America's Got Talent” proved the high-caliber of its contenders for the million dollars again this week with the August 1 third round of Judge Cuts. Laverne Cox was the guest judge, and the “Orange Is the New Black” star has made it clear that she was serious about this role, too. “I want to see passion and to be moved,” she remarked before the first performance of the night. As it turned out, the first act to take the stage, Oscar Hernandez, the larger-than-life dancer, dedicated his moves to Cox, saying, “For you, Boo.” The admiration was mutual, as Laverne Cox praised that the dancer was “large and in-charge.” “Bang Bang” was the perfect accompaniment, because Oscar will be shooting onward, and the night was off to a booming start.

More than talent

With essentially only one-third of the 20 performers being chosen to move up to the live shows, the chopping down to the final selections becomes more merciless. Magician, Jeki Yoo, moved himself to the US to prepare for his performance, a masterful card trick with a plastic egg. His wife flew from China to be part of his moment. He impressed the panel, but not quite enough to move on. Saxophone-playing singer had another fine performance, but he was up against Mike Yung. The subway singer for the past 37 years simply conveys that his notes are part of his very heart, and he will be singing for more “America's Got Talent” audiences.

Only one dance crew, Brobots, and Mandroids had the talent and the intangible “it factor” to find a way forward.

These young men were defying even their parents simply to perform and accomplished this week's stellar routine with three fewer members than their prior audition. Their commitment is beyond commendable, and they deserve every success possible.

Nine-year-old Celine Tam did not choose her typical Celine Dion selection. Instead, she sang “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” as a loving salute to her younger sister, Dion, and good herself a lot of good.

With fashion that far out did the original Michael Bolton version, Celine sold Laverne Cox. The guest judge gushed “you blew me away-- I might just have to…” Before finishing her sentence she smashed her golden buzzer. Celine will be singing through “America's Got Talent” for weeks to come.

The dream and almost the dream

Artists like the dynamic, plus-size pole performer, “key-tar” player JJ Phillips, and limbo lady, Shemika Charles, all did their best, but at this level of competition, it just wasn't enough.

The fact that these unique performers have a platform on “America's Got Talent” is an immense credit to the competition. Bello Nock even blew himself out of a cannon to win the vote of Simon Cowell, but his life-risking feat couldn't earn him passage forward. In fact, only two acts, both combining dance with danger, won coveted slots in the live shows.

Diavolo did more than rock the boat, as with their previous dance atop structure routine. This time, the dancers and their mysterious mentor-designer took the train. The locomotive structure was majestic, and the way they made their climbs, leaps, and catches of all the moving bodies were nothing short of miraculous. The entire panel and all the audience at Radio City Music Hall stood in ovation.

Preacher Lawson has the perfect presence for comedy, and he knows how to use every element of his delivery to the fullest. His routine of being catfished from a dating site was immaculate comic delivery and rapid-fire funny. It was everything a comedian can dream on a big stage like “America's Got Talent,” and having his mother see it all made it even more special.

Spinning skaters from England, Billy and Emily, literally almost “bought the farm” in a rehearsal, injuring the sister sibling’s head. This meant that they went into their death-defying performance for this round without practice. The spins were a razor-width from total demise, and the last segment, with Emily holding on for life to her brother’s beard, was too much for Mel B to watch, and she turned her head.

Anyone else watching had to pick their jaw up from the floor. It was amazing just to see both in the duo survive.

Acts chosen for the live shows are:

Celine Tam

Oscar Hernandez

Mike Yung


Preacher Lawson

Brobots Mandroids

Billy and Emily