The second round of “America's Got Talent” live quarterfinals was already off to an unusual start before host Tyra Banks did her runway walk to center stage on Tuesday night, August 21. The huge stage doors that allow the competition’s crew to move props, lighting, and equipment for each individual act were malfunctioning. The disruption meant that each performer had to carry on under very distracting conditions behind him, her, or an entire group. Simon Cowell had no problem in designating the cause of the difficulties as being interference from The Sacred Riana, who was slated among the evening’s acts.

He directly appealed to her to stop her shenanigans, and she definitely had more scares in store for Mel B and all the judges. For a few talented performers, this opportunity was “the moment,” meant to transform their lives beyond simply making it to the next round. Glennis Grace had one of those moments, and aerial artist couple Duo Transcend displayed their courage and passion simultaneously like never before. They joined other performers who rose to the occasion amidst the chaos. It was a sublime and momentarily scary night to remember.

Starting off with songs and steps

Heidi Klum's golden buzzer choice, Makayla Phillips, was the first performer of the night. That position often means a greater likelihood of being forgotten as the night moves on, but the 15-year-old far outdid herself from her audition, singing Julia Michaels’ “Issues” with power and a flawless tone.

She's up against some of the best “America's Got Talent” singers in the competition's history. Heidi proclaimed herself “so proud” of her protégé, and the entire panel commended the young talent’s progress. Now, her future rests with the voting public.

It was Mel B's turn to offer raves after Da Republik finished their rousing routine of precision steps, human tumbles, and high leaps.

The dance troupe from the Dominican Republic poured out their hearts and their talent once more and had nothing but gratitude for their “America's Got Talent” journey so far. Mel B remarked how they were ambassadors for their country, having met the president, and that there was “not one mistake” in the night’s performance.

Simon Cowell praised them as the best dance group, and Howie Mandel closed by saying that Da Republik is “da bomb.”

Former “Glee” cast member Noah Guthrie did himself some good in reestablishing himself as a true musician again with his original song, “Show Me Some Mercy.” After her standing ovation, Heidi Klum called him a double-threat with his talent and then upped him to a triple threat due to his handsome looks. Simon Cowell also gave him extra praise for writing his own song, and noted that America loves a comeback and that he may just have one on “America's Got Talent.” Howie and Mel B were not fans of the song but still like the South Carolina artist.

Japanese noise Impressionists Yumbo Dump had a tough night with this live performance.

Their opening sound was supposed to be that of a typhoon, but it hardly sounded fierce, and Simon Cowell got very distracted by the frontal area balloons that they wore. By the second impression, they were given X’s by all the judges except for Howie Mandel. Their last impression of a dolphin love story, however, with both wearing dolphin heads, earned them redemption from all except Heidi Klum. Howie Mandel passionately defended the performers’ message as being for the environment and wildlife, and conveying something “important.” Time will tell on Wednesday if the voters agree.

Hope and high notes

Before his performance, Samuel J Comroe’s dad praised his son profusely, calling him the funniest comedian ever, with Robin Williams a close second.

The devoted dad always advised his son to “love your audience” and from the time the younger Comroe came onstage, the love was mutual between the audience and the comedian with Tourette's syndrome. Comroe related the funny, loving experience of his pet adoption from a shelter and a hilarious experience in “drive-by puppy magic.” This performer is a constant lesson in positive energy, and he deserves everything that his “America's Got Talent” turn can bring in his life and career. Mel B gave Samuel a standing ovation, and Simon Cowell called him amazing, especially noting the distraction going on behind him. The British judge expressed that he knew who was probably part of the problem and called for the Sacred Riana to cool it.

Voices of Hope children's choir kept the positivity going, singing a marvelous rendition of “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman,” wearing vivid rainbow colors. Not only are their combined voices heavenly, but the soloists in this youthful ensemble really shine. Simon Cowell had his hands in the air, waving support, and later commented that if happiness had a commercial, this choir would be it. Howie Mandel also reiterated the hope in more than a song for Voices of Hope. No amount of distraction could deter from the definite lift from these kids.

The Savitsky Cats came through once more, prompting their talented felines to roll barrels, do over and under walks over one another's bodies, do tippy-toe walks on the soles of their handler’s shoes, and so on.

Howie Mandel wasn't sure it was a step up, but Heidi Klum offered a standing ovation, noting the almost impossibility of training cats. Simon Cowell was so overwhelmed by a laugh attack that he could not even speak, and Mel B was more impressed by the music than the performance. Anyone who knows and loves animals understands the hours of effort before the 90 seconds onstage.

Single mom and singer Glennis Grace had “her moment” on “America's Got Talent.” Ever since her Week 5 audition, Simon Cowell had esteemed her as “a star,” but her confidence and self-belief seemed to be her only roadblocks. Nothing was an obstacle to her soaring notes in “Never Enough,” and her gifts and artistic grace were fully amplified.

Howie Mandel exclaimed that he and his friend, Paul Stanley from KISS, sitting in the audience, called her performance a “Wow.” Simon Cowell further elaborated that Glennis was “classy, brilliant, and fantastic.” Mel B gushed that Glennis took back her power, but advised her never to wear the same jacket again. Glennis Grace truly returned as a contender for the season winner.

A few creepy playmates too far

With an almost “let's get it over with” attitude, the panel came to the performance of The Sacred Riana. This time, the performer dubbed the troublemaker of the evening targeted Mel B again, so who could blame the Spice Girl for being exasperated that this tack is getting old? She came to the judges’ table, exclaiming “She's coming for you!” She presented a box, containing a note and a wooden doll, and then a paper picturing the judges, with Mel B's head burnt away.

Screams followed, and a small army of look-alike Riana’s consumed the stage and drove the dark magician up a fiery wall. It may be a great spectacle for some, but the tricks are getting tired, and it's time for The Sacred Riana to return home, content with her Asia competition win. Predictably, no judge would say a negative word to her hair-covered face, only that they hoped to see her in the finals. The vote tally will tell her future.

On a much more inspiring note, dancers Quin and Misha took to the stage for a disco revival. The pair had not been seen since they were chosen as Martina McBride's golden buzzer pick during Judge Cuts, and clearly hadn’t lost a step or an ounce of flexibility.

The judges were unanimous in praising the attitude and inspiration of the dancers, with Simon Cowell calling them “fun and inspiring.”

Light and motion performers Front Pictures returned as a wildcard act. The artists offered a high-speed performance that began in a home setting, then transferred to a talking moon, then to an underwater vortex and witches in pursuit, and finally returning to a picture frame on the wall. To be sure, the performance was technically dazzling, but it's hard to separate the human talent component from the technology, so the tally of the vote will decide. Mel B didn't understand the story, while Heidi Klum called it “innovative,” and Simon Cowell asked for more applause.

The final act of the night was the couple who risked being eternally parted a few weeks ago. Their trapeze artistry, done mostly by feel, failed when Tyce could not hold the last ankle catch. Mary fell hard on her back, barely avoiding a fatal injury and a flaming trapeze rope below. This performance, set to Brittney Spears’ “Toxic,” was truly tremendous, and more passionate than ever in more ways than physical ability. There were multiple death-defying moves and catches. To close the performance, dangling in midair, Tyce pulled his wife to him for a passionate kiss, before returning her to her ending position. “You’re brave, you’re incredible, you're nuts,” Simon admonished. Heidi called them possibly the best of the night, and Mel B said she had never seen more danger and passion. Expect Duo Transcend to survive the vote to the semifinals.

Only seven of these 12 will become semifinalists after the vote on Wednesday. Tune in to see which performers survive.