Dancers audition for hit Fox show

‘So You Think You Can Dance’ comes to Detroit for the first time looking for ‘America’s Favorite Dancer’

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 19, 2013

 Hundreds of local dancers tried out for the Fox show “So You Think You Can Dance” last week at The Fillmore Theater in downtown Detroit.

Hundreds of local dancers tried out for the Fox show “So You Think You Can Dance” last week at The Fillmore Theater in downtown Detroit.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

Motown is known worldwide as the home of some of the best music ever created. And where there’s music, there’s dancing.

From Feb. 11-13, hundreds of dancers from as far as New Jersey gathered at The Fillmore Theater in downtown Detroit to audition for the hit Fox TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” The series, now in its 10th season, has been combing the nation looking for talented young people to compete to be named “America’s Favorite Dancer.” This is the first time the show has held auditions in Detroit.

Parris Thomas, of Bloomfield Hills, was one of the dancers vying for a spot on the show. SYTYCD pits dancers against one another in a variety of genres, from ballroom to hip-hop to contemporary, in order to see who can master each style best and win the most votes from viewers at home. Thomas auditioned by dancing hip-hop, her specialty, and said she wasn’t the only one.

“It’s Detroit, so 80 percent of us were hip-hop dancers. By the end of the day, it was all hip-hop. The competition got harder as the day went on,” she said. “You could see the frustration on their faces because they’d seen so much of the same thing.”

Thomas, 21, attends Wayne State University to study broadcasting. When she’s got free time, though, she attends hip-hop dance conventions to brush up on her moves. She loves to perform, and that’s why she decided to strut her stuff before the SYTYCD all-star judges, including the show’s executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, ballroom veteran Mary Murphy and Season 4 contestant and hip-hop dancer Twitch Boss.

Despite her nearly 17 years of experience, Thomas said she got tripped up at the auditions when she was asked to perform free-style, where dancers make up routines on the spot.

“You teach me something and I can do it. But free-styling — some people have it, and some people don’t,” she said.

She waited nearly five hours along Woodward Avenue to get into the theater and show the judges what she’s got, and despite the fact that she wasn’t asked to move on in the auditions, she said the experience was well worth it.

“Everyone was having a good time. They were dancing in line and encouraging each other. No one laughed at another person for how they danced and what they brought to the table,” she said. “Just being with dancers that are truly passionate about it — I loved my experience, and I would do it again just to do it.”

Devin Tokarski, of Clawson, barely made it to the auditions. He had just turned 18 that day, making him eligible to compete on the show.

“I am very glad I did it. It was a good experience, and I think I would do it again if they came to Detroit,” said Tokarski, who studies at Juliana’s Academy of Dance in Madison Heights, as well as the Academy of Russian Classical Ballet in Novi. Recently he earned a $4,000 scholarship to the University of Arizona to participate in their dance program.

Because of contract restrictions with Fox, Tokarski said he wasn’t able to divulge too many details on the audition process. He did hint, though, that his dance career doesn’t appear to be taking him into television just yet.

“I’m going to try out for some more companies, and maybe some more schools and programs. Ballet has been really influential to me in the past year, so I’m really starting to get more excited about dance,” he said.

Tokarski added that if the show ever returns to Detroit to hold auditions, he’ll likely try out again — and he encourages other hopefuls to do the same.

“I had a lot of fun. There’s a lot of cool people to meet there, and I got some connections. If anyone was thinking about doing it, I would say just go for it. What have you got to lose?”

“So You Think You Can Dance” will return this summer on Fox. Check your local listings or visit