Dance News

"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: NYC Auditions Part 1

Jef Neira/FOX

Welcome to New York—it's been waiting for you! (Seriously, find a situation in which there isn't a perfectly applicable and relatable Taylor Swift quote.)

On last night's episode, "So You Think You Can Dance" hopefuls strutted their stuff for Nigel, Mary, Vanessa, and tWitch in the Big Apple, home of Broadway, ballet, and Dance Spirit. Could NYC's talent rival that of its sunny west coast counterpart? Here's how the auditions shook out.


Emily Carr

Holy legs for days! Holy mega-watt smile! Emily's older sister got her into dance 16 years ago, and it's always been her dream to audition for "SYTYCD." Despite her initial nerves (and adorable giggles), once Nigel gave the "cue music," Emily was all heart and a lot of soul—rooted in some very solid technique. Nigel told Emily she set the standard for the rest of the night, and praised her control and performance quality. (Cut to Emily's proud sister crying in the audience, and us crying on the couch.)

The verdict: Emily's Academy-bound!

Gabriel Alvarez

Gabriel's dad left his family when Gabriel was just seven years old, and dance was the thing that kept him happy and grounded. He moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States by himself in order to pursue his dance dreams. Now he's on the "SYT" stage—with a giant hoop! Gabriel's audition was like Cirque du Soleil meets Spider-Man. After his performance, tWitch said he wanted more, so Gabriel prompted him to "drop a beat." He ditched the ring, put on a jacket, and...turns out, Gabriel is a budding b-boy. His spins and freezes were solid, and he took the improv challenge in stride, which Nigel appreciated. Vanessa wanted more, but tWitch said it was dope and applauded Gabriel's charisma.

The verdict: A no for Nigel, yes for tWitch, no for Vanessa, and no for Mary. So no Academy for Gabriel, unfortunately. Or his hoop.

Evan DeBenedetto

Yay tap! Evan is trained in all styles—he auditioned last year and made it all the way to the Green Mile before Gaby picked Lex instead—but tap is his jam. And just like last year, Evan showed up to his audition with a classy look, a cute smile, and the crispest sounds around. It was good enough to earn him a standing ovation from all four judges. Mary told Evan she thought this was going to be his year, and Nigel reminded him that he was tremendous last season and is still tremendous.

The verdict: Academy!

Rachael Blanchard

Can we get a "heck yeah" for classic jazz on the "SYT" stage? Rachael would've been right at home in the Chorus Line lineup. Her performance was fueled by emotion and a big ol' smile, and Rachael confessed that her nickname is "Baby," as in Baby from Dirty Dancing. (Don't put her in a corner!) tWitch applauded her performance quality, Mary said it was like cotton candy, and Nigel praised her pirouettes but critiqued her less-than-smooth transitions.

The verdict: Vanessa and Mary were all for Rachael, while tWitch said she needs more work. The final vote came to Nigel, who seemed conflicted, but ultimately gave her the Academy ticket.

Kyle Bennett, Jr.

Another Season 14 veteran! Kyle Bennett Jr. made it to The Academy last year, but Fik-Shun chose Dassy as his partner instead. Now Kyle's back and ready to strut—and to tut. His insane tutting and animation routine earned a standing ovation, and even got tWitch to scream, "Now that's an audition!" (Petition to make tWitch a permanent member of the panel, and also a permanent member of everything always? Sign in the comments, please.) Is he good at other styles, though? Can he be the next Fik-Shun? We're going to get the chance to find out, because...

The verdict: ...the judges unanimously decided to send Kyle [back] to The Academy.

Victoria Neukom

When Victoria was 15, her family lost its business, house, and land. But she didn't lose her dance training, which her parents made a priority. And it shows: Victoria is a captivating contemporary dancer, with banana feet, and the ability to flip forward, backward, and around in circles while balancing in a handstand. Vanessa gave the performance a "wow" and a giggle of approval, and Mary said choreographers will love to get their hands on her, but Nigel wanted more ballet roots and dance movement and fewer acrobatic elements.

The verdict: Guess the lack of ballet in the choreography didn't bother Nigel too much, because Victoria is on to The Academy!

The Olsen Twins Gratsiela & Desislava Sandeva

Gracie and Daisy could totally be b-girl versions of Mary-Kate and Ashley, right?! The tiny twins are fit, fierce, super stylish, and impossibly adorable, particularly when standing next to Amazon woman Cat Deeley. ("You're like mini people!" Cat exclaimed.) Unsurprisingly, they performed totally in sync with each other, and incorporated some fun partnered elements. Was it the best hip hop ever? No. Would they be really cute in a Gap or Apple commercial? Yes, and we'd buy anything they were selling. Vanessa thought it was great and original, tWitch said it was fun and basic but not advanced enough for "SYT" Season 15, and Mary wants to be one of their sisters.

The verdict: No to The Academy. Yes to our hearts.

Elan Lurie and Jordynn Lurie

Brother-sister salsa dancers, eee! Most siblings can't even be in the same room with each other most of the time (raise your hand if you and your siblings still fight for the front seat in the car!), but these two can salsa together? That's seriously impressive. As was their performance. At one point, Jordynn leaped over Elan's shoulders and landed in a split; then he lifted her over his head and spun her around; then he put her down and spun her more. (Jordynn, are you OK? Are you dizzy?) The routine got a standing ovation from the audience, and high praise from resident ballroom pro Mary. Nigel wanted more smiling, Vanessa said "ooh!" and "aah!" and "yeah!" and "my gosh!" and tWitch thought it was dangerous and exciting.

The verdict: Family reunion at The Academy!

Next week, we're back in NYC for more auditions. And probably more Taylor Swift quotes, tbh.

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