"So You Think You Can Dance" returned with its third round of auditions, landing smack in the middle of LaLa Land. Characters ruled in the Los Angeles leg of the competition, in an episode reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster. Guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson of "Modern Family" joined judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy in narrowing down the dancing field.
While hip-hop, animation and exorcism ruled in the season premiere of "SYTYCD," the second episode was saturated with contemporary routines full of sensuality, sadness and ... martial arts? It was the dancers' unique personalities that brought their talents to life.
The heroine came early but left a serious mark with the judges. Eliana Girard, a trained dancer, circus performer and pole dancer, wowed the judges with her mile-long legs and emotional connection to the dance. Murphy said Girard was "Definitely top 20 material," while Lythgoe commented, "You are one of the best girls this year." Girard received a standing ovation and a sweet golden ticket to Vegas.
Jontel "Johnny Waacks" Gibson — need we say more? "I think I was born in the wrong era," Gibson said of himself in his intro package as he donned a bright '70s-inspired outfit to go with his revival of the dance style "waacking." More than his dance, Gibson had the judges splitting with laughter as they made reference after reference to the sexual innuendo behind the word "waacking." The waacking routine was not the first in the show's history, and Gibson did not make it through to Vegas after falling flat in the choreography round.
Hilarity ensued upon the arrival of twin brothers Nick and James Aragon, a.k.a. the "Ninja Twins." The athletes-turned-dancers entertained to the max with their twin jibber jabber — finishing each other's sentences, speaking simultaneously and ribbing one another about who was the "best." After their joint performance, Lythgoe exclaimed, "You have made this show for me, right now." Unfortunately, the eccentric siblings were two years too old for the 30-year eligibility cutoff required and could not make it through but were praised for their talents and told to get a reality show.
Every story has a victim, and in this episode, it was 18-year-old Sam Lenarz. After multiple disagreements with her mother, the teenager was thrown out of her home and taken in by her best friend's family. The pain of the ordeal was evident in her performance. Jesse Tyler Ferguson pointed out that her routine was laden with "simmering sadness, in a beautiful way." Things turned up for Lenarz after she was granted a go-ahead to move on in the competition.
Cole Horibe proved to be more than a pretty face, as most action heroes do, with a martial-arts-infused dance that showed off his inhuman strength and control. Performing with extreme precision, the judges called Horibe's legs "lethal" and without blinking offered him a ticket to Vegas. The decision was easier after Horibe jokingly threatened to come after the judges if they didn't.
What story would be complete without a villain? OK, a reformed villain, to be precise. And Wednesday night's came in the form of Jonathan Anzalone, a former contestant from season four who returned to humble himself after his first audition debacle on the show. Anzalone was criticized for his arrogance and returned to prove to the judges and the world that he had matured and respected their decisions. Their final decision: good, but not good enough. Anzalone was not allowed to move on.
The real scene-stealer of the night, though, was Marshea Kidd. The 22-year old had auditioned unsuccessfully in seasons past but returned with a whole new take on dance and life. Kidd had survived a horrific car accident just six weeks prior, pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital. His "SYTYCD" audition was his first time onstage after breaking his neck and coming out of a coma. Kidd's beautiful performance illuminated the stage and his new zest for life was felt by all in the room. Speechless, the judges merely waved a golden ticket in front of Kidd and reduced him and his family to tears.
The dancers in Los Angeles more than lived up to the judges' expectations and took the show further with their diverse characters. "So You Think You Can Dance" returns next week in the Dirty South.
Which dancer was your favorite on "So You Think You Can Dance"? Share your comments below!