What’s that smell? It’s Milwaukee, the last stop on our grand tour of the country to find America’s Most Favoritest Dancer. But before we get to the dairy farmers who think they can dance, we must meet some amazing talents who didn’t fit into their city’s episodes.
Now where did I put my cheesehat?…
Katee and Natalie are two hardcore besties from L.A. who live together, work out together, and go to dance auditions together. They aren’t as sad as Michelle and Kortney, for this I am grateful, and they are both incredibly gifted. After the obligatory ruminations on whether the world will implode should one make it while the other doesn’t (answer: No, but one will surely be homeless), Katee takes the stage to audition. She is awesome, which is expected since Cat Deeley told us she would be, and her spunky personality shines through the movements. Right behind her is Natalie, whose audition is darker, yet just as technically excellent. Both girls make it through to Vegas, which means they can continue to be friends.
Back in D.C., there was Michael, a breaker who has been through this rigmarole before. Last year he made it to Vegas, but got creamed by Mary’s salsa, which sounds all kinds of dirty (and spicy). I’m not confident about how much he has learned since then, because he apparently still doesn’t know that he got creamed by a samba rather than a salsa, a point which Mary is quick to point out, but the judges decide if he was good enough a year ago, he’s surely still good enough for a second chance. We’ll see him in Vegas.
Speaking of salsa, there’s a couple in D.C. who actually can (here’s the video, I have it bookmarked and watch it at least 40 times a day). Jeanette reminds me of Cheryl Burke in a vague kind of way and her partner, Romulo, has pelvic tattoos. Obviously, I’m a big fan already. Their routine is jaw-droppingly cool, with incredibly dangerous-looking lifts and tricks. Actually, I think they’ve moved beyond “tricks” and into “stunts”, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they rehearse in helmets. Is there such a thing as ballroom insurance? The highlight of the routine occurs as Romulo juggles Jeanette’s head like a hacky sack with his feet, causing pandemonium in the auditorium.
The judges aren’t so much impressed by the actual dancing, but they admit the tricks are enough to carry them through to choreography. Jeanette breezes through the next round and on to Vegas, but sadly has to leave Romulo and his awesome abdominal artwork behind. They assure us that we’ll see him next year, though.
Ok, back to business.
Our first dancer in Cheese Country, USA, is Bianca, a tapper from Chicago. She’s wearing a wifebeater and suspenders, and with her tall, lanky frame, she’s the very picture of cool. I know absolutely nothing about tap, but she’s obviously well-trained, which she proves by name-dropping a ton of famous tappers, only two of whom I’ve heard. And even though she didn’t do anything in her audition to prove she can do anything besides tap, the judges send her straight through to Vegas.
James Davis is my favorite person in the entire universe. He’s a bright-eyed, auburn-haired, country boy and he has a dream, ya’ll. His preparation has been thorough and well-researched. He hired no less than five choreographers and coaches to put together his audition, and he feels very confident that he will make it through to Vegas. I can tell he’s never watched any Reality T.V. before by the way he sets himself up here. Reality T.V. Rule No.1: Never be overly confident, for it will be your doom.
His routine is a joyous celebration of dance movies of the 80’s, including jazz hands a la A Chorus Line, leaps a la Kevin Bacon in Footloose, and floor slides a la John Travolta in Staying Alive. I was sad to see he left out the maniacal gyrations of Flashdance, but maybe that was cut for time. Anyway, despite the smile he brought to everyone’s faces, the judges nail him for being a cornfed anachronism, and James’s reaction of disbelief is so precious that I want to hug him and then slap him and then maybe hug him some more. Ya’ll, he just DIDN’T KNOW! As he exits, James promises to go back to the drawing board, and for his sake, I hope his choreographers watch a current music video between now and next year, or James may show up in hammer pants. (Something to look forward to.)
The next performer, Evan, makes me swoon. He’s a Gene Kelly throwback – he even does hat tricks. Unlike James, this kid knows how to make nostalgia work. He made me a little nervous with all the hat tosses and such; I was afraid one of the judges would accuse him of being gimmicky. Luckily though, Evan is smart as well as sexy (look at the gun show he’s got going on!)…
and throws in just enough leaps and spins to convince the panel that he is, in fact, a good dancer. The judges quickly dispatch him to Vegas, while I go take a cold shower.
Kourtni (Ok, seriously, how many different ways are there to spell one name) is a brilliant contemporary dancer who happens to bear a striking resemblance to Uma Thurman. I saw it before Nigel did, I swear. I was all, Look, it’s Poison Ivy! I can’t recall much about the audition, other than that it was good, but I do remember Nigel mentioning something about Kill Bill: the Musical and thinking that was the greatest idea ever! Get on that, Tarantino.
My mother’s family is from Wisconsin, and if you’ve never been there, you’ve never heard the accents… and that’s just a crying shame. That’s why I almost cried when Tom, the dairy farmer, opened his mouth. All he said was, “I raise earless goats,” and I was a hysterical mess! It wasn’t what he said; it was how he said it, with that perfect Wisconsin lilt that makes me warm inside like grandmother’s cookies. Curse me for not knowing how to rip audio from YouTube so I can make an Mp3 of it and share it with you, but only after I make it my default ringtone. Oh, his dancing? I couldn’t tell you. I was distracted.
Do you see that girl over there? Yeah, the girl with pink highlights in her hair, wearing the mini-mini-skirt and navel-baring shirt, covered from head to toe in body glitter and drowning in her own makeup… yes, that girl teaches high school. What of it? I mean, you don’t think she dresses like that at school, do you? And even if she does, she’s in Miami and they have different standards. That girl, Suzie, is a mixed bag of Shakira and Latin ballroom, and although I am most certainly not impressed with her dancing, the judges decide that she’s HOT and send her to choreography. I get really tired when Nigel does stuff like that, and even more tired when Mary lets him get away with it.
We now return to the continuing saga of Yesenia and Phillip. These two characters were big players in last year’s pre-Top-20 activities, so logically, the show feels obligated to give them even more screen-time. Screw all those other people we didn’t get to see who may or may not be important to the rest of the season – this is a multi-season story arc we’re talking about here! Last year, as I mentioned before, both dancers (or just Yesenia… I really can’t remember) made it to Vegas and actually did very well, coming just short of the final cut. After getting booted, Yesenia changed her life – she lost 50 pounds, continued to perfect her technique, and this year, dammit, nothing will stop her. She stomps up to the stage in her massive space boots and we prepare for what will definitely be a stand-out audition. She starts going full-throttle hip-hop – lots of attitude, lots of booty, lots of… wait. Her knee just gave out. Almost 10 years of Reality T.V. has hardened my heart into a rocky, inhospitable place, but even I got misty. I can’t even make a joke. That kind of disappointment is the worst kind: all of that hard work – sabotaged by an uncooperative knee.
Her friend, Phillip, follows immediately after, and he gives an inspired breaker audition that doesn’t do anything for me, really, but I can tell it’s pretty good. He’s an emotional wreck, of course, having just watched his best friend come to such a miserable pass, but as the tears flow, so does the love, because the judges inform him that he’s moving straight on to Vegas. I think the whole room needed something good to happen at this point.
There were other great auditions, including:
1. Victor – the guy who dressed up like Zorro, danced like a fool, and acted like a douche to make some convoluted statement about individualism versus the pressures of society. Dude, this is SYTYCD – it’s just not that deep. Go take a Zoloft, you’ll feel better…
2. Ashley - the best and worst dancer that has ever been. Her personality was better than any Mia Michaels routine. I’m feeling the vibe, that’s all I’m saying…
3. Rebecca – the girl who was way too sparkly in L.A. but redeemed herself in Milwaukee by being more emo…
4. Brice – the breaker from Cameroon who entertains barely lucid senior citizens so much he forgot how to have any stage presence (awww… that was mean! FORGIVE!)…
5. Cooper – the best male contemporary dancer we will never see again…
6. Raymond – the guy who can’t handle the fact that dancing is simply metaphorical sex in public, at least according to Nigel’s definition…
7. Hau Hou – the guy who showed up in some kind of traditional garb that may or may not have been a Halloween costume purchased at your local Party City. Also, he may have flashed his (CENSORED!). The new judge, Tabitha, was appropriately scandalized…
8. Lizz – a white, female tap dancer to balance out Bianca. She’s good, but she talks a lot (this will be important later).
And finally, a “mystery guest…”
So there you have it, ya’ll. The auditions are over and we’re off to Sin City!
P to the S. If you’re like me and watching this show on T.V. as it airs just isn’t enough (and these recaps just make you tired [I love doing them, but, Lord, they take a long time]), here are two very useful and mostly reliable links that I use to relive the magic.
First and Second.