Hello dear readers! Tis I, iguanachocolate here to regale you with the Tales of the Dance! In case you have forgotten my extensive credits, I am sure if I mention the name ‘Miss Jenny’, you will be suitably impressed. Needless to say, I was the star of my kindergarten production of Peter and the Wolf. But enough about me and my illustrious dancing career, let’s get on with the show!
The auditions start off in Brooklyn, New York, and we are treated to the first sighting of the delicious Cat Deeley. Love her! The judges for this round with are the ever present Nigel Lythgoe who has hopefully left some of his creepy lecherous comments back on the Isle, the Scream, Mary Murphy and guest judges Tabitha and Napoleon, who seem to never be without one another. The auditions will go as they have in the past years: each auditionee will get the chance to perform a solo, the judges with either send them home or straight through to Vegas, Baby! The ones they are just not sure about will be asked to choreography at the end and the decision will be made based on that.
Cue the violins, our first artificial pull at your heart strings back story is about to begin: Gabi Rojas grew up travelling with the circus. Her mother was a circus performer and ahs served as her inspiration and instilling her with an excellent work ethic and a love for performing. Gabi has discovered that dancing is the Muse for her life but her body has betrayed her by suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. I know form watching my mother suffer from this that it is an extremely painful and degenerative joint disease, so I admire Gabi that she has chosen an art form that is so very at odds with that.
Gabi’s performance is amazing and if this is the level of performance we will be treated to this year, than we are in for one heck of a year. Her routine is extremely technical and very skilled, but has enough of that je ne sais quoi that leaves one with a sense of happiness. To say she danced like a bird would be incorrect: she danced as if she were the bird that you came upon in the woods and were able to watch from behind a tree before it saw you – that kind of freedom and expression. I was amazed and I must admit to having my heart strings tugged at when I thought of the pain she must go through on a daily basis to be able to show us that performance. The judges love her – Nigel says he would be surprised if she didn’t make the top 20 as it was one of the best auditions he has seen in the past 5 years. Mary treats us to one of her patented screams. Yeah. /sarcasm. Tabitha said that Gabi was the bird and made them all smile. She is through to Vegas.
Back outside with Cat, she is introducing us to the art of zombie makeup by allowing her face to be smeared with green by Saleem Muslim otherwise known as Storyboard and Habby Jacques otherwise known as Hobgoblin. They claim to have invented a new form of dancing and call themselves ‘joint tortionists’. The like to paint themselves green to illustrate their ‘mutation’ into their characters. On stage they are one of those acts that I hate to see yet cannot turn my eyes away even though I desperately want to. They remind me in style of that popper from last year – Robert Muraine – but not as good or as fluid, but still extremely bendy. The judges recoil in horror when one of them jumps up on the table but ultimately they like them enough to send them to choreography. As a side note, the guys decide not to participate in choreography saying it is just not their style.
Crazy Kate is the first of the delusional ones that always show up but we never admit to wanting to see saying they detract form the real dancing yet we all know that is who exactly we want to see so we can laugh at them and feel superior in the knowledge that yes, we may be couch potatoes, but at least we’re not crazy. Katherine Leach claims to be 26, though I would want to see a birth certificate to believe that. She does a really weak <ahem> dance with Ron, her octogenarian (allegedly) partner. I think she said it was West Coast Swing, but I am thinking more like Wisconsin Wacky ( apologies to any Wisconsinites out there – no slur intended. I was going for some alliteration). The judges say no and she is sent on her merry way and is off to have fun at a Lego competition. Dancing – Legos – almost the same thing, right?
Peter Sabasino is the first tapper – though he looks like he would be more at home in a boxing ring or a gym or something like that. He does tap up a storm and since I love me a good tapper, I am in heaven. The judges all like him and Peter lets them know he is not just a one trick pony, that he has done different styles of dance as well as tap. Napoleon says hat Peter looked down quite a bit, but that it was more like when a singer closes their eyes to hit a high note. Peter goes straight to Vegas.
Tiffany Geigel is an unlikely dancer. Born with a collapsed spine she was not expected to make it through her first night but she surprised everyone by making it to her 23 rd year. She loves dance because it gives her a freedom. I am not sure what to expect from her, but despite her disability, she has a wonderful sense of self and is quite a good dancer. The judges sense this and Nigel is very tender with her when he critiques her, which he does instead of trying to insult her by telling her how marvelous she is. He talks to her about the extension of her leg (troublesome for her because of a bad knee) and how her arms are not straight enough. HE also tells her how incredibly brave he she thinks she is, and I agree. He then gently tells her that she is not right for this competition, something I am sure Tiffany already new. But her goal seemed to be to say she did it to all the naysayers and more power to her.
Maksim Kapitannikov is dancing with Faina from season 3, though I have to take Cat’s word for it as I did not get to see season 3. They cha cha cha all around the stage and it looks fun and well done. Nigel says he is glad that Maksim did not pull any of the silly faces ballroom dancers tend to do and Mary says it’s hard not to look at Faina, but Maksim partnered her well. Tabitha and Napoleon agree he has a lot of potential and it is to choreography he goes.
Next is Nobuya Nagahama and during his whole interview before performing I was afraid he was just going to be a big dud and join the likes of Crazy Kate. I was wrong. She performed an entertaining routine that was a lot of fun and the judges loved it as well. As his routine was mostly locking and popping, the judges sent him on to choreography to see if he has anything else in his bag of tricks.
Choreography this year is being done by season 3’s Lauren – again, since I missed season 3, I have no idea who she is. However, she says she is going to step it up this year because after all, it is season 5. Cat tells us that the dancers only get 30 minutes to learn their routines. Yikes! We are only treated to a few steps of the choreography performance, but both Maksim and Nobuya are heading to Vegas.
On the second day of the New York stop, we meet Arielle Taylor again who did audition two seasons ago, but crumpled during the Vegas week. She’s back now and says she has matured since then and feels she can handle the pressure. She’s one of the ubiquitous contemporary dances and does it very well. Nigel remembers her and says he’s always loved her and wants to know why she hasn’t made it before. Arielle said she got overwhelmed in Vegas and that she danced ‘too contained’ and Nigel said that wouldn’t have worked for Mia who was the choreographer back then. Tabitha is impressed that she went that far and got cut, but still came back. Mary says to give her the ticket already. They do and she is off to Vegas.
And we will have our first bolero on the show. Now, I always thought a bolero was some kind of short jacket, but apparently it is also a slower version on the rhumba. Unfortunately, Thomas Martin and Amanda Clark are not very good ambassadors for the dance as they really suck. They looked like 8th graders at their first dance and were told that it just wasn’t very good. No standing at the roulette table for you two!
After a montage of the truly awful, we have Igor Zabrodin and Nina Estrina , ballroom dancers who specialize in Latin. They’ve been dancing together three years and will be doing a cha cha with a surprise ending. They are lovely to watch and the surprise at the end is that Nina is twirled on one foot in a crouched position be Igor – and not just twirled, but twirled really fast and for a really long time. I got dizzy just by watching her. And, when she stood up after it she neither threw up or staggered all over the stage! That’s impressive. Nigel is impressed with how she spotted on the turns and Mary loved the length of their spin. Tabitha likes their control and they go on to choreography.
Kellen Stancil decides it’s a good idea to dance with an umbrella. Normally I hate props in dance (unless you’re Fred Astaire and it is a certain coat rack and you dance on the walls and ceiling such as in the more ‘Royal Wedding’) but Kellen makes good use of the umbrella and it is an enjoyable dance. When asked by the judges the meaning behind the umbrella, Kellen gets all choked up and says it is to honor his aunt who passed away and how like the umbrella, she offered protection and love. He is through to Vegas.
Chimezie Nwosu has a cool name and a really deft hand at choreography. He pops out a routine that covers the entire stage, including the walls and at the end lies down behind a barrier and then lets one arm rise with his fingers in the peace V. Wonderful. The judges love him, but are concerned he is just a popper so send him off to choreography.
Lauren is working with the dancers again and Nina and Igor are split up to see how they work with different partners. Igor is going to Vegas, but Nina isn’t. I hope they don’t live together or it could be awwwwkwarrrddd. Chimezie is going to Vegas and the rest of the poker bound dancers rejoice. One guys gets sweaty dance stuff all over Cat’s outfit – but she doesn’t care – that’s what dry cleaners are for – love her!
And magically we are in Denver now! We’ve lost Tabitha and Napoleon along the way, but have picked up Sonya Tayeh who can still rock a Mohawk like no bodies business. Pretty blond Kayla Rodomski is up first – she’s been raised by her single mom, she never knew her dad and they live with her grandparents. Her grandfather proudly tells us that Kayla became interested in dance after watching ‘Singing in the Rain’. Her grandparents and her mom all worked to support her dance habit and after watching her perform, I’d say it paid off. Nigel loved her angles. Mary loved it and Sonya talks like her like she is some kind of oil spill, calling her slick. But she liked it. Nigel says she will inspire choreographers and sends her straight to Vegas. Grandpa is so happy he begins to cry. Awwwww!
Another montage, but this one is of good dancers and Sonya’s reactions to them. Sonya loves her some good dancing!
Next we have a male male ballroom dancing pair Misha Belfer and Mitch Kibel. Mitch assures us he’s straight though Misha is gay. Mitch used to dance with a woman, but wanted to keep dancing and so found Mitch. They think they can show masculinity even though they are two men. They samba all over the stage and are very enjoyable to watch. They do have one little trip up and fall over each other but recover nicely. Nigel says this is the first all male samba routine and he is not sure what to say. Errr, the same type of critique you would give to a female male samba? He compares it to Will Ferrell in ‘Blades of Glory’. Ooooh, that cannot be good. He goes on to say they could alienate a lot of the audience. Oh good grief, Nigel, that is so 1980…. Mary is confused, and that I understand because the guys seem to keep switching as to who was leading. Sonya says she looks at the dance usually from a female perspective but she was perplexed. The judges want to see them partnered with a girl, and send them off to choreography. Nigel, the dweeb, can’t resist this inane parting sentence: “Who knows, you like it.” < insert mega eye roll here for the old British guy>
Brief shot of the choreography round and then both guys are cut. They vow to come back next year.
Allison Moist has decided that the road to professional dancing is by way of a light saber and a lion costume. Okay. Makes perfect sense to me. She performs an awful routine and almost seems relieved when the judges send her packing, though she professed she wanted to be a professional dancer. Somehow I think that was someone else’s dream that she was catering to. This touches off some more bad dancing – including one woman dancing with a life size mannequin. Lady, if you can’t find a live person to partner you then you shouldn’t be dancing. Just saying.
Elias Holloway and his brother Enoch are the youngest of an astounding 14 kids. They do everything together, so of course Enoch came with Elias to the audition, even though he is too young to be on the show. They pop, I am not impressed. But the judges send Elias to choreography.
The final two dancers are familiar ones: Brandon Bryant and Natalie Reid. They both made it to Vegas last year and both got cut in the final round. They became good friends because of the experience. Natalie is up first and y’all may remember her has being the one cut after Katee (finished 3rd in the competition last summer) uttered the answer heard round the world when asked if she would return the next year if she was cut. She didn’t think so, lest you have forgotten. This apparently was tantamount to slaying Gene Kelley and the judges had to reconsider their whole decision whilst the two girls fretted. Natalie stuck up for her friend and ultimately Katee was out through and we were subjected to watch it over and over and over again for the rest of the season.
Natalie does a most excellent contemporary piece and Sonya has a dancegasm (a little nod to our own ness for that term – you’ll be seeing it a lot this season, I am sure) over it and practically whips out a cigarette to smoke when Natalie is done. Nigel says it’s good to see Natalie again, but he had a hard time really seeing it because of Sonya writhing in ecstacy throughout the entire performance. Needless to say, Sonya says she is one of her favorite dancers and needless to say, Natalie is going to Vegas.
Finally Brandon dances his typical wonderful contemporary routine that drives Mary to tears and she says she has the best job in the world because she gets to witness things like this. Brandon is the King. Brandon is the Dancing God. Mary will die if he doesn’t make the top 20. Likewise, Sonya gushes over him, but does not say she will die for him. Nigel thinks he is still great and hopes he can show more personality this year on Vegas.
The brief last stint of choreography shows the judges that alas, Elias the dancing brother is not quite ready for Vegas, but he should get some more training and come back again. Everyone else celebrates their Vegas vacation.
Next week Miami and Memphis are the destinations. I’ll be with you for all the fun on Wednesday and my lovely co-capper this season, Waywyrd, will meet you on Thursday. Until then, don’t forget to dance!