By Katie Murray

SYTYCD traveled to The Big Apple in this week’s episode!

Feature Photo by Jef Neira/FOX

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“So You Think You Can Dance” is wrapping up auditions, and the last stop before The Academy? The city that never sleeps! Thousands of dancers waited in line ooutside Gelsey Kirkland Academy for a chance to prove their talent to the judges, in hopes of receiving a ticket to The Academy.

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

“That’s what I call setting a standard!” – Nigel Lythgoe

The first contest of the night, Emily Carr, performed a mesmerizing jazz routine, and while this dancer from New Jersey is only 18 years old, she performed a routine that was the perfect combination of dance movements and technical abilities. The judges were clearly impressed with Carr’s audition! After Carr’s audition, they brought her older sister – and role model – to the stage after they discovered that she is also a dancer. Lythgoe even encouraged Carr’s sister to consider auditioning for the show in the future! Then, he and the other judges got down to business to decide if Carr had what it takes to continue on in the competition.

YES to The Academy

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

“You’ve got skill, and you have charisma!” – Stephen “tWitch” Boss(Inside Dance July cover star!)

The next dancer brought a giant metal wheel to the stage for his audition. Gabriel Alvarez moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States by himself to pursue his dreams. When he made a career out of dance, Alvarez became a U.S. Citizen, and as a result, he was able to bring his mom here to live with him! His routine was fascinating, but the judges all agreed that his performance wasn’t really dancing. Alvarez told the judges to “drop him a beat” so he could prove to them his skills, and when they did, he performed an improv breakdancing routine. tWitch saw potential in Alvarez, and was on-board to send him through to The Academy, but the other judges held that while the wheel routine was authentic for him, his dance skills weren’t up to par for the competition. 

No to The Academy

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

“Evan, I think it’s going to be your year!” – Mary Murphy

A tap dancer from Connecticut, Evan DeBenedetto, returned to the SYTYCD stage in this week’s episode. DeBenedetto was on Gaby Diaz’s team last season, but when it came time for Diaz to choose her partner, she chose eventual season 14 winner – and Inside Dance cover star! – Lex Ishimoto. After being sent home, DeBenedetto returned this year, and he’s on a mission. He wants to prove that he has grown over the past year, and he’s got us convinced! The tap routine DeBenedetto auditioned with was filled with clear sounds, and although the choreography was fast, he didn’t miss a single beat! All four judges on the panel gave DeBenedetto a standing ovation when he finished his routine.

YES to The Academy

Video via mrduckbearpower

“Your smile one-hundred-percent lights up the stage! You’re just so adorable!” – Vanessa Hudgens

We felt like we were watching an ’80s dance flick with this audition – which might be why her friends call her “Baby” (like the character from “Dirty Dancing”). New Yorker Rachael Blanchard’s jazz performance was impressive! Although she showed skills in performing, Lythgoe concluded that her routine was “a little too juvenile” for the show. She received great feedback from the other judges on what she can work on, but all four judges struggled to make a decision. tWitch ultimately said no to The Academy, but both Hudgens and Murphy agreed that they’d like to see her move forward in the competition, which left Blanchard’s shot at The Academy in the hands of Lythgoe.

Yes to The Academy

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

“Now, that’s an audition! So dope!” – tWitch

Kyle Bennett Jr., of Connecticut, was another season 14 dancer who returned on this week’s episode. The veteran contestant made it to The Academy last season, but after his nerves got the best of him, he was sent home. The 22-year-old made his comeback with a fresh animation/tutting routine and a promise to have fun and show the judges his personality. We have to give Bennett props for performing an intriguing and creative routine in a dance style that has the potential to be limited at times. As he went through his choreography, we were drawn to his movements more and more, and by the end of the routine? Goosebumps! All four judges gave Bennett a standing ovation when he took his final pose.

YES to The Academy

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

“WOW! I loved it! That was incredible!” – Vanessa Hudgens

Florida native Victoria Neukom included many acrobatic tricks in her audition, and we couldn’t take our eyes off her! Murphy, tWitch and Hudgens all came to a consensus that the 18-year-old dancer was amazingly talented, while Lythgoe critiqued the routine. He said that he wished he had seen more movement from Neukom and that contemporary dance is traditionally based off ballet not gymnastics.

Yes to The Academy

Video via mrduckbearpower

“You guys are absolutely adorable! I wish I could be your sister.” – Mary Murphy

We were seeing double when Gratsiela Sandeva and Desislava Sandeva walked on stage. Originally from Bulgaria, the twins moved to Florida six months ago to pursue their dreams. At 24 years old, the Sandeva twins have never separated, and together, the two performed a hip-hop routine for the judges. They truly ‘twerk’d it’ in their auditions, and tWitch joked with Lythgoe saying they can perform some of the same moves at bachelorette parties in the future. While Gratsiela and Desislava were entertaining to watch, tWitch said they didn’t “pack the punch” of hip-hop today.

No to The Academy

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

“Y’all got that family fire! I like that!” – tWitch

The last contestants of the night, Elan Lurie and Jordynn Lurie, brought some “family fire” to NYC auditions with their salsa routine. Elan and Jordynn’s mother – who is also a salsa dancer – first got these siblings to perform a routine together at Elan’s bar mitzvah, and although their first performance together was rough, they continued dancing together and impressed everyone on this week’s show! The two have been dancing together for six years now, and since their mom seemed to be the expert, Lythgoe invited her up to the judge’s panel. Lythgoe asked Elan and Jordynn’s mother how the two did, and she said she’d seen better… but then went on to say she was only kidding (and we let out a sigh of relief!)

Yes to The Academy

Next Monday, SYTYCD will wrap up auditions for the season, and we’ll get to see what other talent NYC has to offer. It’s obvious that The Academy is going to be pretty special this season, and we can’t wait to see who makes it to the Top 20! Stay tuned next week to see our predictions for the remainder of the season!

Can’t get enough of SYTYCD? We can’t either! Stick with Inside Dance all summer long for weekly recaps and fun features about SYTYCD, World of Dance and much more, and don’t forget to subscribe today to never miss another issue of Inside Dance!

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Katie Murray is an undergraduate student at Appalachian State University majoring in Communication Studies with a focus in Media and minoring in Dance. Outside of dance team practice and class, she enjoys drawing, listening to Beyoncé and walking her dog.