Phase 1 of Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance closed out in Atlanta this week. The last stop on this audition tour always brings out some serious hip-hop talent and even the mainstream debut of a few new styles. Am I allowed to be disappointed that not one contestant gave us the “peace up, A-Town down”? That’s the one ATL move I can do. Maybe in another 10 years, crankin’ will have trickled down to an Usher frat party track so we can all get in on it. And until then, let’s leave the hard stuff to Dragon House. Annnnnnnndddd…cue music!
Cat Deeley Scale of Awesomeness
Queen Cat seemed particularly low-key and relaxed this week. She could host this show under a double dose of Nyquil and still be the most charming. Even her style read “kickin’ it” – dig that embellished sweatshirt. She still shined, of course, especially when she gleefully hoisted up a girl who’d just been given her ticket and bemoaned the fact that dancers are now auditioning who started watching the show in elementary school. (“Which makes me 107.”) Please be with us until that day actually comes, Cat. You’ll still be fabulous.
This Week’s “Jidges” Score of Awesome: 10/10. Always a 10, this girl.
Audition of the Night: Ricky Ubeda
Ricky is the dancer who told Cat he grew up watching the show and it makes sense. He’s molded himself into the ideal contestant. This 18-year-old cutie-face will definitely command the teenybopper vote and in this case, I’m fine with it. Ricky’s impeccably finished extensions and impressive power wowed the judges, and he won me over instantly with his music choice. (Coldplay’s “Us Against the World”) Contemporary choreographers are gonna go nuts for him – think about that inevitable Travis Wall number – and he’s certainly got the strength to be a solid partner. Plus, he loves his mama. Gotta love a boy who loves his mama.
Top 20 Material:
I’m so enamored with everything about Angelina Granitz from her goofy demeanor (“Hello, I’m back.”) to her insane control and poise on the floor. But most of all, I’m enamored with her brother, who featured heavily in her pre-audition package and is fine.
Cristina Moya Palacios
No word on whether Nigel finds Cristina to be a “miracle dancer,” but he and the rest of the panel were certainly dazzled by her technique. I’m no expert, but I don’t think she was messing around with the level of difficulty in this routine. From the pirouette that opened up into an arabesque to the sort-of bridge pose with one leg extension, her solo showed that Cristina is in it to win it.
I feel like we’ve seen more jazz auditions than usual this audition tour and I’m not complaining. Mariah opened the show this week with a refreshing solo that was all sass and cool. She can act the crap out of a number without resorting to pulling silly faces. That slow-mo drop into a split made my thighs hurt. She even worked a little tap step in there. I get the feeling that she’s super versatile – we’ll see next week how she handles callback craziness.
Eric “Silky” Moore
Silky is a great dancer and a good man, as I would have gone all Sideshow on Nigel if he rudely cut off my routine right at the start like that. He’s supes presh though, with his purple pants and his “here’s my thing about the ballroom.” He definitely knows how to pick a piece of music and his interpretation of it was so much more than move after move after move. He used the floor, which is an issue with some animators. He got his ticket not just because he’s good at what he does, but because he made an effort in his solo to hint at the other styles he’s “dabbled” in but could really tackle with some instruction.
“Princess Warrior” Marissa Milele wants none of your delicate, frou-frou, music box contemporary, thank you. The routine she showed up with makes it look “like I’m about to fight somebody,” she told Cat, and no that’s no joke. I’m with guest judge Jenna Dewan Tatum, who was totally into it. And look at that body. I like a lady dancer who looks like she could squeeze the life out of a man with her thighs.
Tear Jerk of the Night: Elaine Kimble
Before she danced for the panel, we learned that Elaine’s mother, who is responsible for her dance career, suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed and with an intellectual disability. To make matters worse, the dancer was born with the same hole in her heart that led to her mom’s condition. The term “dance for your life” gets bandied about a lot on SYTYCD, but no one is truly living that like Elaine. Her solo wasn’t as powerful as I or the judges hoped – Nigel guessed that she was holding something back. Hopefully her success in the choreography round will give Elaine the confidence she needs to truly let go in LA.
Best Performance by Someone Not Right For The Show: Jerrod and Kobe Swain
Jerrod also takes the prize for “Most Delightful Cat Interview.” I wrote down almost everything he said in my notes, including “Yeah, Jenna, she straight,” “He out there somewhere,” and my personal favorite, “This is weird.” It IS weird, Jerrod. And exhausting. I’m glad someone finally said so.
Jerrod’s on the older end of the contestant pool and clearly doesn’t have the range of some of the other animators we’ve seen. But we can see through his solo the humor and showmanship girls were responding to at those parties. And he’s passed down his love of dance to little Kobe, who – though also exhausted – woke up for long enough to entertain us with his moves and ring the alarm for ovaries across the country.
Inappropriate Nigel Comment of the Night
I’d be more bitter about Nigel’s antagonizing of Silky if he hadn’t ended up being such a sincere supporter of the little guy. And other than that, he was on fairly good behavior this week. He does, on occasion, try to be a little too much of a comedian during his speeches to the aspiring contestants. And often at Mary’s expense.
INCON: “You’ve seen the improvement since Season 1, just in Mary alone.”
You know what? I’m Team Mary all the way. She knows her shit, she likes to sparkle, and she doesn’t hold anything back. Was this a plastic surgery comment? A weight comment? Something else? It’s so vaguely insulting that it’s not even a good joke. Sit down, Nigel.
The Mary Murphy Tamale Level of Screaming
Mary feels the same way about Miami boy little Ricky as I do. “ARE YA NUTS?” she asks him, before bestowing her only “WOO WOO!” of the night. Also, did I detect a smidgen of side eye when Jenna took it upon herself to load someone onto the Hot Tamale Train? That train’s got only one conductor, Jenna. And it’s not you.
Tamale Level: 4/10. Get ready for LA and the live shows, cause you know Mary will be TURNT UP.
- ‘Lil Buck has a great face for reaction gifs. I think he fell a little bit in love with jazz Mariah. He wears his heart on his sleeve. And his face.
- Kelly MacCoy? No.
- Mr. Strange was alriiiiight, but could we be hitting the bottom of the well with Dragon House? And then there was the angry guy with the top hat, who was so rude that the entire crew felt the need to apologize for him. Nigel is their biggest fan and isn’t going to hold it against them, but they didn’t make quite the showing they have in the past few years.
- Aw, I want to be best friends with Fik-Shun. But I’d make him teach me how to partner. ‘Cause that was atrocious.
- Congratulations to Jenna Dewan Tatum for being a fun and perceptive guest judge and for hitting this ON THE REG.
- Props to that girl who wanted to make it clear to us all that she wasn’t “a peasant.”
- So much lyrical hip-hop this season and not much hard hitting stuff at all. I want to see NappyTabs make some of these guys get down deep into the floor.
- Kathryn and Markooooooo.
- “I love ballerinas.” Sigh. We know, Nigel.
- The Jungle Boogie crew plans to “Educate,” “motivate,” and…exterminate?
By this time next week, we’ll have our Top 20! Who are you rooting for, readers?