargained for when the judges, yet again, criticized the stellar dancer for her lack of passion. It seems their harsh words hit a nerve with Anderson, who finally cried and released some real emotion, the sole reason for her moving forward.
Ballroom has always been the most challenging style on the show, requiring specific postures and intricate footwork. Day four was led by choreographer Jason Gilkison, whose cha cha routine asked for chemistry between partners and led to the demise of country hip-hopper Asher Walker. The lone remaining Dragon House member, Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, was asked to dance for his life, and thankfully received a unanimous “yes” to stay for the final round of auditions.
Finally, after four intense days and only a couple hours of sleep a night, 52 remaining dancers were put through their toughest challenge of contemporary dance, choreographed by “SYTYCD” season two runner-up and show favorite Travis Wall. As the remaining dancers supported each other through this final stage, another 17 dancers’ dreams came to an end, including season seven’s Adrian Lee, whom Mary Murphy cut at a personal visit to his home.
The first week of the Vegas callbacks were finally over, and most just didn’t make the cut. Some of the ones who did included: season eight’s Alexa Anderson, belly dancer Janelle Issis, Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, Joshua Alexander, ballet dancer Chehon Wespi-Tschopp and silent dancer Amelia Lowe.
The grind isn’t over for them and the rest of the pack: One final week of Sin City auditions remain as the dancers battle it out for the mere 20 spots on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
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