During the season 14 premiere of So You Think You Can Dance
, aspiring performers from all over the world gather in Los Angeles for a shot at stardom.
Get excited, SYTYCD fans. The "Queen of Scream" and ballroom expert Mary Murphy is back, along with executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, and host Cat Deeley. Joining the familiar faces is new judge, singer/dancer Vanessa Hudgens. Cat promises that this will be the biggest, boldest and brightest season yet.
The Audition Process
Auditions kick off in Los Angeles, California. Each dancer gets to show off their skills, and those who fail to impress the judges will be sent home immediately. If the judges are on the fence, contestants face an additional round at the end of the day. They will learn and perform a routine created by choreographer Mandy Moore. If a dancer's audition is exceptional, they earn a ticket straight to the Academy.
Mark Villaver, 26, is from Honolulu, Hawaii. He inherited his love of dance from his mother, a street dancer who also happens to be deaf. Mark's style is breaking contemporary, and he calls it "Thera," as in therapeutic. It's all about letting go, being you and expressing yourself. Mary is impressed with Mark, citing him as one of the first breaker kids to come along in a long time that has integrated other styles. She loves his personality and spirit. Nigel praises Mark's many signature moves, promising that they'll remember him long after he's gone.
Next up are married couple and ballroom dancers Kristina and Vasily, both of whom hail from Russia. Their routine brings tears to Mary's eyes -- a first in the history of the show. The twosome were so intensely erotic and romantic that Nigel dubs their number "50 Shades of Dance." Nigel appears to have a bit of a crush on Kristina, singling out her technique.
Robert Green, 24, from Raleigh, North Carolina, isn't just a dancer; he also plays the violin. But after enrolling in a dance class in high school, he discovered an entirely new world. Violin is strict, but he discovered a freedom in dance. It made him feel alive. As soon as Robert finishes, Vanessa yells out how much she loves him and how much fun Robert is to watch. She finds him to be fierce, playful and funny. Nigel thinks the best thing about Robert is his creativity.
Alexis Gilbert, 24, from Riverside, California, performs a jazz routine. Mary calls Alexis "adorable" and can feel how much the young woman loves to dance. Vanessa credits Alexis with lifting the energy in the entire theatre -- a ray of sunshine.
Darius Hickman is 24 and from Green Acres, Florida. Nigel's mother got into a situation with drugs and wound up going to prison. Darius was taken in by his aunt, who got into an abusive relationship. The two tried to escape, but the man was able to track them down. Eventually, they broke free, but then Darius' aunt passed away. It was rough to get through, but when Darius found dance, he let all of it out. After his powerful routine, Darius earns a standing ovation and gets hugs from the judges.
Twin sisters Anastasiia and Viktoriia, 20, just arrived from Russia two days earlier. They traveled to the US strictly for this audition. The girls' dance style is modern. Nigel calls it "brilliant entertainment." He's a fan of how the girls created characters within the dance. Both Vanessa and Mary are emotional, and Vanessa thinks the story they told and the connection the sisters have are insane.
Don't Call Us, We'll Call You
Luke Dryjski, 29, from Tampa, Florida, loves music and is a singer and a guitarist who describes his style as "eclectic." Luke's been dancing for four years, mainly hip-hop. I'm not sure what Luke is doing on the stage, but it doesn't look like dancing so much as an organized fit. Nigel remarks that he's seen threading, but what Luke demonstrated was more like unraveling. Mary says she enjoyed it but doesn't see what Luke does as translating over to the show. Vanessa gives him props for his effort, telling Luke that he makes her want to dance. He invites Vanessa onto the stage, and the two do a cute impromptu routine. So Luke doesn't exactly go home empty-handed.
Are you glad that Mary is back? Is Vanessa a good addition to the show? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
(Image and videos courtesy of FOX)