What seemed like a freakshow audition at the outset turns into a pretty great showcase for Gene Lonardo, 22, who decided to come with a freaky-deaky high-concept routine about the life cycle of the male praying mantis. And sure, hahaha, but honestly? Like Sonya hasn't come up with this one in six different variations already? So Gene comes on stage in teeny square-cut briefs and splashes of green paint on him. Yes, it's weird, but he can really move, and he commits to the concept, down to a pretty gnarly move to represent his head getting bitten off by the female mantis. (And yes, I realize the whole point of this is that it's mating between a male and female mantis, but I did kind of chuckle when Gene started talking about his lady mate.) Nigel calls it intriguing and entertaining, which means the gambit paid off. Mary acknowledges that they ask the dancers to be distinctive and this is distinctive. And it didn't obscure his actual dancing talent, so well done, Gene! The judges all make the no-brainer observation that Sonya would kill to work with him (what did I say??), and he's on (or back home, really) to Vegas.
THE PRETTY GOOD
Witney Carson is a Latin ballroomer who is 18 but looks decidedly 14. She's got braces and a little baby fat in her face and everything. So get ready to be uncomfortable when she talks about how much she enjoys the sensuality of being a woman! There's a definite Toddlers & Tiaras vibe here, I gotta say. She tells the judges that her usual partner is only 16 years old and thus can't audition. She performs well, though I think the standing O is a bit much. She doesn't deliver a whole lot of personality, even if her movements are totally on point. Mary and Adam seem very impressed with how she seemingly went from girl-to-woman as soon as the music started. I guess I'm the only one who finds that creepier than it is impressive? Nigel sees season 3's Anya in her (he makes sure to remind us that he found Anya to be incredibly sensual and sexy) and then compliments Witney's "smoking hot face." That face with BRACES in it?? Gross, Nigel.
Lindsay Arnold, 18, is the oldest of four blonde Utah sisters who all look like variations on our own Cat Deeley. She dances Latin ballroom, but has trained in jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and ballet. She's proficient, but not exciting, which is too bad, because I was ready to be quite fond of her. Mary says she reminds her of Julianne Hough, though, so maybe there's something there.