OK, we've been to Charleston, Chicago, New York and LA searching for the country's best dancers. We found a veritable army of crazies and a handful of mindblowlingly amazing dancers, good enough to send to Las Vegas for the first real round of the competition. Today that's what we're going to see - 116 dancers, One week at the Aladdin hotel. Only 10 guys and 10 girls will move on to the high-stakes part of the competition.
Day one - 7am
Everyday the dancers learn one routine from one choreographer, then show their stuff at the end of the day and get scored by a panel of judges. If they score well, they move on. If they do poorly, they get the boot. If they do it half-way they get a chance to "dance for their life," which is the last chance to show the judges you don't suck before you get sent back to Omaha or wherever you come from.
Claire Calloway - SYTYCD's version of Kelly Pickler - is doing well in the hip hop zone despite a freakish foot injury. Now it's time to line them up and distribute the points. Nigel is not impressed. Not a single dancer in this line-up scored over a 6 (out of 15 possible points). Truly abysmal. Nigel says in any other circumstance they would all be cut, but since it was the first routine of the Vegas auditions, he's giving them a little slack --a chance to make it up in the ballroom portion.
Some classic drama coming-up. Lynn Rae is late for the ballroom pairing. It seems she thought it was some kind of date and took an hour to get ready. She makes it just in time, running down the aisle doing her hair. This is a where a trip and fall would score some real points for this writer.
Here's something I did not expect to see, but at the same time wasn’t at all surprised. Ballroom choreographer Mary Murphy has brought back a certain English-impaired shirtless Russian heartthrob from last season to aid in her choreography demonstration. Ten points for those of you who guessed Artem. He winks and smiles at a passing camera. I guess the off-season has been good to him.
The kids have had an hour of samba ballroom training, time to see who flounders in this most delicate of dances. 35 dancers get cut with a nice selection of pithy remarks from the judges. Brian Friedman's subtly morbid "this is the end for you…" takes first place for me.
Claire "busted foot" Calloway is through to the next round. I'm going to rescind my Pickler comparison comment, it's only the hair color. Thus begins the hot streak, loads of good dancers going through. Dancer-come-lately Lynn Rae gets the bad news about her bad scores, but they want to have her back at the end of the day for one last chance. Cut to Lynn Rae with a cigarette and a bottle of water hyperventilating and crying in the hallway. The expression "looks like you need a drink" comes to mind.
Here comes the vision of desperation -- "the dance for your life" round. First off Ryan Sabado of Hawaii. Even more desperate than I could have imagined, he's stripping, then does a double back-handspring thing only to land right on his head. Back to the pineapple fields for Ryan.
What Lynn Rae Hiers lacks in dangerous stunts, she makes up for with unbridled madness. This is the girlfriend you don't break up with without calling the police first. She does this desperately pitiful shakedown of a dance that looks like she is being cattle-prodded by a ghost, not to mention she's scrawled misspelled sayings all over her uncovered skin with a magic marker. She gets the boot, the crazy for fun part of the show is over.
81 dancers remain with only 6 hours of sleep in the tank. Mia Michaels is the Choreog du Jour. This promises to be emotional and thoroughly confusing if Mia sticks to her usual regiment of expressive lyrical style we saw last season. Mia claims this dance is one the street dancers can really work, all 4 of them. Three of the Six Step Crew are on the chopping block. Chris is going home, Hawk is sticking around. Street machine Musa Cooper will be dancing for his life as well as swing boy Benji Schwimmer. Meanwhile Claire "busted foot" Calloway is off to the hospital.
Musa pulls some truly unique moves to save himself with room to spare. Now Benji is up on the death block with his pink-clad glitz-out cousin partner dancing to a freaked-out James Brown mix. He nails the hell out of it as expected and it's all yes's.
Claire "busted foot" Calloway is getting the straight truth from Grandpa Nigel about her future in the competition. She truly can't continue in her current shape, so Nigel says she can come back next year and jump in at the same place in the competition. That's a pretty big gift from Nigel. I'll be here to hold him to it.
Time for Brian Friedman's class which guarantees to be very difficult for all the dancers involved, especially with his unique brand of Batman-like percussive sounds-offs. The no's are rolling in, but here come the New Yorkers, filled with all that pizza and false bravado New York is famous for out west. Another casualty -- Russian sex-pot Julia passes out after she forgets the choreography and is promptly carted off to the ER for what should be an emergency psych eval.
Six Step Crew member Hawk gets some heavy emotional comments from the judges, including that tough street love Shane Sparks is famous for. Cat Deeley swoops in to talk it out with a very emotional Hawk. Meanwhile Nigel asks for all those continuing on to trot onstage and listen-up. Nigel assumes the Dad pose and says the next day is going to be hell, each dancer getting just one chance to impress with a solo routine.
Only 10 boys and 10 girls are going on to Hollywood and this is where the judges decide… but not ‘til the next show. Bring your tissues and Daddy issues, it's going to be fun.
Nigel Lythgoe shares his feelings about the first round of eliminations.