Sunday, June 16, 2019

So You Think You Can Dance S16E02: Judges Auditions #2

So You Think You Can Dance Has a Family Night

Toddlers and Mothers and Babies, Oh My!
by Stephen Mosher

Episode two of Season 16 of SYTYCD was filled with beauty, both in the performances and the performers. It is really refreshing to be treated to positivity instead of the insanities and insults of past seasons. It must be a new mission statement from the front runners and producers of the show: only happy stories and pretty things. What a relief from all the ugliness in the world, and with the episode I fell more in love with the two new judges, Laurieann and Dominic, whose love of dancers definitely shows, as more dancers traveled to Hollywood and the SYTYCD Theatre to chat with Cat and dance their feet off in a night filled with family matters.

The dancers moving forward:

Sumi Oshima, hip hop. The 26-year-old native of Japan explained her parents put her in dance school because she was a troublemaker, which endeared her to Laurieann, who proceeded to leave the judges chair and join the gum chewing, endlessly smiling contestant, post performance, smack her on the ass and say 'Bad Girl!', her own personal way of applauding her, because Sumi crushed it dancing to ‘Koto’. 'You have stolen our hearts' was Nigel’s endorsement of her Golden Ticket winning skills.

Caroline Del La Rocha, contemporary. The Knoxville native shared the sad story of not being spiritually supported by her father, sparking a moment of personal sharing from Mary, whose father did not speak to her for two years when she went into dance. The 18-year-old followed up her therapy session with the world by performing a powerful piece to ‘Bird Set Free’ before the judges pointed out the haphazard and uncontrolled way she danced. 'Turn off your brain so your facilities can live' offered Dominic. It looked like Caroline would not be put through but with Laurieanne’s compliment that 'You make me FEEL something', she got enough votes to get a Golden Ticket to Academy

Samuel Sweetser, hip hop. Perhaps the happiest contestant of the night, the B Boy shared that '24/7 my entire family is dancing', even sharing his pride about his two-year-old dancing son, Koa, who Nigel insisted on bringing to the stage. The father and son dance duo warmed everyone’s hearts and, after, the father set the stage on fire with humor, athleticism, musicality and swag, dancing to ‘Squeeze Me’. Four immediate yesses.

Gianna Newborg, contemporary. This 19-year-old who works with bff/mom in the family hoagie shop brought theatricality and darkness to the dance floor with a piece about kidnapping. Her 'dark as it can get' solo to ‘Rescue Me’ inspired a huge response from judges and audience alike and she was instantaneously bestowed with a Golden Ticket.

Nazz Sldryan & Stefan Yeritsyan, ballroom. 21-year-old Nazz and 23-year-old Stefan used to compete against each other but recently decided they make better allies and joined forces to do SYTYCD. With only two months of dancing under their belts, they did a cha cha cha that wowed the judges and caused Mary to say 'Hell Yes', and put them on the Hot Tamale Train. Their number to the song ‘Bailar’ was laden with chemistry and connection, one hopes they will find the same chemistry with other dancers at The Academy.

Kaeli Ware & Brandon Talbott, contemporary ballroom. Ware, 18, and Talbott, 19, quickly shot down Nigel’s question 'are you a couple', but the truth is that they ARE a couple - a dance couple. They move onstage as a married couple moves through life: with total trust and confidence in one another. They relate to each other so well it is clear how much the really like each other. It was a dazzling dance performance to ‘Torn’, landing each of them in the next round.

In quick snippets we see contemporary dancers Tra Wilson, Howard Johnson and Abigail Hau being put through to The Academy.

In a special SYTYCD moment, 'Korra' Obidi Dean walked onstage in an advanced state of pregnancy. Sharing the story that she is a Nigerian Princess who moved to the states to be with the love of her life, she gave a surprising dance to ‘Bad Man’ that combined her native culture and belly dance, leaving the judges screaming with her drop split. The judges all loved her, praised her ('There is so much purpose in your choices' said Laurieann), and then sent her home. The glowing and grateful Princess said her goal was 'to create a shift for my people' and for 'every girl in Nigeria to see you can do anything you want.' It was a moment of magic on Episode 2.

So far the season is shaping up to be a pretty good ride, life affirming and happy, filled with joy and humanity. And lots of family.

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