By Katie Murray

So You Think You Can Dance Season 15 is here!

Feature Photo by Adam Rose/FOX

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Dancers everywhere tuned in to watch the latest dance talent at the Los Angeles auditions for So You Think You Can Dance season 15!

SYTYCD producers are switching it up a little this season by removing the choreography round – where dancers were sent in order to prove their versatility in other dance styles. Now, dancers only have one shot at proving themselves worthy of a pass to The Academy, and the competition is already heating up!

During the premiere, some familiar faces from season 14 made their comeback alongside the rookie contenders. Keep reading to see what the judges thought of the LA audition’s featured performers AND to watch their routines!

Marina Mazepa (Jazz) of Ukraine, started off the LA auditions with a routine that was unique to say the least. Mazepa walked on stage and immediately assumed her starting position wearing a unitard-style costume with her hair covering all of her face. Her routine included a mixture of acrobatic and contortionist skills, but, most importantly, her routine told a story. The judges gave Mazepa a standing ovation along with a pass to The Academy.

Video via Mackenzie

Next, Gaevin Bernales (B-boy) gave us an old school hip-hop routine for his audition. At only 18 years old, Bernales performed an entertaining routine, and the judges gave him practical critiques to apply in the future. Resident judge Nigel Lythgoe expressed his concerns that, while Bernales is a great B-Boy, he might not yet be able to perform the other required styles of dance at the level needed to be competitive on the show. Bernales confidently responded to Lythgoe’s concerns by saying that he can learn. Despite Lythgoe and the other judges’ doubts about Bernales, they sent him through to The Academy. We hope to get the chance to see him perform other styles in future episodes!

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

Marcus Nyemchek, Magda Fialek and Allen Genkin (Latin Ballroom) auditioned as a group with a spicy routine! Nyemchek, also known as “Kiki”, and Fialek both appeared on season 14 of the show, and Nyemchek made it all the way to the top 4. Despite Nyemchek’s impressive showing last season, Genkin and Fialek were the two of the trio who captured the judges’ attention and received great feedback, while Nyemchek was encouraged to step it up or risk being overshadowed by his talented partners.

Taylor Haines (Contemporary) told an inspiring story with her dance. Haines dances with a prosthetic leg because of her Fibular Hemimelia Disorder. She certainly touched the judges’ hearts with her passion for dance, but they ultimately decided to not send her through to The Academy. However, they urged her to practice and come back to audition in the future.

Video via Taylor Haines

Jay Jackson, aka “Miss Laganja Estranja” (Jazz), introduced a unique, energetic jazz routine. She truly “turned up and turned out,” as she said she always does, and the judges seemed to really enjoy the routine. Lythgoe said no to The Academy, but judges Vanessa Hudgens and Stephen “tWitch” Boss were on board to send her through. The last judge to vote, Mary Murphy, was on the fence, but after a less-than-subtle urge from the audience, and Miss Estranja herself, Murphy joined Hudgens and tWitch by voting yes, which sent her through to The Academy.

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

In season 14 of SYTYCD, Alexis Gilbert (Jazz) won over hearts everywhere with her captivating audition routine but was sent home after the group choreography round of The Academy. She showed her determination and drive in her comeback with an even stronger jazz routine. Gilbert’s technique was beyond impressive, and she seemed to flow through each move effortlessly. After receiving her ticket to The Academy, Gilbert reflected on the hard work she put in after being sent home last season. It seems like that hard work has paid off for her thus far!

Video via Mackenzie

The last performer of the night was Eddie Hoyt (Tap). Hoyt showcased both his talent in dancing and choreographing with his audition routine. The way he tied together both the musicality of the song and the rhythm of his dancing was exquisite. After he received a standing ovation from all four judges and a pass to The Academy, he got the chance to show his stuff in an entertaining dance battle with tWitch.

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

Everyone should be excited to see what other talent is brought to the stage in upcoming episodes after watching this season premiere! We’re eagerly waiting to see which all-stars return this season. Allison Holker – our May 2014 cover star! – was shown in the audience at LA auditions with her and husband tWitch’s son Maddox. There hasn’t been any official word on whether or not she’ll be returning to dance on the show, but one can certainly dream!


Check out this hilarious video of auditionees and the judges themselves impersonating each other!

Video via So You Think You Can Dance

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.