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So You Think You Can Dance recap: The Real Dancers of Atlanta

The Hotlanta auditions were characterized by poignant back stories, modest talent, and a few time wasters

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Kelsey McNeal/Fox

So You Think You Can Dance

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

A few weeks ago, I logged onto my Gmail. Bored, lonely, and tired of discussing the latest Matlock re-run with my cat, I decided to start chatting with a friend and asked her what she was up to. ”I’m in New Orleans,” she typed. ”It’s so amazing here.” As I read her words, I looked down at my legs — covered with a pair of Diet Coke-stained sweatpants — which were cradling a bowl of plain Uncle Ben’s rice. Naturally, seeing myself in such a state, I immediately began feeling bad for myself. Why must I cope with sitting in my apartment like some sort of a boring jamoke while my friend gets to enjoy the awesomeness that is New Orleans?

Why do I bring this up? Because I felt a bit of déjà vu viewing last night’s Atlanta-set episode of SYTYCD. After an hour of watching the average performances I’ve come to expect this season, the show teased the New Orleans auditions. And holy gumbo, some of the dancing in the Big Easy looked incredible, for once. But, unfortunately, since I do not boast the stamina of one Adam B. Vary, another lovely writer, Allyssa Lee, will be covering the New Orleans episode tomorrow, as well as this season’s Wednesday results shows. (I’ll still be giving you my take on Tuesday night performances.) So welcome her tomorrow by throwing her some beads! (You won’t get the desired results, sorry.)

So before I get too sad about my absence tomorrow, let’s talk about last night’s episode. But wait a tick — now, instead of getting upset about missing you all, I’m getting all verklempt about the episode! Boy, did they cram a lot of inspiration down our throats in that last half-hour or what? Somewhere around 10 p.m. EST, I suddenly felt like I should, I don’t know, climb a mountain something. Then I was forced to nix the thought after remembering that New York City’s highest point is The New York Public Library — at least according to The Day After Tomorrow rules. Anyway, first off, we had Jessica Jensen, a dancer that Cat branded as SYTYCD‘s ”bravest” contestant yet. (How many times have we heard that?) Of course, even if Jessica wasn’t the bravest, she certainly had gumption. Just over one year ago, the dancer lost her hand to soft tissue sarcoma. And not only does the girl have a sense of humor about her tragedy — she told Cat she made a joke to another contestant about gnawing off her fingers — but she danced beautifully. Strangely enough, Jessica’s strongest suit as a dancer was her upper body. Her gracefulness, and the way she was able to align her body so her missing hand wasn’t as obvious, really impressed the judges, and yours truly. She definitely was lacking in strength in her lower body — you could see her legs shaking while trying to maintain her developé — so I believe Nigel, Mary, and Lil’ C (as guest judge) were smart to put her through to choreography. Perhaps she fell behind, or perhaps the judges realized how difficult it might be to ask other dancers to conform to her disability, but she ultimately was denied a ticket to Vegas. Too bad — the girl had talent, with drive to match, even if she wasn’t close to top 20 caliber.

NEXT: Back story and talent? We’re in.

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