Cat Deeley is back with her bullhorn so I’m all a quiver. On the second episode of So You Think Can Dance, the poor woman is outside with the waiting dancers in the kind of cold that makes your nostrils freeze together. She looks rather cute in a scarf and woolen cap, though. Inside, Judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are waiting, as is guest judge Mandy Moore. (My TV girlfriend Mia Michaels is absent because she’s spending the night at my house.)
The Salt Lake City auditions start with Chelsie Hightower, who is the subject of the first of many background stories we’ll hear. (I don’t mind knowing about their life outside of dance but I hate being manipulated. It’s reality TV, though — I’ve gotta buck up.) We find out that she has a poor but supportive family. Her dance classes are expensive and one month, her folks couldn’t cover the fee so her older brother did. All right, I’m crying already and she hasn’t even started. No fair. I really want to like her and you know what? I do. A ballroom dancer who can look that good with a borrowed partner – some guy she didn’t even know beforehand – should go right through to Vegas and indeed, she does.
Brett Banford isn’t your typical dancer: He’s got Downs Syndrome and he’s there to “represent for people with disabilities.” Of course we root for him although it’s clear he’s not at a professional level. He tells Cat Deeley that he loves her. Get in line, darlin’.
The next dancer is Michael Moore and no, not the guy who does the documentaries. He’s from a family of Native American dancers. However, his frenetic hip-hop doesn’t cut it. He was totally cool with the feedback, though, even commenting, “Holy crap, that was bad!”
Contestant Robert Taylor falls on the side of his face. I hope he has a good dentist. And it’s so icy outside that Deeley takes a fall too. Quick, some big strong butch, catch her!
Lindsey Judkins does her thing to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and damn, she’s good. She’s got legs up to her eyeballs and a beautiful smile. Speaking of her eyes, they’re open scary-wide too much of the time. Lythgoe advises her to dial it back a bit and she agrees. They send her to Vegas.
After a commercial break, they do a montage to “Love and Marriage” that features, uh, the marriages and women gushing about wedded bliss. Oh yeah, we’re in Salt Lake City. If this was California, baby … but it’s not. One guy has seven kids and I don’t think he’s even out of his 20’s. He can’t remember all of their names at first. Dude, time to stop having ‘em.
Auditioner Nicole Downer brought her four adorable kids. When the infant gently falls over she grabs him and laughingly cracks that she’s a good mother. Too bad she’s not a good dancer. The judges like her personality and she seems fine with their critical comments.
The last dancer of the day is Kelli Baker. She’s a beautiful red head who’s under a wee bit of pressure because her mother is well-known choreographer Bonnie Story (High School Musical). I love her graceful movements and damn, what wonderful control! Moore said she felt goose bumps during her routine. Me too. She’s through to Vegas.
The choreography round happens and several are sent to Vegas, including one adorable swishy muscular boy who pants, “Oh my god! Oh my god!”
The next day starts out with a lackluster performance from someone who does “financial advising” and “acting.” While she’s a horrible dancer, the judges are far meaner to her than they have to be, Lythgoe even going so far as to say she was wasting their time. Dial it back, Lythgoe — someone on your staff put her through. (All of those hundreds waiting for auditions can’t all be seen by the judges, you know there’s got to be some pre-selection going on.)
We see another montage of lots of awkward moves from awkward dancers, causing me to feel, well, awkward. A host of alternative careers are presented: Some are going to law school, some to study criminal justice, some just need to go back to school to learn to do something besides dance on national TV.
Ryann Race is next and the moment he says he’s a strip club DJ I think, uh huh, he’s gonna suck. His fluid hip hop style is pretty good, though. Murphy calls him cool and groovy. They send him to the choreography round.
Where are the ladies? Ah! Here we go … Kortney Pearson and Shelly Stringham are friends. Best! Friends! They got married at the same time, they’re getting divorced at the same time, they teach a fitness class together, they’re both blonde, they scream the same way. Best! Friends! They audition separately and while they seem a bit stiff to me, the judges like them well enough to put them through to the choreography round. When they find out, they hug tightly and while it’s not exactly girl on girl real stuff, it’s cute. I like it when women support each other like that.
The second choreography round happens and Lythgoe does a fake out with Race, making him think he’s blown it but yeah, yeah, he’s GOING TO VEGAS. And oh! His mom is there to pat his shoulder as he cries. Pearson and Stringham make it and much squealing ensues. I mean, they can out squeal Murphy. Sixteen contestants go on to Vegas.
Next auditions move to Dallas, where it’s also cold but not snow-and-ice-Utah cold. Deeley is in a cute scarf again and holding that bullhorn. I do love a femme who’s in control but then, aren’t we all, really?
The guest judge for this round is Adam Shankman. His credits include Hairspray and he’s worked with Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and a host of others. A wee bit poofy if you ask me, I mean, Hairspray? Yeah, and all male hairdressers are straight.
Perky Paige Jones is a beauty pageant babe in a sequined top. Her apartment is pink! She got straight A’s the last two semesters! She has shelves of pageant trophies! She’s … nauseating. But not a bad dancer, once you get used to her hurt-your-eyes smile. The judges send her to the choreography round.
Popper Joshua Allen is next and he’s got a solid routine including a roll that starts from his belly, moves up to his head and then back again with a snap in his hips. There must be an alien inside his clothes. (Isn’t that cheating?) He’s off to the choreography round.
Last for the day is Cassidy Corder. It’s cool that a white girl is there to pop-and-lock and while she has a few tricks, her performance is lacking.
For the next day, they show a bunch of too-quick clips of great dancers including someone one of the judges says is one of the best female hip hoppers they’ve seen. Huh? Show more, dammit! I think I’m in love. (My TV girlfriend won’t mind, will she?)
After the choreography round we find out that Allen makes it through and so does Jones. Then we see a montage of people doing their happy dances ‘cause they’re going to Vegas and it’s not just to fill up at cheap buffets and pump quarters into the slots. It ends with a group shot that looks a little too rehearsed, with Pearson and Stringham (the best friends) staying behind to scream just a little more.
The previews for tomorrow’s show flash across the screen. Just as I’m about to hit the off button, they show a bellydancer — my people! Ooh, I’m trembling in anticipation. Y’all tune in tomorrow for more auditions, ‘k?