Dance News

Welcome, to "So You Think You Can Dance!" This week, we're in L.A. for the third round of auditions—and I'm thrilled to report that these auditions were far more successful and entertaining than what we saw on last week's show.

On with the recap!

The Top 5 Moments From The L.A. Auditions:

1. Jesse Tyler Ferguson on the judging panel. I love him on "Modern Family" and I don't even care that he may not be a dance expert. He's so stinkin' lovable as a self-proclaimed "super fan of the show," and you could tell he genuinely enjoyed sitting up there with Nigel and Mary. Adorable and hilarious.

2. Alexa Anderson! Our former Cover Model Search winner was the first one up last night, and she got sent straight to Vegas. No surprise there: We knew she was a star when we spotted her on the competition scene, you knew she was a star when you voted her the winner of the 2010 CMS battle, and now the rest of the world will know she's a star when Alexa inevitably makes it into the Top 20. (Seriously, Nigel and Mary: Put this girl in the Top 20.) We're rooting for you, Alexa!

3. "No lip syncing." Mary Murphy, I love you for this. High five. She told the crop of L.A. dancers that she did not want to see any lip syncing. Write this down, dancers and teachers. No one likes lip syncing! I don't care if you're doing a musical theater number to "Cell Block Tango" and you swear mouthing the words will make your performance more believable. Let the singers do the singing, you just worry about your sassy moves!

4. All the super-cute contemporary girls. I loved Sam Lenarz, whose mom kicked her out of the house and didn't support her dancing. Her story was heartbreaking, but with her killer feet and ability to light up the stage, I doubt she'll be held back in life. Then there was Megan Branch, who danced with a youthful innocence that I found incredibly compelling. Nigel called her a "little firecracker." And then there was Emily James! Emily was a DS Cover Model Search finalist and she was sent straight to Vegas. Duh.

5. Jonathan Anzalone. I basically like that he looks like Joey Lawrence, and I had a crush on Joey Lawrence when I was in elementary school and he was on that TV show "Blossom." Jonathan was quirky, fun to watch and could shake his booty better than any dude I've ever met.

The “So You Think You Can What?!” Moment of the Night:

How much did I love the "A-list celebrity on a B-list budget" twins, Nick and James Aragon? I loved them so much. They refer to themselves as the "ninja twins," one is a stylist, one works at "The Village Idiot," and their double cartwheels were to die for. Are they going to win "SYTYCD?" Um, no. Not at all. But they were adorable and I want them to take me shopping.

Check back next week when we'll be recapping Atlanta auditions. And of course, tell us what you thought of the show!

Wendy Whelan (by Henry Leutwyler)

Wendy Whelan

Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet

“One of my most memorable performances took place at the Palais Garnier in Paris in 2008, alongside dancers of the Paris Opéra Ballet. I danced the ballerina role in the second movement of George Balanchine’s Symphony in C. It took a lot of mental preparation for me to get ready for that moment—dancing this monumental role at probably the most famous opera house in the world, where Symphony in C actually had its premiere in 1947.

On a more personal note, my childhood ballet teacher was a dancer with POB. She was the first person who believed in me. She told me I had the potential to make something of myself as a dancer. I proudly danced that performance of Symphony in C in her honor. I still have my pointe shoes from that night. It’s the only pair of shoes I’ve ever saved from a performance.”

(Courtesy LINES ballet)

Meredith Webster

Alonzo King LINES Ballet

“One performance that remains clear in my memory was in Vaison-la-Romaine, in the Provence region of France. LINES danced there at an ancient open-air amphitheater. We were performing a collaboration with some of the Shaolin monks, and the feeling of being onstage with them, with ancient columns and worn bricks surrounding me and constellations in sight whenever I looked up, was overwhelmingly beautiful.”

(L to R) Jennifer Di Noia, Afra Hines, Nathan Peck

Afra Hines

Ghost: The Musical on Broadway

“My most memorable performance was my Broadway debut in Wicked in 2006. Growing up I was primarily a dancer—I didn’t sing or act. So doing Wicked on Broadway opened a whole new world to me. Now I’m in my third Broadway show, and I love it.”

Megan Branch (courtesy Celebrity Dance Competitions)

Megan Branch

Commercial Dancer

“Last summer, I competed for the last time at West Coast Dance Explosion Nationals with my studio, Dance Connection 2. I improvised my solo, and it placed in the top three. It was a little nerve-racking knowing I would be on my own the next year pursuing my dance career, but it felt really good to take the stage that last time and give it my all.”

Kenny Wormald (far right) with Timberlake (second from left) and dancers

Kenny Wormald

Commercial Dancer

“When I was performing on tour with Justin Timberlake, we did a show in Boston, MA, at the TD Banknorth Garden. I’m from Boston, and just a few years prior to the performance, I’d been back home in my living room trying to learn JT’s choreography. To return to my hometown performing with my favorite artist in the world was amazing. It taught me that anything is possible!”

Alicia Graf_Mack (by Andrew Eccles)

Alicia Graf Mack

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

“I performed Memoria this last New York season—it’s a piece choreographed by Alvin Ailey that I have loved since I was young. Memoria takes its lead dancer on a journey: She hears calls to go to heaven and ascends to another world. Groups of dancers move around her for much of the piece, so it feels like you’re dancing in a swirl of light. It was my first season back after not dancing for three years because of a knee injury and arthritis, so the plot of transcendence was close to my heart.”

 

Jacalyn Tatro (Michele Welsh/Inspirations Photography)

Jacalyn Tatro

Student, Inspire School of Dance in Naperville, IL

“Last year, I performed a dance called ‘The Lost Soldier’ at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals. Because it was on the Fourth of July, I felt a deep connection to what soldiers go through. I think all of us were able to move people in the audience even more than we usually do at competitions.”

 

Melinda Sullivan (center) (by Richard Termine)

Melinda Sullivan

Tap Dancer

“This past October, I performed with the New York Song & Dance Company at the Career Transition for Dancers Gala in NYC. I was featured as a vocalist and tap dancer in a number called ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin.’ I looked into the wings during the performance and saw Chita Rivera sitting there, smiling at us. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m singing and dancing for one of the world’s greatest song and dance women!’ After the show I had the chance to meet Chita. We had an exchange I’ll never forget. She was just like, ‘Do your thing, girl!’ ”

 

Hefa (left) and his brothers on the "DWTS" set

Hefa Tuita

Commercial/Ballroom Dancer

“Recently, my brothers and I performed a piece that I choreographed on “Dancing with the Stars.” To share that moment on the stage with my brothers—to be on TV in front of thousands of people with the people I love most—was so beautiful to me. The energy was kind of spiritual; it almost brought tears to my eyes.”

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