SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: A Rotten Way To End The Night

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Following their debut performances last week, the top ten dancers of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14 had one last chance to dance before facing the season’s first live elimination. Each contestant performed twice: a solo in their own style and a duet, along with their all-stars, in whichever style the SYTYCD gods decided to force on them. At the end of the night, Cat Deeley revealed the bottom three based on last week’s results, leaving the judges to make the final, difficult choice of which dancer to send packing.

Check out our SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE recap to find out all about tonight’s performance and, perhaps more importantly, who won’t be performing again next week.

Intros, group dances, and all that jazz disco.

Given the great level of talent on this season of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the opening group dances are going to have to be better than tonight’s disco number.

Were the costumes great? Absolutely. Was the choreography? More or less. Was the whole thing a lot of fun? Sure, sure.

But the dancing? It felt sluggish. Quite frankly, that was a major disappointment — especially with the all-stars up there.

But Cat Deeley made the evening’s opening moments entertaining again by reminding everyone that the hot tamale train was back in the station: “If you haven’t heard she’s back, you just might want to get your ears checked.”

Girl, we’ve heard. We’ve. Heard. (And we need to get our ears checked.)

The first performance of the night came courtesy of Mark Villaver and Comfort Fedoke.

Comfort Fedoke, jazz, Ray Leeper. Once upon a time, those words, when put together, would’ve been a nightmare combination.

Not anymore.

I don’t know what kind of transformation Comfort has gone through since her days as a SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE contestant? But I’m here for it. The girl who was once quite familiar with being in the bottom three has no reason to fear that awful position right now

And neither does her partner.

Mark and Comfort had great chemistry and style in a jazz number that was, thankfully, actually jazz. Could the dancers have been sharper a few places? Totally. But did they do really well, just the same? Yep.

Judges’ comments. Vanessa Hudgens liked seeing “a bit more intensity” from Mark, rather than his usual, goofy personality. For Mary Murphy, there was “no hate — but love — here.”

Nigel Lythgoe was impressed by Mark’s focus and sharpness. But (like me!) he also had to take a moment to compliment Comfort for getting “stronger and stronger every season” before discussing this season’s contestant.

…and then it got very weird. Like, you know that thing that Nigel and Mary do? They kind of did that, but it also involved Mark Villaver thrusting his pelvis to show how excited he was to be a part of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14.

Guys, help.

Up next, SYTYCD featured back-to-back solos by Koine Iwasaki and Logan Hernandez.

Both dancers showed off some unique, dynamic movement. Koine’s solo had some really nice highlights, like the slide across the floor and the articulation in her feet during an accented moment in her music.

But since nobody’s perfect, Logan and Koine also have some areas of technique that they could stand to work on. For Koine, it’s all about relaxing the shoulders.

And Logan…Did those scrunchy toes really come from the same studio that created Ricky Ubeda? Honestly? Let’s just hope the problem was isolated to a single episode of SYTYCD.

The evening’s second duet was an Argentine Tango from Lex Ishimoto and Gaby Diaz.

“This is the week that Lex becomes a man, even though he’s still wearing a ponytail.” Um. Can we not? Especially in the dance world, where outsiders already stereotype the men as “girly?”

Great. Now that we’ve moved beyond that little wrinkle, let’s talk about the actual performance.

There was a very big disconnect between the level of character that Gaby showed and the sort of wall that I felt Lex place between himself and his partner. Compared with Comfort and Mark’s chemistry, this performance was ice cold. Gaby, all weird pre-performance commentary aside, was putting forth all of the steam that the piece needed.

Unfortunately, the old saying about it taking two to tango is one hundred percent factual. And this tango only seemed to have one.

Judges’ comments. Mary thought there were “some awkward moments in there,” but she also talked about what a “hot, sexy” night viewers were in store for.

Nigel drew more attention to himself and Mary, as if the whole pelvic thrust via Mark didn’t make tonight’s episode of SYTYCD weird enough. After saying that any couples having trouble should do the tango together, Nigel turned to Mary and asked if she wanted to teach him how to tango.

So you think you can explain this judges’ panel?

Vanessa was kind enough to bring the commentary back to the shiny dancing: “You were shining up there. I love watching you dance.”

The next soloist was Taylor Sieve.

I’m just going to copy my notes word for word on this one.

Beautiful control. And we get it: You have great extension. But I want more. Now, let’s all hop on the Youtube and find some better solos from Taylor.

And then Kiki and Jenna attempted a Luther Brown hip hop number.

Dance gods, help us all. No, really. Luther himself even prayed to “our lords to send down the swag.”

Meanwhile, Jenna and Kiki thought they were going to be “the two coolest ballroom dancers doing the hoodest hip hop,” and Jenna said Kiki’s shot at redeeming himself in hip hop was going to be “lit.”

Girl, no.

The whole thing just needed to be stronger. Was Kiki better here than in his Academy hip hop fail? Yes…but that’s not exactly a high standard to set.

Judges’ comments. They all liked it, I guess?

Nigel “Money” Lythgoe (he was on a $100 bill, ok?) admitted to being surprised the all-stars kept Kiki because his showing at The Academy was “that bad.” But, somehow, he felt like Luther Brown’s prayers were answered here. He even asked Jenna if there was anything she wasn’t good at.

To which I say: Ummm, that?

Nigel wasn’t alone in his praise, though, so his words of encouragement weren’t caused by his money status. Vanessa Hudgens said it was lit, just like a youth would, and Mary called the duet “a game changer.”

Mary, honey, why?

Kaylee Mills’ solo was the perfect palate cleanser to follow Kiki’s “lit” hip hop.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you show off control without doing the same, stale extensions we’ve all seen a million times. The feet, on the other hand…Sigh.

Sydney Tormey and Paul Karmiryan were totally out of their element in contemporary. Somehow, though, it worked.

What an beautiful concept from Jaci Royal.

Sydney was actually excited to get contemporary, and she seemed to really connect with Jaci’s story about leaving behind the people you love to pursue your dreams. What Sydney managed to do, in terms of breath and suspension — and even stretched feet! — was impressive.

The performance lacked a certain connection between the partners, though. I feel like, given several more weeks of working together, Paul and Sydney would have made this into one of those SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE classics. As it was, the piece was beautiful; and both dancers had their own, individual moments.

The problem was that they were individual moments.

There was a certain sense of longing, of having to lose each other, that the partners just weren’t yet ready to attack. Should these two dancers last in this year’s competition for more than just a week or two, though, I’ve no doubt that their partnership will advance to the point where it could come back and revisit Jaci Royal’s choreography (finale night?) and absolutely kill it.

Judges’ comments. Vanessa loved seeing Sydney as a contemporary dancer, saying she really delivered on “such moments of stillness and silence that were really beautiful and super strong.”

Mary agreed: “It was sweet. It was tender. There was a freedom about the way that you moved, Sydney, that was just gorgeous.”

Nigel wasn’t about to be the odd man out here. He pointed out some of his favorite steps before reminding everyone of one of the best parts about being a dancer: “There’s nothing better than dance to put across emotions that you can’t talk about.”

Add it to the collection of dance quotes on my grave, folks.

Robert Green and Dassy both showed off their solos before the next duet.

Just like Cat Deeley said, Dassy was “here to pop her way into our hearts.” And Robert? His performance style is absolutely, without a doubt, the most fun SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE has had in a long time.

Logan Hernandez finally had the opportunity to dance with his all-star, Allison Holker. Bonus: The pair was graced with choreography from Brian“we’re doing jazz, not contemporary,” Friedman.

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Real jazz, twice in one night? Hashtag, so blessed.

The concept was totally bizarre — a blind date that involved actually blinding the participants — but it was so unbelievably good.

Logan did a great job here, but his partner totally out-danced him. There’s a certain style of movement that has to happen in order for  a dancer to really nail Brian Friedman’s choreography, and Allison’s just got it. With that being said, Logan Hernandez isn’t the first talented dancer to be overshadowed by Allison; and he definitely won’t be the last.

I’m still very confused by Logan’s feet, though.

Judges’ comments. Mary loved having Brian back (dude had better be like “same” out in that audience); and she gushed over Logan like only Mary Murphy can, calling him “a truly gifted, gifted young man.”

Nigel complimented Logan for diving forward into a side split, so Mary said Logan learned it from Nigel.

Me: “???????”

Oh, and there was also something about Woody Woodpecker in there. Youths can’t relate. He was a cartoon bird, kiddos. It was lit.

Vanessa was, yet again, in the awkward position of having to stop Nigel and Mary. This time, she did it by talking about how much she was blown away by Logan’s unique movement and strength.

Shine away, Logan. Shine. Away.

Just before the break, the Lethal Ladies of Baltimore hit the stage.

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Everyone, please go see STEP. What an inspiring group of young ladies.

…but why did we need to water down their performance by adding the all-stars? We get it, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Your dancers can do just about anything. It doesn’t mean that they always have to show it.

Also: He’s amazing in his own style and all, but I’d be quite happy to never see Paul attempt stepping ever again. Just like I’d never want to see myself attempting it. (But if Blessin Giraldo wants to give me a call and teach me something, I’m down. Just don’t show it to anyone.)

Still with us? Click through to check on the last five duets and solos, as well as tonight’s big elimination!

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: Season 14’s Top 10 Revealed

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The latest episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE was a double feature of sorts. Not only did the series reveal the all-stars’ top 10 picks, but viewers were also treated to SYTYCD season 14’s first live performances. With a brand new stage, works from some favorite choreographers, and the return of the judges’ panel, the August 7 showing might just be the place where SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s 2017 truly began.

You know the drill, dance lovers: Big announcement from Cat Deeley, opening group dance, a little bit of chatter, and then it’s down to the business of finding this year’s hot tamales.

Before revealing season 14’s top 10, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE opened with a group number that featured this season’s all-stars and no one else. We’ll allow it as a way to keep the contestants’ identities secret until the last possible moment; but here’s hoping an all-stars-only piece doesn’t become the norm like it did during the kids’ season. It’s just not necessary, and the competition should be about watching the first-time contestants’ journeys, not reliving past successes.

With that being said, Mandy Moore’s contemporary choreography was as beautiful as ever. And her piece, set to Raign’s rendition of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” managed to work well on all the all-stars. Even Comfort Fedoke and Jenna Johnson, who were never exactly known for being contemporary whizzes, stood out in a positive way. That’s the mark of both brilliant creative work from Moore and dedication from both dancers.

Tonight’s introduction wasn’t all about triumph and talent, though. Unfortunately, Cat Deeley was force to be the bearer of bad news: Allison Holker was unable to join her fellow all-stars in Mandy Moore’s piece due to an injury. On the plus side, she sat this one out instead of doing something potentially controversial.

Bad news out of the way, Cat moved on to welcoming the “jedges,” specifically Mary Murphy — “she’s back home, where she belongs” — to the first live taping of SYTYCD season 14. That warm welcome for Mary even included teasing Nigel Lythgoe: “And with Mary back, he’s got a new pacemaker!”

So, everything was back to that trademark level of hilarious, yet somewhat awkward. Let’s get to talking about some dancers then.

The first big reveal came courtesy of Team Fik-Shun.

When we last saw Fik-Shun, he had a tough choice to make: Kyle Bennett, Jr. or Inyoung “Dassy” Lee? Ultimately, Fik-Shun chose Dassy as his contribution to SYTYCD season 14’s top 10. So, I guess his weird comment about how her movement could be “a little soft sometimes,” which was a “drawback,” meant nothing.

As it should have.

Dassy debuted on the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE live stage with her all-star partner, dancing to a fun piece choreographed by the one and only Popin Pete. If Fik-Shun is known for his personality (he is), then this duet with Dassy lived up to that reputation — and then some.

The only complaint, besides the fact that the number didn’t last longer? I spent a weird couple of minutes wondering whether or not this pair had missed the memo that they were performing on SYTYCD, not trying to do some sort of weird Carmen San Diego cosplay.

Judges’ comments: Mary Murphy, in her first chance to “jedge” official contestants in years, “loooved it!!!” And the praise didn’t stop there. More from Mary because, honestly, this is quality content right here:

  • “I’m so excited to be back, and I’m so excited for this partnership.”
  • “Fik-shun, you have finally found your match.”
  • “Dassy, you are a hard-hitting ‘it’ girl.”
  • “You are my poppin’ favorite, and you’re poppin’ into my heart.”

Iconic.

Up next, Nigel Lythgoe told Fik-Shun and Dassy that they moved more body parts than he knew existed, and Dassy made SYTYCD stronger by coming from Seoul and putting her soul into it. (Get it?)

Lastly, Vanessa Hudgens chimed in with her own praise: “You just shine up there, and I’m so excited to see you do more. You shine, girl.”

Before her injury kept her from actually dancing with him, Allison Holker had her own top 10 selection to make. 

By the end of Academy Week, Allison’s final two dancers were Zachary Downer and Logan Hernandez, “who is a crazy interesting mover. But at the same time, he’s only eighteen.”

Logan earned that coveted spot of Allison’s partner, but don’t worry about Zachary Downer: He took over for Ricky Ubeda in CATS.

Yes that Ricky Ubeda.

Let’s break it down here, actually, because Allison’s decision came down to a strange set of coincidences. Ricky was America’s favorite/best/most versatile/whatever-they-were-calling-it-at-the-time dancer in season 11. Although not his first post-SYTYCD role, his post-win credits include a turn as Mister Mistoffelees in the CATS revival. His replacement, as announced in July (and again by Nigel tonight), is Downer.

…but that’s not what makes Allison’s dilemma interesting. The real kicker here is that the SYTYCD all-star had a choice between two different men with connections to Ubeda. Logan Hernandez’s link? He received his training from the same place that Ricky did: STARS in Miami. (This is also where Diana Pombo of WORLD OF DANCE fame learned how to be fabulous.)

Just a little dance world tangent for you there, folks. Now, where were we? Right. Live performance night.

Because of Allison’s injury, Logan wasn’t able to show off Tyce Diorio’s choreography to Leon Else’s “Protocol” with the all-star who’d selected him for this season’s top 10. Instead, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE veteran Audrey Case, from season 9, joined Logan in the contemporary number.

(If someone can hit me up in the comments with a way to close the Ricky Ubeda loop here, my inner dance nerd will do 32 fouettes.)

Put two beautiful contemporary dancers together, especially when one has the technique pedigree that Logan does, and you have an immediate success. The chemistry wasn’t quite as strong as I might have liked, but given that Audrey was a last-minute replacement, the progress the duo made was admirable.

Judges’ comments: Nigel thanked Tyce for the routine, as well as for giving Audrey a crash course in his choreography on the day of the performance. He was both grateful to, and impressed by, Audrey because of her hard work in learning the piece so quickly.

But we’re here for the new contestants. For SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14’s Logan, Nigel had this to say: “You are a stunning dancer, young man. Good luck.” He also encouraged the young contestant to show both personality and technical proficiency in the competition.

Vanessa followed up Nigel’s comments by gushing over Logan’s age. He’s “only eighteen,” after all. (Meanwhile, the top junior dancers in the world are chugging tea because the “only eighteen” thing is just none of their business.)

Finally, Mary Murphy told Audrey it was “a blessing to see [her] back on the show,” and I lost track of everything that followed because I was thinking how much I’d like to throw that comment right back at Mary herself.

Jenna Johnson totally picked Konkrete, the dancer she went to great lengths to save, right? Umm…nope.

As you’ll recall, Jenna cut two dancers at The Academy so she could snatch up Konkrete after another all-star had let him go. Jenna kept him in mind as a potential contestant right until the bitter end; but Kiki, a fellow ballroom dancer, was Jenna’s top 10 choice.

Jenna and Kiki’s partnership debuted to a piece choreographed by SYTCYD alum Dmitry Chaplin. While they were an entertaining couple to watch, something was just slightly off: It was difficult to focus on Kiki with Jenna as his partner. Will that spell disaster for Kiki? Only time will tell. Depending on how the format changes from here, we already know Team Jenna had better hope not to get assigned anything remotely resembling hip hop.

Judges’ comments: Mary Murphy fanned herself after the performance, so all is well in the dance world. And then Cat Deeley, not Nigel Lythgoe, teased Mary, imitating her infamous “I’d like to dance the paso doble with him, I tell you” line from auditions. With that, Mary turned at least six shades of hot tamale red.

Once Mary recovered from Cat’s teasing, it was time to actually critique Kiki’s first work as a top 10 dancer. Mary said he blew her away, adding, “I loved watching you dance! We’ve been waiting for a Kiki on our show! I’m glad you’re here! Wooo-hooo!!!!!”

(I’m glad you’re here, Mary.)

Nigel Lythgoe complimented Jenna for choreographing two routines for the final rounds at The Academy, but he admitted to having trouble taking his eyes off of her on tonight’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE live taping. Nigel directed his biggest concern to Kiki, though: “I just worry that the audience is not going to see a lot of your incredible, world-class style.”

Vanessa Hudgens, on the other hand, wasn’t particularly concerned. “You have a certain vibrancy on the stage that really shines,” she told Kiki, prompting yours truly to wonder whether taking a drink every time Vanessa mentioned anything related to shining might be a terribly dangerous endeavor — especially if it involved moonshine.

So far, the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE all-stars had all picked contestants that matched their personal strengths. But Cyrus Spencer has never been one to follow the crowd.

Cyrus’ last two dancers standing were Havoc and Kaylee. Havoc was a street dancer, who would have complimented Cyrus well. And Kaylee Mills? You might remember her by a different name: “Impavido.” Or maybe you just recognize her as the contemporary dancer with the blue hair that we met in the New York auditions. Either way, she was Cyrus’ choice to “be rocking with [him] on the show,” which meant Havoc was sent home.

Kaylee and Cyrus executed a Tassandra Chavez contemporary duet with a few hiccups. The style was obviously not Cyrus’ strongest, but he held his own as a partner. Kaylee, whose technique initially seemed up to par, had some missteps here. For one thing, I would love to have seen some better articulation through her feet, especially when Chavez had her doing so much alternating between flexing and pointing them.

And yet, perhaps it’s because of the merging of styles — or maybe it’s just that both dancers are so unique, even within their own specialities — but there’s something really intriguing about Kaylee and Cyrus. So, let’s hope they stick around for a few weeks — especially if it means more compelling choreography like what Tassandra Chavez gave them here.

Paging Sonya Tayeh: I need you to do something weird with this duo. Please and thank you.

Judges’ comments: Mary thought that Cyrus did a “noble job,” but she had hoped that he’d be even stronger. For Kaylee, she had a much more positive message: “There’s something so real, and honest, and authentic when you dance. You’re a very fascinating person, and I can’t wait to see more.”

Nigel wished Cyrus luck before delivering a warning to Kaylee: “I think you need to raise your game a little bit.” After taking a sidebar to talk about throwing shoes at people — just like in the piece! — Vanessa provided some helpful critique. She advised Kaylee to exhibit more weightlessness and breath in her movement.

Gaby Diaz represented Nigel Lythgoe’s only chance to be Tap Fanboy Lythgoe in SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14.

She…didn’t quite deliver on that opportunity, but she didn’t exactly delete tapping from this season all together, either.

By the time the hot tamale train got ready to leave The Academy and conduct its way to the live shows, Team Gaby consisted of Lex Ishimoto and Evan DeBenedetto. Despite concerns about Lex’s lack of personality, Gaby chose the contemporary dancer over tap specialist Evan.

Luckily for Tap Lovin’ Lythgoe, Lex is still capable of tapping, something that SYTYCD’s narrative wants everyone to think is a big surprise — even though quite a lot of dancers study tap as part of their early training.

Team Gaby’s first duet of season 14 was choreographed by Anthony Morigerato and was just the type of clean, classic Hollywood-style tapping fans can watch to soothe what ails them. As Cat Deeley aptly put it, the piece was very “Fred and Ginger meets James Brown.”

(Let’s just forget the weirdly awful splits that got thrown in toward the middle or so there.)

Judges’ comments: Obviously, Nigel’s thoughts came first here. Before warning Lex to work on his personality and his performance quality “just as much as [his] steps,” Nigel took a moment to, well, fanboy: “Anthony Morigerato’s choreography always reminds me why I love show business.”

Somewhere in all of this, Nigel also reminded the audience of Lex’s work in Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound…making this dance lover wonder how fair it’s going to be to have Travis choreograph for Lex at some point in the season, already being way better acquainted with his own guy than with any other contestant.

Hm.

Following Nigel’s criticism, Vanessa Hudgens defended Lex’s personality: “There was, like, a really sweet, fashionable, charming thing about you!” I’d tend to agree. Regardless of any previous concerns, Morigerato’s piece brought something out in Lex. Now, he just has to keep that up.

Mary Murphy reminded SYTYCD viewers that the judges had gotten the whole personality game wrong in the past anyway: Remember that time when Chehon won, despite having the judges warn him to come out of his shell more for most of the series’ ninth season? But Mary wasn’t done yet. After some not-so-subtle prompting from Cat Deeley, Mary put “Mr. Talented,” as she called Lex Ishimoto, on the hot tamale train.

AND IT’S BACK. Woo-wooooo!

Still with us? Click through to the second page to see who the remaining five dancers in SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s top 10 are.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: “Why Y’all Gotta Do This, Man?”

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With the initial auditions complete, contestants headed to the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Academy in Los Angeles. Having impressed judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens, it was time for the dancers to do something even more difficult: Prove to the SYTYCD all-stars that they were worthy. “Academy Week #1” featured solos from all 100 dancers who had made it this far, followed by a hip hop round choreographed by NappyTabs. Check out our recap to find out which favorites and new faces were shown, as well as whether or not we’ll be seeing them again this season.

The format.

For “Academy Week #1,” dancers hoping to make this season’s top 10 were first asked to show the all-stars their solo work (or, in the case of ballroom couples, their work with their partners). If they advanced to the next segment of the competition, their next task would be perfecting a NappyTabs hip hop routine. After every surviving dancer showed just how well they were able to execute the choreography, the all-stars would make a decision.

That decision could go three ways: a cut, a chance to advance to more choreography rounds, or a direct selection to an all-star’s team. If more than one all-star wanted to snatch up a given dancer for his or her team, that dancer would then have to choose which team to join.

But, of course, none of this could happen until after SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE spent 84 years on its opening number. Was that thing for real? Sometimes, what’s great in theory — showcasing the top 100 dancers in a massive group number, with dancers broken into style-specific groups — is just a bit too much in practice.

The solo rounds.

With decades taken off of the dancers’ lives, nowhere near all of them could be showcased on this week’s episode of SYTYCD. Logan Hernandez, however, was talented enough to be one of very few dancers to have their performances shown in full on season 14’s first Academy episode.

Logan was a dancer who, according to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE host Cat Deely, “unleashed his own brand of contemporary in New York.” Logan easily wowed the all-stars with his flawlessly fluid marrying of contemporary and some breaking tricks. He even earned himself a standing ovation from the entire all-star panel, but he didn’t find out if that was enough until after the other nine dancers in his group did their thing.

Spoiler alert: Logan easily made it through to hip hop.

Jensen Arnold and Tristan Sosa’s piece was the next full dance. Nothing says, “hey, remember how this girl is the younger sister of a previous contestant” like showing Jensen’s performance in full after only providing lighting-fast clips of at least three other early favorites. In case anyone cared about those dancers, rather than just Lindsay Arnold’s little sister, they happened to be Chaz Wolcott (Nigel will cry with the rest of us if he loses this awesome tapper), Robert Green, and Matthew Deloch (that guy who hated dance so much he cried about it but still has unfairly beautiful pirouettes).

Kristina and Vasily, whose original audition Nigel dubbed “50 Shades of Dance,” were the only other ballroom couple highlighted. Their first lift was amazing, and everything about this latest performance was gorgeous.

So, basically, the dancers should never have been compared to one of the worst-written garbage fires of all time. But that’s none of my business.

Lex Ishimoto was also given a few more well-deserved moments of fame from SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, and then it was time to give Ryan Bailey yet another chance to confuse everyone on the planet. For the second time, Ryan had zero connection to his music. To be fair, there’s no telling whether or not Ryan’s selection was randomly swapped out again. At some point, though, “I improvised a lot of it, so I couldn’t really tell how it went” just isn’t good enough.

Case in point: Melanie Moore once “figured out” a solo just moments before competing on the SYTYCD stage, and nobody would’ve been able to tell if she hadn’t admitted it. With Ryan Bailey’s perplexing mix of jerky movements and lyrical music, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t quite have that type of ability. Stick to rehearsed choreography, Ryan. Maybe the all-stars won’t send you packing next time.

Last-chance dancer Romainson Romain was also eliminated in the solo round, as was Tristan Sosa. But Jensen, Lex, Logan and a about 70 other dancers were good enough to make it to hip hop.

Let’s not “get bucc with some hip hop.”

While the dancers may have been excited to advance to the next round, Napoleon D’umo warned that hip hop wasn’t going to be all fun and games. “It can also be the end of you.” Contestants had an hour to work through some NappyTabs choreography with their chosen partners before showing the all-stars just how well they were (or, in some cases, weren’t) able to pick it up.

Insert a few seconds of each hip hop group, spiced up with a touch of “oh, hey, these two dancers paired up,” here.

And then it was time to learn just what fate had in store for less than a handful of the dancers.

Kevin Davis, Jr. 

Allison Holker, Cyrus Spencer, Jasmine Harper, Comfort Fedoke, and Fik-Shun Stegall all wanted Kevin on their teams. After much deliberation and some wise words from the all-stars, Kevin finally came to his decision. He wanted to make a smart choice, so he joined Allison’s team in hopes that she’d be able to help him step outside of his style. 

She totally will.

Dassy Lee. 

This dancer moved to America just for a chance to be on SYTYCD; and so far, she’s living the dream. Both Cyrus and Fik-Shun wanted to work with Dassy. After taking an adorable moment to bust a move right there at the mic, she picked Team Fik-Shun.

From now on, doing some perky improv will be the only acceptable way to delay making a decision. Be like Dassy. Dance it out.

Logan Hernandez. 

Anyone feel like somebody at SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE really wants viewers to get to know this guy? Full solo. Fully played out team selection. Hm. Either it’s a spoiler in disguise, or the producers are just setting everyone up for some epic heartbreak later on. 

Whichever. Google tells me this guy is from STARS, birthplace of Ricky Ubeda’s magic toes, so I’ll take as much of him as I can get.

Robert, Allison, and Jenna all tried to keep Logan. Robert tried to appeal to the dancer by saying he thought he could change lives, but that was only after comparing Logan to an alien. Allison took a much more successful approach: practically begging. The same could be said for Jenna, but she just didn’t have the same level of energy.

Team Allison it is.

Darius Hickman. 

Before revealing Darius’ fate, Cat Deeley steered SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE viewers on a detour down memory lane. This dancer’s backstory is utterly heartbreaking; and as Nigel Lythgoe said when Darius first appeared on SYTYCD, it was time for him to finally have something good in his life.

Unfortunately, though, it was more bad news for Darius. The all-stars felt it was “an excellent experience” watching him dance, but something was missing.

Kill me now.

Darius, a class act and someone far too used to disappointment, put as positive of a spin on the news as possible: “It sucks, but it’s really just going to push me to be better. Be the best I can be.”

Ok, so I’m going to have to reiterate my request for a major company to pick up the phone and make Darius an offer. Right now. Please.

Several dancers joined Darius. 

Those eliminated included Sade Austin, Chelsea Hough, and Jason Kidd.

While the contestants who were sent home definitely had the roughest time, luck wasn’t exactly on Robert Roldan’s side either. But his loss his fellow all-stars’ gain. 

No matter how many offers he made, Robert just couldn’t seem to get anyone to join his team. In a rather interesting move, contemporary dancer Kaylee “Impavido” Mills took Cyrus’ offer over Robert’s. Lex Ishimoto (also a contemporary dancer) would rather spend some time with tapper Gaby Diaz than with an all-star known for the same style.

And Mark Villaver was lured to Team Comfort. Comfort had warned Mark not to write her off as just a one-trick pony: “Don’t get it twisted. Just because I’m hip hop doesn’t mean I don’t do other styles.” (Her original SYTYCD record says otherwise.)

But maybe logic had the worst day of all. 

After ballroom dancer Kiki failed just as hard at NappyTabs’ choreography as he had at speaking for himself during his audition, his fate seemed pretty obvious. Surely, he’d be cut.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE history dictates a bloodbath at The Academy (or Vegas Week if you’ve been here forever like I have). Excellent dancers (see also: Darius Hickman) just aren’t good enough to move forward, and stumbling through choreography is almost always a sure way out. The best a dancer who makes a major mistake can hope for is to be passed to the next choreography round for some redemption. 

Or, you know, Jenna Johnson can just be like, “hey, you’re great so I don’t care that you sucked at this style. Join my team! All you have to do is promise not to give up.”

That may or may not be grossly paraphrased, so here are some direct quotes: “Today’s hip hop round was a hot mess.” “The hottest, yeah.”

Ok then.

And with that, “Academy Week #1” ended.

If we could please stop ending these things on a low note, that would be fabulous.

Make sure to catch the next episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE next Monday, July 24, at 8/7c on FOX to see the next round of cuts and straight-to-team selections.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: The Train’s Last Stop Before The Academy

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The latest episode of SO YOU CAN DANCE featured the second batch of televised New York auditions. More importantly, it was the last chance for dancers to make an impression on the series’ “jedges” in hopes of earning a ticket to The Academy. In other words, it was the hot tamale train’s last stop before depositing dancers at The Academy. Featuring a frustrating mix of impressive talent and time wasters that caused a lovely mix of slow blinks and outrage, “New York Auditions #2” was even further proof that SYTYCD has returned to its roots. Check out our recap to hear all about the highlights, low points, and everything in between.

The opening.

Nothing says “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” like Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy doing that thing they do. So, when this last round of auditions opened up with Nigel joking that he hoped Mary would lose her voice one day, there was that same distinct feeling of finally being home that accompanied this season’s premiere. With a week off between the first half of the New York auditions and this week’s conclusion, the series was actually greatly missed — a sentiment that wasn’t exactly present during breaks in either the kids’ edition or that whole “Street vs. Stage” debacle.

But those missteps are (thankfully) in the past, so let’s hop on that hot tamale train and see where it takes us.

Oh. And by the way: Bonus technique points to Mary for letting Vanessa Hudgens join in on the Nigel-slapping fun. It’s a “yes” for me.

The first contestants in “New York Auditions #2” were Magda and Kiki, who were here to show off their cha-cha skills.

Magda was born in Poland, raised in Toronto, and currently living in New Jersey. With all of that moving around, you’d think she might have some trouble with communicating. But it was her partner, Kiki, who couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence. Luckily, Magda was more than happy to do all of the talking for him.

Cue my soulmate Mary Murphy cackling over this on television, just as I was doing the same back home on my couch. (So, she was taped. So what?)

If nothing else, Magda and Kiki were on trend: They set their cha-cha to “Move Your Body,” a Sia song. All they needed was a nude leotard and blonde wig to complete the picture.

Joking aside, the footwork just seemed sluggish and out of sync with the tune, making yours truly wonder whether this couple had fallen victim to the same editing sorcery as Ryan Bailey had. The cha-cha wasn’t even actually slow or imprecise; it just didn’t work with Sia, especially toward the second half of the audition piece.

Judges’ comments: Your regularly-scheduled commentary has been replaced with “three esteemed jedges” (more like two, but who’s counting) standing up and waving tickets to The Academy. After Magda and Kiki left the stage, ballroom queen and hot tamale train gatekeeper, Mary Murphy, had this to say: “I’d like to dance with him a paso doble, I tell you.”

Tell me more. Better yet, show me.

Magda and Kiki’s performance was followed by a montage of ballroom wins.

Sorry, folks: No time to show any of these dancers’ hard work in its entirety because we needed to save air space for insanity, which will come later. We’ll just have to take Mary’s word for it that she was having “the. best. day. everrrrrr!!!!!”

The next full audition came from Zachary Downer.

This was Zachary’s second time auditioning for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. He was lucky enough to get all the way to The Green Mile in season 12 without making the final cut. Yes, I said he was lucky. No, I won’t hear any arguments on that. I mean, would someone this insanely talented really want to be associated with having been on that gimmick of a season? The answer should be a resounding no. If it isn’t, our priorities are out of order here.

Zachary promised a “very masculine and aggressive, animalistic” performance; and he more than delivered. His solo was a gorgeous interplay between different types and dynamics of dancing that fit very well together. And those leaps? Be still my beating heart. Talk about effortless.

Bonus: Zachary’s leg form was even great in his acrobatic elements. Hashtag so blessed.

Between the power, the technique, and the great mixture of an African vibe with contemporary, it was all I could do not to start muttering “Ailey” under my breath.

Judges’ comments: Much like Magda and Kiki, Zachary Downer found himself on the receiving end of a standing ovation. Once the judges took their seats, it was time for my favorite part of SYTYCD and yours: Mary Murphy screaming about the hot tamale train.

Iconic.

Vanessa Hudgens’ critique started out as the embodiment of fangirls’ live tweeting everywhere: “Oh, my gosh. I’m dying. You are so frickin’ fierce. Like, the fire in your performance is just overwhelming.” But then she started talking about a bird? I wish I understood — honestly, I do — because I’d love to fangirl over dancing with Vanessa. I just need it to make sense.

Nigel Lythgoe brought the chatter back to the land of the normal. Proving that he and I should totally talk dance over coffee sometime, he mentioned that Zachary’s dancing was very Ailey-like. A bffdom in the making, if I ever saw one.

Verdict: The Academy. (Obviously.) Pro-tip to the Ailey team: If y’all don’t give this guy a call soon, someone else definitely will.

The hot tamale train’s next potential passenger was Ramita Ravi, who came equipped with her own unique blend of dance styles.

Ramita’s parents were originally from India. In order to keep their culture alive in their daughter, they signed Ramita up for classical Indian dance lessons when she was five years old. At the same time, she also enjoyed learning “jazz, ballet…all that stuff.” So, her choice to marry classical Indian dance to contemporary was a way to make her passion more accessible to her parents.

I’d be hard pressed to try to comment on the Indian portion of Ramita’s solo, given that I know nothing about the style. With that being said, though, the second she exploded into showcasing some of her contemporary moves, right on target with one of the big moments in the music, was worthy of nothing more than just…wow. That’s it. “Wow.”

From that point on, watching the interplay between the Indian dance and the other technique was fascinating. The whole audition just had something unique — and almost quirky? — about it.

Judges’ comments: Nigel found Ramita’s piece to be interesting and uplifting, while both Mary and Vanessa were all about the hands. Vanessa was all, “oh, my gosh. I love your hands. I want them,” just before moving on to critique the moments where Ramita lost an awareness of her face. And really, it’s impossible to fault Vanessa for that response because I’ve been there, time and again, with certain dancers’ feet. (Ricky Ubeda and Brooklin Cooley, I’m looking at you — among others.)

After showing several clips of dancers discussing how they’d worked hard their whole lives to perfect their art, it was time for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s latest absolute waste of time: Peter Mangione.

Peter started training a whopping six months ago. Obviously, that means he deserves to be shown on television when there are professional-level dancers whose SYTYCD auditions get left on the cutting room floor. Add in the fact that Peter and his friends think he’s “not that bad. I mean, I’m not…good. But I’m not that bad,” and it’s time for yours truly’s weekly fit of rage.

Ummm. He couldn’t even pronounce ballet properly. So, really, the folks at SYTYCD are just lucky that Mary Murphy is back or else I would’ve broken my television and sent them the bill.

Everything about this audition was awful, from Vanessa Hudgens’ giggling over Peter’s abs, to whatever that guy was calling “dancing” in his baggy shorts.

Judges’ comments: Vanessa said she wanted Peter’s performance to show people that they should just go up there and have fun. Then, there was something about Nigel wanting to “see more people come down here and take the chance.”

Y’all are kidding me right now. There’s taking a chance, and then there’s…that. Just no. The train has gone off the rails.

Still with us? Click through to the second page to see if SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s New York auditions improved after whatever that just was. Spoiler alert: They did.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: So Many Hot Tamales….Drowned In Cheez Whiz

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SO YOU CAN DANCE season 14 has been a rollercoaster ride. The season premiere was a true return to form, complete with Mary Murphy’s reclaiming of her rightful seat at the judges’ table (and as conductor of the famed hot tamale train). The dancers auditioning in Los Angeles were amazing, indicating that SYTYCD fans were in for a treat this year. But then the second half of those very same Los Angeles auditions were lackluster at best.

Cue SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s “New York Auditions #1.”

The episode got off to a great start, prompting a plan to title this week’s recap something along the lines of “everybody’s back on the train, and everything is beautiful.” Unfortunately, by the end of the episode, that was impossible — things had taken a distinct turn for the worst. The sharp move from promising auditions to a waste of time, focusing on the cheesy and bizarre, was even more jarring than a failed first attempt at doing multiple pirouettes on a wooden floor in socks. (Trust me. One wrong move in that situation, and your life will flash before your eyes.)

Why an episode of any television show, much less one that has educated the general couch potato on dance before spending a couple of seasons spinning its wheels, would want to end on such an odd note is impossible to explain. But here we are.

And so it began. 

Much like in Los Angeles, Team SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE made a grand entrance in New York. The first episode highlighting this season’s New York auditions featured voiceovers from several contestants, talking about the series’ impact on their lives as dancers. Many had been watching since the beginning, and quite a few had been just waiting for a chance to audition. One dancer even said SYTYCD was the reason she was still dancing.

A television show is probably a bad reason to dance, to be honest, but the sentiment is greatly appreciated.

At any rate, it was time for SYTYCD to influence more dancers — but not before Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe got to take cell phone videos of themselves “just moments before going out.” (Uh…huh. Tell me more sometime.)

New York’s first dancer was Impavido, formerly known as Kaylee Mills.

The name is Italian for “to fear less,” and this blue-haired dancer probably had plenty to fear after her parents forced her to pay for her own dancing. If she wanted to be the family jock and participate in allllll the sportsballs, that was cool with Mom and Dad; but dancing full-time? They’d support it…just not financially.

How kind.

Impavido turned a negative into a massive positive, though: “Since my parents weren’t going to hand me anything, that gave me a very large push to get myself out there.” And get herself out there she did. This dancer’s style was unique. Her performance was loaded with personality and quirks; but she just as technically strong as any contemporary dancer we’ve seen on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. Her control was excellent — if a pirouette looked like it was kind of leaning, it was intentional.

If one thing needed cleaning up, it was probably Impavido’s feet. The choreography had plenty of purposely flexed positions; but then there were some other places where there was no definition either way. Were they supposed to be flexed again, stretched, just hanging out? A mystery. Was that small detail enough to ruin an otherwise impressive audition? Obviously not. But details are kind of a thing.

Judges’ comments: In a classic Nasty Nigel fake-out, Nigel opened his commentary by bemoaning the difficulty of judging so many great female contemporary dancers. They’re all so technically strong! None of them stand out! All of those dancers might be “brilliant,” but they’re “not necessarily individual.” But — and if you didn’t see the ”but” coming from a mile away, this was probably your first SYTYCD episode — Impavido was a true individual. Nigel finished up by telling her, “you’ve got a great style about you.”

Mary Murphy said Impavido “oooooooooooooozed confidence” and had the audience in the palm of her hand. (Did I put enough Os in that ooze? Probably not.) Vanessa Hudgens also loved the performance, saying the dancer had “so much confidence [and] so much grace.” Impavido’s audition was so good, in fact, that it was the only one to really drag coherent commentary from Vanessa all night.

Verdict: Academy.

The next contestant was Colombian salsa dancer, Ana Sanchez.

Ana had heard about the “hot tamale…train…thing” and wanted to take a ride on it. (Don’t we all?) She was also 4’11” but felt like she was six feet tall on stage, which meant that both myself and Vanessa Hudgens were happy to be “taller than someone for once.”

The second Ana explained her style of salsa had more flavor and passion than others, this SYTYCD viewer knew she had the potential to get that coveted hot tamale train ticket. And her opening pose just screamed sass. Oddly enough, despite amazing tricks and insanely fast footwork, it felt like Ana’s partner’s legs and feet were just a wee bit cleaner than hers. Later, when asked why he wasn’t auditioning, Mr. Partner Man admitted that he was too old. (Boo.)

Judges’ comments: Nigel and Mary gave each other a “look” in the middle of the audition, so that signaled good things for Ana (as well as several moments of me, wondering how I managed to live without that look for two years).

Indeed, Mary Murphy was full of high-pitched screams and laughter over Nigel’s forgotten ear plugs (R.I.P, Nigel’s hearing). More importantly, our resident ballroom expert complimented Ana’s stamina, as well as her “phenomenal tricks that take a lot of amazing timing and strength in the right places when you need it.” Proving that she’s here to make dreams come true, Mary even dubbed the dancer “a little hot tamale.” Glory, amen.

Vanessa followed that up with some giggles and talk about fun. Oh, and “good things do come in small packages!” (Same.)

Finally, Nigel complimented Ana’s partner and admitted that there were some lifts in their piece that he’d never even seen. He couldn’t wait to practice the choreography with Vanessa…which meant Queen Mary couldn’t wait to slap him. (I. Have. Missed. This. Thing. Of. Theirs.)

Verdict: Academy. It’s not like hot tamales can be left home, after all.

After Ana’s audition, it was back to contemporary (or, if you’re yours truly, cracktemporary) with Koine Iwasaki.

Koine was born in Japan and moved to America when she was only two years old. Between her family being very traditional and just, you know, being a tiny child trying to learn a second language when she had barely started to learn her first, Iwasaki turned to dance: “It’s definitely helped me communicate in a way that language can’t.”

In true SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE form, Koine was yet another in a long line of talented contemporary dancers. While she didn’t quite have the uniqueness of Impavido, there was still something special about Koine’s piece. Maybe it was the massive amount of emotion she conveyed; or maybe it was just her great technique.

Maybe watch that grand plié in second so it doesn’t get too squatty — which is kind of hard to avoid when the plié is that, well, grand. And just to keep nitpicking the details, this was another audition that didn’t exactly scream “great feet.” Otherwise, though, this was a lovely performance.

Judges’ comments: Nigel Lythgoe himself said the dancing was very professional. He loved everything from Koine’s strength, to her power (ok kind of the same), to her technique. Vanessa Hudgens…said “awww,” apparently. And Mary Murphy loved the performance, as she has done very frequently this season. (Remember season one, when she hated Allan Frias? Iconic.) After Koine had left the stage, Mary even turned to her best-worst frenemy, Nigel, and was like, “she was a nice surprise, huh?”

Verdict: Academy.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: No Hot Tamales Here

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The latest episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE featured the second round of Los Angeles auditions. The opening montage featured plenty of screaming from a recently-returned Mary Murphy, as well as Cat Deeley’s promise that the “best dance show on television is back and better than ever.” Between all of that build-up and the level of talent present in the season premiere, expectations were high. Unfortunately, this group of dancers didn’t quite live up to the hype. Were there some praiseworthy moments? Sure. Was a second hour of Los Angeles auditions really necessary if this was that second hour? That’s…not quite as certain. Check out our SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE recap to see where it all went “meh.”

The afternoon’s first audition came courtesy of Tristen and Jensen from Provo, Utah.

When former hip hop student Tristen was twelve, he was given the opportunity to dance with a cute eleven-year-old by the name of Jensen Arnold. If the last name Arnold and the mention of ballroom dance are giving you a sense of deja vu, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you: Jensen happens to be the younger sister of Lindsay Arnold, who was a part of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE in season 9.

Nigel Lythgoe recognized Jensen as Lindsay’s sister right away, and Mary quipped that Jensen might even be wearing her sister’s dress. After that weird exchange, Nigel wanted to know if there was any romance between the two dance partners. Tristen’s denial seemed to be of the “doth protest too much” variety. Take that as you will.

The couple did a samba as their audition piece, and I thanked all the dance gods that Mary Murphy was here to explain it all. My thoughts were basically of the “whoa, fast feet!” and “ok, but I’m not feeling any chemistry here” variety.

Judges’ comments: Mary was first to speak (as she should be), and she wasn’t totally impressed with the couple’s connections (or lack thereof). “Some of the connections weren’t quite there as nice and tight — especially the ending. You know you always want to end that final position.” Vanessa Hudgens called Jensen a star and said she sparkled — even called her adorable — so those happy pills from the first round of Los Angeles auditions were still going strong. Nigel said girls like Jensen were what got him into dancing.

The verdict: Despite the complete lack of chemistry, the steps were enough. The judges were unanimous in advancing Tristen and Jensen to The Academy.

Cody Ostrenga was the next dancer to audition, but first we had to see some…horseback gun-slinging video or something.

Seriously, internet: Was this whole “western film” by Nigel Lythgoe really a good use of time and advertisers’ dollars? I’m going with no. Not. At. All.

He has “the deadliest hips in the west,” really? Sure, Jan.

Cody’s plan to do a belly dancing and hip hop fusion for his audition was almost as strange as Nigel’s “film.” On top of the trip to the wild west and the interesting getup, Cody was given time to tell SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE viewers all about how he learned to dance: He hid in his room to watch Britney Spears and Shakira and taught himself. Somewhere underneath of all of the — well — mockery, there was a message about pursuing your passion and being yourself. Unfortunately, the setup was just too ridiculous for any such meaning to come across.

Then, there was the dancing. It was…well. Entertaining, at least? I guess?

Judges’ comments: Mary was surprised that Cody could actually belly dance, but she realized that he didn’t have enough skills to make a “real fusion with hip hop and belly dancing.” Vanessa thought he could improve with the right training. Meanwhile, Nigel applauded Cody’s courage for what he’d done in his life — forget about the guts it took to actually audition with that.

The verdict: Mary Murphy said it was a no from her (glory, amen). Vanessa let Cody down easily, saying he should keep training because what he did was “so beautiful” (um, ok but no). And Nigel didn’t really give a yes or a no, but it was obvious what he was thinking.

Back to the ranch, buddy.

After Cody’s failure, Cat thought maybe we needed “someone with a pure hip hop pedigree.” Enter Sade Keinu Austin from Brooklyn, New York.

Sade started dancing when she was two years old, and both of her parents were her inspiration. Her father, Buddha Stretch, choreographed for the likes of Michael Jackson (!!!) and Mariah Carey. Her mother danced for Mariah.

Sade Keinu Austin’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE audition was amazing. Internal monologue: “yas, waacking, yas.” That’s really all there is to say about that.

Judges’ comments:Nigel was all about Sade’s energy, calling her “a little ball of dyanmite.” Mary said she was “on fire” and complimented her precision, then set Sade up for some name-dropping on her mom’s behalf. Cue Nigel calling Mom up on stage to dance.

Of course. It’s not SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE without the dancers’ parents getting a chance to show their stuff, too. (10/10 for the mother-daughter butt bumps.)

The verdict: Vanessa didn’t really get a chance to spew glitter and rainbows, but all three judges held up tickets to The Academy. So, that answers that.

Matthew Deloch was the first contemporary dancer of “Los Angeles Auditions #2,” and I wanted to vomit all over whoever thought putting him in sneakers for his introductory package was a good idea.

Way to make the feet looked flexed, whether they’re stretched or not. Ugh.

Anyway.

Matthew’s grandmother put him in dance classes when he was two years old, and he cried about it every day. “She said I could cry all I want, but I’m also going to dance.” He didn’t fall in love with dance until he was twelve and went to a performing arts school that “wasn’t just dance.” Somehow, though, Matthew’s only eighteen years old but has watched SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE since the series’ first season.

Numbers break!

SYTYCD is in its fourteenth season. One (awful) year featured two different seasons. Add everything up, and that means season one aired twelve years ago. Matthew would have been six at the time, but he didn’t stop crying about having to go to dance classes until he was about eight. Mathematically, that means he’s either caught up online or was watching a reality dance competition at a time when he…hated dancing so much that he cried about it. But auditioning for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE is a dream come true.

confusedmathgillianHow???

Let’s just stick to dance.

Take very high leaps, very controlled pirouettes and very calm, cool choreography that doesn’t quite fit the music. Add the desire for just a bit more tension and a little bit of emotion, and you’ve got Matthew’s audition. It was lovely in an unexpected way and mostly technically sound. But I just needed a lot more. SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE has featured some insane contemporary dancers over the years, and most of them managed to be equal parts trained and passionate. Matthew was clearly a winner when it came to technique, but the passion…Well. Maybe being forced to dance as a little boy just didn’t allow him to develop that side of things quite so well.

Judges’ comments: Nigel asked Matthew if he’s ever counted how my pirouettes he can do. His record? Seventeen. (Isaac Lupien — Eldon from THE NEXT STEP — can do at least 30. Just saying.) Pirouette bragging out of the way, Nigel complimented the dancer’s “amazing center” and “terrific elevation,” but he “wanted to feel a little bit more.” (Same, Nasty Nigel. Same.) Mary Murphy called it “mind-blowing” and was particularly impressed with those weightless leaps. Vanessa agreed with Nigel (and yours truly) that Matthew needed to deliver more emotion. “But, like, man, are you a good dancer.”

The verdict: Grandma gets thanks for keeping Matthew in dance because he’s going to The Academy.

Contemporary montage!

My crack. Meanwhile, how are we at the thirty-minute mark with zero hot tamales?

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: Welcome Home, Mary Murphy

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SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14 began with the first round of this year’s Los Angeles auditions. The reality dance competition series has (thankfully) returned to a more traditional format. The “Stage vs. Street” and “Next Generation” gimmicks are dead, hopefully for good. What’s left is, as series host Cat Deeley put it, the show we all “know and love.” And speaking of something SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE viewers all know and love? Perhaps the best part of  the new season’s return to the SYTYCD of old is its corresponding return of a familiar face. For the first time in almost three years, Mary Murphy was back at the judges’ table, bringing along her screams and plenty of tickets for the series’ talented dancers to take on her trademarked hot tamale train.

Welcome home, Mary Murphy. You’ve been missed. It would have been impossible, even with the massive amount of talent auditioning for this new season, to consider anything a return to form without you. Now, let’s take a trip on that train in search of this season’s hot tamales.

Just getting started.

We all know the drill by now. Episodes of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE that feature auditions tend to start out with sweeping shots of the dancers, lined up and waiting for their chance to show their stuff. The season 14 premiere was no exception. Even in these short clips, it was obvious that there was a lot of talent and a lot of heart, just waiting to be put on full display.

After the opening montage, it was time to take a trip to the judges’ table, where Mary Murphy was taking shots of the crowd on her phone. As excited as everyone is to have her back, it looked like she was just as happy to be there. Before the first dancer of the day had his chance to take the stage, Mary let out her first “WOOO!!!” since season 11.

If that moment didn’t bring tears to your eyes (to accompany the ringing in your ears), make sure to leave some comments that will teach me how to turn off the feelings…

First contestant: Mark Villaver.

As is SYTYCD tradition, Mark had a chance to share his backstory with Cat Deeley and, by extension, the viewers at home. On the one hand, he had this weird, almost egotistical, air about him in one of the clips. On the other, he was almost bashful with Cat. And his story about his single, deaf mother — who also happened to be a street dancer — raising him was just the kind of feel-good stuff this series is known for. In other words, there was no way of knowing exactly what to think of Mark before he actually danced.

Cat Deeley, on the other hand, was as on-point as always and knew just how to handle this guy. When Mark said he loved being on television and dancing, she responded with, “you’ve hit the bullseye with our show.” Love it.

When asked about his style of dance, Mark rambled about expressing himself and came up with “thera — therapeutic” as a name for his hybrid breaking and contemporary style. Then, he wasted time by “teaching” the judges some moves; so, by the time Mark finally danced, yours truly was already like, “ok, and?”

His feet were kind of just…hanging there. And he didn’t quite have the connection in the more contemporary-type parts of his solo. But Mark’s tricks were nothing short of amazing. Despite not quite nailing some of the contemporary flavor, he still blended two very different styles of dance in an interesting way. The creativity and diversity of movement involved were both more than enough for me to consider this a successful outing for Mark Villaver.

The judges agreed.

Mary Murphy was basically just excited, which I was completely here to see. She loved every second of Mark’s performance and said the two styles he worked with were “integrated beautifully.” Nigel Lythgoe complimented Mark on his signature moves: “We will remember you long after you’re gone today because of your moves.” That left Vanessa Hudgens, who was new to the judges’ table and, as far as I could tell, borrowing Carrie Ann Inaba’s happy pills for the day. She said Mark’s audition was “an amazing way to start the morning,” with about 900 exclamation marks thrown on the end of that sentence.

The verdict? The first contestant of the day was given the first ticket to the Academy for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14.

But, really, who cares? The most important part of Mark’s audition was the moment when Mary Murphy put him on the hot tamale train. That’s the first passenger on that train in almost three years. How, exactly, did this series even exist for two seasons without it?

Wait. It didn’t. Just ask the massive ratings drop.

Up next: Ballroom dancers Kristina and Vasily. “It’s ok, everybody. They’re married.”

Guys, there’s actually someone here to explain ballroom to us again. Someone get me a cardiologist because I’m having palpitations.

Before Kristina and Vasily had the chance to dance, they proved to Cat Deeley that men can’t count. The couple has been married for some number of years (nobody can agree on how many), and Vasily couldn’t even keep his guess straight. Disaster? For their relationship, maybe. For their dancing, strangely not.

The piece started off without much of interest, save for maybe Vasily’s blindfold. But then it just kind of…took off, performance-wise. Throw in some nice samba rolls (per Nigel’s comment during the audition — I never know ballroom until Mary explains it to me) and Kristina’s great extension; and you’ve got an amazing number. Bonus points to the dancers for kissing their way through that lift.

Mary cried because she was sure that seeing a performance like Kristina and Vasily’s was going to make tons of people fall in love with ballroom dance. She wanted to put the dancers on the hot tamale train; but she couldn’t get the words out until after they were gone because she was so overcome with emotion (I cried because Mary cried.)

Nigel made weird comments about “50 shades of dance” before saying the pair was “absolutely stunning,” and Vanessa told the dancers that her “heart exploded” when they were kissing.

Simmer down, Vanessa. The real feels should come from seeing SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE actually be its old self again.

Verdict: A pair of tickets to the Academy.

For Canadian Eyes Only: Fox’s SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE is Coming to Hamilton

sytycd tour

Press Release: SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the 13-time Primetime Emmy® Award-winning show that sparked America’s fascination with dance, is set to captivate audiences in Hamilton, ON as they make their stop on the live, nationwide 2014 So You Think You Can Dance Tour Sunday, October 26th at the Hamilton Place Theatre. [Read more…]

ONE TREE HILL! ALL MY CHILDREN! TWO AND A HALF MEN! The TV Addict Week in Rewind

Grossest Manipulation: “I’m not trying to sell a story,” said BACHELOR PAD’s Kasey to fellow contestants. “But just know the money is necessary for my grandmother to live.” Kudos, dude. You’ve finally proven yourself to be just as disgusting as your fame-whore girlfriend, Vienna. Enjoy yourself while you can, buddy, because the race is on to see whether your relationship or your time in the spotlight ends first.
 
Best Crossover: Holy Wrestlemania! A special Tuesday-night edition of SMACKDOWN featured stars from both this WWE franchise and its sister show, RAW, giving Syfy a nice ratings boost and fans of the genre an extra night of carnage.
 
Why Geeks Wet Themselves This Week: The New York Post reported that a sixth version of STAR TREK is in the works and will soon be pitched to CBS.
 
The “Well What Else Did He Have To Do” Award Goes To…: Chad Michael Murray, who, having all but squandered the buzz he had a few years back, will return for the final season of ONE TREE HILL. [Read more…]

THE KILLING! GLEE! TRUE BLOOD! The TV Addict Week in Rewind

Most Beaten Horse: Did you miss COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN in it’s 8 p.m. timeslot on new home Current? Never fear… you can catch it again at Noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m., 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. No, seriously.
 
Best Spin: In effort to stave off negative reviews from those expecting a show involving time travel and dinosaurs to be a great sci-fi adventure, FOX is warning viewers that TERRA NOVA is an “epic family drama”. In other words, 7th HEAVEN meets Jurassic Park.
 
Most Uncanny Timing: Airing live following President Obama’s address to the nation in which he announced troop withdrawls from Afghanistan, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE coincidentally featured an intense number involving a soldier’s return from serving in that country.
 
Most Discussed Show Nobody Actually Watched: THE KILLING’s controversial season ender got so much ink everyday TV viewers might have mistaken it for a megahit as opposed to a show that drew a relatively small audience.
 
Best New Addition: Hulu began airing BBC’s sexy sci-fi series MISFITS. Expect “Monkey Slut” to become the next big catchphrase.
 
Proof That Death Is A Temporary Condition: FUTURAMA returned from its latest hiatus/cancellation.  [Read more…]