"SYTYCD" Season 9: The Premiere Recap!

Ah, that old "So You Think You Can Dance" theme song. Whenever I hear it I'm reminded that summer is here, and with that comes everyone's favorite dance competition: Welcome, to "So You Think You Can Dance!" [Insert adorable Cat Deeley British accent here.]

Last night's two-hour Season 9 premiere kicked off with auditions in NYC (with guest judge Tyce "Keith" Diorio joining Nigel and Mary on the panel) and Dallas (well hello there, Lil' C, you crazy non-English speaking krump king).

So how did our first round of dancers fare?

Um. I'll say it was a mediocre season kickoff. I wasn't overly impressed with the talent, but there were a few highlights. Let's break it down...

The Top 5 Moments From The "SYTYCD" Season 9 Premiere:

1. The most awwww-worthy audition came from 29-year-old Bree Hafen, the darling mother of Luke and Stella. Luke (sporting a killer mohawk) told Nigel he doesn't krump, "he shuffles." When Nigel let the two kids sit in his seat at the judges' table, I smiled. When Luke screamed, "I love you, Mommy!" as Bree began to dance, I was beaming. And then, when Nigel snuck Luke a ticket to Vegas and let him walk onstage to hand it to his mom, I totally melted. Oh, and then Stella performed. She nailed it. Brava, young Stella. Brava.

2. Cat Deeley's braids. Expect to see The Great Ms. Deeley making DS headlines weekly. We love her, and while she wasn't decked out in sequins for auditions, her behind-the-scenes braids (two different styles, one in NYC and another in Dallas) were way cute.

3. Daniel Baker, you handsome Australian devil. He tells us that he dances with San Francisco Ballet like it's no big deal. NBD. So Daniel moved to America to become a ballet dancer, and I guess he's the Alex Wong of this season: leaving a renowned ballet company to be on "SYTYCD." Daniel was the first dancer I truly enjoyed watching last night. That had nothing to do with the fact that he "lost his shirt backstage." It was just because he's talented and technical. I swear.

4. Tear-jerker Jarell Rochelle had to go and wrap the episode up with a sob story, didn't he? Normally these make me cringe, but Jarell was so genuine and so sweet, and he performed for his mom, who is semi-blind. Nigel let Mrs. Rochelle sit in his seat close to the stage so she could see her son perform, and the performance was indeed lovely.

5. Can we talk about Hampton Williams now? So he "invented a style" and it's called "Exorcist Style." Apparently while he dances, he can remove the bad from our bodies. Hampton was actually a pretty good dancer, and his feet were smooth, but what happened above the waist was downright scary. And yet, it brought Mary Murphy to tears. Did he exorcise her demons? I don't think Hampton will make it to the Top 20, because while he's good at what he does (whatever, exactly, that is), I'm not sure how "Exorcist Style" is going to translate into a Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble or jazz-hand-packed disco routine.

The "So You Think You Can What?!" Moment of the Night:

  • There were two: First, there was "The New York Legend," Austin Freeman, doing "The Wiggle." I get that on shows like "American Idol," seeing the untalented people is amusing. People try to sing, we laugh with [at] them and everyone has a good time with it. But on "SYTYCD?" The bad dancing isn't funny, it's tragic. Show me the stars!
  • Then there was Vaughan "Legend" Kipper, with his bad attitude and his declaration that he's "actually against auditioning for the show." Oh. OK, then. Cat Deeley saying, "I can pretty much guarantee you will be cut. Take your gerbil outfit and get out of here," was amazing.

Next week: We go to L.A. for "the most stunning auditions of the season." More importantly, Mitchell from "Modern Family" is the guest judge. It will be amazing.

Chime in: What did you think of last night's premiere? Loves? Loathes? Dancers you're dying to see in the Top 20?

Latest Posts


Photo by Joe Toreno. Hair by Marina Migliaccio and makeup by Lisa Chamberlain, both for the Rex Agency.

Sienna Lalau: The Dynamite Dancer and Choreographer Helping BTS Make Magic

At just 20 years old, Sienna Lalau is the living definition of "dynamite dancer": bold, confident, almost addicting to watch, and, at her core, overflowing with pure passion. From her work with The Lab Studios to Video Music Award–winning choreography for BTS, there's no stopping this starlet from bringing her love of dance to the global stage.

"Dance is something that can truly connect people," Sienna tells Dance Spirit. "It's a universal language. We may not speak the same language physically, but when we dance, there's a connection where we understand each other on another level."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Bob Fosse rehearses a group of dancers for Sweet Charity's psychedelic "Rhythm of Life" sequence. Photo by Universal Pictures, Courtesy DM Archives

5 Bob Fosse Facts TikTok Didn't Teach You

By now, if you're on #DanceTok, you've probably come across the Fosse Challenge, AKA a short portion of the dance number "Rich Man's Frug" from Sweet Charity, choreographed by Bob Fosse.

But you don't get the whole picture from one TikTok challenge. Here are five fast facts about Fosse that we're pretty sure you didn't learn on TikTok.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Rosé (fifth from the right, in pink) poses with the Season 13 cast of of "Ru Paul's Drag Race" (courtesy VH1)

How Dance Helped Propel 4 "Drag Race" Favorites to Stardom

Dance is famous for its ability to instill valuable life skills. But it can also be a conduit to so many other forms of artistic expression. And if you've ever watched the phenomenon that is "RuPaul's Drag Race," you've seen how interdisciplinary art can be—and how dance and the art of drag often work in harmony.

The show has made huge stars of its contestants, and among the most famous are those who trained in dance before they started drag. We spoke with four sickening "Drag Race" stars about how dance helped boost their careers in the direction of drag—and to eventual stardom.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search