Groovers, spinners, and shakers queued up this morning, huddling in comforters and down jackets outside the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Northeast DC for a chance to get on the Fox TV show So You Think You Can Dance.
“I’ve just been kind of running in place,” said Jen (who preferred her last name not be used) of the 30-degree weather.
Jen, 25—who flew in from the West Coast to audition and stay with her cousin in DC—is a cheerleader and a dance-team coach. She’ll improvise a jazz/contemporary routine for 15 seconds—the time allotted to each dancer in the initial round—in front of judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe. It’s her first time trying out for the show.
Jen befriended Katie Milano, a 25-year-old New Jersey native, while standing in line. Milano said she woke up at 2:30 AM to drive from New Jersey and began standing in line at 6:30 AM. Three hours later, Milano was still behind dozens of people.
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“There’s a good amount of people here, but I think it will be fine,” Milano said of her chances in the audition. She explained that dancers must get past three days of tryouts before making it to the more elite round of auditions that air on TV. Last year in the New York auditions, Milano made it past the first round.
“This is better than in New York,” Michelle Turner-Goldsmith, a 21-year-old Frederick resident and George Washington University alumna, said of the line’s length outside. Turner-Goldsmith, who trained at Twinbrook School of Ballet under Phyllis Blake, plans to do a mixture of ballet and African dance for her improvisation.
She says she’s a So You Think You Can Dance junkie and has auditioned in Chicago, South Carolina, and New York in years past. She’s excited the auditions have come to Washington. Last year, she made it through to the televised Las Vegas round of the competition.
“I had more fun with it,” Turner-Goldsmith said. “I put my soul out there a little more. It’s not necessarily a dance move—it’s the personality you put into it.”
Just behind her, “Dancing” Derrick Bradley bounced to the beat of his Discman. He planned to wow the judges with a hip-hop routine—he’s a street dancer from Holland, New York. Bradley started taking professional classes last year.
Standing beside Bradley, Mark Voldeo—a friend and dancer who was inspired to try out by Bradley—unzipped his sweatshirt to reveal a shirt with Bradley’s face on it. “He’s kind of a legend,” Voldeo said of Bradley’s status as a dancer in his hometown.
Maybe he’ll be an even bigger one if he makes it to So You Think You Can Dance.