Ah, Vegas.Â The first time of the year on SYTYCD when viewers can breathe easy, and not fear that the in the next moment someone is going to appear onstage with a mullet and do an interpretive dance to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.”Â How long do we think it will take for Nigel to make his signature “We’re looking for a STAAAAAAAHR!!” speech?Â I’m saying it’s in the first five minutes.Â You know, the producers should stop asking him to redo that each year and just play an inspirational clip.Â Like this.Â Or this. These express the importance of dance far more than Uncle Nigel ever could.Â And for those of you wondering, yes, that is Broadway royalty Priscilla Lopez in the second clip.
It’s Day One and 160 dancers are ready to be winnowed down to the Top 20.Â We have lots of judges tonight including Robin Antin, Adam Shankman (Shankers!), Debbie Allen (see first clip above), Tyce (ugh) and, of course, Nigel and Mary.Â Before any of them even get to the choreography rounds, however, they’re required to perform solos for the judges to trim a little fat; I love how deeply nasty this is.Â These people just flew to Vegas on the power of their solos; now the judges have decided that some of them aren’t good enough and are out for blood.Â Sharks are in the water!
Iveta Lukosiute is dressed as sexy policewoman, and by “dressed” I mean she’s wearing hot-pants that just barely cover her lower gluteal folds.Â We’re then 20 seconds into her solo to “When You’re good to Mama” from Chicago and the gluteal folds are completely exposed.Â Nigel’s all in.Â Marlon PelayoÂ is dressed in a unitard that his mother made and his friend painted to look like a…words fail.Â Psychedelic lizard?Â How did that one sneak through?Â Seven of the first fifteen dancers are cut, including, I believe Brandon Jones from New York who suffered previously from an egregious lack of nickname.Â The next dancer I recognize to get the boot is Danielle Ihle who also doesn’t make it through the solo round.Â At the end, we’re already down to 114 dancers which is a pretty large amount of people who took a long plane trip for not all that much. Nigel helpfully tells me it was 46 dancers who got the boot; I probably could have figured that out for myself.Â Probably.
The first choreography round is hip hop with Napoleon and Tabitha.Â Apparently the re-purposed word of the day is “swag.”Â Dancers are yelled that they have to have more “swag.”Â I assume this is short for swagger, unless the SYTYCD judges are accepting bribes.Â Can we please just use the correct words?Â Chyna Smith gets the first second chance card of the season and is allowed to come back and do the routine again.Â Amongst those who don’t get the pass are Hero McRae and Patty Ann Miller…no, Patty Ann!Â Please come back next season!Â Then before I catch my breath, Princess Lockeroo is out and I don’t know if I have the will to go on.Â Chyna and Iveta are in the second chance round and they both continue on to Day Two.Â You know, I wonder how they decide what dance style goes first.Â I’m guessing round two would look very different if they started off with Ballroom.
Day Two leads off with Broadway, and Tyce is inexplicably giving interviews in a hoodie.Â Is it cold in the theatre or something?Â At least he’s not wearing that scarf. Â While teaching the steps, he informs the boys that they “are never “holding,” [they] are filling in.Â [They] are filling in with life.”Â Come on, we’re supposed to not think this guy’s a d-bag?Â Lil’ O, the awesome b-boy from New York, is in the first group.Â I hope he makes it through.Â They’re doing “I Gotcha” which I believe is originally from Liza With a Z (gay card? check!), and the choreography is…um…how can I say this nicely…inspiring a feeling of deja vu?Â Lil’ O is through, and I love that Debbie Allen refuses to continue with the nickname tomfoolery and calls him “Virgil.”
Broadway seems to be going fairly well, as Chyna Smith, Jess LoProtto and the Mallory sisters get through.Â I’m calling it now, the last spot in the Top 20 is coming down to those two sisters.Â However, 14 dancers get the boot including Brian “Hollow Dreams” Henry.Â Wow, that nickname just seems mean now.
Day Two continues with Jason Gilkison and a jive.Â We get the obligatory bleeding toe shot courtesy of Chyna…there’s no way this one isn’t Top 20, she’s getting way too much screen time.Â Natalia Mallory is in the first group, and she’s worried about the lifts as she’s not 4 pounds like the rest of the girls.Â My heavens, if she was in any profession but this one she wouldn’t have to constantly hear that she’s zaftig.Â Unless she auditioned for Top Model but I don’t think she’s tall enough.Â The routine does not go well, but the judges take pity and decide to give her a guy who can muscularly handle the dance with her and ask her to perform the routine again.Â Her sister gets through with no problem, and she’s paired with a street dancer by the name of Professor Lock.Â Any relation to Princess Lockeroo?Â Natalia gets through after choreography and I must admit that I’m really starting to like these two.Â Which means the producers are salivating at the thought of tearing them apart for our amusement.
Group choreography is next, and the judges are looking for creativity and entertainment.Â The producers are looking for some cracks in the facade, screaming matches and knife fights and are hurrying any along by depriving the dancers of sleep and forcing them to work with strangers.Â The next morning Natalia is feeling dizzy and is sent to the medic.Â Her group passionately states that they can’t perform without her, because they aren’t a complete family unless she’s there.Â Of course, the editors chose to show this same group of people screaming at each other and crying not three minutes prior.Â The group round goes unprecedentedly well, and only seven dancers are cut before Natalia’s group is up.Â The story for her is starting to change, and Nigel tells her that she’s breaking down barriers by being on the show; the whole group is through to the next round.
Day Three, Contemporary.Â They really need to split this up into two nights and do separate, one hour shows.Â Travis Wall is choreographing with assistance from other past contestants; he says the difficulty is at a 9.Â Ryan Ramirez is sent off to the hospital for pain in her tailbone, but returns with “good” news that it’s “just” deep bruising.Â Bruising so deep she was concerned it was a broken bone.Â She decides to dance and producers rejoice.Â Dancing through pain, dancing through tears, as long as they’re dancing!Â She then proceeds to kill the routine and gets sent through.Â Not through is Chyna, which gives me my first wrong prediction of the season.Â I can guarantee many more.
In the final moments we find out that Kimalee Piedad, Chase Thomas, Amber Williams and Alexis Mason have all been shown the door, while 31 dancers remain in the running, including the Mallory sisters, Lil O and Ryan Ramirez.Â Tomorrow night we find out who they are and get to see them dance together for the first time!
-Did Robin Antin speak?Â She didn’t even cast a vote on Alexis Mason’s solo when she danced for her life.
-For Shanker’s sake, I need this show to go down to an hour.Â This two hour thing is killing me.
-So Alex Wong is…not coming back?
-Your That’s Way Harsh Tai Moment of the Night goes to Nigel for this gem: “If you’re going to through up, turn around and face that way.”
-I assume Lilly Nguyen has been sent home.Â I would like an explanation.