It was an unseasonably cold day in downtown Los Angeles, but hundreds of hopeful dancers were more than thrilled to brave the weather for their chance to compete on So You Think You Can Dance.
“Thank god the dancers always heat up a room!” said judge Mary Murphy. “It’s not easy to be out here for hours on end, but this is the biggest opportunity of their life.”
An opportunity that hundreds of dancers were not about to pass up. SYTYCD hopeful Stacie Jent, a classically trained ballerina, had waited in the line along Broadway since 10 the night before. This was her first time auditioning for the show.
“A lot of my students and teachers have done it, but I couldn’t because I had two babies. This is my year!” Jent said.
Fellow auditioner Ashley Smith moved to Los Angeles to pursue dance. It’s the 18-year-old contemporary dancer’s first time trying out for the show, but she’s celebrating for an entirely different reason. “Today is the anniversary of my uncle’s death, so this is like a new celebration,” Smith said. “Today is completely dedicated to him.”
Although their backgrounds were very different, all contestants shared one trait: confidence. Whether they believed it or not, when asked if they would sail straight through to Vegas, all of them said yes with a coolness that belied their nerves. Of course, not everyone gets a ticket to Vegas on their first shot.
But everyone had a chance, even those who lacked experience. “I’m a sucker for the underdogs,” Murphy said. “Someone who’s a hip hop dancer, not a trained dancer. And then they go out there and pull off the Viennese waltz. And you’re going, what the heck is going on? It’s not supposed to happen that way!”
Then there was Andy Carballo, a self-proclaimed dark horse. Carballo saw this audition as an opportunity to overcome a challenge. “I’m not your typical dancer,” he said. “I struggle to dance. It’s important to be passionate about something so you can have that drive to do what you need to do.”
No matter what happened to these hopefuls, Murphy expected to see the best of the best in Los Angeles. “I think L.A. is a huge dance center. We’re always going to find unbelievable things in L.A. We always get such a great cast—a lot of characters and a lot of amazing dancers.”
If you think you can dance, auditions are scheduled for March 12 in Denver, March 16 in Memphis, and March 28 in Seattle.