So You Think You Can Dance Review: No Bad Eggs Here
You know what I heard in the office, all week long? I can’t wait for So You Think You Can Dance! And I joined in the excitement along with my fellow co-workers. What I’ve noticed and love is that new people continue to discover the show and fall completely in love with it, and I know why. First, these kids are talented. Really talented! Second, there are no gimmicks – no Ford commercials. Just a focus on dance and the occasional 3 minute musical number, but even those got cut when the results shows were nixed. Third, these choreographers are talented. Really talented! Though the contestants are performing and in the competition, the choreographers are an incredibly important part of the show and certainly shape each season.
Now enough of the SYTYCD love, and let’s get on to the first and second auditions in Los Angeles and Detroit. Stephen “tWitch” Boss, one of my favorite contestants and one of the more successful ones as well, joined Mary and Nigel in the latter city, while Jesse Tyler Ferguson joined them in the former. Jesse was a breath of fresh air last year, and I’m all for fun guest judges, but only vetted dancers/former dancers and choreographers should be allowed to select the elite few who make it through this first round of auditions. C’mon!
The show kicked off with two exciting performers, including Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall, 18, a completely loveable popper who got a standing O from the judges and was sent straight to Vegas, bypassing the choreography rounds. That’s not an easy feat for a street dancer, but his isos, that rivaled Phillip Chbeeb, were worth it. Malece Miller, 19, is a contemporary dancer with a really energetic mom and a sweet and relatable Melanie Moore face. She has the perfect kind of sexiness that doesn’t make women feel uneasy, but certainly can rile up a guy.
Other fun finds include:
Paul Karmiryan, 21, a previous winner of SYTYCD Armenia. Though none of us have seen it, and most of us never will, I’m not sure I like the idea of being able to have a worldwide SYTYCD monopoly. As a Latin Ballroom dancer, he has moves, but past contestants equaled his performance, if not surpassed it. Still, for a male ballroom dancer, he’s very captivating when the ladies are usually the focal point.
Elihah Laurant, 20, is a theatrical magician on stage, wanting to give the audience pure theater. With skill, control and creativity, he’s a true find but his technique may not be up to par when it comes to other styles. Mary said, “I’ll never forget that piece.”
Taylor Ward, 20, dislocated her knee while practicing so she had to focus a lot on her upper body. She’s got loose joints but fortunately this time it popped right back in. Ugh! You could see the forced restriction on her face as she danced, but there was something there, and the judges sent her through to choreography. Eventually she got her ticket.
Morris Isby, 28, is a B-boy and extremely light on his feet and hands and head! He made his tricks look easy, and that’s what impressed me the most. Sidebar: His elbow pirouette! Clearly not easy. He was sent through to choreography, but didn’t make it.
Then, there’s Armen “Armen Way” Avetisov, 27. I’ll go the Armen way if he continues to be as good of a showman as he proved during the audition. He had that right amount of pizazz. At first, I thought he was a total joke when his pre-clip showed him making rap videos while women washed cars behind him. But no…it’s real. He just channels his powers for good when they’re on the dance floor.
Jade Zuberi’s, 21, objective at the start of his audition was to bend reality. I love his quote of “take Alice and put her in Wonderland,” and that’s what he did, earning the judges’ second standing O of the audition rounds.
Amy Yakima, 19, got a little extra time when her father was invited on stage to show off some jazz moves he learned in one of her dance classes. She has an extremely emotive face and easily matched it with her body. That kind of connection can take her a long way in the competition. So can her ridiculous extensions.
Morgan “Mo” Williams, 22, is still a little polarizing. I didn’t like him, at first, when he so confidently said his abs were better than Twitch since he had a 6 pack and Twitch only had 4. Shut your mouth or get off the stage, Mo! But, man, did he seem to extend those arms and legs forever when he danced.
Will “Sysko” Green, 27, showed off The Jit, inspired by ’20s crazes like the jitterbug and the lindy hop. It’s a Michigan dance creation that looks like a lot of fun and awfully tiring, but was a little spastic for me. I’m talking Road Runner footwork. But setting my opinion aside, I did enjoy his Hip Roll, another street dance that looks a lot like it sounds. Mary even got her own close up and personal show before she sent him to choreography where he was a no.
Tyrone Cobham, Jr., 18, mesmerizes his grandma. Awww! He said his style of tap is different because he uses his upper body a lot. Well, I find the style mesmerizing too, but I’ve never been a good at judging tapper talent. His choice of such an abstract jazz musical piece, that showed off and focused on his amazing footwork, was masterful. Yet he still managed to match the artistry of the music with his extremely difficult choreography. All the judges dubbed him the best tapper SYTYCD has ever seen.
Next up was the Fame Crew, which was a little odd. Each member auditioned, one after the other, before final results were given. Darryl “Smilez” Harrell, 22, is a male exotic dancer with the ease of a stand-up comedian. On himself in his mother’s womb: “Is he kicking? No, I’m Krumping!” Smilez and DeFonte “Prince Charming” Thomas, 20, were the only ones to get solo dance time out of the crew. (Can we just rule that all dance nicknames must be one word and no longer?) So it was fairly obvious that they would be the only two sent through to choreography. Surprisingly, though, Charming (Yes, it’s now just Charming!) really focused and tried, and the judges saw that. He’s on to Vegas!
It’ll be a few weeks before we get to see Vegas, but I’m looking forward to the next round of auditions. If SYTYCD does anything well (à la The Voice), it can ignore the bad and only focus on the good, making the first few episodes must-see TV in my eyes. Who were you favorites? Did you spot a winner in these first two episodes? Sound off below!
Season 10, Episodes 1 and 2: Auditions: Los Angeles and Detroit (originally aired May 14 and 15, 2013)
SYTYCD airs Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8/7c.
Images courtesy of Mathieu Young and Adam Rose/FOX.