Every once in a while an act comes along that causes a rift at the “America’s Got Talent” judges’ table, and marionette dancer Noah Epps was just that act. At the top of Tuesday night’s episode, the 11-year-old was getting ready for his performance when Howie Mandel declared, “Single dancers are always harder to me,” referring to them having to command the “big stage” all on their own. That’s when Heidi Klum interjected, “No, it depends on how good they are.” For the next 90 seconds, Noah entertained the crowd with his puppet-like moves and creepy contortionism (watch above), and sure enough, Howie’s mind was completely changed.
“Howie was saying it’s hard for one dancer to command the stage, but 11-year-old Noah got us all up on our feet,” Heidi declared at the conclusion of the boy’s high-octane performance.
Howie nodded and stated, “I think that I was wrong. You did command the stage.” The long-running judge then added, “I’m trying to put it in terms that you can understand: what you just did was lit.”
As for the other judges, they were completely in agreement with Howie and Heidi. Sofia Vergara called Noah’s act “fantastic” and hopes to see it “more and more” as the competition progresses. Simon Cowell noted how Noah “told a story” through his dance and recognized the “fire” and “determination” in his eyes.
If Noah goes on to win “America’s Got Talent” Season 15, he’d be only the second dancer to prevail after Kenichi Ebina in Season 8. (See the “AGT” winners list.) Like Noah, Kenichi was an experimental dancer whose moves often shocked the crowd and left them speechless.
In his “AGT” live blog, our recapper John Benutty had this to say about the performance: “Tonight’s first audition came from dancer Noah Epps, a confident 11 year old whose father was beaming with pride as his son walked on stage. Prior to the routine, Howie told Heidi that it’s harder for solo dancers to command the stage, but after Noah’s awesome marionette-themed show Howie had to eat his own words. The judges loved that he managed to tell a story in such a short amount of time and he made them all want to see more from him. So naturally we’ll see him in the next round on the heels of a sweep of yes votes from the panel.”