After two fun-filled weeks of ‘So You Think You Can Dance‘ auditions, the first night of official competition – when the top 10, er, top 11, strut their stuff for the first time to open phone lines and the harsher scrutiny of the judges – didn’t falter on the delight factor.
As a reminder, here’s how it’s working this season, folks: The 11 top dancers will pick the name of an all-star from a previous season out of a hat. The pair will dance to that all-star’s style. One person goes home every week instead of two. Contrary to previously published reports, America is still deciding who goes home each week, not the judges, according to the show’s rep.
Maybe it was the coffee bar with count ’em, three, Ghiradelli chocolate flavors and the vast spread of sweet treats, fried foods and delicious cheeses in the Green Room backstage, but I was truly out of my gourd with giddiness over the night’s fancy footwork.
Why? First, host Cat Deeley was adorable as usual. She is hands-down one of my favorite TV hosts. Second, the dancing was delightful, daring and downright dirty. My favorite of the night? Jose Ruiz’s hip-hop fierceness.
Here’s a Rundown of the Performances (listed by dancer, all-star dancer, dance style and choreographer):
Billy Bell and Lauren Gottlieb: Broadway, Tyce Diorio
Dancing to ‘Footloose,’ Billy proved to be quite the firecracker performer. Much better than Evan Lysacek’s dance to the same song on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ (Sorry Evan!) “It was really tiring,” said Billy after his performance. Judge Nigel Lythgoe told him to work on his chemistry, while Mia Michaels said, “I am so proud of you. I thought you tackled it and I thought you did an awesome job.” Adam Shankman told him to focus on how to inhabit the character, but added that he’s “a bit of a superboy.”
Cristina Santana and Mark Kanemura: Jazz, Sonya Tayeh
Loving the music choices so far. Santigold! Really? Wow. Awesome. Edgy, sexy and diiirttty – just like the dance. That said, the choreography didn’t seem to live up to what it could have been, and I personally l-o-v-e Sonya. The judges disagree with me. Nigel said, “You were absolutely tremendous in it.” Mia added, “You did an awesome job. You really captured the essence.” Adam was “stunned” … in a good way, of course.
Jose Ruiz and Comfort Fedoke: Hip-Hop, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo
Playing out two predators ready to attack, according to the choreographers, Jose rocked it to Ne-Yo in an electrifying display of hip-hop and breakdance. Cat joked that he could be in the next ‘Twilight’ movie. I say, yummy to that. Nigel was impressed that he’d never done choreography before and thought it was “absolutely outstanding.” On Jose’s fierce vibe on the dance floor, Nigel joked, “He looked like Adam Shankman after a drink.”
Check Out Comfort’s Signature Move:
Adechike Torbert and Kathryn McCormick: Contemporary/Jazz, Travis Wal
I’m not a big fan of props, and that desk situation tainted the performance a wee bit for me. Pun of the night: Nigel’s “Ade-cheeky!” Cute pun. (Yep, I’m a sucker for a dumb pun.) Nigel didn’t believe in the chemistry but thought the steps were done well. Can’t argue too much with that. He didn’t seem to have the desire for his partner; a better, er, ‘actor’ should have been able to feign. “It wasn’t about going that extra step,” noted Adam.
Melinda Sullivan and Pasha Kovalev: Ballroom, Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Little known fact about Miss Melinda: She was on ‘As the World Turns.’ That means she better excel at getting into character like none other. And, tonight, she did! “There is no question you are vivacious, gorgeous — my eyes go straight to you. You’ve got a lovely face,” said Nigel, who complained that her legs were wide and said she is “unsafe.” The audience booed. So did I. But Mia agreed with Nigel. “There’s something about your legs,” she noted. “You come across pigeon toed … There’s a lack of sexiness.” Adam then went off on her “stiff and rigid” hands. Ouch!
Alex Wong and Allison Holker: Contemporary, Sonya Tayeh
Another stellar music choice in the somber sounds of Jeff Buckley, but the dance was too somber for me. Time for another one of those caramel Ghiradelli coffees for me on this one, but the judges dug it deeply. “I believe you have just set a new standard for ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ said Nigel, who added that it was “absolutely mega light years ahead of everybody.” Mia said something about it being the best piece of dance ever danced in the history of dance ever … or something crazy like that. Adam was nearly in tears, while Alex did shed a drop or two.
Alexie Agdeppa and tWitch [sic] Boss: Hip-Hop, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo
Ugh, more props. Okay, I’ll get past it. This dance to the always-smooth and oh-so-sexy Jason Mraz was just that: smooth and sexy. The problem is that I couldn’t keep my eyes off tWitch and forgot Alexie was the contestant here. It was tWitch who was crazy-ass sexy-smooth, and the judges noticed that as well. Nigel told her to watch being too “cutesy.” “You dance like a young adorable girl,” said Mia. “You have to step it up. There was no hip-hop groove. There was no swag … It was just cute.”
Check Out tWitch’s Signature Move:
Lauren Froderman and Ade Obayomi: Contemporary, Mandy Moore
“Lauren is having trouble being sexy,” said Mandy. Boy did Lauren prove her wrong once she hit the floor! It’s hard not to be sexy to “Oh Yeah,” though, now isn’t it? One tip: smile less when you’re in sexy mode! Loved the flip over the couch at the end. Good use of a prop … finally! Nigel liked the split lift over the couch but found the dance “sterile” and lacking chemistry. Mia called her “flawless” technically but felt she should use up the space more. Adam didn’t see the connection to the character. Fair enough.
Kent Boyd and Anya Garnis: Ballroom: Cha-Cha, Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Nice moves, but that smiling out to the audience was a bit too much, and farm boy Kent was a tad too excited. “You enjoyed it, Kent!” said Nigel. “You committed to everything,” said Mia. “You looked kind of like a ballroom boy.” Adam loved his determination. “You blasted through any of your weaknesses. It was so amazing,” he said. Analogy of the night – Adam said that Kent looked like, and we must paraphrase, every parent’s nightmare at the zoo where they lose their kid and all of a sudden their kid is dancing in the lion’s cage.
Ashley Galvan and Neil Haskell: Contemporary, Tyce Diorio
Graceful, beautiful and emotional. Loved it! Nigel questioned if she has a wide range of emotions and asked the 19-year-old dancer if she’d ever been in love before. “As a matter of fact, I think I am,” she said, weeping. “I don’t know what to say now,” he responded. It almost brought a tear to my eye even. Mia, though, couldn’t tell what the emotion was. Pain? Joy? “You are a bunny,” she added. Yes, she said bunny. Adam said that she didn’t open herself up enough.
Robert Roldan and Courtney Galiano: African Jazz, Sean Cheesman
In one of the more exciting dance styles of the night, Robert proved to be a real tiger on the dance floor, oozing sex appeal and masculinity. More please. “I loved the way you danced,” said Nigel, who called him the dark horse in this competition. Mia couldn’t praise him enough, even making pawing animal sounds in his direction. Talk about a cougar! Adam called it “unbelievable” and said Robert’s one of the best contemporary dancers they’ve ever had on the show.
Who do you think should go home Thursday night? Hit the comments below.