For the WAFFLE Crew dancers, America's Got Talent is an opportunity like no other. So when they hit the stage during Tuesday's new episode, they pulled out all the stops to deliver an unforgettable performance, and it earned them the coveted Golden Buzzer from a deeply impressed Simon Cowell.
Before coming out to perform, the Bronx-based group of street performers and subway dancers opened up to the AGT cameras about growing up in a difficult part of the country and how it brought them all together.
"We're all from different neighborhoods in New York City, and where we grew up at was really rough," dancer Tyree Sowell shared. "People don't even make it past 25."
"So we would put ourselves in the most safe environments, which were these dance centers," he explained. "We would spend all our time there. And then we would take all these moves we have and bring them to the train for money."
As the group continued to perform their routines in subway stations and train cars, they honed their skills and found more and more popularity.
"We went from making a few dollars to actually us helping our moms pay the bills," Sowell shared. "The train was a blessing, and it literally saved our lives. Because we don't have to be back where we live."
As the group recalled, one of their members was killed in a drive-by shooting a few years ago, when he was in his early 20s, and it hit them all really hard.
"I wish I could have said goodbye, at least. It hurt me to see somebody so young to die," Sowell recalled, holding back tears. "But you use it to wake up every morning, because they can't. So you gotta do what they wish they could do."
Taking the stage, the group introduced themselves, explaining that WAFFLE Crew stands for We Are Family For Life Entertainment.
"We want to spread the dance style that we do, called litefeet, around the world. Because we're called break dancers, and that's a little offensive," dancer Joel Kozik told the judges. "So we want to spread it worldwide, and have everybody know what we're doing."
"We want to give young people something positive to look to," Sowell explained. "It's about our city, our culture, our family that's watching back home right now."
Without further ado, the group kicked off their audition, displaying their finely honed crew performance, which blends break dancing and hip-hop with their own influences and flourishes.
The group's dynamic performance earned them a standing ovation from everyone in the audience, including all four judges.
"I'm gonna be honest with you," Cowell shared with the crew after their high-energy routine. "We've seen a lot of dance acts on this show, and I wouldn't say they are 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, was everything," he continued. "This was, I think, my favorite audition so far."
Cowell said he understood "how important this is" to the crew, and that he wanted to "give them a little head start."
Without another word, or any other judge giving feedback, Cowell solidified their place in the live rounds when he stood and slammed his hand on the Golden Buzzer, showering the dancers in shimmering confetti.
Speaking with the dancers onstage after sharing a group hug, Cowell said their "incredible and fantastic" performance proved to be an "audition I will never, ever forget."
When host Terry Crews asked Cowell what qualities he saw in the AGT hopefuls that compelled him to award the Golden Buzzer, the longtime judge and co-creator replied, "Talent, determination, and everything that I've been waiting for on this show, and they delivered it."
With the Golden Buzzer, the WAFFLE Crew bypass the Judge Cuts round and move on to the live rounds later in the season.
America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Check out the video below for a look at some of the other standout performances from the season thus far.