It’s not the heat it’s the humanity
by Stephen Mosher
If Episode 4 of SYTYCD
was about meeting interesting characters, Episode 5 is about that box of Kleenex you’re going to need! Have Mercy, with the heartstrings and the tears. But the truth is that I loved every minute of it. Andrew Avila (25) and Melany Mercedes (24), salsa
. This twosome from the Bronx returned after last season, clearly having noted and listened to the critiques they were given! The judges were super excited by them and their street brand of Latin ballroom, loaded with sharp hits and fluid hips - so excited they ovated them after their number to ‘Sal A Bailar’. The height difference between the two is so pronounced that Andrew barely had to exert himself to do a high kick over Melany’s head! Mary called their style authentic, and when it was remarked upon that they took the old critiques well, Andrew laughed and said, 'I smiled my ass off!' It will be a real pleasure to see what the duo brings to The Academy.
Dancer number two was Michael Sales, hip hop
. Michael, 25, hails from Matawan, New Jersey and spends a few minutes sharing that he was bullied as a youth, wishing to be an athlete but unable to because people ostracized the young Filipino - so he found a Breaking Club in his school and it lead him to a life where he was named one of the Top 100 Best B-Boys of 2017. The personality-laden dancer delivered a dance to ‘Perm’ that lead Laurieann to thank him for 'paying honor to the groove', Nigel to use the word 'stunning' and Dominic to tell his fan 'I am inspired by YOU.' After comments like that, it was a given he would be at The Academy.
Mariah Russell, contemporary
, is a completely irresistible 19-year-old from Nashville who shared with everyone that her father has been in jail since she was 6 or 7 and that her Mother did all she could to provide for the family, including dance lessons. This young dancer is petite, but not when she is in motion - then she becomes a Titan, performing breathtaking feats of strong athleticism and lyrical fluidity, never once forgetting that the face is a part of the dance. Mariah gives good face. This was a true story she told us, leaving Laurieann in tears: 'I see myself in you … Don’t worry about what other people think … You got to fight,' and then she offers her would-be protege some great advice: 'You’ve got one dance … get there quicker.' Nigel expressed, 'When the choreography hits the impact of the music it just exhilarates us.' Mariah walked on the stage a girl and left a woman with a golden ticket to The Academy.
A montage showed contemporary dancers Shamus Moriarty(18), Olivia Alboher (18), and Luke Phillips (19) delivering what appear to be dances good enough to send them to The Academy.
Phoebe Kochis, jazz
. The adorable 19-year-old from Denver was born with Down Syndrome, and her Mother was told the girl would never do anything they expected. At an early age, though, the child showed a proficiency for dance and the parents enrolled her in class. Now it is her time to 'reach for the stars' and try for that which has been her dream since she was six. The winner of the Colorado Miss Amazing Pageant (for young women with disabilities) told Laurieann, 'I am overcoming to be a star on So You Think You Can Dance
!' and, with that, won everyone’s hearts. Her number to ‘Tore My Heart’ showcased her limber abilities and her limitations, but the judges loved her. 'You’re my hero,' said Laurieann, while Mary told her, 'You’re a ham out there!' Dominic lovingly flirted with the Sass Master, and the wonderful, gorgeous, loving, gentle Nigel told her honestly that she would not be right for the competition but that he would love for her to be his guest at The Academy. There was no dry eye anywhere as the elated young woman left the stage with her Golden Ticket.
James Cody, hip hop
. The 26-year-old Grand Prairie native has tried out for the show in Seasons 10, 11, and 12, making it to Vegas in season 12. He confesses that he has a diagnosis of Type 2 Bi-Polar, an illness that troubled his father, who took his life at the exact age James is now. 'Dance is absolutely something that helps -- it’s a mood stabilizer, a natural one.' His hip hop/robotics number to ‘Take/Give’ reminded me of the great clowns of the silver screen, and my husband called him a 20th Century Scarecrow from Oz. Mary 'Loved every second of it,' Nigel said, 'You annoy me because you are brilliant at what you do ... I don’t believe you have done your homework.' Ever the poetess, Laurieanne offered, 'Your future self deserves for you to humble yourself and strategize for a bigger win' and though it was touch and go for a moment, they put him through to The Academy. Like they ever weren’t. The young man impressed by telling the offstage camera, 'I am going to work TO NIGHT.' Git ‘er done.Maia Bliudnika, contemporary
. From the moment her performance to ‘Rain Dance Marian Hill Remix’ started, it was clear that this 19-year-old from Leominster, Mass. is a diva. It’s immediate. You can see it. The precision leaves you awestruck, indeed Laurieann was slack-jawed with awe. Nigel: 'It never stopped being entertaining.' Dominic: 'Absolutely loved it.' Laurieanne: 'The lines went on forever' and Mary: '..played everything right … one of the most perfect auditions of the season.' They did not lie. She was a revelation - one headed to The Academy.
Last season we all met Eddie Hoyt
, a tap dancer from Boscawen, NH. Now 19 and living in Utah, teaching dance at a prestigious dance school, Eddie shares how much his life was changed when, last season, he came out on television. There were growing pains for him and his parents, but all is good now, evidenced by teary-eyed mom and dad sitting in the audience. Eddie shared his story with the audience through words and then did it again with a completely magnetic tap dance that left the entire panel of judges at a loss.Tears streaming down her face, Mary commended Eddie because he 'put so much into it' before declaring, 'I don’t think I’ve ever cried over a dap routine!' Laurieanne told the virtuoso performer that 'greatness needs no explanation', and it was clear he was going to The Academy. That is when the daring kid without boundaries shared the most amazing secret of all: the routine he had just done to ‘If You Want Love’ was not choreography - it was him freestyling. Laurieann threw her hands up and Dominic said: 'You’re gonna make me cry again, man!' And with Mary saying, 'It’s always been a yes for me,', he had his Golden Ticket to The Academy.
And that is it for the auditions. All the beautiful people who left it on the floor are on their way to The Academy, otherwise known as Hell Week. And, kids, we are all ready for it, when it happens Monday, July 15 at 9 PM.What did you think of this episode? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
Read more by Stephen at Hotchka.com!
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