Well, Jeebus Cripes, that was more like it. Not that I’d completely lost my faith in So You Think You Can Dance, mind you, but after Wednesday’s show, my enthusiasm for yet another two-hour SYTYCD audition episode was really beginning to wane — and yes, sports fans, the two-hour epics continue next week. But if they’re anything like last night’s sterling return to form, I’ll gladly continue to gorge myself on this obscene bounty of summer TV deliciousness. Just about everything that was out of whack on Wednesday night was righted back into far more entertaining proportions during the Charleston, S.C., and Washington, D.C., auditions: far more engaging ”stories,” far more outrageous ”disasters,” and far, far, far better dancing — and, in at least one case, all in the same audition!
To make the contrast even more apparent, I’m going to punt a bit and use the same structure as yesterday’s TV Watch — hey, it looks like I could have as many as four more nights of two-hour episodes to cover before we get to the top 20. I gotta pace myself here. So let’s cut the pre-show chit chat, cue music, and D.C.-swing ourselves through this oh so tasty night of TV.
On Wednesday, we had ballroom dancer Chelsie Hightower’s fuzzy tale of woe to launch us into the evening (all those cars! gone!); last night, we began with jazz dancer Sheila Kaiser, a biological-engineering student at the University of Georgia who came to Charleston in the face of her father’s apparently strong disapproval, a hardship far easier to key into. Like Chelsie, Sheila did not disappoint with her audition, bringing a playful and polished showmanship that I hadn’t realized had been largely missing from the season thus far. (And, if you would indulge me a brief digression, I’d just like to get something off my chest right now: Could someone tell me what airline issues those massive Kinko’s creations Nigel is handing out as ”tickets” to Las Vegas?)
After Sheila, though, it wasn’t until day 2 in Charleston that the SYTYCD cameras ventured once more from whatever field of converted warehouses was playing home to the auditions. We saw just enough of Abigail Thurman’s life as a swim teacher to understand what a sweetheart she is, and no more — a perfect setup for her adorable realization she’s really not all that cut out for professional dancing. Before she’d even finished her amateurish routine, she caught a glimpse of Nigel burying his head in his hands and simply just stopped right there, saying with not a small amount of sheepish chagrin, ”Am I that bad? Really?” Nigel assured her she was not a loser, ”just a s— dancer.” ”It’s true,” Abigail replied. ”I really suck at dancing!” (Nigel, of course, could have used a bit of tough love himself before venturing from his hotel room in a rugby shirt and his hair did like Florence Henderson.)
BJ Harris, however, did not suck at dancing, even if I’m not entirely convinced he didn’t truck in an elaborate wire-and-harness system to pull off flopping and tossing his body around the stage like he was a rag-doll marionette. I’ve watched the routine on YouTube at least a dozen times already, and I still haven’t the first clue how BJ managed to lift his body from the floor seemingly just on his tiptoes. There had to be a rope, fishing line, team of microscopic pixies — something lifting the guy up. It’s a shame, really, that BJ couldn’t master the choreography. He told Cat that many friends and family members had helped him get to Charleston; here’s hoping they’ll also help him pay for the dancing classes he needs to make it to Vegas next year.
That’s the kind of support, by the way, that Claire Callaway certainly doesn’t seem to be getting. After an injury felled her during Vegas week in season 2 and a (seemingly unplanned) baby sidelined her from returning for season 3, Claire appeared to have lost all her confidence along with a scary amount of weight. She could barely speak through her sobs after posing her way through her first audition; one wonders whether the 20-year-old will be able to hold it together in Vegas.