So You Think You Can Dance Recap: The Five Best Auditions From Los Angeles

Thursday night’s So You Think You Can Dance Los Angeles auditions couldn’t have been more enjoyable if Mary Murphy had come to my apartment bearing expensive champagne and a crisp wad of hundred-dollar bills. Okay, okay…free money and hooch makes everything better. Nevertheless, mad props to SYTYCD for making me tear up (on at least three occasions), gasp (behold: The Ring: The Musical!), wince (at irritating Tyce Diorio yapping with abandon during the night’s opening audition), and even laugh at one of Nigel Lythgoe’s jokes (Contestant: “No ballroom, I’m afraid.” Nigel: “Like Tyce’s trousers!”)

Best of all, the one-hour telecast was full to bursting with fantastic dancing. Without further ado, I shall attempt to tackle the surprisingly difficult task of counting down the episode’s five best auditions:

5) Derion “D.C.” Chapman: Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve got a sinking feeling this charming young father-to-be will crash and burn when he’s forced outside his comfort zone in Vegas. That aside, however, I’m not sure I’ve seen a SYTYCD audition packed with more humor. I loved how Derion’s body absorbed the impact of an imaginary bullet on the line “shot down in May” (on Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”), and the way he oozed across the stage — his body seemingly free of the constraints of a skeletal structure — like a modern-day Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. Bonus points for getting Nigel to do “the cat daddy.”

4) Patty Anne Miller: Maybe her hip-hop routine to Ke$ha’s “Blow” wasn’t the most complicated or packed with tricks, but there was something hypnotic about the movement of Patty Anne’s body, the way she stuttered and skittered as if some special-effects whiz had removed two out of every three frames of film from the footage. What’s more, the argyle-sweater-sportin’, bowtie-lovin’ chica served great face to the judges, at once comical and confrontational.

3) Sasha and Natalia Mallory: There was something wonderfully organic about the modern/African routine concocted by this adorable sister act. I liked how their bodies struck poses that froze in slightly off-kilter ways, and the way they’d perform in perfect sync before breaking off into vaguely discordant positions, then seamlessly come back together. The fact that their playfully argumentative pre-performance banter had me howling with laughter was just icing on the proverbial cake.

2) Hero McRae: I initially worried that Hero — with her black vinyl pants, gold jacket, and braces — was being set up as some kind of joke audition, another sad riff on Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girl horrors. I mean, we even had Nigel congratulating her on her English. (Insert groan of agony here.) But to my surprise and delight, the bubbly Japanese import was absolutely astonishing, a super-fresh robot in jello — complete with routine-capping peace sign. I’m not sure how she’ll translate in, say, the Viennese Waltz, but I’m itching to find out.

1) Arielle Coker: I’ve watched Arielle’s routine four or five times now, and I suspect I’ll hit double digits by the time the weekend rolls around. Back for her fourth SYTYCD audition (she tried out in seasons 4, 5, and 7, too), Arielle brought equal parts beauty and horror to the stage — her face transforming from brilliant smile to terrible agony, the dynamics of her body language flowing from smooth and lyrical to tight and jittery. As Nigel pointed out, that move where Arielle created an arch with her legs, then made a 90-degree turn through the tiniest, quickest little steps, was mesmerizing. And I can’t recall a SYTYCD audition where a contestant had me holding my breath from the simple act of walking slowly, sensually, and perhaps just a bit menacingly, toward the front of the stage. (Wonderful ending pose, too — very Ringu!) If she’s not in this year’s Top 20, I’m calling 9-1-1.

Who were your favorite contestants from the SYTYCD L.A. auditions? Was I wrong to leave Jeanine Mason’s sister off my Top 5 list? (Not that she wasn’t pretty darn good…but I had her ranked at No. 6.) And was this one of the best audition episodes ever? (Heck yeah!) Sound off down in the comments, and for all my summer reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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47 Comments
  1. Kami says:

    #2 is actually Hiro. The show spelled her name wrong. I totally agree with your top 5!

    • Stephanie says:

      Yes, it should be Hiro, considering how she pronounced it (I haven’t googled her). Hero would be pronounced “Hey-row”

      She was AMAZING

  2. Delon says:

    I thought Hero was sensational. Twitch and Comfort were going gaga in the audience after her performance. Watching the improvement Arielle had in her performance level and technique was jaw dropping. I’m super psyched for this season.

    • Colleen says:

      Hero should be good—- she and her crew, We are Heroes, won America’s Best Dance Crew a couple of seasons ago.

  3. Cameron says:

    We Glamberts are very familiar with Sasha Mallory and her amazing dancing abilities -6 months of her Intl. tour with Adam Lambert taught us her versatility and talent and her twitter acct showed her amazing personality. You all are in for a treat!

  4. beth t says:

    I’ve pretty much agreed with all your top picks for all the audition shows! It’s going to be anther great talent year for SYTYCD!

    Just an FYI – Sasha Mallory was one of Adam Lambert’s dancers on his tour this past year. She is excellent – but her sister Natalia was the big surprise! Loved the two of them talking together – had me smiling and laughing!

  5. Saracen Riggins says:

    Arielle was easily my favorite audition of the night… and the season. I just could not believe how amazing she was. And her growth! I’m a fan FO SHO.
    I loved Jeanine with her sister Alexis. I did find her faces distracting, but the dancing was beautiful. I hope she goes far!

  6. Bob says:

    I thought Alexis was good but not nearly as good as her sister or even a lot of the other auditioners. She’s not top 20 material but she deserved to go to Vegas. It will be good experience for her. Like Arielle C., she’ll be great when she auditions again in a couple of years.

  7. LisaW says:

    Agree agree agree 100%%% as I almost always do with you……I have a soft spot for Sasha tho and she & her sister are all kinds of adorbs.. these kids are amazing and I look forward to seeing way more of them

  8. fromthegreyfort says:

    So glad you included Sasha & Natalia Mallory in your top 5. Learned so much about Sasha on the GNT last summer. Her talent and her personality should be more than enough to take her to the finals. I’m a huge fan and will be voting for her till my fingers bleed.

  9. gerritv says:

    Wasn’t Hiro (Hiroka) the leader of the ‘We Are Heroes’ dance crew that won season 4 of America’s Best Dance Crew? I believe that’s where I recognize her from. . .

    • Amy says:

      Yes, that’s her.

      • julie says:

        Wow. Isn’t winning one TV dance competition enough? What’s the prize on ABDC?

        • Lyndsey says:

          $100,000 & the title.

          But why should that matter? Dominic’s former crew also won ABDC (and he’s currently a judge on the show) & Phillip’s crew just competed in the ABDC finale last night as one of the top two crews (and if there’s any justice in the world they will win)! Completely different thing to compete in a crew than individually. By the way, Phillip’s crew is one of the best I’ve ever seen! Imagine him with 5 other dancers just as good…yeah it’s THAT incredible!

          • Anya says:

            I agree with you completely about I aM mE (Phillip’s crew): They are incredible, fantastic, outstanding (to borrow from JC) and, if there’s any justice, they’ll win.

    • Bingo says:

      ding ding!!

    • AnaB says:

      It took me a while to recognize her too, specially since she had short reddish hair during ABDC – and she didn’t wear that much makeup back then either.
      But yeah, it was definitely her! Good to see she still rocks! =)

  10. Sarah says:

    @gerritv
    yes Hiro is the leader of the “We are Heroes” dance crew. According to a search on her name she has been in a number of music videos since winning the ABDC show.
    She I also saw that she is a dance instructor. According to her website she has studied various forms of dance all around Japan, so I doubt the other styles will really be an issue for her.

  11. kyrjar says:

    Totally agree on the top 5. Arielle was stunning and I just love her growth and determination. Wasn’t prepared that she’d be that awesome, in the strength, humor, performance, etc. The remainder of the top 5 were also all great, all in one of the best hour of auditions ever.

    I’ll be very disappointed if she is not in the top 20.

  12. dctoronto says:

    Although I too wanted Randy, I mean Tyce to shut up, overall I love SYTYCD’s positive spirit. Why can’t Nigel create that dynamic on Idol?

    Does anyone know if the contestants get to use their own music and if yes, how is it that Dance can clear so many songs yet Idol cannot?

    • Julie says:

      @dctoronto: Maybe Nigel was trying to create that positive dynamic on Idol, but the judges mistook that to mean they should gush inanely. As for songs clearing, on SYTYCD the original recording is played. It’s a different thing to clear a song for someone else to do.

      • jado says:

        You’re right it is a different thing to clear an original recording than if someone sang the song.

        BUT it is actually HARDER to clear the original recording, than if somone just covered a tune. You have to license the “Publishing rights” and “Master rights” when using an original recording, where you only need one if someon is singing to a song. So the question remains – how come Idol can’t clear more music?

  13. kyrjar says:

    Also glad that Casanova girl didn’t make your top 5. She wasn’t bad but I did not get the gushing. It was kind of over the top skanky with lots of leg stretches and come-hither looks.

  14. Tucker says:

    I’m not sure about the order but I think I would agree with those 5 being the tops. (Though, really, seeing Jeanine again was tops in my book. ;-) ) One thing was definitely clear: L.A. was much better auditions than either Salt Lake or New York. In fact, as far as the episode went, I commented right at the end that we hadn’t seen anyone sent to choreography all episode. That was right before the Mallory sisters audition ended the night and they were sent to choreo. I’m just amazed that, at least by appearances, L.A. had much more dance talent than New York did.

    • Julie says:

      Of course it is not actually true that there is less dance talent in NY, the world capital of dance, than in LA. I’m sure that a great many New York dancers just wouldn’t consider a TV competition the right route for them. The best ones are too busy taking classes and striving to get into companies.

  15. Paige says:

    I’m really pleasantly surprised at all the really good dancers we had seen in all these audition episodes! I’m so excited for Vegas and the rest of the season!

    And yes, I knew of Sasha before last night because she danced for Adam and I thought she was amazing before, but I have to say, I don’t think the main appeal of her is that she danced for him. I think what will really capture her in the SYTYCD fans’ hearts is her personality & her lively dancing. THAT’S why I’ll be voting for her! I hope she goes very, very far!

  16. Emma says:

    Suberb talent, minimum amount of sob stories and second hand embarrassment, dancing that’s a joy to watch never mind that most of the viewers don’t know a thing about the technical side of dancing. Quick paced, to-the-point judging… I have a new talent reality show favorite! I hope that they quickly help the audience “learn” their favorites.

    • Rhama says:

      In my family we are all die-hard SYTYCD fans. What you said is 100% true and you can apply that for all 7 previous seasons. No doubt the best talent show on TV.

  17. T says:

    Hero and Arielle were definitely the standouts. I hope they make it into the top 20. But I’m still waiting for something to really WOW me. Hero came close, and she’s seems really humble.

    Check out my recap here: http://rantsofacrazyperson.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/so-you-think-you-can-dance-los-angeles-auditions/

  18. wondering says:

    Dumb question: if Sasha is already an established professional dancer, which I assume she is since she was on the Glam Nation tour, why is she trying out for this show? Aren’t they people who are dreaming of a career as a professional dancer, not those who already make a living doing it?

    • Teresa says:

      SYTYCD has always had professional dancers (mixed with those just starting out) audition and be cast. I think the first winner, Benji Schwimmer, the second winner of the show, had been a Swing champion before competing. Alex Wong, who was a finalist last season, was a principal soloist with the Miami City Ballet.

      If the casting pool were limited to non-professional dancers, then the show wouldn’t be getting the level of dance it does get.

      Of course, since it’s a reality show, the producers are going to play up the personal stories of the dancers, emphasize their struggles and such, and downplay anything that shows them being already successful. But, to Nigel’s credit, he doesn’t make people hide their experience. He does bring it up occasionally.

      I’m glad they’re going with Sasha and Natalia’s sister story, though. She deserves to be viewed as a dancer in her right, and not carry the baggage of having already been on a world tour.

      • Teresa says:

        Yikes. Okay, that was a copy-editing fail. Benji was the second winner (I mistakenly remembered him as the first). And the last sentence should read, “She deserves to be viewed as a dancer in her OWN right….”

    • Christie says:

      Most people who have made it on the show since season 1 have been professional dancers to some extent. Last season Alex Wong quit the Miami Ballet Company to have a chance of being on the show. It gives the dancers a chance to stretch and grow their skills rapidly, and it also gives them access to a level of name recognition that they otherwise have little chance to acheive.

      Quick – name your top 5 favorite professional dancers under the age of 30 that haven’t been on a tv dance show.

      Most people can’t. Despite how much SYTYCD has increased my love of dance, I still have very little exposure to young dancers that haven’t been on SYTYCD and ABDC.

    • Rhama says:

      I don’t see any problem here. Dancer’s life is tough so a little career boost could not hurt anybody.

  19. Jake says:

    I think these were the best audition episodes the show has ever had. Some really tremendous, unique dancers out there. Even the dancers they didn’t feature were pretty great-looking. Seem to be a lot of really strong female dancers this season, as your list implies. I thought Jeanine’s sister was very good (in my Top 5), but she doesn’t seem to have that effortless elegance that Jeanine has. I would love to see them perform a duet…

  20. bluz says:

    I’m obviously in the minority here, but I really wasn’t impressed with Hiro’s audition. I mean, I certainly couldn’t do that or anything, but I thought it was sort of ho hum. She definitely wasn’t on my top 5 list.

    I really liked the sisters at the end and was surprised by how good they were. The little clip they showed beforehand made them look kind of goofy, so I wasn’t expecting much. But they were great!

    I agree with another comment that the first girl’s audition was a bit over the top slutty, but I have to admit I still enjoyed it. I also thought Arielle and Patty Ann were great.

    Alexis’s expressions were extremely annoying. Loved her dancing, but not her face (while dancing) at ALL.

    I’m excited about this season. There are so many great people in Vegas and I can’t wait to see next week. I also appreciated how they didn’t show tons of terrible auditions, and the judges were even NICE to the people who totally didn’t belong on the show.

    • Lyndsey says:

      Ho hum?! I think anyone who can bring a group as distinguished as the former SYTYCD contestants to their feet deserves a top five placement! Even if you don’t know much about hip hop dancing, the fact that she had dancers the caliber of Twitch & Legacy going nuts should tell you how good her audition really was. There’s a reason her crew is the only all-female crew to win ABDC & a lot of it had to do with her!!

      And why is everyone hating on the first girl who danced? She was wonderful! I’ll never understand why people insist on calling women who are confident enough to embrace their sexuality sluts!!! Her performance was the definition of being sexy without being sleazy!!

  21. Thom says:

    These indeed were the best 5. :)

  22. Volcfom says:

    I give you made props for narrowing down that hour to only five performances. I wholeheartedly agree that Arielle was the best of the pack.
    This is my favorite reality show, and I’m so upset with myself for not watching the first three seasons. Michael, I’m so glad that you cover this show, too!

  23. Lana says:

    This has been my all time favorite show since season 2 and Benji. If Idol, Dancing with Stars, Voice and any others were up against SYTYCD I would never get to watch them cause nothing will take me away from SYTYCD. I did not know Michael wrote about this show so its the first time to read his recaps for SYTYCD and I am thrilled. Also I’m amazed at how much you’all (the fans) know about all these dancers. I wish I knew how you find out about them all but I love that you share your knowledge with us cause I love finding out all these neat facts. I just wish I knew how everyone knows about Adam and his tours as he is one of my all time favorite entertainers. I don’t know alot about surfing(is that right?) the internet but I’m learning all the time and its normally thanks to you’all. I am so looking forward to this season. I’ve always felt the judges on SYTYCD were so much better than any other judges from any other show and maybe thats why I love Nigel, even when he is doing Idol. I can’t wait for the next recap. Thank you Michael.

    • quincy says:

      maybe because people went to Adam’s shows and saw Sasha dance? Her twitter is @sashamallory and her youtube channel is dancingsquash. She’s so talented and she cracks me up!

      Love SYTYCD – only reality show I can stand watching!

  24. Meghan Sanett says:

    Hey! I’m actually “the contestant” who said I’m afraid of ballroom!! haha. That was such an awkward situation standing up there while Nigel was chattin’ it up about Tyce’s PANTS. Awkkkwarddd. haha. But I completely agree about your top 5 auditions and let me tell you, Arielle is one of the sweetest most hard working girls you’ll ever meet. She’s absolutely brilliant, so so glad they showed her talent off. =]

    • steffany gomes says:

      hi i am a fan of your youtube channel and i just have to say you are a brilliant dancer and choreographer so pleaseee audition again in season 10!

  25. jana says:

    I loved that most of the auditions they showed this season, in all the cities, were talented dancers, not crackpots like “Sex”. I definitely could have done without “Ringo Starr’s daughter”. The LA audition was really exciting. Elimination of many of the stupid / foolish auditions was a great change that makes me excited to watch the season. I definitely prefer the judging, the atmosphere, and especially the host (Yea Cat!) to Idol. Not sure why the feel of the two shows is so different with the same guy behind both of them.

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