Day 2 in Memphis. Anna Dunn, 18, of Jackson, Miss., starts us off with a sad story: her dad killed himself about a year ago. "Dancing has kinda been that outlet for me, because I don't, I can't talk about very much to people," she says. Except for on national television, I guess. She says her dad was a dreamer who loved that she found a passion for dance. I get a lump in my throat when we see pictures of a very happy dad and his young daughter.
She takes the stage. Dances contemporary. Great control of her body. I can't imagine they told the suicide story and aren't going to send her through. Nigel says she was tremendous, except that she was really overchoreographed and was whipping her head around too much to make a connection with the judges. Mary agrees, as does Lil' C, who says his own dad took his life, so he empathizes with her. They send her through to choreography, but again, there's no way they're trotting out a suicide if the dancer doesn't make it through.
Say hi to Travis Prokop, from Texico, New Mexico. His dad is the high school football coach, so here we go... Oh, thank god. No, the dad is extremely supportive of his son's dancing, and talks about how hard it is to see his son come home crying because he was made fun of for what he does. His dad says all you can do is love him as much as you can and tell him, "I'm proud of you." Oh, goddammit. Now Travis is crying, I'm crying... this is bullshit!
Travis is pretty good, dancing contemporary, or my lingering tears are refracting things a little. Nigel says he's really tall, but needs to get stronger. He suggests getting down with those football boys and pushing those things around -- Nigel not so much up on American football terminology. Travis quickly drops into the most delicate three-point stance I've ever seen. Lil' C suggests he throw some weights around, and the judges all agree he's got excellent technique and put him through to choreography, after applauding Travis's dad for being so supportive of his non manly-man lifestyle.
A couple of tap-dancing brothers Evan, 21, of West Bloomfield, Mich., and Ryan, 29, Kasprzak of Astoria, N.Y., are auditioning separately. Evan's up first -- he actually made to the Top 40 last year, and he's back again with a classic jazz routine. Nigel and Mary enjoy the Gene Kelly routine, while Lil' C looks kind of bored. Evan nails the flips at the end. Nigel calls it "absolutely superb" and hopes everyone realizes what a beautifully constructed routine he had, with a beginning, middle and an end. Mary says it's great to see him back. Nigel says he's worried that Evan's built too much like the classic dancers of the '40s and '50s and it's too awkward if he's partnered with a taller girl or whatever. Lil' C says he was amazing, but wonders about dancing on styles outside his comfort zone. But since the judges already know from last year that he can do choreography, they send him through to Vegas.