"SYTYCD" Season 16 Recap: The Auditions Continue

June 24, 2019

It’s usually right around the third or fourth week of “So You Think You Can Dance” audition rounds that we start itching for the live shows. Sure, the auditions are fun, inspiring, and entertaining, but at a certain point, we reach audition saturation. (And the live shows are just so good and feature so much more Cat Deeley.)

All that said, Nigel and co. kept things spicy this week, so our attention remained firmly glued to the screen. (It’s been 16 seasons—who are we to doubt Nigel Lythgoe, sir?) Here’s how it all went down.

Jalen Sands, 18, Hendersonville, TN, Contemporary

Well, a standing ovation and a “You’re going to The Academy!” isn’t a bad way to kick off an episode! Jalen’s floorwork-driven routine was poised and mature, confident and elegant, strong and controlled. And that wild backbend from an impossibly deep second position grand plié, seriously? Go girl.

Trent and Colton Edwards, 18, Pittsburgh, PA, Contemporary

Twins! Who doesn’t love twins, especially twins who can dance?! Trent and Colton have been dancing for three years, though their home videos prove they’ve been moving, grooving, and hamming it up for the camera since they were tiny. We’re still not sure their routine was a duet, because these two were so in sync, it was like watching one person. (Only…better. Because there were two of them.) The quirky choreography showed off their gorgeous legs and feet, strong partner work, explosive jumps, and fun personalities. Mary said they were so in tune with each other and weren’t selfish, Nigel said it was entertaining, Laurieann loved that it was fearless, and Dominic praised their chemistry and was glad they “didn’t suck at all.” Academy, times two!

Bryan “Clocks” Volozanin, 28, Las Vegas, NV, Robotics/Animation

Remember when Clocks auditioned for Season 12 and was cut during the Green Mile? He’s since found great success as a dancer, performing in Las Vegas with the Jabbawockeez. But he’s still got his eyes set on the “SYT” stage. Though his robotic skills aren’t quite at the “are you human or are you dancer or are you robot?” level of a master like Madd Chadd, Clocks has tons of charisma and personality, and he’s cute as can be. Laurieann said his timing was “everything” and acknowledged the difficulty of the routine, which took her breath away. Dominic said they were some of the greatest visual concepts he’s ever seen on the show. It blew Mary away because it was funny and “had everything,” and Nigel said it was entertaining. Clocks is Academy-bound!

Antonio Frias, 22, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Salsa

Antonio went to a party when he was little. He asked a girl to dance, and first she said yes, but when he asked her again, she said no. (Rude!) So he started taking dance lessons, and now he’s here to prove that he don’t need no partner! In an almost unprecedented move for the audition rounds, Antonio performed what would normally be a partner routine sans partner. And it was nice, if a bit forgettable. Mary called his spins “pedestrian” (sick burn, MM!). Nigel asked an audience member (named Destiny—appropriate!) to join Antonio onstage to give him a helping hand, which was spur of the moment and sweet, and it was nice to see Antonio take the lead. Turns out, he really did do better—both technically and in terms of his stage presence—when partnered up. Nigel said the strength was there the second time around, but ultimately Antonio heard “no” four times, ending his “SYT” journey.

Sydney Burtis, 18, Kissimmee, FL, Tap

Sydney! We know her! You know her! You voted for her! She was diagnosed with autism when she was much younger, and it was dance—which she started studying at age 3—that helped her open up and shine. And now, the world knows what we all know: that Sydney is seriously talented, that her tap sounds are impossibly clear, and that she is absolutely worthy of going all the way in this competition. (Did you cry during this performance? SAME.) The entire performance was incredible, but Sydney’s giddy face at the end was the very best part. Nigel didn’t like the music and wanted more subtlety, but said she danced brilliantly. Laurieann called her an angel and a “unique blessing.” Dominic asked how long Sydney has been dreaming about being on this show, to which she responded since she was five years old, and confessed to having a poster of Dominic from Season 3 in her bedroom (d’aww). And Mary loved Sydney’s enthusiasm and connection. Unanimous Academy! Hooray, Sydney!

Jarrod Tyler Paulson, St. Paul, MN, 26, Contemporary

Jarrod’s says he’s from “the rough side of town,” and is well-versed in general contracting, cars, construction, and landscaping. Luckily for us, he’s also well-versed in dancing: He grew up training at the famous Larkin Dance Studio. The tattoo-covered handyman started his audition with an impressive series of tricks, from a handstand on one elbow to a series of barrel turns landing on the ground to some other jumps, flips, and spins that don’t have words to describe them yet because they’re that innovative. Nigel was blown away and said it was fabulous. Laurieann asked if Jarrod was single. (He’s not…more on that next.) Dominic said it was one of his favorite contemporary pieces, and said Jarrod’s exactly what this show is about. And Mary wishes her contractors could dance like Jarrod. Academy, obviously.

Madison Jordan, 21, Lake Elmo, MN, Contemporary

Madison is Jarrod’s girlfriend of seven months, cute! But she’s so much more than that. In her introductory footage, Madison opened up about her severe alopecia, which left her bald—and bullied. (PSA, people: Bullying is never OK.) But dance let her be herself. And thank goodness for that, because dance is her gift. Was this the best audition of Season 16 so far? It’s very possible. There are a lot of beautiful contemporary solos out there, but Madison’s was stunning, controlled, and unique. Jarrod, from his seat in Nigel’s chair, looked so proud. Nigel said her control was magnificent. Laurieann was moved. Mary called the performance soft, strong, and memorable. And Dominic wanted to see Jarrod and Madison dance together—which they then did. Swoon! Academy!