Buckle up, dancers. "So You Think You Can Dance" has started, and it's going to be a wild ride until the winner is crowned. The Season 11 auditions kicked off with a bang in the Big Easy, and New Orleans certainly brought the talent. Here are the Top 5 moments from last night's two hour premiere event.
1. Battle of the dance dads. Dads were a big factor on last night's show. And while there was a truly touching storyline with second-time-around auditioner Caleb Brauner (whose father passed away this December, a few months after busting some moves with Caleb at last year's audition), I'm talking about the dad silliness that ensued. First, we watched bottle dancer Mike Rase, who, um, knows how to twerk. And then there was another dancing dad—which enraged Mike—and the two duked it out onstage. I'm glad at least daughter Shelby Rase made it to Hollywood with her gorgeous solo, because otherwise...embarrassing!
2. Megan Marcano. Before we saw her dance, we heard Megan's back story, which really made me root for her. Megan's been living on her own since age 12—when her mom was arrested and her family split up—and now she's finishing up college (at Texas Woman's University). And then...she danced. And... HOLY SMOKES SHE WASN'T JUST GOOD, SHE WAS AMAZING. Mary Murphy said it best: Megan "flew across the stage with ease." I can't wait to see more of her this season. Take a look:
3. Trevor Bryce. With his not-so-subtle cocky attitude before his audition, I wasn't too sure what to expect. I'm not even sure what to call his contemporary-pop-lock fusion style, but, Nigel loved it. He called it "one of the greatest solo performances on 'SYTYCD'." I'm not sure I'd go that far, and I'd prefer less mugging in the future, but I think Trevor's really got the chops to back up all his hype. Watch the quirk here:
4. Caleb Brauner. This Missouri dancer first performed a lighthearted solo to celebrate his dad's life in New Orleans. It was solid enough to get him to the choreography round, but unfortunately, Nigel gave him a big no. (And not very nicely, I might add.) But Caleb didn't take "no" for an answer. He hopped on a plane to Chicago, and with a "dancers never give up" attitude, he competed with a heavier-hearted solo in front of the judges. He was again moved to the choreography round. But this time, with a stroke of luck—or perhaps persistence—he earned a ticket to Hollywood. Congrats, Caleb!
5. Rudy Abreu's power move. We first meet Rudy with Nick Garcia—best friends from Miami who are...something else. The dynamic duo competed separately, and they both nabbed tickets to Hollywood. Nigel was especially taken with a step in Rudy's solo that he called a reverse cabriole. Watch it here—it happens at about 1:47 and then it's replayed at 3:06. Look familiar? Alexia Meyer taught us how to do "The Super Cabriole" (or as her dad would call it, "The Flying Squirrel,") in Dance Spirit's April issue. Check it out here, and then watch her break it down below:
Bonus: Justin Bieber and his choreographer Nick DeMoura introduced the first two dance crews battling for a chance to appear on the show. We met L.A.'s Poreotics (supposedly a fusion of robotics and popping) and the East Coast's Syncopated Ladies. You already know just how much we love Chloé Arnold and her crew. #SYTYCDladies.
Thoughts? Who are you most excited to see this season? What were your favorite moments of the evening? Leave it all in the comments and we'll see you back here next week.
I love the first week of competition on "So You Think You Can Dance." It's that wonderful time when nobody's injured, everyone's amped up and, since there are no eliminations, we can pretend all the dancers are going to stay around forever and ever.
In that spirit—and because last night's show was pretty fun—I'm going to keep things 100 percent positive in this recap. (OK, fine—we'll say 95%. This is new for me! I'm trying!) Here are my top five happy* highlights from the episode.
1. The opening number rocked my socks. Tabitha and Napoleon always kick butt, but this kick-butt routine was unusually butt-kicky. Let's break it down, shall we? Nappytabs gave us:
-a montage filmed in a single extended shot...
-...featuring all of the dancers—and judges (Nigel can animate, sort of!), and choreographers (ahhhh Travis' giant feather shrug!)...
-...playing in the costume room and popping in and out of backstage doorways before arriving on the actual stage...
-...to rock out to, of all things, "Puttin' on the Ritz."
The finished product felt like one of those classic "Saturday Night Live" "let's go behind the scenes" openers. It was totally charming. Plus, BABY LONDON WAS IN THE HOUSE! Shocker of the century: Mini-Nappytabs is adorable.
2. The costume department was on fire. Malece and Jade's glamorous Gatsby-esque ensembles? Tucker and Jenna's cute 1940s getups (complete with the verrrry tricky to pull off vest-and-suspender combo)? Makenzie's ruffly, kicky 1950s dress? It was like a whirlwind tour of fashion in the 20th century. And I'm not even going to talk about the multiple pairs of animal-print hammer pants that appeared over the course of the evening. Multiple pairs.
3. Brittany and BluPrint made beautiful Afro-Jazz music together. Brittany's Latin ballroom training and BluPrint's animator skills meshed surprisingly well. They both have that laser-sharp attack thing down pat, which worked perfectly in Sean Cheesman's hard-hitting Afro-Jazz routine. This number also gave us the gift of Cat Deeley's Afro-Jazz impression, which was awesomely hoe-down-y. (But Nigel, please: Let's not ever make comments about how BluPrint "didn't grow up in a jungle" again. *facepalm*)
4. Wayne Brady gave Jesse Tyler Ferguson a run for his money as the best "SYTYCD" guest judge of all time. Wayne's awesomeness really came to a head after Aaron and Jasmine Harper's Sonya Tayeh routine. On Jasmine: "If Lil' C was here, he'd say, 'You are a little chocolate Amazonian fool and imbued of all the strength that you draw upon of the divergent forces which make you an entity to be reckoned with!' " Brilliant. That said, Wayne occasionally drifted into dirty-old-man territory. For example—when talking to a topless Fik-Shun about partnering Amy in an intense Sonya Tayeh duet: "Fik-Shun, whenever I want people to see my serious side, I take my clothes off and dance with a white girl, too." Ugh, don't go there, Wayne! Nigel's already got that territory more than covered!
5. But let's talk about Fik-Shun and Amy in that sick Sonya piece. The powerful choreography felt like a return to form for Sonya, who's seemed a bit off her game in recent seasons. (I guess it's hard not to look like you're going downhill after creating the masterpiece that is "The Garden.") The number's premise—that Fik-Shun represented all of Amy's unresolved issues—was reminiscent of Mia Michael's famous "Gravity" routine, and the concept proved to be just as fruitful for Sonya. Amy is both a natural Sonya muse and possibly the best dancer in the competition, which definitely didn't hurt. And there was something appealingly restrained about the way both she and Fik-Shun approached this number. It's not that they weren't dancing full-out; they just didn't fall into the over-emoting trap that seems to plague most dancers in Sonyaland. Also, the performance gave Cat her first chills of the season, and she sang a song about it, so, plus a million bonus points.
And there you have it! After all that, who do you think is heading home? Let us know in the comments—and we'll see you here next week, same time, same place, for our recap of the first elimination episode (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN)!
*Because I'm working very hard to remain positive, I'm not going to say anything about Nigel and Adam Shankman's "So You Think You Can Prance" video. I'm just going to link to it. There you go.