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Now that those aggravating auditions are done with, we can get down to real business: watching the top twenty do their thing! Except that there are several dancers in the top twenty that we really haven’t seen, as Nigel the-Executive-Producer-who-had-control-over-this readily admits. So, while Nigel pervs on Cat’s legs, let’s join him, Mary, and sourpuss Dan as they judge the first night’s routines and we try to learn our Kortnis from our Courtneys and our Chelsies from our Chelseas...

Hot or Not?

Cat, clad in a sparkly gold mini dress and still mildly embarrassed from Nigel’s ogling, announces each dancer for their little intro dance numbers: Twitch seemed to be tops in the applause-o-meter, while Susie got the fewest squeals. Really, I don’t see the teen demographic going ga-ga over high school teacher Susie anyhow, looking like an extra from Van Halen’s old Hot For Teacher video. What, you youngin’s don’t remember that one? *sigh* Before I date myself any further, let’s check out the first couple of the night, the unlucky souls who were picked to go first and be forgotten by the end of the show:

Rayven and Jaime
Hip Hop (fast), choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon
American Boy by Estelle featuring Kayne West
First up tonight are ballet dancer Rayven and west coast swinger Jaime. Rayven is the oldest competitor at the ripe old age of 28, but she’s not going to let that slow her down. Jamie preps for the routine by buying a hoodie with a boar on it, telling us that he’s going to do it “gangsta pig” style. Er...okay. Apparently Jaime picked up a pair of shiny blue undies while he was out shopping, as Rayven yanks his pants down during the routine and he flashes his goodies to us all. They do a decent enough job with the choreography, especially with it being so foreign to their normal styles. Nigel says it was okay, but wonders if it was memorable enough to last in people’s minds until the end of the show (see?). Mary uses her typical outdoor voice, calling it nice, fluffy cotton candy goodness, but Dan says they didn’t hit it hard enough and took all the funk out of it.

Susie and Marquis
Smooth Waltz, choreographed by Hunter Johnson
Dark Waltz by Hayley Westenra
Susie, she of the bleached hair and fire-red extensions, hopes to bring some of her Miami/Latin flavor to the show, and wants to be an inspiration to her students. Hmm. Any of you sleuthers out there know what Susie teaches? Partner Marquis tells us of his childhood troubles with his parents and how mom didn’t want him to be a dancer. I hate hearing about unsupportive parents. I really do. Anyhow, our second duo gets stuck with a not-so-crowd-pleasing waltz, and they take the stage: he in a dark suit and tie, she in a flowing baby blue gown. That flowing fabric helps Susie look even more graceful, but doesn’t help poor Marquis as he royally blows the lift at the end, grabbing very ungracefully to hold onto Susie. Nigel calls him on it, but compliments them both on their lines and grace (crappy lift aside). Mary likes, and Dan surprisingly does also. Color me shocked.

Kourtni and Matt
Jazz, choreographed by Mandy Moore
Tainted Love by Soft Cell
One of my faves from auditions, contemporary dancer Kortni, tells us how she moved to L.A. all by her lonesome to pursue her dream after graduating high school at age 16, while her partner Matt informs us that he comes from an athletic family, “and stuff like that,” which seems to be Matt’s favorite phrase. Both of them are tall and stuff, and choreographer Mandy frets that their stature will make mistakes stand out even more. No worries, though, they perform quite nicely, both clad in black for the “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” routine. Kortni vamps it up well, but Matt just doesn’t bring the sexy back. Nigel wants more personality from Matt, telling him he’s an “upright dancer,” looking like he’s got a broomstick shoved up his butt. Yes, he really said that. Nigel also compares Kort’s look to Uma Thurman and Princess Di. Happy Mary loved them both, but didn’t show much love for the one lift they did. Dan says it was so-so, telling them they should have attacked it more.

Chelsea and Thayne
Cha Cha, choreographed by Tony Meredith
Oye Como Va by Celia Cruz
Two more contemporary dancers get paired up in the duo of Chelsea and Thayne. High-energy Chelsea with the adorable hairstyle is just happy to have the chance to compete, and Thayne relates how he quit dancing for years after the other boys made fun of him and his self-esteem just couldn’t deal with it. Well, now he can flip all those little buggers the virtual bird: he’s on national tv. Ha! Chelsea just kills it, outshining Thayne in her barely-there, sparkly purple number as they shake it all over the stage. Nigel shows them the love, giving a few minor technical suggestions. Mary squeals loud enough to break glass, giving them the first ticket to her Hot Tamale Train. “Damn, girl. Sexay,” chimes in Dan. Indeed.

Chelsie and Mark
Contemporary, choreographed by Mia Michaels
Beautiful by Me’Shell Ndegeocello
You might remember ballroom dancer Chelsie from her Salt Lake City auditions: she’s the one whose family lost their house and a few cars. Contemporary dancer Mark is from Hawaii, and he tells us that he’s a bit left of center, having created his own style on the island. The Queen of Quirky, Mia, isn’t very pleased with Mark’s talent, saying that he just isn’t getting it. “It,” is her version of a Tim Burton inspired wedding, which is just as crazy as it sounds. But it's an awesome routine, complete with pretty blue mood lighting and little Chelsie getting lost in her frothy white “wedding” dress. Typical Mia - either you love her stuff or you hate it. I loved this one. So did the judges, all three of them. Mia even gives Mark a thumbs up after trashing his skills (or lack thereof) in practice.

Kherington and Twitch
Broadway, choreographed by Tyce Diorio
Too Darn Hot by Kiss Me Kate
Breaker Twitch, already a crowd favorite from last year after barely losing his spot to Hok, gets paired up with perky Kherington, another contemporary dancer. Choreographer Tyce thinks they’re going to make a great pair, as do I. They’ve got personality to spare, and Twitch gives them the nickname of “Twitchington.” Great routine, high energy - Kherington managed to flash her megawatt smile even as she left a trail a red feathers from her showgirl get-up in her wake (come on, costume people!) and Twitch got to throw in a bit of break dancing for good measure. Absolutely stunning, says Nigel about Kherington. He also applauds Twitch for being so damn good at a style so far away from his norm. Mary jokes that the sprinklers are about to come on, they were so hot. Dan echoes the other two, making me wonder if he’s taken some happy pills when I wasn’t looking.

Comfort and Chris
Jive, choreographed by Tony Meredith
Boom Boom by Big Head Todd & the Monsters
And here’s Comfort, the “best female hip hop dancer the show has seen.” She’s lost the braces, but kept the huge personality. She’s not used to the partner thing, but gets paired up with contemporary dancer #2573 Chris, who was previously told that he has the personality of a tree. Ouch. Poor Chris the Tree does express some appreciation for Comfort’s behind, which she puts to good use in the routine. She performs in a fringed bra and panty outfit, a long way from her regular hip hop gear, and Chris dances in a black sleeveless suit. Nigel calls Comfort “smoldering,” and gives Chris props for keeping up with his partner. He does tell Comfort her legs were too straight during the routine, and we find out that she dislocated her shoulder during practice, but they “click clicked” it back into place, in her words. Mary and Dan liked it, but advise them to develop some chemistry.

Katee and Joshua
Hip Hop (slow), choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon
No Air by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown
Contemporary Katee (they’re coming out of the woodwork this year!) is paired up with hip hopper Joshua. Katee managed to piss a few people off with her comments on a previous show, and she’ll need to work to gain fans back. Joshua has had a bit of ballet training, but was mainly a football player - he also tell us that they’re both big cry babies, in case you needed to know this. The routine tells the story of a soldier going off to war. It’s terrific, as is their performance. Nigel says they were “really, really good” and applauds Tabitha and Napoleon for their work, calling it his favorite routine of the night. Mary loved it. Dan says they killed the routine (in a good way), and tells Joshua he becomes a different person on stage.

Jessica and Will
American Smooth Tango, choreographed by Hunter Johnson
Tango from Cirque du Soleil
Jessica is - yes, you guessed it - another contemporary dancer. You might remember her as the one who misspelled “Vegas” in her over excitement at getting the ticket to move on. Will is also a contemporary dancer. Imagine that! He’s the reason Debbie Allen had to step down as a judge, since she was his mentor and didn’t want to show bias. Jess thinks Will is just too handsome, so there should be no chemistry problems here. And there weren’t. They perform well together, with few flubs and a nice move at the end where Jess gets flipped upside down and I was afraid she’d have a Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunction. Thankfully, all boobage stayed put and the judges give them lots of love. Nigel calls Will majestic, and tells Jess to watch her wobbling. Strong, passionate, and masculine, yells Mary. She calls them the couple to beat. Dan doesn’t quite agree, but liked them nonetheless.

Courtney and Gev
Disco, choreographed by Doriana
Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind, & Fire
Last but not least, contemporary/New York Knicks dancer Courtney is paired with breaker Gev, who was the ice dancing b-boy from Kazakstan. Poor things get stuck with a disco routine. I am not a fan of disco. Nope. Honestly, I can’t think of one disco routine that I’ve ever loved. Courtney does look cute in her flouncy yellow dress, and Gev gets an outfit straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Nigel is very meh about the performance, saying the “boogie feel” just wasn’t there. It looked more like Disco Duck, he says. Mary loved it, shocker. Dan even enjoyed it, but says it wasn’t the best he’s ever seen. It could have been cleaner and tighter. And I’m not touching that comment.

So, that’s our top twenty with their first performances of the season. Have you picked your favorites yet? Check out the results show Thursday night and see who gets the boot and who moves on to next week. Oh, and the Pussycat Dolls will be performing, if you enjoy that sort of dreck.

I vote we do away with all disco routines. Anybody with me? waywyrd@FoRT