“SYTYCD” Season 7 Recap: Week 2, L.A. and Chicago Auditions

“So You Think You Can Dance” gave us a glimpse of its L.A. and Chicago auditions last night. I have mixed feelings about the audition episodes. On one hand, I love how they serve as a reminder of all of the undiscovered talent out there. On the other, I just wish I could fast forward through them and get to the actual competition. After all, who really wants to watch auditions? I don’t want to know about all of the less-than-stellar dancers the judges had to weed through to find their diamond-in-the-rough contestants (ahem, “hick hop”), I just want to see talented dancers do amazing work! It feels wasteful to spend so many valuable prime-time network television hours on people they are rejecting. (Every time I watch one of these episodes, I can’t help but marvel at how this type of thing only works on TV. Imagine if you shelled out for seats to a Broadway show, but before they started the performance, the director made you watch a few hours of video outtakes from the open casting call? That would be excruciating!)

My mini-rant aside, there were some GREAT dance moments on last night’s show, and there are a couple of dancers that I’ll really be rooting for in the Vegas round. Here are my 5 favorite contestants from last night’s show:

1) Rhythmic gymnast, Rachel Girma, was a pleasant surprise. Her athletic routine was jam-packed with tricks, but she carried it off with the perfect balance of energy and grace. Though dance hasn’t been her focus, I have a feeling that her strength and control might be enough to help her adapt to the multiple styles she’ll face in Vegas. I’m really excited to find out how far she’ll go.

2) Latin dancer Christina Santana, a personal favorite during the Season 6 auditions, returned stronger than ever. I loved her fiery energy last season, and I was bummed when she didn’t make the top 20. She’s such a compelling performer and her musicality is top notch. Here’s hoping that this will be her breakout year.

3) I was really intrigued by tapper Melinda Sullivan. Like Nigel, I was less-than-thrilled with her song choice (a ballad by Stevie Wonder), but I love that she was confident enough to break the mold and do her own thing. I admire her for taking such a risk. The song choice aside, her actual tapping was incredible. Speed, grace, clarity—check, check, check. Her technical prowess combined with her confidence and unique style (those combat-boot tap shoes were killer!) should carry her far.

4) Ryan Ramirez really moved me with her emotional contemporary performance. I, like some of my fellow editors, was really shocked by the judges’ criticism of her presence. All three judges felt that Ryan didn’t make enough of an effort to connect with them, while I just marveled at how completely she was able to lose herself in the movement.

5) Kent Boyd, the 18-year-old contemporary dancer from Wapakoneta, IL, stole my heart last night. The judges and producers may have played off his small-town roots, but he’s certainly no small-town dancer! His lines were beautiful and his overall technique was stellar. He’s also adorable! I hope he follows the judges’ advice and infuses more of his endearing personality into his performance going forward.

So those were my favorites. What did you think? Chime in here.

Tune in tonight for the final audition show!

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