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So You Think You Can Dance season premiere recap: Mile High Groove

The season kicks off in New York and Denver, where the judges encounter tear-jerking inspiration, some season 4 favorites, and same sex ballroom dancers

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Glenn Watson/FOX

So You Think You Can Dance

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

It never fails. For three months, I cover American Idol for this website, a truly fun gig that nonetheless turns me into a hollow shell of a man, especially by the time I reach the back-to-back near-all-nighters required while reporting the Tuesday and Wednesday night two-part Idol finale extravaganza. So I always trudge into the Thursday night season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance bone tired, and the notion of weathering yet another near-all-nighter to recap yet another televised performance competition show fills me with cold, unforgiving dread.

And then So You Think You Can Dance begins, and all that melts away. My heart opens, my brain awakens, and I laugh, grin, clap and curse the TV with far more unabashed enthusiasm than I ever could muster during even the best days covering Idol. Watching the New York and Denver auditions last night reminded me all over again why I adore this show, and in what’s become a bit of a tradition for my first SYTYCD TV Watch of the season, I thought I would highlight a few of the big reasons how it can revive my weary pop-culture heart like a shot of pure adrenaline. For starters…

Even when it’s royally pissing you off, the show’s at least up front about why
Well, okay, before I can wax poetic about SYTYCD, I do need to dive into what went down with same-sex ballroom couple Misha Belfer and Mitch Kiber. Now, I have to admit that at first I thought their guy-on-guy partnership was just a stunt to get on TV, an impression that wasn’t helped by the producers decision to introduce them by playing ”It’s Raining Men,” and their decision to wear costumes that accentuated their conspicuously waxed chests. Subtle. But watching these handsome 26-year-olds work through their routine and talk about their eight month collaboration — how Mitch, who’s straight, joined up with Misha, who’s gay, after Mitch and his female partner parted ways — I realized they were at the very least earnest dancers who took what they do seriously, and deserved to be treated as such. Which is to say, their Denver audition started off well before dissolving into awkwardness and a pretty harsh fall — a consequence of trying lifts that work with a female partner who weighs significantly less than a male dancer does. But that’s not why these guys bothered Nigel Lythgoe. After a crack about how they were like watching Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory, Nigel told the two men, ”I think you probably alienate a lot of our audience.”

My first reaction, of course, was to scream at the TV, ”Exactly what audience do you think watches your dancing competition show, Nigel?!” My ire abated a bit as Mary Murphy gave the guys an honest critique about how their decision to continually switch off on who led and who followed was confusing — but then I blew my top all over again after Nigel sent the duo off to the choreography round with this lovely parting shot: ”I’d like to see you both dancing with a girl… You never know, you might enjoy it, too.” I can’t reprint what I yelled at the TV at that point.

NEXT: We’re inspired (but not by that Star Wars chick)