So You Think You Can Dance Atlanta Auditions Recap: Stop Dragon My Heart Around

So You Think You Can Dance 2012 AuditionsYou know you’re watching a particularly fantastic episode of So You Think You Can Dance when Debbie Allen spends a good chunk of the two-hour telecast shimmying her shoulders and spontaneously shouting encouragement like “Work it out, Ms. Thing!” and “This child is fierce!”

Oh, and by “Debbie Allen,” I also mean myself.

Seriously, not only was the third episode of SYTYCD‘s ninth season stuffed to the point of exploding with talent, but we also got to see Miss Debbie grinding up on Nigel Lythgoe* while doing a dance called “The Wobble”; a totally adorable mom revisiting her cheerleading years; and a grandma (a former dancer herself) so overcome with emotion that she promised to cry over every single one of her granddaughter’s future  SYTYCD performances — “even when they do hip-hop.” (*More hilarious and less disturbing than you’d imagine)

Also hilarious? This amazing exchange between my favorite recurring judge and the aforementioned grannie:

Debbie (praising granddaughter Courtney Kirby’s tryout): “Eighteen years old and you’re already a beast!”
Grandma: “She’s more of a butterfly.”

Later, when Debbie and Mary Murphy outvoted Nigel, sending Courtney straight to Vegas instead of forcing her to further prove herself in the choreography round, Grandma quipped, “Are you sure you don’t want to change your mind so you don’t look ridiculous?”

Anyhow, before this turns into a recap of So You Think You’d Be Perfect for Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, let’s get into the five best auditions from the ATL, three of which came from a dance collective of talented kids crammed into one apartment operating under the name Dragon House:

5) Asher Walker: Mary was right that Asher’s technique may not have been as crisp as some of the show’s best b-boys, but as Debbie noted, it was almost as if the small-town Virginia kid took the language of hip-hop and translated it into something unique and unexpected. There was such an incredible lightness to Asher’s feet that he seemed to be on the brink of levitation throughout his routine, and there were a few moments where his movement almost seemed to mimic swing and riverdance styles to connect his bag of tricks. Justin Bieber could do a lot worse for a backup dancer.

4) George Lawrence II: There was something alternately sad and stirring about George’s backstory, the way his father cheered him on through basketball, football, soccer, and a promisng track career, but couldn’t quite muster the same enthusiasm when his son switched to dance. On the floor, though, George noted that he has the freedom in knowing “I am who I am,” and that vibe percolated through his entire routine — his leaps felt like he was breaking free of the ground, his extensions a way to reach beyond his circumstances. I’m not sure I loved George’s routine as much as Debbie did — there were still a few moments where I felt his movement looked a little leaden — but that move where he went from completely prone into a headstand was a thing of breathtaking power.

3) Audrey Case: Okay, so Nigel was right that we didn’t need to know about her hidden “talent” of making fart sounds with her neck — “it’s probably why she’s never had a boyfriend,” zinged Mary Murphy — but Audrey’s audition was a bracing mix of sweetness and sensuality, grace and flexibility. I’m usually bugged by dancers who keep smiles plastered on their faces from start to finish, but in this instance, Audrey’s big grin felt inviting, almost seductive, juxtaposed with the Bette Midler come-on “Do You Wanna Dance.” And at just 18, you’ve got to imagine there’s room for the kid to keep on growing as an artist.

2) Boris Penton/Andre Rucher: I’m combining two of the three residents of “Dragon House,” mainly because I figure when it’s all said and done, Nigel & Co. will probably send only one of ’em to the live shows. (Also, the episode was too good not to spread the wealth a little.) Boris’ routine was in many ways the most subdued, but his skittery movements juxtaposed with the plaintive sounds of a piano piece was as surprisng as it was stirring. Plus, I’m not certain the guy has any bones in his legs. Andre, meanwhile, took the stage feeling “nervous and tired,” but none of it showed when he transformed his body into a fully operating assembly line to the futuristic sound of Excision & Datsik’s “Invaderz.” The way he worked his arms behind his head like a giant lever, the way he went flat on the floor, bent backwards on his knees, arms working with robotic synchronization, proved Andre could be the stealth force of Dragon House.

1) Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer (pictured): Holy “robot animated popper” (his words, not mine), Cyrus’ routine has to rank in my Top 5 SYTYCD auditions ever. Whereas his Dragon House buddies were reserved, maybe a little nervous, Cyrus entered grinning, as if he had no doubt about the power he could wield with just the slightest hand gesture, the way he could contort his face to infuse his number with razor-sharp wit. I started giggling when he leaned forward off the stage, and as he looked backwards to check out his own bouncing booty. By the time Cyrus began his robo-walk up the stairs toward the judges’ platform, I was howling with laughter, not just because the gesture was a funny, knowing nod to the fact that he was definitely going to Vegas, but because I needed an outlet for the overdose of joy Cyrus’ dancing was making me feel. The guy has definitely tapped into a new offshoot of the genre — did anyone else feel like there were elements of vogue-ing somehow informing Cyrus’ popping? — and now we just have to hope the dude displays some halfway decent partnering skills when he gets to Vegas. Also: “LET’S GO, DRAGON HOUSE!”

What did you think of the Atlanta auditions? Did I leave any of your faves off my countdown? And what did you make of the the Dragon House guys? 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. hadiza manzo says:

    i love so you think u can dance.

  2. Dryden says:

    Nigel’s Mia impression was epic. “SHUT UP! SHUT UP I’LL STAB YOU IN THE EYE!”

  3. Skeff says:

    I can’t even put into words how amazing last night’s show was. Cyrus was so extraordinary that I was yelling at the TV and I never do that! I really hope the Dragon House guys make it, if not on SYTYCD then some other avenue. Someone give them their own show in Vegas!!!

  4. Michael says:

    Any word as far as viewership so far this season? I’m concerned that if this season doesn’t do well in Fox’s eyes, this show may be done by the end of the season. :(

    • erin says:

      I know that the premiere fluctuated a bit… one hour was up from last year, one was down. Last week’s episode did really well, though. I think they even won the demo in both hours? Can’t remember for sure, though. There are certain local markets where it does really well. I’m a media buyer in Minneapolis and the overnight ratings here have been AWESOME. I hope that starts to carry on throughout the rest of the country!

  5. intelliwoman says:

    I hope not, I just love this show, and I’m not 18 or 30 or even 40……….and I’ve got a lot of my friends watching also

    • Jim Harris says:

      I love SYTYCD too. Been a faithful fan all seasons. Xmd I’m 67. All ages can and should love this show

  6. KSM says:

    That really was an excellent episode. My husband, who hates these types of reality shows, even got sucked into it. I think it helps that they are focusing on the good dancers rather than the bad auditions – it helps you get to know the dancers better right from the start. Also, love Debbie Allen. She is just so good in everything she does.

  7. Lyndsey says:

    It was fantastic in every single way!!! It was also mind-blowing (and yet not that surprising that the best episode came out of Hotlanta…and a special shout-out to our own little belly dancer for representing to the rest of the country that Alabama actually ISN’T completely composed of rednecks)!! The judges were in rare form and I love that they have saved my two favorite experts–Debbie Allen & Adam Shankman–for last. I read earlier where someone said as much as they can’t wait to get to the Top 20, they could watch these audition shows for forever….and I completely agree! I am beyond excited about this season!

  8. tjj50 says:

    Loved,loved,LOVED the ATL! Had a smile on my face the entire episode. I feel like there is a different producer for the audition episodes this year because there’s more of a focus on the good stuff. Not sure I have any favorites because everyone was just so good!!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I was so proud of my hometown last night. Such a range of talent. I’ve always been more of a jazz/tap person, but I was screaming at my tv over the Dragon House boys…they are absolutely amazing. I’m sure only one will make it through to the top 20, but I think they’ll have a wonderful future with the amount of talent they ooze.

  10. BJohnson says:

    I appreciate that someone on SYTYCD FINALLY listened to keeping the crap attention seeking talent to a minimum of a 10-15 second montage. I wanted to watch people dance and they did. Loved Dragon House Cyrus, so enthusiatic! Atl auditions were great!

  11. Volcfom says:

    This show just makes me so happy. Every year they remind me why it’s my favorite competition series.

  12. Dragon House rules! ATL represent! I sure am proud of the talent in my city!

  13. Sandi says:

    Really good episode but I was so confused as to why they sent that karate teacher/hip-hop dancer (Tim something?) who said he started dancing to get girls right through to Vegas. I saw some cool flips but no real dancing. I fully predicted them to send him to choreography where I thought he’d probably crash and burn, but instead they sent him right through. Seems like a waste of a ticket. Other than that, really great talent.

    One other complaint. It seems the ubiquitous standing Os and hyperbole from Idol have now crept into SYTYCD. What? They thought it worked well on Idol??

    • J2 says:

      i think it was more of a bone that nigel threw him and the crowd, which definitely supported him. if we’re comparing karate dancers though, the one from last week was FAR better.

  14. Michael – could you clarify something (obviously I love the show). The producers make it look like there is some magic time warp going on when they interview the dancer in line to audition, then poof! we are watching a piece about his/her background and we are transported back to his/her home town. And then the judges ask questions based on what we have all just seen. So what is the timing here? Thanks!!!

    • Beanergirl says:

      I don’t know if it’s the same for SYTYCD, but they filmed auditions for The X Factor right next to my office last year and there is a producer round of sorts where everyone that basically wants to can audition, during which those massive crowds/lines of people can be seen for miles. Then, they call back those that will audition further for the ‘judges’ (in The X Factor’s case – also in front of an audience). I would assume they do background pieces as well while in town with some of those called back, but couldn’t say for sure.

  15. Phillip says:

    The 2012 SYTYCD Atlanta auditions were conducted on Thursday, January 5th. Given that time frame you can see how the producers have plenty of time to travel and make video packages of their favorite performers/stories.

  16. Forwarddad says:

    IMHO the dancer speaks and then dances. Once he/she makes it they then go back and film the back story. They then drop it into the episode. Since the episodes aren’t live they are able to do so.

  17. Heather says:

    Love, love, love how the audition shows are focusing on the talent- not the crazies. I used to skip over the auditions because it was painful to watch the judges mock people or to see “dancers” who were anything but, but not this season. The level of talent is mind boggling.

    • Christine C says:

      I love so you think you can dance also, but couldn`t view it on tv here in Ga last year, Do you know if it will be on TV channel 5 this year 2013 ? as I enjoy it so much and the chosen few are very talented Thanks Christine.

  18. CarolH says:

    Absolutely the best audition show of any reality show ever!!!!!

  19. christa says:

    i liked the karate guy too and his “version” of ballet :) i hope he can make it!

  20. realitycheck says:

    prediction.. these two or three of the guys from Dragon House (depending on timing and who is still in the competition) will perform on the show this year during a results show

    • realitycheck says:

      or should I say..

      prediction.. two or three of the guys from Dragon House (depending on timing and who is still in the competition) will perform on the show this year during a results show

  21. Wow, I’m totally in the minority here, of course that’s never stopped me before so….. I was getting a little frustrated by this episode. I do love me a good b-boy routine but let’s be honest, they aren’t going to make it to the top 20 unless they spend every second of their lives between audition and hell week working in a studio. This isn’t season 4 anymore and these hip hop dancers with no training in other styles get to Vegas and get eaten alive by the difficulty of the choreography. It’s almost unfair to get us invested in them and make them think they stand a chance when they really don’t. That karate instructor was almost painful to watch his feet and legs when “dancing”. I have serious doubts as to whether any of the Dragon dancers will be able to do a choreographed routine, period. I shudder to think of what they’d do to a quick step or a fox trot. George Lawrence II, I just didn’t see it. Not only was he more feminine in his audition than most of the girls but his clunky transitions were almost wince worthy particularly when compared to say, the Ballet boys. I’m also really really tired of contemporary boys that can’t lift to save their lives. You should not see veins sticking out of their necks when trying to lift a girl who weighs 115lbs. I miss the days of diversity on the show but these dancers need to cross train before they get to auditions, not wait till they get to go to Vegas. It’s too late by then. All in all, I left the episode feeling dejected because I love this show but I don’t know how to fix the corner they’ve backed themselves into. I just really, really, really, really don’t want another season with 12 contemporary dancers and a token dancer from each other genre. It’s boring.

    • allie08 says:

      I love this show and have been really pleased by the amount of talented dancers they are showing this year BUT I do agree with some of what you are saying. I also wonder where the heck the other dancers are…. you know, the ones who aren’t contemporary or hip hop dancers? Where’s the ballroom and ballet dancers? Could be a bit monotonous if every dancer is contemporary.

    • J2 says:

      4 of the top 10 guys last season were hip hop dancers (one of whom made it to top 4), so i wouldn’t count them out just yet.

      • There is a difference between someone who has trained in a few different styles but specializes in Hip Hop and someone who’s taught himself from you tube videos and never taken a dance class or someone who just started dancing a year ago and thinks he can ride his black belt and pretty boy face into the win. I don’t know about the Dragon dancers because they didn’t say when they started dancing or what training they have but if it’s as little as the diversity of their choreography suggests then Hell week is going to be a very, very rough trip for them. Glitch is probably the only one of them with a personality big enough to charm his way through (incidentally, Glitch, Twitch… funny right?) but I doubt even that will save him from Ballroom. Particularly if they bring back that mega harsh Ballroom specialist from last season’s Vegas week.

  22. Sha says:

    I usually dislike the cute-sy 18 year old female dancers that seem to be more style over substance in their auditions (e.g. Lauren F) but Audrey was amazing! I don’t think there’s any doubt that she’ll make the top 20. I also enjoyed the Dragon dancers, the dancer from Virginia and the Selena Gomez fanboy. Joshua something was really good as well.

    p.s. one visual I can’t un-see.. Uncle Nigel doing the Wobble :/

    • Miss Otis Regrets... says:

      Audrey defied gravity with some of those leg lifts. She is just a firecracker. Courtney (?) is just not ready yet. Hopefully she won’t make it past Vegas.

  23. David Breland says:

    Anybody know the name of the song Cyrus was dancing to? My goodness, that kid is sick. I had to rewind that one a few times..Crazy good..

  24. Lana says:

    I loved Hotlanta those auditions were great. I will say after Cole, the other Martial arts dancer I wasn’t as impressed with this Martial arts dancer but he totatlly won me over with his ballet and personality. I do like that they are giving us more good and funny than bad. I really loved the guy who taught himself hip hop in the small redneck town because it was very different and very musical and I can’t wait to see what he can do when taught by actual dancers. I do hope the ratings are great this year as this is my very favorite show, reality and other and I don’t want it canceled, however Fox can be soo stupid. They have been so many times before. Personally I hope their awful dating shows that are taking up SYTYCD results spot crash and burn. Sorry Cat but I would rather you were hosting the result show than that dating fiasco, I mean The Choice? Please!!!

  25. Amy says:

    That was amazing! So, so good. This show NEEDs an Emmy.

  26. ryanflip says:

    Alof of the audtions were good, including one of the “Dragon House” group…the other two, were just more of the same b-boy hip hop stuff they parade out every year. The worst, I felt, was “Glitch”, he just kind of stood there, shook his body as fast as could, and flailed his arms occasionally. I thought this was So You Think You Can Dance… not, So You Can Look Like Your Having A Seizure.

  27. notafarmgirl says:

    Did the girl who belly danced not make it through? She was adorable.

  28. Brian says:

    What is the name and artist of the song Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer “robot animated popper” was dancing to on SYTYCD Atlanta auditions????

    I must have that song!!!

  29. Does anyone know what the piano piece was the Boris Fenton danced to during his piece?

  30. Janice says:

    when is the next auditions in New York for the next season?