Well that was a relief, wasn’t it? A common refrain in the comment boards about Wednesday night’s two-hour audition episode of So You Think You Can Dance was the lack of any auditions that demanded we snatch up the DVR remote to watch it again. Well, I don’t know about you, but I rewatched two routines from last night’s stellar Los Angeles auditions — well, actually three, and more on all of them in a bit. Host Cat Deeley called Los Angeleese the season’s “most talented city,” and the hour-long episode — which, with rare exception, showcased a thrilling gamut of female talent from start to finish — left me with the overall feeling that season 8 could be shaping up to be a solid year for the show indeed.
Granted, it took some time for that feeling to blossom. Our first audition of the night, from Jordan Casanova, was to my eye a series of sexy leg extensions, groin thrusts, and come-hither gazes, with barely any actual, you know, dancing. The judges, however, could not get enough of her. “One of the hottest performances I have ever seen!” raved Mary Murphy. “I don’t even have words,” gushed guest judge, “Emmy winning” Tyce DiOrio, who then proceeded to prove himself wrong and right at the same time: “Naughty, naughty, naughty girl! That’s number one. And number two, it was like [grunting] AAWWWHHHHH!” (I typed “SHUT UP TYCE” into my notes before Jordan had even finished her routine, a new record.) As for Nigel Lythgoe, he dutifully avoided coming across like “some dirty old man,” betraying his interest in the 18-year-old Jordan with just a cocked eyebrow; then he praised her ability to grab our attention, which is a little bit like praising a fire hose for getting you wet. I actually rewatched Jordan’s routine just before I started writing this recap to be sure my first impression wasn’t crazy; it wasn’t. Jordan snagged a ticket to Vegas anyway, so maybe she’ll prove me wrong. Or maybe it will turn out that Las Vegas is exactly where she belongs. (Okay, that was harsh; and didn’t I just give Chase “Black Hot Pants” Thomas a pass on his just a’ight dancing yesterday ’cause he was only wearing black hot pants? Well, yes. But Chase didn’t wag his caboose at the judges, either. I should move on. Moving on.)
Derion “D.C.” Chapman was also on the receiving end of some dubious hyperbole by the judges, especially from Mary Murphy, who declared his trick-filled hip-hop routine “the most entertaining thing I’ve ever seen.” (If that is true, it is the saddest thing I have ever heard…in the last six hours.) But the expectant father gets a pass, in part since his audition was definitely fun and engaging and not once evoked a stripper pole. Mostly, though, I would’ve handed him a ticket to Vegas after the brief, brilliant moment when he made Nigel cool by teaching him the “Cat Daddy.” See, you’ve got to roll the (imaginary) wheelchair, i.e. skirt it, and then you dip it deep while skirting, which I can barely pick up let alone sound cool merely writing about it, but Nigel was able to grasp almost immediately. It was actually quite impressive.
But the hour didn’t really get going until Arielle Coker took to the stage. A serial SYTYCD auditioner (she’d tried out for seasons 4, 5, and 7), Nigel gave her a dismissive, “Oh, you again” wave before she began, but his attitude flipped right around almost immediately. Put simply: Arielle actually pulled off what the judges kept saying Jordan had done. Arielle was sexy, powerful, grabbed your attention immediately and did not let it go until she was done, and she actually danced. This was my first gotta-watch–that-again-right–now routine of the night; it’s not for nothing that several SYTYCD alumni (like Brandon, Comfort, Legacy, and tWitch) gave her a standing O. Arielle sailed through to Vegas, and I’m personally hoping I get to type her name many times over for the rest of the summer.
I’m going to jump a touch out of chronology for a moment, just so I can get Santa Klaus krumper Joe “Big C” Doyle out of the way: He came, he kinda krumped, he ripped off his shirt, he showed off his “six pack,” he had Tyce rightly asking, “What are you trying to do to people,” and, as he left, he caused Mary to observe, “That’s the first time we’ve had a Santa.” He was also the only “bad” audition of the night, and rightly so, since L.A. was bursting with so much exciting talent that I didn’t really mind the multiple montages that blew through dancers praised as “special” and “a star.”
NEXT: And then a Hero comes along…