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So You Think You Can Dance recap: Less of the Same

Despite some standout performances, the season’s second episode feels like a retread of the premiere

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So You Think You Can Dance

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Mary Murphy
Current Status:
In Season

Harumph. I think last week’s So You Think You Can Dance season premiere spoiled me, dear readers. See, I came away from the episode last night feeling like a guy who’d been really looking forward to the second date, only to be taken to the same restaurant and the same movie as the first date, but this time the food was undercooked and someone had spliced out the best part of the flick. And then somehow the date decided that was all my fault.

I mean, I get it: These audition episodes aren’t about dancing as much as they’re about ”dramatic stories” with ”colorful personalities” and ”the wicked schadenfreude of watching people who think they’re epically awesome get shown up when they’re exposed to be quite less than epically awesome.” Hence the blind dancer Laura Garcia and the full-of-it sex bomb Jonathan Anzalone. Hence the walking Love Boat character Irina Korenkov-Eller. Hence Gold Inferno. But when the stories aren’t that dramatic, the personalities more monochromatic than colorful, and the awful dancers neither all that awful nor all that epically full of themselves, well, I’d just as soon lose one or two of those segments in favor of, you know, good dancing. Instead, with only 15 minutes left in the two hours spent on the auditions in Salt Lake City and Dallas, the producers chose to race through eight or nine seemingly excellent performers, including a woman who Nigel Lythgoe called the ”best female hip-hop dancer we’ve had on the program” — a line, you may recall, that was prominently highlighted in the promos for last night’s show.

I’d love to be able to talk about her, but the powers that be at SYTYCD didn’t even see fit to tell us her name, let alone give us more than a 10-second glance at her apparently unprecedented dancing (which, truth be told, seemed to feature a crotch grab as its signature moment). Hence: Harumph. Since last week I delineated all the reasons I love this show, I think it only fair to break down this episode into its essential elements — the Stories, the Disasters, the Good Dancing — to discuss just what was such a letdown, and what glimmers of hope, however fleeting, shone the brightest.

The Stories

Nigel and Co. certainly didn’t waste any time getting down to the business at hand with their first audition, introducing Chelsie Hightower with some bleating Britney beats and repeated testimony from young Chelsie’s mother and Chelsie herself that she’s ”tough.” Why, once upon a time, her sizable family lost their house and ”several cars.” Several? Do tell! But, no, that vaguely defined hardship was as in-depth as we got with Chelsie; we didn’t even learn why she had to snag someone else’s partner for her audition. (Was her original partner snowed in? Sick with the flu? Felled by Cat Deeley’s spastic go-go fist jiggles? Seems like there could’ve been a good three more minutes wasted on dragging out that drama, eh, Nigel?) Especially considering she was dancing with an unfamiliar partner, Chelsie was impressive — it’s nice to see that ballroom dancing has worked its way from mother Russia to the Rockies — and guest judge Mandy Moore trotted out our second ”star quality” of the season. But whatever became of Chelsie’s ad hoc partner? Did the fist jiggles take him out too?

NEXT: A special moment