Ninja Twin Powers
Ninja Twin Powers by Tracy Marcellino
As they leapt across the So You Think You Can Dance audition stage, the Ninja Twins (Nick and James Aragon) mouthed the words to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” a song befitting for mirror image twins challenging the judges to make a change of their own—specifically, a change in the age limit for SYTYCD contestants. James Aragon (the “Ja” in Ninja), persisted through five different producers before he found one willing to forego the limit and allow them to audition. He just knew in his heart that they had to do it. They danced their way through three days of rigorous offscreen auditioning, a process Nick likened to The Hunger Games, and made it to the final round on air.
At 32, two years over the limit, the Ninjas were disqualified but not before they charmed the proverbial pants off of the judges and won the hearts of millions who watched and re-watched their audition segment on YouTube. It wasn’t only their dancing, but their dapper dress sense, warmth, and comic gold one-liners delivered in tandem that mesmerized America. “We kind of consider ourselves the socialites in LA. I’m like the Paris Hilton and he’s like the Nicole Richie, but we’re broke,” James deadpans during the interview.
Nick follows,” We live that A-list celebrity on that B-list budget.”
Shortly after, their phone began ringing off the hook. SYTYCD executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe offered the “Ninjas with attitude” their own reality show, and they subsequently signed an exclusive contract. The dancing duo quit their day jobs. More accurately, Nick quit his work as a stylist and James got fired from his restaurant job for giving away a free birthday cookie, nevertheless, timing appeared impeccable. While they awaited the development of their show, Leno called and it looked like everything was finally happening for the twins who’d been dancing under the radar professionally since they were teenagers. They turned down dozens of offers, beholden to their contract. And then, they were shelved. Says Nick, “We had to move back in with our parents in Bakersfield which we hadn’t done since we were fifteen.”
James confers, “We lost the Mercedes, the apartment. Everything.”
Actually, not everything. They still had insatiable ambition, relentless optimism, and each other, even if they were getting on each other’s nerves. You can’t keep a Ninja Twin down. During their stay at home, they made the most of family-bonding time and began commuting to LA for Meisner acting classes to sharpen their other talents. Two years after the audition that ushered in “the best of times and worst of times” for the two, their phone rang once again. This time it was MTV with an offer for a reality show on their terms. James has signed on as a producer. He’s determined to veer from the formula and he’s got a vision which will put the endlessly entertaining brothers on the road across the U.S. in search of different styles of dance.
For the Bakersfield boys who got their humble start as kids in church, it’s likely that perseverance will pay off when they dance, cajole, and squabble their way into our living rooms once again. Hopefully this time for good. No limits. As Nick reminded Nigel during their fateful audition, “We older but we ain’t dead. Dang!”
Until then, keep tabs on the Ninja Twins at all the usual places online.