May 22, 2008 08:51 PM by DA Southern
So you would think that American Idol producer, Nigel Lythgoe, would want to have a little break after Idol’s rockin’ finale, but Noooo,He starts us right in with the ever so popular, So You Think You Can Dance. Nigel not only runs this show, but he is one of the judges along with our resident screamer, Mary Murphy and various guest judges from week to week as well as the host extraordinaire, Cat Deeley.
The two hour kick-off of Season 4 starts like American Idol does with various auditions in different cities with Cat Deeley giving us a quick recap of the past three seasons with some great moments and some not so great moments.
We got things started in sunny Los Angeles as the dancer-wannabes faced judges, Nigel, Mary and Mia Michaels to get the dance party started. Cat explained that each dancer gets a minute on stage to impress the judges and that one of three things will happen. If they are great, they will immediately get a ticket to Las Vegas for the next round. If they are not-so-good, well, they are sent packing. If they fall somewhere in the middle, then they will join a group in a choreographed routine to see if they have what it takes to continue on.
We started really funny as the first dancer, Devin Oshiro, heard the music and just stood there. I mean nothing. Nigel finally broke the tension by saying that he needed to see more dancing than that and it was determined that the wrong music was playing. Well, we are off to a roaring start. When she did dance, we knew that this season would probably have the strongest dancers to date as she wowed the judges and was immediately given a golden ticket to Vegas.
Jonathan Anzalone, an Italian guy who tried to flirt himself into the next round, was almost dismissed by the judges but was given a chance in the choreography round to prove himself by Nigel, no less. We then quickly witnessed some comical tryouts; including a guy with the middle name “Sex” who had been turned away for each of the last three seasons before we got to the good stuff, well, after “Sex” argued with Nigel about how good he was.
One of the great things about this show is that the judges seem to come at the contestants with a lot more heart in good times, and in bad, as was witnessed when a visually impaired young lady was told she would not advance because of her technique, not because of her impairment. Mia Michaels even told her that she probably had more heart than ninety percent of the people who were auditioning. This is not the first time this show has displayed class and style from the judges and probably won’t be the last.
Boy, you know I watch this show too closely when I notice a dancer who has auditioned in the past, even before being told by the host. Stephen “Twitch” Boss, from last season, who actually missed the cut by one guy in Vegas last season, was back at it this year and definitely looked like he had been working on his skills. Nigel even told him that if he didn’t make it through Vegas this year he would, “Kick his ass.”
The new word this year for being good is “Stupid” as the judges immediately sent “Twitch” to Vegas. We were then treated to various comical auditions, including a funny bigger guy and a Russian woman in a long red gown with a tragic story of love that she shared with the judges. Way too much information but that’s what gives this show such heart.
Cat Deeley joined us again at 3:00 PM on Day 1 of the auditions to show us that there were still a lot of hopefuls waiting for their big showbiz break in line in front of the auditorium. Another cut from last season, Phillip Chbeeb, a “B-Boy” as people call them, gave a great audition to try to get to the next round and was rewarded with a choreography tryout to see if he could take instruction.
William Wingfield of Nashville, did one of the most interesting auditions I’ve ever see as he danced an expressive dance to a soliloquy. Nigel was worried if he could do other dance styles that the dancers were put through on the show but agreed to send him to the group dancing to see if he could advance.
Evening drew the curtain on Day 1 of auditions as we saw a quick montage of dancers whiz by the cameras leading to the final contestant, Rijiy Ames, who stripped down to his underpants for his audition. Nigel looked pretty disgusted with the whole thing and finally just pounded his head on the table. All of the judges asked him why the underpants, but they were not satisfied with his answer and sent him packing.
Another great aspect of this show is how they bring back dancers from previous seasons to help in different capacities as we saw Travis, from Season 2, teaching the choreography to the hopefuls. It looks like they didn’t learn too much as many of them seem to flounder. However, William and Phillip, our “B-Boys,” did make it through along with 16 other contestants from Day 1.
Day 2 started with another contestant, Erika Gee, who was in her third go-round at the shot at the big time and the trip to Vegas. The third time was the charm for Erika as the judges sent her to Vegas immediately.
We always have to see the obligatory Ballroom couple and invariably we are amazed, and sometimes shocked, when one of the pair makes it through without the other. This season a talented couple, Leonidas Proskurov and Aliona Vetrenko, who had the judges swooning, came out dancing but it was certainly not your daddy’s ballroom dancing as the couple headed to Vegas with their golden tickets in hand.
Day 2 continued as we got to see some comical auditions. Comical for us, but many of these people really think they can dance. We finally broke out of the comical mode to see Victor Kim give a showcase in hip-hop as the judges laughed and marveled in his styling and sent him to the Choreography.
The superhero, Golden Inferno, who auditioned last year, once again graced us with his dancing prowess. Good news,for us,he did not improve at all but the judges were good-natured with him and did not advance him to Vegas.
Night was beginning to set in LA as the auditions in the Orpheum Theatre were beginning to wrap up. Another couple, Ricky Sun and Asuka Kondoh, put on their dancing shoes and, in spite of Asuka being very sick, managed to put on a decent show for the judges and got themselves a chance in the choreography segment.
A soccer player, Kherington Payne, who was spotlighted with a look at her home life, was a natural shoe-in to Vegas or why else would they have wasted the film on her. As we saw her dance, we knew that soccer had been very good for her because the judges, as were all of the male contestants, were spellbound with her as she picked up her ticket for Vegas.
In the final segment, we got to see disgruntled contestants who all were amazed at how wrong the judges were in not choosing them before we witness the final eliminations from the choreography section. I always love that part…I mean the disgruntled part. Then we get to see the final audition, which is usually something very unique and this one was no exception.
A self proclaimed “Popper,” Robert Muraine, amazed all of the judges even to the point of Nigel saying that he was his favorite dancer yet to date. Nigel decided to send him to the choreography to see if he could take instruction. After seeing a final whacked move by the kid, Nigel just gave him a ticket to Vegas as he hugged the kid in a “Popping” move to end the show and we saw the final ticket holders dance the happy-dance as the LA auditions drew to a close.
Next week, the judges head to Salt Lake City, Utah and Texas for more happy feet moves.
Photo courtesy of Fox Broadcasting