Everything from Cat Deeley’s enthusiasm to Mary Murphy’s scream to the “dah dah dah dah” theme song screams that summer TV has officially arrived and not a minute too soon! Greetings, Yakksters and welcome our latest (and hopefully greatest) reality column kicking off our summer season! Coming off of a lackluster season of American Idol, fans of Fox reality TV have probably set the bar low for Executive Producer (as he apparently likes to be called) Nigel Lythgoe. What’s been shocking to me throughout the winter is the Idol Lythgoe is a stark contrast to the Dance Lythgoe. I like the dance Lythgoe much more and I think it has to do with the fact that he has a much greater passion for dance than it seems he has with singing. That said, I’m going to try and leave Nigel out of the picture as we celebrate the return of the summer’s best dance competition.
As we welcome back Mary Murphy to the judge’s panel after a battle with thyroid cancer last year, we also welcome back the return of the Hot Tamale Train. Did anyone from Atlanta or The Bay Area receive a ticket? We’ll get to that shortly. Record number tickets to Vegas were being handed out like breadsticks at Olive Garden, and if you’re getting the same vibe I am, this is going to be a great summer. Audition after audition, we were given the opportunity to witness some flawless, emotional, and fluid dancing, save any “growling” reminiscent of the days of Casey and Haley. What was even more refreshing was that the 5 different judges we saw behind the judge’s table tonight had more constructive and coherent criticism and praise in 2 hours than some 3 other judges (who shall remain nameless) had to say during a whole season! (Hint: The show crowned their winner last night and was heretofore mentioned previously in this article. Also, I just wanted to use heretofore.) That said, let’s get down to business tonight awards style. Instead of breaking down each of the many auditions we saw, we’ll hand out a few awards and make note of some YouTube worthy auditions you must catch before we hit Las Vegas.
The “Fast and Fluid Leg Work Kirstie Alley Could Learn From” Award
Bianca Hinklerian ~ Bianca’s fast and fancy footwork wasn’t enough to send her straight to Vegas, but her competency in the choreography round at the end of the day proved to the judges that her fierce feet were ready to handle what lies ahead. Bianca’s Columbian Salsa was about five fancy footsteps away from a ticket on the Hot Tamale Train. I’m pretty sure Mary’s not handing those out easily this year.
The “Good Enough To Be Invited By Zeus To Perform on Mt. Olympus” Award
Melanie Moore ~ Thanks to Lil’ C and his clear and not so concise use of the English language for that award title. Grabbing the first sit down interview with Cat this season, Melanie was not ready to hide any raw emotion tonight. Performing with such grace, yet so much restraint making you want more, she was ready to be sent STRAIGHT to Vegas and definitely worthy of a YouTube review. Here’s hoping Uncle Nigel is right and that talent doesn’t magically disintegrate in Vegas. Or, ahem, that the judges (and producers) don’t seem to let some other more marketable contestant overshadow her perfection.
The “Tod and Copper” Award
Deon Lewsa Jr. & Damon Bellmon ~ If the allusion in the award escapes you, time to stop being an adult and reach back into your childhood once again. When you’re the best of friends, you can not only win a phone call from Cat Deeley but you can apparently win two tickets to Vegas to continue to showcase your hilarious personalities and synchronized, comedic stage presence. And that’s what these two best friends did.
The “I Need to Oil My Jaw Because You Kept It Open” Award
Kimalee Piedad ~ Taking on a song that has so much history on the SYTYCD stage (you must watch this), Kimalee and her non-competing partner sure as fire lived up to the expectations. From her graceless moves to her stunning “tricks,” including wrapping herself around her partner, I was continually mesmerized by this performance. Lil’ C said it best, as he usually does, gravity was not an issue for Kimalee as she defied the laws of physics here.
The “Do They Allow Family Members In Vegas” Award
Kyre Batiste ~ Even though Nigel and Mary were no fans of this young man’s fluid and rhythmical performance, Grandma and Lil’ C moved him onto choreography (in which he didn’t excel). That said, Grandma’s special appearance behind the judge’s table proved more exciting than any judge I’ve seen in a reality competition this year. Yes, I’m looking at you “singing competition juggarnaut.” Whipping Lil’ C with her belt because he initially didn’t agree with Grandma was priceless television. Can we send her to Vegas?
The “Someone Give This Chick A Sedative” Award
Amber Williams ~ In case you thought we saw it all tonight, San Francisco brought us someone who doesn’t need to breathe in order to speak or dance. Dancing her self-proclaimed “toucher” off, Amber was pretty agile and commanded attention on that stage. Her personality could be her downfall, but her personality can also take her all the way to the end. According to Toni Redpath, this dancer’s a combination of white girl freaky with ghetto funky.
The “If I Had To Endure Her on TV Then You Do Too” Award
Ieshia Moss ~ Just YouTube her.
The “Why So Vulnerable” Award
D’on-que Addison ~ Flailing your arms on stage doesn’t mean you’re telling the world your story. Just ask Jacob Lusk.
The “I Was Afraid Of Breaking My Body Parts While Watching You” Award
Jeffery McCann ~ This energetic, non-stop B-boy performance had me concerned that I was going to dislocate my shoulder, while popping my knee out of place and breaking my hip at the same time. But I just couldn’t turn away. Not a moment of silence, not a moment of stoppage. Pure genius on that stage, pure entertainment.
The “If You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” Award
Ryan Ramirez ~ Some of you devoted fans of the show may remember Ryan from last season. She cracked the Top 24, but did not make it further into the competition. Flying back on stage to audition this year, her dance routine was actually well thought out, had a story to tell (unlike our friend from earlier) and was miraculous, per Toni’s account. Being sent straight back to Vegas is what Ryan deserves. With the format going back to a Top 20 at the live show stage this year, Ryan actually has a shot at moving on to the live shows, where this kind of talent won’t get overlooked.
Before we end our award show, it’s time for a dance lesson. America was introduced to “Turfin'” today, Oakland, California’s own dance style. Turfin’ consists of 4 key points, according to I Dummy. Swagger, Feetwork, Pantomiming, and Storytelling. Words don’t do this dance style justics, as I Dummy skated across the stage gracefully, flowing like Meatloaf’s tears on the Celebrity Apprentice. Turfin’ isn’t quite the style for this show, but it’s a sight worth seeing. Folks, don’t try it at home.
And with that my friends, we’ve kicked off the SYTYCD season in style. Join us next week as the audition rounds continue (and conclude) before we hit Las Vegas! Who was your favorite audition tonight? Are you looking forward to this season as much as we are? Let us know and see you next week!