Kleenex may want to look into a sponsorship agreement with Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” this season, considering the regular outbreaks of waterworks among the dancers, their friends and families in the audience and especially the new judges, choreographer Laurieann Gibson and show alum Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval.
The final round of auditions on June 8’s episode 5 was especially heart-tugging, given the back stories of some of the contestants, including contemporary dancer Mariah Russell, 19, from Nashville. When Laurieann asked where her dad is, she replied, “He’s in jail right now,” adding that she hasn’t seen him since she was six or seven. Her single mom is her role model who works two jobs to better support Mariah and her brother. Her goal is to show them how to be strong. Given her daughter’s skills and determination, she has succeeded considering her next stop is the Academy.
Even more emotionally uplifting was 19-year-old jazz specialist Phoebe Kochis from Denver. She may have Down Syndrome, but that didn’t keep her from showing dance ability from the age of two. Her mom says she signed her up for lessons and “she just soared.” She isn’t quite up to the standards of the others who earned a golden ticket, but the judges — softies that they are –will allow her to participate in the Academy anyway.
As for James Cody, 26, from Grand Prairie, Texas, he is a tremendously talented hip-hop and animation dancer who suffers from bipolar disorder. The judges are a bit harder on him, since he has auditioned for three previous seasons with not much luck. Top judge Nigel Lythgoe is skeptical of his readiness to do other forms of choreography. Nonetheless, he hears “yes” four times and gets a ticket.
SEE ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ 16 recap: Audition rounds end in a flood of tears
But according to you, the viewers, “SYTYCD” saved the best for last as 19-year-old tapper Eddie Hoyt (see video above) from Boscawen, N.H, decided to come back and try out again after being cut last season. 62% of those who responded to our poll said he was the dancer who stood out most in episode 5. Considering that ballroom queen Mary Murphy admitted that Eddie’s amazing spontaneous free-style hoofing to rapper NF’s “If You Want Love” was the first tap routine that has caused her to cry, that validated our results.
Contemporary dance Maia Bliudnikas, 19, from Leominster, Mass., whose surname was mangled by Nigel into “Blueknickers,” took 13% of the votes. It didn’t hurt that Mary dubbed her routine as “one of the most perfect auditions of the season.”
In third place is Mariah with a tally of 10% followed by hip-hop/animation dancer James with 9% backing. And Phoebe’s efforts were not for naught since 6% thought she was the best performer.
Given that only one tap specialist, Season 12’s Gaby Diaz, has managed to achieve the title of America’s favorite dancer in the 16 years the show has been on the air, it might be time to reward another who specializes in the style. Yes, tap might seem frivolous to some. But anyone who caught Hoyt, who dramatized the song’s rhythms in a way that was almost like acting, just might have the right stuff to follow in Gaby’s tap steps.
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