It’s spring, dance-lovers, and that means season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance is underway. To quote our favorite judge, Mary Murphy: “WOOOOOOO!”
The show, which kicked off last night, is just as exciting (and alarming) as ever. From jagged hip-hop and quirky contemporary moves to horrific, crash-and-burn injuries, last night’s premiere brought out the scary—and the amazing. Gorgeous host Cat Deeley isn’t kidding when she says the dancers keep getting better. This show set an incredibly high bar (or would that be barre?) in the first season and that continues to rise.
The first stop on their audition tour had dancers lining up outside the Orpheum Theatre in downtown. As season 4 finalist Twitch says, “You see all the people and you know you’re forced to stand out.” Thus commenced the funky isolations, undulations, contortions, and tutus.
Judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe were joined by Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson who proved funny and insightful. He and Nigel looked dapper in their bow ties, which weren’t a Doctor Who homage (bow ties are cool) but a show of support for Jesse’s Tie the Knot charity.
The evening started strong with 18-year-old Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall, whose freaky popping and locking was sharp, clean, and hysterically funny. We cackled right along with Mary. Fantastic musicality too, as certain movements fit perfectly with the music. The judges agreed, sending him to Vegas.
Elijah Laurant gave a unique, androgynous solo, peering eerily over the tutu around his neck. He wowed the judges, and Mary said “I’ll never forget that piece right now.” (Ummm…what?) While his technique was strong, he lacked polish, so it was a surprise when they sent him straight through to Vegas.
The night’s moment of horror happened when Taylor Ward’s knee buckled while she was warmping up. We’re squeamish, and the SYTYCD producers replayed that awful moment six times, four of them in slow-motion. Taylor has apparently dislocated her knee before and it popped itself back into place, so this wasn’t shades of Kevin Ware. But it was a bizarre scene. Her knee looked like John Hurt’s chest in Alien. It had a mind of its own. We wouldn’t have been surprised if it started singing “Hello, Ma Baby.” It might have hurt viewers more than it hurt her. She gave a beautiful, if careful, audition, and after choreography made it to Vegas. That’s what great dancers do: They make it look easy.
We also saw moments from other dancers including two European ballroom dancers and several b-boys, one of whom we suspect we’ll see in the top 20. Let’s hope tonight’s audition in Detroit is equally exciting, and without the stomach-churning injuries.