June 11, 2008 08:11 PM by DA Southern
Granted, the So You Think You Can Dance auditions are not as grueling as American Idol, but they are still very entertaining and heartwarming, in many ways. But that was then and this is now. We are finally at that point where we get to see some of the best dancing that you will see on TV, no disrespect to the Stars that think that they, too, can dance.
The show started with each of the dancers doing a bit of a solo as they were introduced and we got underway for an action packed Season 4. Cat Deeley strutted on stage looking glamorous as she announced that America was now in control of the future of the eventual winner and that the winner would be receiving $250,000.00 in prize money for their dancing abilities.
Cat introduced judges, Dan Karaty, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe and started by asking Dan what he thought of the dancers in general, which had Karaty saying that there were no clear-cut favorites this season. Mary agreed with Dan and when Nigel was asked who he thought the front-runners were, he easily replied that Cat looked like the favorite as good as she looked tonight. What a smooth talker that Nigel is.
Cat then told America how the Top 20 would be split into 10 couples and then they would perform for the judges and America’s vote. America would then pick their favs and then, tomorrow, the bottom couples would dance for their life before the judges, with the judges deciding who would go home.
After a recap of the Top 20′s dance moves that put them into the top group, we got under way with our first dancers, Raven and Jamie, as they danced a Hip-Hop routine choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha. The routine was fairly humorous and not quite as Hip-Hoppy, if that is a word, as we have seen, but they looked like they had fun doing it. Nigel was worried that it may not be memorable; Mary said it was like cotton candy, “Light, fluffy and sweet” and Dan was fairly critical saying that it did not have enough “Funk.”
Next up was Susie and Marquis dancing a Waltz as we saw the couple struggle with the mechanics of the dance during their rehearsals before they performed. The couple was quite beautiful as they danced but got slightly behind the music at the end. Nigel commended the pair on the way they handled the difficulty of the routine and was amazed how nicely they carried off the Waltz. Mary said that they, “Pulled it off,” and that she was blown away by the couple and Dan echoed Mary’s words saying that he “Felt like he was watching an almost-perfect ending to a love story” and thought the couple was sexy and romantic.
Next up was contemporary dancers, Kourtni L. and Matt, as they danced a jazz routine from choreographer, Mandy Moore. Both dancers, who are taller than many others in the competition, were concerned about the short jazz routine style of dancing, but knew they could get it. The couple, all dressed in black, was dynamic looking together as they glided effortlessly across the stage. They looked as if they had been partnered together for years as hey truly matched each other’s style. Nigel was worried about the personality of Matt and said that he needed to relax a bit and that Kourtni was going to go far in the competition. Mary said they did well, outside one of the lifts, and Dan, who seems to be more critical tonight, said that the performance was “So-so.”
Chelsea Traille and Thayne Jasperson, a contemporary dancer, were next to showcase the moves that got them to the Top 20 as they were partnered to dance the Cha-Cha. The two were somewhat out of their element as they struggled through their rehearsals, but as they started their routine, they came across as sultry and confident as they easily portrayed the style of the Cha-Cha. Nigel was impressed with the “Southern attitude,” as he called it, and said that they were fantastic together. Mary gave the couple two tickets on the “Hot-Tamale train” and complimented Thayne on his great partnering with Chelsea, who clearly was the “Star” of the routine. Dan was amazed on how the couple took control of the stage and had, for the first time tonight, had no ill words to say about a performance.
Cat Deeley announced the next pairing of Chelsie Hightower and contemporary dancer from Hawaii, Mark, as they were paired to dance a contemporary routine from Mia Michaels. Mia said during the rehearsal that she thought Mark would be much better than he was because he was not getting it. When the routine started, Mia’s fears were easily put to rest as the couple was effortless in their performance. Nigel said that that Mia was marvelous as she molded the dancers into a beautiful pair and that this season is already shaping up to be incredible. Mary said that Mark was very unique, but in a good way, and that Chelsie was incredible as she moved. Dan said that the performance was amazing and that he admired the couple as they took what was in Mia’s head and portrayed it so beautifully on stage.
Twitch and Kherington Payne, one of the youngest of the dancers, were the next pairing as they headed to the studio to rehearse a routine from Broadway stylist, Tyce Diorio called, “Too Darn Hot.” Twitch was funny as he called the partnership, “Twitchington,” and the couple hit the floor to show off Diorio’s moves. Nigel called the pairing “Tremendous” and said they couple was brilliant in their dancing. Mary said that everybody should look up at the sprinklers were going to go off because they were “Hot.” Dan said that Kherington was magical and that Twitch could melt any Broadway stage.
Hip-Hop dancer, Comfort, and jazz dancer, Chris, who Nigel had compared his personality to a tree, were paired together for a Jive choreography. Comfort was confident in her and Chris being able to “Kill it,” as she said when it came performance time. When they got to the stage the music was loud and exuberant, as was the couple. Nigel was concerned that style-wise they were a little stiff, but that overall, they did a great job. Mary thought they were respectable and Dan, thought that Comfort was “Hot” but that they needed to blend better as a couple.
Katee and Joshua were now paired together as we once again saw the moment when Katee almost blew her chance to even get in to the Top 20. Joshua’s journey to the Top 20 was showcased as he said he got away from dancing and played sports but slowly worked his way back to dancing. Katee and Joshua were paired to do a Hip-Hop routine from Napoleon and Tabitha and reassured America that they were tough. The couple was as eloquent as any Hip-Hop routine ever done on the stage and the judges echoed the sentiment as Nigel could say nothing more than, “That was really, really good.” Mary was as congratulatory as Nigel and said that it truly was “Tremendous.” Dan Karaty, usually more critical, heaped praise on the duo as he said they hit their marks effortlessly.
Contemporary dancer, Jessica, from the Charleston auditions and Will, a dancer from Debbie Allen’s Studio of Dance, were paired together for a Tango routine by Hunter Johnson. Choreographer Johnson was concerned with the “Passion” aspect of the Tango and the couple’s ability to portray the passion needed. We don’t know what was in the water there at the SYTYCD stage, but the couple definitely had the needed passion for the routine. Nigel loved them and Mary said that there was only one way that she liked the Tango to be performed and that “They did it!” Dan said they were “Hot like fire” and that they were a pleasure to watch.
Courtney Gallano and Gev were the last couple to take the stage tonight in a Disco routine that would end one of the best beginnings of a SYTYCD season to date. Courtney and Gev never realized how hard Disco was to learn and the couple seemed to be confident they could “Nail it.” The pair was not as sharp as probably should have been and Nigel was fairly harsh on the couple saying that it did not make everyone want to get up and dance. Mary was slightly kinder to Courtney than to Gev but, overall, she seemed to like it. Dan said it was good, but not the best Disco he has ever seen, but overall enjoyed it.
It will be a fairly difficult decision for the judges, and America, every week as this is easily the best Top 20 we have ever witnessed on SYTYCD. Tomorrow we will see who the judges send packing with America’s help.
Discuss your thoughts about the Top 20 on our So You Think You Can Dance message boards.
Photo courtesy of Fox Broadcasting