“SYTYCD: The Next Generation” Season 13 Recap: Chicago Auditions

Welcome to the second stop on the "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation" audition tour. This week, we're in Chicago, hoping to find the dancers who will go on to compete for the title of "America's Favorite Dancer," a $250,000 prize, plus their very own DS cover.

The talent this week ranged from oh-so-cute (OMG 8-year-old Ainslee!) to oh-my-god (Diana, you're a rockstar). These were our five favorite moments from last night's episode. (Two words: girl power.)

(Photo by Chuck Hodes/FOX)

1. Diana

It's hard to believe this powerhouse performer is only 10 years old. (Was anyone else reminded of a young Ida Saki?) Diana came equipped with ridiculous extension, total control and stellar technique. We have no doubt she's going far, both in this competition and in life. (PS, was anyone else holding their breath during Diana's final developpé? Was it just us or did she hold her leg up there for a full eight minutes?) Reminder: She's only 10.

2. Daniela

Talk about a ballroom babe! "Your presence is larger than life," Paula told 11-year-old Daniela, and she was spot-on. This lady-in-red was so entertaining, and we couldn't take our eyes off her. (Those facials!) Fun fact: Daniela's mom was the first Cuban to ever win a world ballroom championship. Talk about good genes.

(Photo by Chuck Hodes/FOX)

3. Tahani

The 12-year-old hip-hopper—who opened by reminding us that "facials are very important in hip hop"—quickly proved that she's more than a cute head of curly hair and a hot pink bow. That Beyoncé music came on, and Tahani got down. We loved that she wasn't all tricks. Sure, there was a roundoff-back-handspring and a few rogue fouettes, but Tahani showed that she can dance. (Beyoncé Backups: The Next Generation, perhaps?) Oh, and then Tahani hugged Paula "too tight" and threw up. Literally.

4. Emma

The tapper with the fast feet and awesome abs danced to Paula Abdul's "Cold-Hearted Snake." Brilliant. (She also noted that, "Paula's music is older than me!") It's no surprise Emma's a master of fancy footwork: Her side hustle is playing on the soccer field! Her sounds were clear and her smile just about spread from stage left to right. Straight to The Academy for Emma!

5. Tia

Talk about pressure for this one: Not only are these dancers performing for cameras, a panel of judges and a full audience, but Nigel also pointed out to 12-year-old ballet dancer Tia that Joffrey Ballet's Fabrice Calmels happened to be in the audience for her audition. NBD, Tia! She handled it like a pro, though, and as soon as her music started, bam, she was in it to win it. (As Fabrice casually replaced Nigel on the panel. Again, NBD.) Those across-the-floor pirouettes at the end of her variation were no joke, but she survived them, and Fabrice called her brilliant and complimented her smile. (Actual big deal.)

(Photo Chuck Hodes/FOX)


That's all for this week! Next week we head to NYC. (If you missed last week's recap, check it out here.)

Want more Dance Spirit?

Latest Posts

Trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey in his work Boys in Trouble (Keegan Marling, courtesy Sean Dorsey Dance)

8 Phenomenal Trans and GNC Dancers to Follow

Whether through color-specific costumes, classes separated by sex, or the "traditional" view of the roles boys and girls should play in ballet, most dance students are taught that their gender determines their role in the studio beginning in elementary school. And, especially for those struggling with their own gender identity, that can cause harm and confusion. "From a very young age, I did not see myself reflected anywhere in the modern dance field," says trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey. "There was a really intense message I received, which was that my body and identity don't have a place here."

Despite significant societal progress in regards to gender representation, the dance world has trailed behind, and many transgender and gender nonconforming teenagers still feel lost within the world of dance. Prominent trans and GNC professional dancers are few and far between. "Being a Black trans woman means I have to work extra, extra, extra hard, because I have to set the tone for the people who come after me," says Brielle "Tatianna" Rheames, a distinguished voguer.

But the rise of social platforms has given Rheames, Dorsey, and other trans and GNC dancers a path to visibility—and that visibility helps create community and change lives. "Social media plays an extremely big part," Rheames says. "You can't just hide us anymore." Here are eight incredible trans and GNC dancers to add to your own Instagram feed.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search