I don’t think there are enough words to express how much I love this show. And tonight definitely had moments that showed why. Normally I don’t even like the early auditions because it’s just an excuse to humiliate those poor noobs with no sense of themselves, but GOD I’ve missed this show, and even a little human cruelty couldn’t ruin my good time.
Last year, Benji was crowned the “Champion of So You Think You Can Dance.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring as American Idol, but whatevs. There was confetti. And funny faces. Then the top 20 toured and I still kick myself for missing it. I will not be repeating that rookie mistake this year! Cat Deeley, decked out in a bitchin’ poncho (Good to see that keen fashion sense is still around. [And this doesn't help the pregnancy rumors!]), asks how they will top it this year. A montage shows us some pretty sick dancers. I can’t wait. Cat promises bigger crowds, sexier routines, more talent and more spectacular moves. Well, that should do the trick. That, and there’s plenty of people falling and some brutal public humiliation! Join me, won’t you, for So You Think You Can Dance?Disclaimer: I have no dance training. But I do have eyes and a sense of what’s ugly. Those are my qualifications to judge dancing.
The credits this year include most of my favorite moments from season 2. Hi Dmitri’s chest. Nice to see you again. Nigel Lythgoe, the exec producer of American Idol (aka, one rich motherfucker) and ballroom champion Mary Murphy (aka, The Joker) are joined by hip-hop choreographer Dan Karraty in their search for America’s favorite dancer. The search starts in my hometown, New York City, home to more dance schools than any other city in the world, so we’re told. Stowing that little tidbit away for Jeopardy! The crowd mugs for the camera. I love that we will never see these people again, though some of them look like pretty good dancers to me.
Lol, editors juxtapose one girl saying she will bust out the white-girl moves as Cat dances in the whitest manner possible. I also love the adorable gay that pirouettes into a wall plastered with posters for 300, like he was drawn to them by the power of Xenu.
Cat explains that all these dancers want one thing: a ticket to Vegas, where they’ll go through dancer boot-camp to be whittled down to the top-20, but more on that later. Today each dancer has a minute to impress the judges, and they’ll either be sent straight to Vegas, sent straight home to cry, or be asked to stick around to learn choreography.
But enough of all this yakity-yak, on to the dancers! New York’s first dancer- with- a- random- backstory is Dancing Derrick. He’s about as winning as you’d imagine, which is to say not at all. I feel kind of bad because I think he’s at least socially slow, but he signed the waiver to be on TV, so game on. Basically, he likes to dance a lot so people call him Dancing Derrick. “Holla!” He adds. Holla indeed.
We get some clips of Derrick dancing in the street and basically, he looks like that Martin Short character from SNL. The one that plays the triangle and has a cowlick. That guy.
Somebody get this boy a triangle STAT!
Derrick’s the first up in front of the judges in New York City and he’s dancing to totally obnoxious techno. The judges faces read “This is going to be a long day.” He’s a complete spazz, but they don’t cut him off. Derrick can’t catch his breath at the end and the judges totally call him on the fact that he said he could dance for a long time without getting tired, and yet here he is gasping for air. For a second it looks like he might puke, which I so don’t want because they’ll just play that clip over and over.
The judges dismiss Dancing Derrick on the grounds that it WASN’T REAL DANCING. He tries to explain something about “leg quickness” and vows to audition again another year. And then seeks medical attention.
The next dancer we see is a chubby girl dancing to Evanescence. Auuggh I feel so bad for this girl, but a good rule to stick by is, if you’re dancing to Evanescence, you probably suck at dancing. Evanescence is the music of the emo and untalented. This time the judges faces say “How do I put this nicely?” as they watch her dance. Oh god, she’s rolling on the floor.
Nigel asks about formal training and she claims to have “a little bit of contemporary.” “A little bit” ain’t gonna get you on this show. Nigel can’t think of anything good to say. Mary says there was “a true sense of desperation” in her dance. Me-ouch, Mary Murphy! The girl asks if there’s something she needs to work on. Sigh. The judges echo my thoughts, “Everything.” Painful. Outside in an interview, this girl explains that she was thinking of opening a dance studio, but that was only a side option, so she’ll open a restaurant instead. Keep on dreaming those emo dreams!
Finally! Some good dancers! Pasha and Anya, whom Cat Deeley says will bring the heat. And they totally do. Nigel’s face reads, “DAyum,” as both dancers’ legs move in that amazing way that only awesome ballroom dancers do. All quick and crazy-like. Those are all technical terms. Nigel tells them they were hot and wants to send them to Vegas. Mary Murphy goes as far as to say they are the best ballroom dancers this show has ever seen. Dan Karraty knows his opinion is worthless after that and Pasha and Anya are going to Vegas!
Back from commercial, more dancers go through to Vegas, though we only see brief snippets of these good ones. Our next interviewee is Heather Zampia. She’s 25, into tattoos and has had 2 hip surgeries already. I hope to God she’s good, because Heather vows to keep dancing no matter what, and her talent better be worth the hassle. When Heather explains that this is her first major audition since her surgery, I worry. But my worries were unfounded as the judges love Heather. They can’t believe she can dance like that after two surgeries and she’s through to Vegas too.
By the end of Day 1, 32 dancers in total are through to Vegas. Before Day 2 begins we get a montage of different dance moves Nigel asked people to perform over the course of Day 1 because this show is all about educating AMERICA about dance. Nigel is such a giver. We also get a few more of Dancing Derrick’s moves, because what would a good reality show be if it didn’t milk the crazies? His moves include the “Airplane with Turbulence” and the “Toothbrush.” Basically, Derrick is a mime.
Coming up, an upset chub and a girl who overcame an ordeal to dance again. Uplifting I’m sure.
Up first on Day 2 is Jenna, the previously seen chub, who we now know is going to be bad. Thanks for the spoiler alert, promo department. Jenna says she does all styles, jazz, hip-hop, tap, ballet, “afro.” Oh, please dance “afro.” OMG, she’s at least 20 years old! Apparently she got a tattoo on her 20th birthday of the Chinese character meaning “dance.” So she thinks, because she doesn’t read Chinese. Meaningful! I hope it actually says “potato” or something like that. Jenna says it proves how much she loves dancing. Oh my god, the upcoming humiliation is perma-inked onto her SKIN. AWESOME.
And the dancing is as bad as you’d imagine. Low hops, and wobbly moves. Mary Murphy gives a low growl as her face says, “Eeeeehhhhhhh, this sucks!” After cutting her off, Dan asks if she’s ever actually been taught the correct way to break-dance (Yeah, there was “break-dancing”). Jenna says yes, but Dan says noooo. Mary snarks that she guesses Jenna was saving that for another day. Oh snap, I love harsh Mary Murphy. She goes on to say that Jenna doesn’t even have the stamina to participate, and she could barely get through that routine. LOVE IT.
And then it gets really good. Jenna explains that she teaches little kids to dance, so she’s not used to the strain. Nigel’s head snaps up at that. Nigel HATES bad dance teachers and he proceeds to totally lay into her. After Jenna says she teaches little kids to break-dance, Nigel declares, “That’s bad!” and says she doesn’t have the technique to teach. I love when Nigel declares someone bad at their livelihood. Mmmmm crushed dreams and unemployment!
Jenna stalks off-stage in tears. She thinks Nigel’s an dick because she likes to dance and he said she sucks at it. I don’t understand why people go on this show without preparing for the possibility that they’re actually not that good. I mean, even the title taunts you! Jenna wants Nigel to go back where he came from. Culturally sensitive!
Next up is Chasmar Wells, a student at the School of Performing Arts. I work around the corner from there, and I really think I’ve seen this kid around. Mesh arm-stockings and Stegosaurus hair and all. Chasmar, despite having a great lanky body, is not a good dancer. Mary Murphy points out that he didn’t listen to the music. Nigel still doesn’t want to be mean, and so opts to say nothing. Regardless, Chasmar and his arm stockings are going home.
Melissa Browne, however, drives Nigel back to his usual crotchety self as he tells her she’s the dancing version of Ugly Betty. Un! Necessary! Nigel turns to the other judges for comment, but they just tell him “That’s messed-up.”
Hey, speaking of cruel, cameras are now following Jenna in the elevator as she cries on the phone. She keeps trying to avoid them, and totally walks into a wall as she cries, “They’re terrible people! Terrible!” Is it bad that I’m laughing?
Okay, and here’s our next “uplifting” tale of dance. Hannah Lee, the only Asian person I’ve ever seen from Israel, has the most horrific back-story, because what would any reality show be without that charitable angle? A couple weeks ago my roommate told me he watched this video where the floor collapsed at a wedding in Israel, killing 24 and injuring hundreds. It sounded awful and I decided not to search for it the next day. But apparently, So You Think You Can Dance doesn’t think I should have that option, and we watch it over and over because it turns out Hannah Lee was working as a dancer at that wedding. Good times. Not.
Hannah, now with metal plates in her face, came away from, that experience wanting to spend her life dancing. Things don’t go that well at her audition, though, and Hannah is told to stick around and learn some choreography… in a “very smelly room,” according to Cat Deeley. Gross.
Up next, more break-dancing and some heartbroken losers. The break-dancers are Jamal and Earnest, both members of SQ, or Status Quo. Right, like that means anything to me either. Both of them also teach hip-hop. Earnest “E-Knock” is nervous, but has some awesome moves — he jumps off the stage and over some of the set pieces. Creative and totally awesome. But Nigel knows that often street dancers can’t pick up choreography, so he’s told to stick around.
Jamal isn’t as acrobatic as “E-Knock,” but Nigel recognizes some “clowning” and seems intrigued. The other two judges are less impressed. When Jamal mentions swing dancing, Nigel seizes on that, and tells him to come back with a swing routine. “Huh?” Jamal asks. Yeah, he wasn’t prepared for that response. Nigel asks him again if he swing dances, and Jamal replies, “Sorta.” When Nigel calls him on it, Jamal says, fine, “bring it on,” and at this point everyone, including myself, is thinking he’s a total faker.
Oh hey, speaking of swing, here’s that poor heartbroken loser we saw a clip of before commercials, Jarrel. He says he grew up in mid-town Manhattan and that explains A LOT. Can you imagine growing up around Times Square? Totally freak-inducing. Dancing is his joy, blah, blah, blah, and Jarrel’s here dancing with his ex-girlfriend, Carmen. She means a lot to him, but she doesn’t miss him, like, at all. She interviews that they’re still friends and hang-out, but just “not on that level.” Bitch. She totally knows she’s fucking with his head.
Um, and they dance like 10 year-olds. It’s really pretty awful. The judges faces say, “Well let’s make the best of it,” and they break out in dance from their seats. Mary Murphy hated it, saying Jarrel was “Dreadful.”
Oooh, Carmen is a dance instructor. Her father showed her an ad that said, “No experience required,” and Carmen decided to do it. Nigel says he understands how she got it then. As Carmen tries to defend her skillz some more, Mary Murphy interrupts and tells Carmen she worries for her, since she’s “not in reality at all” and calls it the most juvenile routine they’ve seen all day. Seriously, more mean Mary Murphy!
Up next, another dance teacher, Katie. She originally came to New York to chaperone one of her students, Ashley, but then decided to try out as well. Katie is actually the director of a dance studio, and though she seems like a perfectly nice woman, I wonder why the girls must dress in bikinis. So distracting. There are really young girls in that class!
The pair are close, and Katie cutely worries about Ashley as competition, since she thinks Ashley is the better dancer. Ashley is first, and is pretty awesome, but it’s so distracting that she’s in a bikini and fur… coatlet.. thing. Seriously, what father allows their daughter on TV like that? The judges recognize her talent and send Ashley straight through to Vegas.
The judges then can’t wait to see Katie, since she taught Ashley. I don’t think this routine is as impressive, because it seems like Katie just does a lot of walking around, but the judges think she was great. Katie is also through to Vegas.
Back from commercial, we go to one of last year’s finalists, Stanislav, in line with his sister. He’s there to partner with her today, but they don’t normally dance together to keep their relationship friendly. Faina is just as good as her brother, all spinny and twirly all over the place. Nigel declares Faina much more sexy than Stanislav, but also says she has the technique to match. Mary tells her she’s through to Vegas. Woo hoo!
Behold the power of Russian siblings dancing! It is undeniable! Our legs do things you can’t even dream of! Do not try to look away.
Next, Jamal is back on stage to swing dance with E-Knock, since no girl would partner with him. Jamal just bops his way through the intro, and Nigel cuts him off, saying it wasn’t enough. Jamal protests, saying he was waiting for the horns to start (though not in so many words.) Mary cracks up, and they give him one more chance.
When they finally get into the routine, Jamal and E-Knock are AWESOME. Jamal’s leg almost goes over his head on that high-kick. And he throws E-Knock around and does a split! Everyone is on their feet by the end of that, and Nigel declares him a STAR! Nigel doesn’t know how he’ll fare later on, but they ask him to stick around for the choreography.
A star is born.
Up next, “Sex is back.” He’s that long-haired weirdo from lat year that you just had to think lost a bet. He was wearing snow gloves! And his dancing consisted of jumping! Last year his mom was not pleased by Nigel’s comments, and yet, they are back for more. Btw, I blame his mother entirely for Sex’s demeanor. No mother should encourage the nickname “Sex!”
He says he represents the “male sex image” and says he has hundreds of girlfriends. See? He’s either completely delusional, or he and his mom are some sort of hipster performance artists and the irony is going over all our heads. Performance art aside, the dancing is still awful. Nothing says “Sex” like your hair tucked into your sweater. Also, GIANT TURQUOISE SHORTS. Nigel goes for the easy joke and asks Mary if “Sex” improved for her this year. Sex won’t take any criticism from the judges and declares that he knows he’s great. Then why are you asking for validation from these judges if you won’t hear their criticism?
Nigel makes the mistake of trying to talk to him rationally. Sex can’t come up with a come back beyond, “No, you are bad.” Nigel asks him to leave after telling Sex he’s wasting everyone’s time. Then his mom starts yelling from the back of the auditorium and she listens just as badly as her son. Nigel can’t say enough times that Sex will never be a dancer. Seriously, Nigel can make sure that happens. He, like, owns the entertainment industry.
Before we can wrap up the episode, we revisit Hannah Lee, E-Knock and Jamal in the choreography round. After performing the routine the judges come down hard, and it looks like most don’t make it through, including E-Knock. Jamal and Hannah Lee, however, are going Vegas. Yay for Jamal!
Next week: LA and Chicago. There’s bleeping galore! Can’t wait, see you then!