So You Think You Can Dance Recap: The 5 Best Auditions from Los Angeles

eliana girardI’ll admit I was a little worried when judge Mary Murphy warned against excessive booty-shaking to kick off So You Think You Can Dance‘s Season 9 Los Angeles auditions, but then I remembered: We’re talking about the inventor of the mythical Hot Tamale Train, a woman whose hooting, hollering, and general hootenanny-ing is so patently goofy, there’s no way she would seriously place restrictions on the fine art of contestants putting their backfields in motion. Plus, fabulous guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson wasn’t cosigning that warning anyhow. Let the wild rump-bumping begin!

In all seriousness, though, the two-hour Los Angeles tryouts proved to be a fast-paced, action-packed affair, complete with a real live Lenny Kravitz nesting doll; a pair of funny, flamboyant brothers called the Ninja Twins (if Pauly D and The Situation have a summer home on Fox’s gross-looking The Choice, couldn’t the network greenlight a six-episode reality show following fabulous Nick and fabulous James’ fabulous adventures in styling/table-waiting?); and so many excellent performances that it’s going to hurt to narrow ’em down to just five faves. (Seriously, half of me wants to cut someone to make room for the Shaolin Warrior and Vegas Week vet Alexa Anderson, but alas, they must be denied for the moment.)

And anyway, like the old adage goes, they can’t all be winners. So here are my picks for the best Los Angeles auditions:

5) Caley Carr | With a chunder-inducing handlebar moustache, a backwards baseball cap, and unironic use of the word “gnarly,” I was all set to write off this surfer dude/skateboarder/barback/tapper. But I’ve got to be honest: Caley’s unexpected routine — set to Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” — left me mesmerized. I loved how the self-described “A.D.D. boy” mixed up the tempo of his tapping, the way he sped things up and looked like he was levitating, the way his torso took on a life of its own (with occasionally spastic outbursts), and the general herky-ness of his arms and neck. That bow and glare that punctuated the final line of the song completed my transformation from skeptic to fan, but alas, Caley just didn’t have the overall skill set to move past the choreography round. File under: Fun while he lasted. Also: Come back next year!

4) Jasmine Mason | I loved how Jesse Tyler Ferguson commented on Jasmine’s magnificent hair, and the fact that even just standing in front of the mic, she was serving “marble statue” elegance, because honestly, if this SYTYCD thing doesn’t work out, there’s always America’s Next Top Model. Jasmine’s choice of “I’d Rather Go Blind” was an inspired one, with the bluesy ballad allowing her to bring a languid sensuality to the stage that didn’t seem forced in the way that so many “sexy” contestants’ routines do. It’ll be interesting to see if Jasmine goes further in the competition than her brother, Vegas vet Marshea Kidd, who broke his neck and was in a coma just six weeks prior to his and Jasmine’s L.A. tryouts. I’m just hoping that crafty Nigel Lythgoe resists the urge to let ’em both advance to the Green Mile, then cut one at the last minute. Honestly, this family has suffered enough, haven’t they?

3) David Matz | Like the judges, I’d never heard of a “sear Cyr wheel,” but thank heavens for circus performers who live together in zany loft spaces dreaming up weird and wonderful new ways to entertain us. Watching David manipulate the giant steel ring like it was a lithe partner, seeing him hang from its rapidly spinning frame with just one hand and one foot, I understood why Mary called him a real artist and said she didn’t even care if he’d be able to master other styles. I’d have sent him straight to Vegas, too. But even though David fled the scene during choreography callbacks — that’ll teach him not to take a dance class for a full four years! — at least he didn’t hit a “slick spot on the stage” (a phrase that made me want to watch David’s performance through closed fingers). Oh, and at least we got this genius quip from JTF: “It’s amazing what you can do with one of Cat Deeley’s old earrings!”

2) Megan Branch | I expected something “pretty” and inoffensive from this 18-year-old Arizona gal, but that’ll teach me to judge a dancer by her “I’m a mama’s girl” intro package and sunny disposition. Megan’s routine — set to Björk’s “Hunter” — turned her into a beautiful but slightly dangerous insect, rubbing her hands together, cocking her head at odd angles, then taking flight with a spookiness graceful gawkiness that’ll be catnip to Sonya Tayeh. As Mary noted, Megan is “so So You Think You Can Dance.” Yep, Megan pretty much embodies many of the reasons this show will be on my DVR recording list forever.

1) Eliana Girard (pictured)| Talk about giving pole dancers a good name! The former Alvin Ailey member/Cirque du Soleil “pole aerialist” (who looks a little like 30 Rock‘s Kristen Schaal) introduced me to the wretched sound that’s made when human flesh rubs up against a metal pole — can you tell that everything I learned about strip clubs came from The Sopranos? — and then proceeded to deliver a performance so breathtaking it had JTF (not incorrectly) comparing Eliana’s exuberance to that of Season 8 champ Melanie Moore. Indeed, there was a deep emotional vein running through Eliana’s work, but also a technical excellence that was punctuated by her ridiculously good leg extensions and leaps. And let’s be honest: Eliana’s got a poweful sex appeal that’s just subtle enough to maybe win her more fans than uptight detractors.

What did you think of the L.A. auditions? Did I leave any of your faves off my countdown? And what did you make of the Ninja Twins? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps and interviews, 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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  1. Zoey says:

    So many awesome auditions in LA, I’m so thrilled!

    • elr says:

      I know! Michael why did you feel the need to limit it to just 5? Go ahead and make it the top 10 if the audition city warrants it.

  2. jac says:

    do you know the song that david matz danced/spinned to?

  3. wordsmith says:

    Good picks, though I would have gone ahead and bumped hipster-tapper Caley for Shaolin-Hawaii boy Cole. Definitely a ton of talent coming out of LA this year, though.

  4. Kate says:

    I did not enjoy the ninja twins. They were cute at first, but after awhile they start to grate. I thought it seemed like they were on forever because I was annoyed by them but I went back and checked they spent 9 minutes just on those two! I would rather see more auditions than devote that much time to any one act. And seriously if you were going to give away extra screen time I would have rather watched more on David and his ring dance or seen more with his friends! Even though he couldn’t make it through choreography it was really fun to watch something so different!

    • davey says:

      Completely agree! I got bored (and a little embarassed) with the twins after a few moments so changed the channel – but everytime I returned to the channel THEY WERE STILL ON!

    • LAR says:

      I wish they had cut out some of their antics and focused more on the choreography section! Who cares where these work???

  5. big cheddar says:

    I think Eliana will be in the top ten. If Cole is good in the other styles he’s studied, I could see him making it into the top 10 guys as well.

    Is it true that the performances won’t actually start until July? The auditions are fun but, c’mon – now that the show’s only on one day a week, let’s get on with it.

  6. Marko says:

    Why this awesome show don’t have better ratings is beyond me.

  7. monchy says:

    You should check out Billy George on Britain’s Got Talent for another awesome performance with the big hoop thingy that totally has a technical name.

  8. Kendal says:

    I agree with the top 5 pics, it’s shaping up to be a great season! It is actually called a “Cyr wheel” named after the man who invented it!

  9. Mimi says:

    I heart the Ninja Twins. Nigel get them a show post-haste!!!

  10. CAM says:

    A packed-full-of-incredible-talent evening! I have not decided on Eliana, despite the fact that she is very talented. Something about her rubbed me the wrong way. I had forgotten about her about half way through the show. What a great night!

  11. tewence says:

    yes on eliana!!! the pointe shoes were a surprise to me as she mentioned contemporary…however i should’ve known better as anyone who comes from juliard and ailey is well-rounded. i love how she is not scared to throw the pointe shoes on a do something that has a broader appeal than classical ballet (don’t get me wrong, my heart loves classical ballet). i loved the martial arts kid! i am very intrigued by him.

  12. Stacey says:

    Cole and Megan are my top 2 so far and I’m DYING to see them perform a Sonya Tayeh routine!! This week’s performances were way better than last week, and JTF really needs to stick around! He’s funny and knows what he’s talking about – plus he seems to calm Mary’s shrieking down some, and anything that controls that makes me happy!

  13. Templar says:

    I liked Jasmine [wow she reminds me of the late Brittany Murphy in Clueless] and Cole. This is my first time watching SYTYCD, so it’s all new to me.

  14. Eli says:

    So many good auditions this episode. Especially so many good women, its gonna be an awesome season!

    Also, Hiro is back! w00t!

  15. Sandi says:

    Cole was my absolute favorite although many of the girls were fabulous as well.

    I might be cynical but I was a bit put off by that whole “girl kicked out of the house” back story. I would LOVE to hear mom’s side of the story. I’m thinking it might be a bit more than just they “didn’t get along well.” If nothing else, mom had to have shelled out for some dance lessons because the girl was excellent.

    • Kate says:

      Her friend’s mom seemed genuinely upset about it, so I wasn’t as skeptical about that one. Paying for dance lessons is hardly proof of solid parenting. The one I was more cynical about the was the car accident. I felt like the details may have been beefed up for dramatic effect because it didn’t really make sense. They don’t just lightly declare some DOA. Not to mention he broke his neck but in the hospital picture there wasn’t any sign of support around his neck. Even in a coma they would make sure his neck was fully supported if it was truly broken. It no doubt looked like a bad accident, but I definitely think they went for the sympathy get us both through to Vegas card!

      • Sandi says:

        Paying for dance lessons (which cost a small fortune at her level) is certainly not proof of good parenting but it sure doesn’t make sense if the mother didn’t care about her daughter and wasn’t supportive of her dancing. As for the friend’s mother, she might be biased or not have all the information. On the other hand, the dancer’s mother could be a horrible witch who unjustly kicked her daughter out of the house. I have no idea. I’m just saying that it bothered me to get only one side of that story and see a woman vilified on national television with no opportunity to defend herself.

        By the way, I agree about the whole car accident thing. He was in a coma with a broken neck a few weeks ago and now he’s auditioning in a dancing competition? I’m not a doctor so I don’t know how credible that is but, if so, WOW.

        • Kate says:

          Where I live people have more money than desire to parent, so they will enroll their kids in anything to get away from them! Both cases make me wonder what kind of background the show does on these people before featuring them. I would think for legal and embarrassment purposes they would check out stories before allowing people to paint others in a bad light. I would love to know what the forms look like that the contestants fill out because obviously there is a section for potential sob stories, because the judges already knew about the car accident and it wasn’t random that Nigel guessed the girl’s parents weren’t supporting her.

      • It really depends where on the neck the break was, and what kind of break. I was in a car accident and did technically break my neck. But due to the nature of the injury and where it was located, I wasn’t in the collar any longer than x-ray and CT to confirm the injury.

  16. Michelle says:

    I think the best part about Caley the tap dancing surfer’s performance was that the song was unexpected and made me sit up and take notice. I wouldn’t expect anyone to tap dance to a Gotye song (at least the ones I’ve heard, not a huge fan here), so that was genius. It’s a shame he couldn’t back it up with other styles. I’m sure he’ll be back. (Nigel does love the tappers, after all.)

  17. Lyndsey says:

    I thought the same thing about the Ninja Twins! I hate reality TV but I’d definitely watch those two on their own show! Also loved the little pole dancer (though not the camera focus on her crotch). Overall there were a TON of great dancers last night so I’m already ridiculously excited for this season!!

  18. The producers have really given their all to make the auditions great this year.
    I think the Ninja Twins – so unfairly banned due to age (why did they get to audition, then?) – they need their own sitcom, if not their own reality show, called “Double Vision” – they are so entertaining! Call Andy Cohen – these kids need their own Bravo show, stat!

  19. Juan says:

    A lot of great girls yesterday, very good ones, Megan and Eliana were so good and a lot of them really were, great auditions in LA

  20. bouionice says:

    Great episode with mostly fantastic auditions. Agree with your top 5 but I too would swap Caley Carr for Cole the Shaolin guy. totally agree that the Ninja Twins should get their own reality show. I’m sure that it would be way more entertaining than the Honey Boo Boo Chile show that TLC just announced.

  21. Sha says:

    Great episode. The ninja twins need to be on TV in one form or another. I really liked Jazmine, the Asian dancer, Megan Branch and the dancer that was kicked out by her mom. I’m not sure if anyone should be compared to Melanie just yet though! This year’s winner has a tough act to follow for sure.

    • CAM says:

      Agree about not comparing anyone to Melanie at this point. I remember her first audition very clearly, and my reaction to Eliana did not come close to what I felt when I watched Melanie.

  22. JessiesGirl says:

    Did you notice that the loft they exterior they used to be David Matz’s building is the same one from NEW GIRL? The more you know….

  23. Sha says:

    p.s. more wacking please!

  24. Leanne Stoeber says:

    What was the name of the violin piece that Ileana danced to? I just watched her audition over again and was once again blown away.

    • Lana says:

      I loved every minute of this show tonight and I agree it was hard to narrow it down to just a top five. I would have definately put Cole in to that group, he was amazing besides being very sexy. I was annoyed by the Ninja twins at first and then I fell in love with them. I didn’t feel they were good enough dancers for SYTYCD so being too old was okay but I think they would make for a fun show. I think we will find out more about the girl’s, who was kicked out, personality as Las Vegas starts and we can get a better idea if Mom is a cold Bitch or not. Right now it seems like Mom is as her best friend’s Mom was pretty nice and thinks highly of her.

  25. Addison says:

    They didn’t show one audition, the guy that they said looks like Ryan Gosling. I was looking forward to seeing his audition and it was never shown!

    • shoshaunamom says:

      I know!! I was wondering if I’d somehow missed it! Poor editing job SYTYCD. Hopefully we’ll get to see him at some point!

  26. sincere troll says:

    Loved the recap and couldn’t agree more about your picks for standouts.

    But saying Eliana looked a little like Kristen Schaal is so off the mark it’s not funny. They both have faces, I’ll give you that.

  27. Magically Suspicious says:

    This is shaping up to be a great season. I found Cole breathtaking. I can’t wait to see him float through other styles. And SO many of the girls are good this year.

  28. Made says:

    I LOVE this show and am one of those who wonders why it doesn’t have a better rating *scratches head* The auditions I’ve seen so far are outstanding and augur a fantastic season. I really liked Jasmine, Eliana and Sam Lenarz from the girls and Cole and Caley from the boy (pity he didn’t make it and hope he comes back next season!). But David Matz… WOW, ridiculous talent! I don’t know if it was for this show but the guy needs to get a contract pronto! Watched Billy George’s (Britain’s Got Talent contestant) and I think David was much, much better and gracious. Highly anticipating the rest of the season :)

  29. SaraK says:

    The Ninja Twins need a reality show, pronto. I would totally tune in.

  30. p says:

    i loved eliana sooooooo muuuuuuuch <3

  31. kjell says:

    Regarding The 5 Best Ausitions from LA. I really liked the jazz melody Jasmine Mason danced to, but was it really Í´d rather go blind. Could you help me getting the right label.

  32. sue blitz says:

    Eliana was amazing,best dance/personality in 9 seasons.