News

"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: L.A. Auditions, Part 1

We LIVED for this fiery ballroom trio. (Adam Rose/FOX)

It's baaaaack!

"So You Think You Can Dance" kicked off its 15th season last night with auditions in L.A. (and a killer, développé-filled opening montage set to "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman). Nigel, Mary, Vanessa (looking sparklier and chicer than ever), and Cat were all on hand—plus tWitch was in the house to help out with auditions.

So, who's poised to become the next Lex, Kida, Gaby or Ricky? Here are the dancers who led the pack during the season premiere.


Marina Mazepa

The 20-year-old from Ukraine showed off Cirque du Soleil–worthy skills, commanding the stage with her mile-long legs and quirky presence. Then, as the music reached its final beats, she shed her skin—somewhat literally—stripping off her black catsuit to reveal a rhinestone-studded leo that'd make "Toxic"-era Britney Spears proud. Standing ovation from the judges.

Nigel said: "It was like the birth of a dancer. I was thrilled with it."

Vanessa said: "You have my heart. Here is my heart."

tWitch said: "After 15 seasons, to see something we've never seen before is truly special."

Mary said: "You're out of this world. You're amazing."

The verdict: Unsurprisingly, she's onto the next round.

Gaevin "Rated G" Bernales

This Las Vegas–based b-boy wants to take his breakdancing from the Vegas Strip to the big leagues. Gaevin tells the judges it was tWitch who first inspired him to audition, and now that he's 18, he's ready. In true b-boy style, Gaevin's audition was filled with gravity-defying, dizzying tricks, flips, arm balances, and spins. It had tWitch grooving so intensely in his seat that he was one eight-count away from taking out panel neighbor Vanessa.

Vanessa said: "You are so strong. Oh my gosh. That's crazy!"

tWitch said: "The confidence you bring as a b-boy is second to none."

Mary said: "For 18 years old, you are super-talented."

Nigel said: "You and me are similar dancers."

The verdict: A unanimous yes to the next round.

Marcus, Magda and Allen

Never have we ever seen a ballroom trio audition for the show! Fun fact: Marcus is the brother of Kiki, last season's ballroom babe, and holy cow, do they look alike. Allen auditioned for "SYT" during Season 12 and was a hit, but got injured during Vegas Week. And Magda, who has a Jennifer Lawrence thing going on, was just living the dream twirling between these two guys—not a bad gig. Though it was tough to focus on any one individual, the routine was straight fire.

Mary said: "That number was awesome! [Insert scream.] I loved every second! [More screams.]"

Nigel said: "It was sharp and splendid."

Vanessa said: "Allen, you had my eyes the entire time. You had me." (Allen was pumped to hear this, because his sister is a big High School Musical fan. Same, Allen's sister! Same.)

tWitch said: "Everybody was great! That was awesome."

The verdict: They've all got tickets to somewhere! (We don't know exactly where The Academy is taking place this season, but these three will be there.)

Taylor Haines

This is a lovely story. Taylor, 20, comes to L.A. from Alaska, where she was born without ankle bones. After amputation surgery at a super-young age, Taylor was given a prosthetic for her left leg. At 7, she started dance lessons and resolved to never let her prosthesis hold her back. So basically, she's amazing. Was she the most talented and technically flawless performer of the night? No. But she's a fighter.

Vanessa said: "You're very strong."

tWitch said: "Thank you so much for the inspiration. We all feed off of that."

Mary said: "You have such a presence up there. Such strength."

Nigel said: "You're extremely brave."

The verdict: It's a no from the judges, but she earned lots of smiles and praise.

Jay Jackson

"When I get onstage, I tear it up. The floor is my mission, and I am on it." Jay Jackson FTW—maybe not of the show, but probably of everything else. The drag dancer's routine included some gasp-inducing moments, from a death drop to a kippup in four-inch heels. It wasn't technically slick, but we were living for his confidence.

Nigel said: "You most certainly made an impact on this program."

Vanessa said: "My heart is so happy right now. You have such an amazing spirit."

tWitch said: "The strength and courage with which you represent yourself and your community is second to none." (Petition to get tWitch on the judging panel every week, please?)

Mary said: "You are such an amazing entertainer. But if you want to make it on this show, you come back with more tools under there and train hard."

The verdict: What, tbh, seemed like it'd be a no turned into a yes. Vanessa and tWitch were fans, and the audience cheered until Mary got on board, too. It was a no for Nigel, but he was outnumbered. Jay is on to The Academy.

Alexis Gilbert

She's back! Alexis auditioned for Season 14 and was an immediate audience favorite. She made it onto Team Jenna, but was eventually cut in favor of Kiki. Alexis said she's been training like crazy for the past year—and it showed! She was easily the most polished performer of the night, combining musicality, technical prowess, power, and strength. Prediction: She makes Top 10 this time.

tWitch said: "You've come back strong, and that's awesome."

Mary said: "You just knocked it out of the ballpark. You started to tear that dance floor up!"

Nigel said: "I'm very happy to see you back this year."

Vanessa said: "GIRL. You shine on that stage like a star!"

The verdict: Through to The Academy!

Eddie Hoyt

WE ❤️❤️❤️ EDDIE. The red-headed, bespectacled tapper was home-schooled and raised in a strict religious family. By the time he was a high school freshman, Eddie had came out as gay—something he says was particularly difficult because of his upbringing in the church. But dancing, he said through tears, let him be himself and express himself. CUE MUSIC AND ALSO EMOTIONS. And dude can tap! His sounds were clean and crisp, his upper body the perfect balance of upright and relaxed, and his feet so furiously fast they'd make Anthony Morigerato proud.

Nigel said: Nothing, actually. He just rose from his seat, clapping.

Vanessa said: "You make me so happy."

tWitch said: "I'm cheesin' right now, bro! That was a joy to watch."

The verdict: He's obviously through to The Academy. Duh.

And then, to close out the episode: the funnest, happiest dance battle ever between tWitch and Eddie. Brilliant.


THIS is "So You Think You Can Dance"—Season 15!

Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.