So You Think You Can Dance is taking its act to Detroit this week, with Paula, Jason, and Nigel back in the judges’ seats—where, according to Cat, “they’ll remain from day one all the way to the finale.” She sounds really thrilled about that. Get used to your new judges, America—they’ll be with you until everything you love is dust.
It’s -2 degrees outside and Cat sounds like she’s sick, so let’s heat this up.
Christine Shepard, 18 (Team Stage): Is it too soon to have a favorite? Christine is adorable. She lets the music hit her in all of the right ways, her spirit is completely unforced, and she knows she’s got the hair for this. Paula calls her “a bright light, a breath of fresh air, hashtag everything,” because she left American Idol before people said “hashtag,” not that anyone should ever say “hashtag.” But she’s right. The judges praise the nuances in Christine’s performance and the African vibe that she brought to her routine. Christine praises Jason Derulo’s distractingly attractive face. Christine is going to Vegas.
Kenya “Standing O” Sutton, 29 (Team Street): Kenya is known in Michigan as the “Queen of Detroit,” and she earns the title. Every pop in her routine is so sharp that she’s got Paula yelling “YESSS” 10 seconds in. (Paula is really working the Internet-speak today.) The audience gives a standing O to “Standing O,” and Jason calls her routine sexy. In one of the most surprisingly sweet moments of the night, Nigel asks Kenya why she never auditioned before. She tells him that she didn’t want to fool herself—she figured that the judges would overlook her style, and she didn’t have training in anything else. This is where, for all of its emphasis on competition, the show’s new format starts to feel more inclusive. Kenya is going to Vegas.
And now for two people who met at auditions last year and got engaged two weeks later. Sadly, their audition is not a joint performance set to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” (Missed opportunities, guys.)
Kelly MacCoy, 19 (Team Stage): Kelly reminds me of the kind of girl who might steal your man in an episode of Boy Meets World. I think it’s the braided half-up hairstyle that does it. She performs an emotive contemporary routine, and while her arms feel a little sloppy sometimes, her legs and footwork are strong. Nigel says that she reminds him of Ginger Rogers. (He also assumes that she doesn’t know who Ginger Rogers is. She’s a dancer, Nigel.) Paula compliments her connection to the piece. Kelly is going to Vegas.
Tyrell Noll, 21 (Team Street): Will Kelly’s fiance be joining her in Vegas? And if not, where will we find our Romeo and Juliet stage vs. street love story? He’d better be good. Tyrell is… okay. He’s not the sharpest animator (though he describes his style as freestyle rather than animation), but he’s graceful—the kind of street dancer you’d expect to surprise everyone when he gets a contemporary number. Tyrell also picks a slow song for his audition, which Paula thinks is an intelligent choice. She loves him for telling a story.
Nigel disagrees. He’s seen the dancing done before and done better. Tyrell is quick to say that he understands, but when Paula defends him, he defends himself: “Dance is about showing emotion and pouring your heart out on the stage.” Nigel Lythgoe doesn’t need dance defined for him any more than Kelly needed Ginger Rogers defined for her. After a dramatic pause, tie-breaker Jason gives the routine two thumbs up. He liked the acting. Tyrell is going to Vegas. Romeo and Juliet live on (for now—we know how this ended for Shakespeare).
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