Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


So You Think You Can Dance season premiere recap: Season 11 premiere

Auditions begin in New Orleans and Chicago with many dancers returning from past seasons, or just earlier in the hour

Posted on

So You Think You Can Dance 01

So You Think You Can Dance

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

I don’t know what Lana Del Rey was talking about — how can you have any summertime sadness when So You Think You Can Dance is on? I could scream with excitement, but won’t — so as to not upstage Ms. Mary Murphy. She and Nigel Lythgoe return once again as judges this year, with another rotating turn of celebrities joining them throughout the season. I would happily argue that this is the best way to do judging on a reality show like this. It keeps the show interesting each week by bringing in fresh perspectives and eyes, and at least the celebs all have a dance background of some kind. So yes: Jenna Elfman, former ballerina, is more than qualified.

Cat reminds us that since this is season 11, the show has been for a decade now. How the sashays fly! I wonder how many times they’ll make two dancers replicate the number 11 this season too. So far: 1

Before we can get to the top 20 athletes of dance, we must travel the country for the best dancers. The premiere takes us to New Orleans and (briefly) Chicago with Wayne Brady and Jenna Elfman respectively sharing their critiques — or in Brady’s case, getting in a quick Zumba class. Fans of the show should note one change to the format: After the dancers perform their solos, they will either be sent home immediately, sent through to the choreography round for another chance or given a ticket directly to…Pasadena. For some reason, the callbacks aren’t in Vegas this year. I guess “You’re going to Pasadena!” doesn’t have the same ring to it, so they’re pretty much just giving out tickets without really mentioning the destination. Of course people keep forgetting that they’re going to the home of the Rose Bowl rather than Sin City. For the purposes of this recap, we’ll just call the next step Hollywood.

Now that we got that out of the way, cue the music!

Shelby Rase, 18: For the first audition of the season, teenager Shelby performed a stunning balletic dance to an acoustic version of “Wake Me Up” by Aloe Blacc. But let’s be honest: She’ll end up being more memorable for her father, whom she also claimed was a dancer. In typical Nigel form, he invited the dad onstage to perform his “bottle dance.” But this isn’t the typical Fiddler on the Roof style dance — it’s essentially a grown man twerking above a plastic water bottle. Luckily, his daughter’s dancing skills were of a much different genre, and all three judges loved it. Next Stop: Hollywood

Tanisha Belnap, 19: Tanisha is one of 12 siblings, so it must have been hard for her to be able to express herself artistically as a child. Psych! All 11 of her brothers and sisters are also dancers, so this runs in their blood. That must be some groovy blood. Tanisha performed a sexy and sassy ballroom number that Wayne called “ridiculous.” Definitely ridiculous: The impressive tumbling skills Tanisha incorporate into her dance…all in heels! Mary was quick to note that many dancers from Utah, like Tanisha, have started adding more contemporary elements into their ballroom. Though Nigel would have preferred to seen her with a partner (doesn’t he always), he still was impressed by her technique. Next Stop: Hollywood

NEXT: Brotherly love