Source: The Times of Israel (Extract)
Posted: June 14, 2024

Roni Sagi and border collie Rhythm win standing ovation for two-minute routine on America’s Got Talent; dog ‘dances better than human dancers we’ve had on,’ says judge Simon Cowell.

Roni Sagi, an Israeli dog trainer, and her two-and-a-half-year-old border collie Rhythm received a standing ovation for their recent audition on America’s Got Talent, the popular televised talent competition now in its nineteenth season.

The duo performed a captivating two-minute routine set to the tune of “California Dreamin’” by pop star Sia, eliciting enthusiastic applause from both the live audience and the show’s four celebrity judges.

“When you mentioned your dog could dance, he actually dances better than some human dancers we’ve had,” remarked Simon Cowell, the British judge and creator of the show. “I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this.”

The successful audition, which by Friday had become the #8 trending video on YouTube, amassed over half a million views in just two days. This achievement followed last season’s victory by Adrian Stoica and Hurricane, another dog-dancing duo from Turin, Italy. The winner of this year’s competition will earn a $1 million cash prize.

“I admire Adrian and Hurricane, but this was a step up,” commented Cowell. Comedian Howie Mandel, another judge, concurred, stating, “It was better, more energetic, almost like ballet. I love your dog.”

“I love him too,” Sagi replied.

The trainer, who danced for nine years before transitioning to dog dancing, has previously been recognized in Israeli media. In 2021, she appeared on the public broadcaster Kan during a competition in the Czech Republic with another one of her dogs, Pesach, also a border collie.

“This sport, like all canine sports, is first and foremost about strengthening the connection between the dog and his owners,” Sagi explained at the time.

“Every dog can dance, that’s one of the great things about this sport because there aren’t any obligatory criteria; I don’t need a dog that can jump two meters, or can work from three meters away from me, but rather I build a choreography that’s fitting for the dog and for me,” she said.

Sagi’s social media presence is mostly composed of rehearsal and performance videos of herself and her five dogs, Pesach, Rhythm, Martha, Bailey, and Blondie, as well as advertisements for her dog dance school, Keta Tov.