Friday, May 29, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance? Season 5 - Los Angeles and Seattle auditions

When I finished writing my review of the Miami/Memphis auditions yesterday, I found myself unable to remember what city (along with Los Angeles) was going to serve as an audition venue for last night's show. It turns out that I may be a little bit paranormally gifted, because I seemed to know in advance how much the Seattle auditions were going to stink: I completely blocked the city out of my consciousness. Will wonders never cease?

But before I go yapping on about Seattle, let me take you first to Los Angeles.

The big treat that L.A. offered right off the bat was the sight of Comfort, Katee and Joshua's much-loved faces from Season 4, joining Lauren-the-Choreographer from Season 3. It was so good to see them again. I don't know what it is about this show, but I end up loving the dancers in a way I never love the contestants on American Idol or Survivor. An added bonus was Adam Shankman in the third judge's chair -- glad to see him, too, although truthfully, I would have been okay with anybody but Tyce. Nigel and Mary were all smiles as things got started.

There were a number of comebacks in Los Angeles, the most outstanding among them being Philip Chbeeb. He was the extraordinary popper/locker who was given a ticket to Vegas in Season 4, but ended up not getting to go because he came down with pneumonia, of all things. Such a disappointment! Because he was good. Even I, who vastly prefers ballroom dancing to any other style, could appreciate his poppy/locky goodness. He can make himself look as if he has no bones, people! And he seems like a very nice guy as well.

Adam, Mary and Nigel were so glad to see him that Nigel was moved to a Christmas-morning sort of generosity: he handed the surprised Philip a ticket to Las Vegas without even seeing him perform. Which was great for Philip, but not so great for all of us in the audience who wanted to see him dance. Gee, thanks for the stocking full of coal, Nigel. Maybe in Season 6, you could get us all a fruitcake and an ugly tie.

But all was not lost because Philip came back to partner with an adorable contemporary dancer named Arielle Coker. Their routine was sweet and fun to watch; she's very talented as well. I hope they're a couple. I hope she appreciates him! And if she breaks his heart, there are going to be a bunch of fans of this show who are going to be really ticked off, including the three female people in our living room because we loved him first, ARIELLE.


Another partnering graced the stage with International Latin Ballroom dancers Asuka (pronounced OSS-ah-kuh) Kondoh and Ricky Sun. Asuka delightfully confided to the camera that you often see Russians or Latin Americans dancing in their style, which is good for them because she and Ricky are Asians. They stand out! Of course, they might just stand out because they are incredible dancers who do the most outrageously difficult moves with the greatest ease. And let's face it: Asuka is just about the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen, a perfect little porcelain doll of a girl. Ricky is a great partner, but he's just about eclipsed by the tiny powerhouse that is Asuka. He held his own, as the three wowed judges said, and I will give him that.

Here they are, dancing to Duffy's "Mercy."

But on the downside of Our eyes out on stalks, we watched brother/sister combo Brynelle and Xaviar Blanton doing a too-close-for-comfort contemporary dance that had me nervously shifting in my seat and my husband holding the remote in a trembling hand, ready for the quick maneuver over to Sports Center. Because, eeeewwww! That was some creepy, there, kids! Where are your parents? I can see a brother/sister act teaming up for hip-hop or Broadway or even square dancing, but please! Quit assaulting our sensibilities with your romantic contemporary piece! I thought there were laws against that kind of thing.

The Los Angeles auditions were also notable for introducing us to dancers Sammy Ramirez and Nathan Trasoras. Sammy was a nineteen year old popper/locker with a smile that "[lit] up the stage," as Mary put it. He was a very likeable kid and he pulled off a wickedly good routine with talent, humor and "hair choreography." Loved him. Total cutie. Same thing with Nathan, only without the popping and locking, and also without the eighteen-years-old minimum age requirement. Nathan was such a handsome guy and he did what the judges and I agreed was a very solid and pleasing contemporary routine, but GAAAAH!!! He's only seventeen, and therefore ineligible! Mary and I almost cried. The day was saved when, somewhere off camera where the television audience was not privy to the conversation, the judges found out that Nathan will be turning eighteen this summer; he was given a ticket to Las Vegas, straight through to Season 6! Yay!

The final dancer was some dude nicknamed "Shakiro," after the pop star Shakira, she of the famously swiveling hips. Shakira has her sexy Latina/Middle Eastern vibe and she makes it work, but she is a gorgeous, coffee-skinned, dark-eyed beauty and this guy was kind of freckly and chubby and the only thing I can imagine that could have possibly been worse would be if I'd gotten up there and swiveled my hips.

Here's Kevin Cormeir, a.k.a. Shakiro:

and here's Shakira herself. You be the judge.

The Seattle hour was just awful, netting only EIGHT dancers from the whole two days of auditions. Mia Michaels was in the third chair and it was nice to see her. I love Mia's choreography and I like her as a judge for the auditions, but I can't stand her as a judge during the actual show because she's so often pretentious and egotistical and mean.

Here's one of our favorite bits of Mia choreography, a contemporary tribute to her dad who died from lung cancer. The scene is heaven, where father and daughter have finally been reunited, danced by Neil Haskell and Lacey Schwimmer from Season 4.

That was just really moving, wasn't it?

Okay, I gave you that because Seattle just really blew chunks, directly after the judges took their seats. There was a montage of the judges, including the perpetually sunny-tempered Mary, lashing out at the talentless oafs that were staggering around the stage, apparently looking like people in the throes of childbirth, or perhaps suffering from multiple beestings. Thankfully, we didn't have to see most of that sorry lot.

We did see a break dancer (emphasis on "break") named Nick Salzman, another one of the tattooed and be-pierced crowd. His dancing was so-so, especially since he had completely winded himself after about thirty seconds and abruptly got to his feet and came to the microphone.

"Why did you stop?" wondered Mia, puzzled.

I didn't catch what he said -- must have been something like, "I'm completely knackered" -- but Nigel was worried about Nick's physical fitness: dancing is a lot of hard work. Nick took umbrage at Nigel's concern and snapped some sassy remark at him, which caused Mary to go all oh-no-you-di'n't on him.

"You had my yes for choreography until you insulted Nigel," she said in a Don't-Mess-with-Mother voice. "But if you can be so disrespectful to the executive producer of the show, how will you be able to get along with the choreographers and your fellow dancers?"

Mia solemnly agreed, and Nick was forced to shamble off in a walk of shame, alll-l-l-l-l the way up the aisle past those many rows of staring eyes.

One of the nicest moments of the Seattle auditions came from a young man named Kuponohi’ipoi Aweau, a native of Hawaii, whose name means something like "Child of Truth and Beauty." I don't know about the truth part, but he had the bee-yooo-teee goin' on. Handsome guy! He did a contemporary piece and the judges and I disagreed on a point: Nigel and Mary thought that he did a few things that gave off a feminine vibe, but I honestly didn't see that at all.

There were a couple of other good dancers, but nobody who just stopped my breath, which was kind of disappointing. However, we did have to see that idiot David Soller, he with the Mommy issues who goes by the nickname "Sex." And I'm telling you, there just could not be a more ludicrous nickname. David has been around since Season 1, doting mother in tow, doing his best to blind us all.

The only other thing I can think of to say about David Soller is this: IS HE EVER GOING TO REACH THE AGE CUTOFF SO THAT HE CAN'T AUDITION ANYMORE?!?!

Here he is in a dance-off with another excruciatingly bad Seattle auditioner, Leonid Knyshov. Watch it at your peril, and please don't eat or drink anything without having a small wastebasket handy, because....oh, you'll figure it out.

Okay, I know you feel weak and shaky. Just go lie down on the sofa with a cool cloth on your forehead. I've built up some resistance to the Soller strain, so I'm fine. Let me just tell you that we now have one hundred seventy-eight dancers from across the country headed for Las Vegas with only twenty spaces to fill.

Next stop, Las Vegas!


darci said...

I also loved Nathan Trasoras - can't wait to see what he has in store for us next season. However, I get the feeling that the show's producers knew he was going to be awesome and also knew he was only 17, and only included him in this audition to get people excited to tune in for next season. Smart marketing move? I dunno. Kind of lame though.

Anyway, none of this is Nathan's fault, as all he does is dance. And boy does he DANCE. I love the sweeping, dramatic way he dances, and I was also so happy to see that he was dancing to “Pollen and Salt” by Daphne Loves Derby that he completely won me over. There’s a clip of his audition at :

Shelley said...

Hi, Darci!

Did you get the part about the "feminine" moves?

I think you're right about the producers creating a buzz for Season 6. Nathan is a handsome kid and an awesome dancer and people are going to want to see more of him, especially with the dramatic way he was ushered into the Las Vegas round -- he got a ticket before the auditions for S6 even got started!

darci said...

Hey Shelley...I also found that 'feminine moves' line a tad off...maybe they're not used to males pirouetting so smoothly?