'America's Got Talent' judge Simon Cowell hits Golden Buzzer for New York dance group, WAFFLE Crew
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/17/2020
America's Got Talent featured the fourth Golden-Buzzer recipient, a New York dance group called the WAFFLE Crew, during Tuesday night's Season 15 auditions episode on NBC.
WAFFLE Crew, an acronym for "We Are Family for Life Entertainment," is a group of seven men from the Bronx who dubbed themselves "a brotherhood" for over 10 years and promoted their new style of dance, Litefeet.
In the group's background package, dancer Tyree "Ty Live" Sowell explained, "Where we grew up was really rough. People don't even make it past (age) 25. So we would put ourselves into the most safe environment, which was these dance centers. We would just spend all of our time there."
The crew then brought their moves to the subway, where they'd dance for riders on the train.
"We went from making a few dollars to actually us helping mom pay the bills," Tyree said.
"The train was a blessing; it literally saved our lives, because we didn't have to be back where we live. Dream big. No dream is too big. Look where we are -- America's Got Talent."
The men paid tribute to a fallen friend, who was a victim of gun violence, before auditioning.
"Bullets don't have names, nor do they have directions. They would hit anybody that's in the way... It hurt me to see somebody that's so young die," Tyree shared.
"The way you learn to deal with it, you use it to wake up every morning because they can't. So you got to do what they wish they could do."
WAFFLE Crew then stepped onstage in matching jerseys and basketball sneakers and spoke to the judges about their passion for their craft
"We want to spread the dance style that we do -- Litefeet -- around the world because we're called 'breakdancers' and it's a little offensive," group member Joel Kozik explained.
"So we just want to spread it worldwide and have the world know what we're doing."
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Tyree added, "We're from a city where there's no hope, there's no influence. We don't see the right things when we go back home, but we never gave up on our hopes and dreams. We want to give young people something positive to look into."
Tyree said their performance is about "our culture, our city and our family back home."
"We understand that there's a million dollars at stake right now. We already just invested in our city with as little as our pocket money, so a million dollars, we will really, really [give back] to our city," Tyree said.
Simon thought the group looked "ready" for their big moment and noted he had "a good feeling" about them after a series of lackluster auditions.
After the group wowed a cheering audience with their dance performance, America's Got Talent host Terry Crews gushed backstage, "I've never seen anything like that before in my entire life."
Simon told the crew, "I've got to be honest: we've seen a lot of dance acts on this show. I wouldn't say they're my favorite category, because I've seen a lot of repetition over the years, but I think something about your energy from the second you came on -- and your determination."
"This was I think my favorite audition so far," Simon added. "And I also understand how important this is to you. I want to give you a little head start here."
Simon pressed the Golden Buzzer and so gold confetti fell on the stage, and some of the WAFFLE Crew members broke down into joyful tears.
Simon said WAFFLE Crew brought "talent, determination and everything we've been waiting for on the show."
Simon additionally called the talented guys "fantastic" and an audition he "will never ever forget."
The Golden Buzzer will automatically advance WAFFLE Crew to America's Got Talent's Season 15 live shows in whatever form they eventually take.
The live shows typically film in a theater in Hollywood but will presumably be different this year given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the last three weeks of audition episodes, Heidi pressed the Golden Buzzer for 30-year-old singer Cristina Rae, Sofia gave her Golden Buzzer to 10-year-old singer Roberta Battaglia, and Terry advanced Voices of Our City Choir with the Golden-Buzzer opportunity.