Altogether now: Chbeeb! Chbeeb! CHBEEB! On a night when the Los Angeles and Seattle auditions for Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance looked a heckuva lot like the auditions for Season 4, the return of liquid-limbed, ample-lipped Phillip Chbeeb was by far the most welcome repeat contender. And not just by me: Between Chbeeb’s season 3 audition, season 4 audition, and dance-off appearance on last year’s season 4 finale, judge Nigel Lythgoe clearly felt the Chbeeb had more than earned his place at Vegas week and gave the kid his novelty ticket before he’d even finished warming up. Just in case you wondered if Nigel had foolishly jumped the gun, the pop-locker danced anyways, partnering with his, er, ”friend” Arielle Coker, a contemporary dancer who was easily outshone by the Chbeeb’s impressive ability to solidify his skeleton just long enough to effortlessly lift her from the stage. Fortunately for him, his upstaging didn’t keep Arielle from going to Vegas, where the Chbeeb will no doubt continue his campaign to Duckie his way into Arielle’s heart.
In Vegas, the Chbeeb will meet fellow returning season 4 auditioners Brandon Bryant, Natalie Reid, Janette Manara, Evan Kasprzak, Bianca Revels and Asuka Kondoh. You’ve got one third of a possible Season 5 Top 20 right there. Indeed, since everyone listed above (save the Chbeeb) made last season’s Top 40 only to miss the cut for the Top 20, it almost makes one wonder why Nigel and Co. didn’t just take those 20 dancers and make them this season’s Top 20. I’m not really sure if what I just wrote made any sense, but that’s okay, since I don’t really believe it anyhow. It was certainly exciting to see Bianca Revels’ top-notch tap routine at the start of the show, but unlike Wednesday night’s tapper Eric ”Silky” Moore, she didn’t quite demonstrate that she’s capable of extending her virtuosity into other genres. And other than her come hither glances, I was at a loss for why the judges gushed over Asuka Kondoh’s slightly stiff and unconnected ballroom routine with her more engaging partner Ricky Sun.
The two-hour evening did manage to showcase a few new dancers who didn’t smell of slightly stale leftovers. Not only did red-haired pop locker Sammy Ramirez ooze charisma, but after he mentioned he’d been a wrestler before he took up dancing, he even coaxed Cat Deeley to unleash her inner WWE diva — which was surprisingly not as much of a stretch for the host as I would’ve thought. At least she was already sporting the necessary tasseled, knee-high boots. (Match them with the billowing brown poncho she wore on day one of the L.A. auditions, and I’d say Cat could have a go at joining G.L.O.W. as the Hot Potato. Who’s with me?) Kelsea Taylor and Kuponohi’ipoi Aweau, meanwhile, both brought some quirky-jerky kool to the otherwise soggy Seattle auditions. (Get it? Soggy? In case you didn’t notice it was raining in Seattle? As was explained to us by the dancers forced to scream ”it’s raining!” while holding umbrellas, while standing in the pouring rain?) I especially enjoyed how much judge Mia Michaels was into Pono’s look, given that they’d both apparently had their hair done by the same Scandinavian elf responsible for the signature coifs of pop star Robyn and budding pop star Adam Lambert.
And, of course, there was 17-year-old Nathan Trasoras, whose Los Angeles audition may have been the most effortlessly spectacular solo routine I’ve seen on the show since the likes of Danny Tidwell in Season 3. So, obviously, he was too young to compete. Thank jeebus Nigel had the presence of mind to upgrade Nathan’s novelty ticket for a Vegas berth on Season 6, which, due to Fox’s clear desire to never let the poor folks at 19 Entertainment sleep again, is already commencing auditions for a start this fall.
And that was pretty much it. I mean, I guess I could include Amanda Kerby among last night’s standouts given that she earned a ticket to Vegas straightaway, but Nigel himself admitted that she was put through based more on her TV-camera appeal than her scattered dancing. Otherwise, all the other Vegas-bound dancers were relegated to drive-by appearances. There was the Scarf Lift With Foot Chick, the One Sock Dancer Dude, the Naughty Ballerina, the Grey Hotpants Girl, the White Hoodie Guy, and the Orange Bandana Boy, who Nigel said he has ”high hopes” for — just not enough to, you know, tell us the kid’s name. At least Alexie Aydeppa (all limbs) and Diana Vaden (all legs) got themselves a chyron, something I doubt Chanel Smith is thrilled about given her most memorable camera time was spent gaping at the precise nanosecond her dreams crumbled down around her.
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