‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: ‘The Next Generation: Auditions No. 1’

So You Think You Can Dance has returned for its 13th season. But this time, it’s back with a twist.

Unlike previous seasons, with the age limit of 18 to 30, judges Jason Derulo, Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe are on the hunt for preteen dancers, from the ages of 8 to 13. At the first stage of auditions, the judges will decide who moves onto the second stage, the Academy. From the Academy, 10 dancers will be paired up with all-stars from past seasons, competing each week for the title of America’s favorite dancer.

The first round of auditions took place in Los Angeles. Because the SYTYCD hopefuls  were children this time around, the show opted to place emphasis on the dancers that made it through rather than those who were sent packing. I will list some of the standouts below.

The first to audition was 10-year-old Merrick, with a passion for the ocean, robots and dance. His love of robots and dance melded into one during his audition, with an entire routine based off of the robot. While the judges were tentative with his first few moves, they were blown away after he got into it. He was immediately sent to the Academy.

The next dancer to get sent to the Academy was 11-year-old Avery, a ballet dancer. Showing maturity and emotion far beyond her years, Avery had been a shoe-in.

Next was 13-year-old Kida, a young adept at the pop and lock routine. Growing up with 6 siblings who all danced, Kida wasn't at a loss for training and experience. The show took an emotional turn, however, when he revealed that their father had passed away recently, leaving the mother to take care of the children on her own. The love between their family only grew at that point, with every member there to cheer Kida on as he got his ticket.

Lev, a 10-year-old ballroom dancer, brought his dance partner Sophia with him to his audition. The two blew the judges away, Lythgoe informing him that he was the first ballroom dancer he had enjoyed watching perform that day. With his ticket, Lev made it through to the next round.

The next two ballroom dancers to audition, 11-year-old Ivan and 12-year-old Camilla, were without their partners that day. Ivan brought his mom on the stage to fill in his partner’s shoes while Camilla remained adamant that she would be able to do her routine on her own. Both made it to the next round.

The next to audition, 13-year-old Ava, was a bit of an oddity for her age, standing at 5’10. However, Ava used her height to her advantage in her routine, impressing the judges with her versatility. Having been bullied in school for her height, Ava stressed how important it was to be able to perform, despite being different. The judges agreed, gladly giving her a ticket to the Academy.

Next, an 11-year-old dancer, also by the name of Ava, took the stage. A tap dancer, who was a little bit embarrassed by her father’s enthusiasm, did not let that embarrassment get to her. Taken aback by her footwork, the judges saw her through to the next round.
The last dancers featured for the night were ballroom dancers Stella and Geremy. Shockingly, the two were denied. However, Stella pleaded on Geremy’s behalf, asking for a second attempt to take the stage.

They've worked SO hard to get to this point. #SYTYCD pic.twitter.com/NYBKgGFUba

— SYTYCD (@DANCEonFOX) May 31, 2016

Feeling sympathetic for how hard the two had worked, Lythgoe allowed them to dance again. The second time around, the judges were leaning towards sending Stella through, but not Geremy. Instead, to give Geremy a feel for what the second stage of auditions would be like, the judges opted to send both through, closing out the night.

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