So You Think You Can Dance Season 14, Episode 1:
Season 14 opened with a trip to Los Angeles with judges Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe, and Vanessa Hudgens, along with host Cat Deely. The judges traveled to Los Angeles to see what dance stars they would find to make their way to “The Academy” in Las Vegas. This episode included a variety of dancers from across genres and stories that are just as diverse. This episode featured break dance, ballroom, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical, and jazz.
One dancer was inspired to follow the same path as his mother, who break dancers along with her sister (his aunt). Another dancer, after practicing for years to become a violinist, gave up violin to pursue his passion for dance. Yet another dancer created his own style, blending kicks, whirling arms, and Austin Power chic to the audition process. Perhaps the most gripping story is a young man who found an outlet through dance after living through the domestic abuse of his aunt, who he lived with before they were strong enough to escape. Most dancers featured moved on in the competition.
Dubbed the “United Nations of Dance,” SYTYCD featured talent from across the world from Japan to the Ukraine, to one duo who made the trip from Russia to make the Hollywood audition.
Mark Villaver from Honolulu, Hawaii
As a break dancer, Mark, 26, draws inspiration from his mother, who break dances as well. His choreography blended elements of various styles, which added a graceful aesthetic to his choreography. Nigel noted that Matt included many “signature moves.” He was the first one to perform for the Hollywood audition and set the bar for the rest of the day. He moved on in the competition.
Kristina and Vasily, from Russia
The married couple brought ballroom to this audition, dancing and whirling with emotion and passion. At one point, Kristina is literally swept off of her feet as she and her husband embrace in a passionate kiss. Nigel called the performance “50 Shades of Dance,” while Vanessa called it “so beautiful, so romantic.” Mary noted how beautiful the technique of the two dancers was, and that their pairing was something “very, very special.” They were offered a ticket to Vegas.
Robert Green from Raleigh, North Carolina
Robert Green, 24, learned he had a passion for dance when he enrolled in a dance class in high school. Prior to, he had mastered the violin. Robert was drawn to dance because it made him feel alive. Robert candidly shared how people doubted him when he started playing the violin, and people started doubting him when started dancing as well. Dressed in cling film, Robert performed a hip hop piece with lots of personality, from humor to fierceness to playfulness. Nigel stated that the best thing about his performance was “creativity,” and Robert was offered a ticket to Vegas.
Alexis Gilbert from Riverside, California
Alexis, 22, brought the contemporary lyrical element to the stage, along with a bright dance spirit. With extensions for days, control of her technique, and emotive energy, she danced with passion and the judges took note. Mary said to her, “I can feel it from here how much you love to dance and it just oozes out of your pores everywhere.” Vanessa called her “a ray of sunshine.” Amelia moved on in the competition.
Luke Dryjski from Tampa, Florida
Luke Dryjski, 29, brought a unique blend of hip hop to the stage. With the added touch of glasses, he also brought a touch of geek chic and authenticity to his performance, which included high kicks, spinning arms, and kneels to the ground. His style was a “new form of hip hop,” said Nigel, who called Luke Dryjski the “Austine Powers of hip hop.” Mary said that his form of dance didn’t translate well into the different elements of SYTYCD, but to “keep doing what you’re doing.” He didn’t move forward in the competition, although he did perform in an impromptu number with Vanessa Hudgens when he invited her onstage to dance.
Darius Hickman from Green Acres, Florida
Sometimes the story is what makes a dancer’s performance even more meaningful. Such is the case with Darius Hickman, 24, who overcame many obstacles and found dance as an outlet. When his mother battled drug addition, Darius’ aunt took him in, where the trauma continued. He witnessed his aunt being abused daily by her husband. When his aunt was strong enough to escape, the boyfriend tried to track them down in every city. They finally broke away. His aunt passed away three years ago, and Darius met his Godmother, where the seas calmed down and he found an outlet for dance. The straddles, extensions, and fire had more meaning after hearing his story. His story and dancing were inspiring, and he moved on in the competition, earning a ticket to Vegas.
Anastasiia and Viktoriia from Russia
Twin sisters Anastasiia and Viktoriia, 20, traveled from Russia to audition in Hollywood. They had only been in the city for two days at the time of the audition. They danced an emotionally-wrought contemporary piece with levels and use of their costume as its own prop. Their piece left the audience silent throughout the performance but clapping incessantly at the end. Mary called it “one of the most unique auditions I have ever seen. It made me cry and I’m not even sure why.” Vanessa was at “a loss for words” and said that she would “pay so much money to see them do a show together.” They moved on in the competition and were offered a ticket to Vegas.
Episode 1 set the tone of a show with a range of dance forms, and individuals with intriguing stories.
So You Think You Can Dance, Season 14 Preview
Season 14 of the Fox hit So You Think You Can Dance premieres Monday, June 12 at 8 p.m. ET. Dancers from around the world compete to be named America’s Favorite Dancer.
From the United States to Japan to the Ukraine, England, Russia, and Canada, constants follow their dreams to compete before judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Vanessa Hudgens.
So You Think You Can Dance, Season 14: How to watch, TV info
Schedule: 8 p.m. EST | FOX
Host: Cat Deeley
Judges: Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe, Vanessa Hudgens
Dancers between the ages of 18 and 30 of varying styles including classical, contemporary, hip hop, and ballroom go through open auditions, callbacks, and a selection of Top 10 finalists to compete to win. They progress through the rounds through solo, duet, and group numbers live.
So You Think You Can Dance Past Winners
Season 13: Leon “Kida” Burns (Hip Hop)
Season 13 was called The Next Generation, where Leon “Kida” Burns won from among kids between the ages of 8 and 13. He said that he would like to purchase a new home for his mother with his prize money of $250,000.
Season 12: Gaby Diaz (Tap)
Since winning Season 12, Gaby Diaz most recently performed with SYTYCD on the show tour.
Season 11: Ricky Ubeda (Contemporary)
Since winning Season 11, Ricky Ubeda danced on Broadway in “On the Town.”
Season 10: Amy Yakima (Jazz), Du Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall (Hip Hop)
Since winning Season 10, Amy Yakima is a staff member at Velocity Dance Convention and joined the Shaping Sound Dance Company after she won Season 10.
Since winning Season 10, Fik-Shun has toured with the World of Dance Frontrow tour.
Season 9: Eliana Girard (Ballet), Chehon Wespi-Tschopp (Ballet)
Since winning Season 9, Eliana Girard toured with Taylor Swift and appeared on Glee. She now tours with the Celebrity Dance group.
Since winning Season 9, Chehon Wespi-Tschopp started his own dance company Che Force Dance. He also worked with American Idol Season 14 as the assistant creative director.
Season 8: Melanie Moore (Contemporary)
Since winning Season 8, Melanie Moore is currently playing Peter Pan on Broadway in “Finding Neverland” and has also appeared on “All the Right Moves” on Oxygen and “Glee” on FOX.
Season 7: Lauren Froderman (Contemporary)
Since winning Season 7, Lauren Froderman danced professionally for a minute before deciding to go the path of college. She is now prepping to start auditioning again, now that she has graduated from Loyola Marymount University.
Season 6: Russell Ferguson (Krump)
Since winning Season 6, Russell Ferguson is currently a part of the dance crew SIDESTREET and has also performed in Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker.” In addition, he has been a judge as well as competitor of “So You Think You Can Dance” in China.
Season 5: Jeanine Mason (Contemporary)
Since winning Season 5, Jeanine Mason has since starred in “Bunheads” and as a guest star in “Hollywood Heights,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Season 4: Joshua Allen (Hip Hop)
Since winning Season 4, Joshua Allen was featured in “Footloose” and “Step Up 3-D” and has appeared on the television shows “American Horror Story” and “Community.” He also teaches dance.
Season 3: Sabra Johnson (Contemporary)
Since winning Season 3, Sabra Johnson danced with the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and appeared worldwide in a number of workshops and events before moving back to NYC to teach dance.
Season 2: Benji Schwimmer (Swing/Latin)
Since winning Season 2, Benji Schwimmer earned 2 USA Grand National titles and also won first place five time in a row for the US Open Swing Dance Championship. In addition, he has danced in the music video “Candyland” for Christina Aguilera.
Season 1: Nick Lazzarini (Contemporary Jazz)
Since winning Season 1, Nick Lazzarini founded Shaping Sound Dance Company and currently teachers jazz and musical theatre at the JUMP Dance Tour. He has performed on stage with Florence + The Machine, Adele, and Kelly Clarkson.
So You Think You Can Dance Judges
Lythgoe is the English producer and judge of “So You Think You Can Dance.” A former dancer for the Young Generation, he grew in his career to also choreograph, direct, and produce. His early years were spent in the town of Wallasey at the Hylton-Bromley School of Dance and Drama at the Perry Cowell School of Dance, where he trained in ballet, ballroom, character, modern, jazz and classical Greek dance. He has choreographed for more than 500 shows and is also the co-creator of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Murphy joins the 14th season as a guest judge and is a ballroom dance champion and choreographer for the show. Through her ballroom career, she earned notable titles in the Saint Louis Star Ball, the International Grand Ball, the Southwest Regional Dance Tournament, and the US Open American Nine. She has also appeared in the films Something to Talk About as a double for Julia Roberts, Dance with Me, and “Degrassi Takes Manhattan.”
Hudgens gained prominence as a lead character in High School Musical. She has appeared in film and TV shows for the Disney Channel, and has released two albums, V, certified gold, and Identified. Her acting credits include Bandslam, Beastly, Sucker Punch, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Spring Breakers, and Machete Kills. On Broadway, she played the title role in Gigi and the role of Rizzo in Grease: Live in 2016.