Greetings dance fans! Welcome to the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance! After a few weeks of auditions, we’ve pretty much weeded out the delusional and the uncoordinated and have gotten down to the actually talented. At the end of the episode, we won’t find out who makes it to the top 20, but we’ll get awfully close. It’s a two hour episode, so let’s get on with it, shall we?
It’s time for
HellVegas Week and the 172 dancers all seem naively excited about the whole thing. Of course, the judges haven’t made anyone cry yet, but it’s only Day 1. On hand to take part in the torture are judges Lil C (is that seriously his name?), Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen, Mia Michaels and Nigel Lithgoe. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I look at Debbie Allen I hear her saying “You want fame? Well fame costs and right here is where you start paying. In sweat!” Anyone else? Just me? Alrighty then. Moving on. I just realized I left Mary Murphy off the list of judges. I probably blocked her and her atomic scream out after the last time I recapped this show. Nails on chalkboards have nothing on Mary. She is the reason the mute button was invented and I plan to mute her every chance I get.
Before the real torture of Vegas Week begins, each dancer takes the stage and performs a solo for the judges. Right there is how they earned their money. Can you imagine sitting through 172 dance solos? Someone better pass out some crackers to go with that butt spread, ‘cause that’s a lot of hours in a chair. Most of this part of the show is quick montages of dancers we’ll never see again, but we do get glimpses of people who will either make it to the top twenty or who will tragically get cut and will then cry all over themselves like Emma Thompson at the end of Sense and Sensibility only without the whole marrying Hugh Grant thing. Fox is always nice enough to capture those moments for us. This show wouldn’t be complete if they didn’t jam a camera up the nose of some poor kid who’s just had his dreams crushed. And yet, I still watch.
Amongst the notable performances is Alex Wong, a member of the Miami City Ballet who is faboo. I vote to end the search now and give him the title. He’s incredible and the judges practically wet themselves with glee over his solo. We also meet Tony Bellissimo, who performs to that 80’s pop gems “Somebody’s Watching Me.” I will now have that song in my head for a week. Thanks, Tony. Tony’s dance is more like a character piece with a little dancing thrown in. He peppers the number with pictures of Nigel…in his briefcase (yes, he used props) and inside his coat. Nigel asks that he include the other judges next time. I ask that he actually dance next time.
At the end of the solo round, we learn the rules. If any judge wants to keep a dancer, that dancer stays. At this point, 45 dancers are cut. After all that, Day 1 still isn’t over. Now it’s time for the first round of choreography. First up is Hip-Hop with Tabitha and Napoleon, who tells the dancers they need to “shine or you’re out the door.” It’s clear that many of the dancers aren’t great at learning choreography, especially when it’s not in the dance style they’re most comfortable with. Gabi Rojas, a contemporary dancer who impressed the judges before is struggling.
The dancers are broken up into small groups to perform the Hip-Hop number, after which the judges make more cuts. Mia cautions the dancers that she loves making cuts. After the Hip-Hop round, 37 more dancers are cut, leaving 96 hopefuls to continue on to Day 2.
How’s this for an about face: the next style of choreography the dancers have to learn is Ballroom. Of course, the ballroom dancers in the group get through this round easily, as do some others. After this round, 16 more dancers are gone.
Now it’s time for the Jazz round. By this point, the dancing is taking its toll. We get a montage of taped appendages, ice packs and some crying.
When they met at the Denver auditions, Natalie and Brandon became instant BFFs and have been attached at the hip ever since. Today, they’re auditioning separately and biting their nails about whether the judges will separate them forever. Sadly, the fates are cruel: Brandon makes it through to the next round, but Natalie gets the boot. They hug like one of them is shipping off to the Great War and that’s the end of Brandon and Natalie.
It’s early evening and the Jazz round is almost over: there’s just one last group left to perform. Among the dancers in this final group is Gabi Rojas, who failed to impress the judges during the Hip-Hop round. Once again, she’s bad. Debbie Allen speaks for the judges, expressing their frustration and disappointment. Rather than cut her now, they will prolong the suffering by making her dance for her life. Every time they say someone has to dance for their life, I imagine the Devil cackling with glee and rubbing his hands together a la Snidely Whiplash. Did I just seriously date myself there? Gabi gets exactly zero time to prepare: she has to dance for her life RIGHT NOW! She gives an impassioned performance and the judges unanimously vote for her to stay, but she is warned that she needs to work harder to pick up the choreography in other styles of dance.
After the Jazz round, 7 more dancers are cut. The remaining 73 may naively think they’re done for the day, but no such luck. They will now be broken into groups, given a song to choreograph a routine to, which they will then have to perform for the judges in the morning.. Many of the groups will be up all night, although most won’t look like they spent more than twenty minutes on their routines.
At 7 a.m. the next day, the dancers are back in the theater to perform for the judges. Nigel cautions them all that they can still be cut if they don’t perform well. Things start out pretty rough: the first group is horrid, notable for it’s complete lack of rhythm. Nigel calls is “horrific.” Nigel is sugar coating. Two of the dancers are immediately cut, two are safe and another - Eric “Silky” Moore, a tap dancer - will be dancing for his life (hee). The next few groups aren’t any better: it’s more bad choreography, bad dancing and bad music….and bad props. Enough with the props, people.
Finally, things start to look up and the groups improve. Then we come to the final group, who has named themselves Nerdography, which they explain is the phenomenon that occurs when a nerd hears a great song and sees a hot girl at the same time. It’s a funny and well-choreographed routine with the guys dressed like nerds and the girls looking like, well, girls. The judges eat it up. Adam actually admits to tearing up and says it made him miss dancing.
Before this round is over, Eric “Silky” Moore will be dancing for his life. He rolls out a terrific tap solo, finishing with a back flip onto his stomach. The judges are impressed, but not enough to keep him in the competition: Eric goes home.
Ever since the competition started, I’ll bet Mia Michaels has been salivating over the idea of getting her hands on these dancers. If she loves making cuts, you just know she loves torturing dancers with her choreography. Yep, that’s right: it’s time for the contemporary round and you can feel the tension. Everyone is stressed out…everyone, that is, except for Tony Bellissimo, who doesn’t seem to know who he’s dealing with. Tony performs the routine with his group and fails to impress the judges. In a novel move, the judges decide that Tony will come back later and perform the routine a second time. Now he has the rest of the day to practice the routine so he can really wow the judges.
This show loves nothing more than stories of best friends, siblings, boyfriends and girlfriends competing against each other. Here comes the latest pair in the form of sisters Megan and Caitlyn Kinney. They perform in different groups and while Megan moves on to the next round, her sister Caitlyn must dance for her life. After her solo, which Nigel calls “old-fashioned,” she’s voted through. Our second set of siblings is brothers Evan and Ryan, who both auditioned in Memphis. Both brothers make it through easily to the next round.
The contemporary round is almost over. All that’s left is for Tony Bellissimo to dance with the final group of dancers. Debbie Allen speaks for the judges as Tony cries. He let the judges down, Debbie explains: they expected more from him. Still, Tony will have another chance to show them what he can do: he’s through to the next round. Thirteen dancers were cut during this round, leaving 54 dancers to perform on the final day.
Brothers Evan and Ryan wisely guess that the final style of dance will be Broadway. Are they psychic? No. They saw Tyce Diorio on the elevator. Tyce greets all the dancers and tells them that they will be learning a routine from West Side Story, the Broadway show to end all Broadway shows for dancers. The girls will be learning their routine and performing it in the morning, so the guys are cut lose until the afternoon. This gives Fox the opportunity for lots of shots of bodies in bathing suits by the pool.
Back on stage, the girls learn a tough routine and then perform in groups for the judges. All of the girls will perform before the judges make their decisions. Bianca, a tap dancer who auditioned last year, is one of the dancers cut. She won’t be back next year, she tells us. Also cut are Gabi Rojas and Megan Kinney, whose sister Caitlyn makes it through. The boys have their turn in the afternoon, while the girls – now narrowed down to 16, hit the pool. The boys are also cut down to 16.
Before the judges decide which dancers will make it to the top 20, they must each perform a solo for the judges. After a montage of solos and prolonged shots of salsa dancer, Janette walking to center stage, the show abruptly ends. Wah! If you want to see who made the top 20, stay tuned for iguanachocolate’s masterful recap!