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So You Think You Can Dance 4×01: LA Auditions

I LOVE SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!!! I have missed it. You may have been able to discern a creeping apathy towards American Idol over the past few months, what with the lack of posting and all. Some of that was due to busyness, yes, but some of it was also I didn’t feel like putting up with it when it was actually on. But I feel nothing but excitement for SYTYCD. Let’s hope it keeps up. There is one note of apprehension about this season, and that is that apparently Wade Robson is no longer doing the show (perhaps he’s doing a group number, but not being a judge?), and neither is Shane Sparks. That pretty much leaves Mia Michaels as the only choreographer who consistently wows me. But we’ll see.

Here’s a handy list I made watching tonight for why SYTYCD is better than AI. And this is just from the auditions:

  • The audition section isn’t a joke. Yes, they have their share of terrible and funny dancers, but the humor is not as mean as on AI. The focus is always on the audition itself rather than backstage shenanigans/sob stories, which means you get a good sense of individual auditions rather than just a montage of clips separated by three or four longer numbers. And the ratio of good auditions to bad ones is much higher.
  • Cat Deeley. She’s beautiful, she’s British, she’s genuine, and she knows how to host without hogging all the screen time. I swear, she was on-screen tonight for a total of about four minutes, in a two-hour time slot. Ryan is on-screen probably 1/3 of the show, taking time away from the people we’re supposed to be watching.
  • The human interest stories aren’t played as much for sobs and feel more sincere. One auditioner tonight was visually impaired, and while she didn’t get through, the judges all struck a sincere note of gratitude for her attempt and inspiration while being honest that she didn’t have a chance in the competition.
  • I’ve said it twice: sincerity. I believe the judges, especially Mia, when they say things, or when they’re moved to tears. I do not believe Randy, Paula, and Simon anymore. They aren’t sincere anymore.
  • Relatedly, the judges care about this, and they’re having fun with it, too. Especially this year, the AI judges don’t seem to be having fun anymore. If you look back at earlier AI seasons, even Simon seemed to be enjoying many of the auditions, good and bad. Now he’s just bored and frustrated most of the time. I love Simon, I really do, but something’s gone wrong…maybe just time for a judge switch or something. (Interestingly, he seems to have far more fun on the British version, The X-Factor, than he does on AI.)
  • The judges are critical without being mean. Most of the time. They can be mean, and were more so a couple of years ago, but generally they’re good at actually giving constructive criticism.
  • Continuity with previous seasons. Of the auditioners featured tonight, five of them had auditioned previous years, and I remembered all but one of them. And the judges brought up the criticisms and encouragements they’d made in previous years and noted how the dancer had improved or not in those areas. These repeat auditioners (with notable exceptions) are serious about improving their dancing to get on the show, which says a lot both about them and about the show – it’s seen as a place to test yourself, to try new things and learn to become a better dancer rather than as only a showcase for your existing talent. This year American Idol tried to emphasize the singers’ growth and treat it as an avenue to better performing, but it’s not that (Australian Idol is to a greater degree, just sayin’).
  • Continuity with previous seasons, part 2. Not only are the auditioners repeats, but former contestants show back up. Travis Wall, runner-up in Season Two, was running the choreography segments tonight. Last year’s b-boys Dominic and Hok were in attendance, checking out the auditions from the side boxes. Last year, Season Two winner Benji choreographed one of the best routines of the season, and Season Three contestant Lauren had worked as an assistant on the show earlier. Where American Idol relies on outside celebrity talent as guest coaches and performers, So You Think You Can Dance relies on internal talent and thus is much more meaningful to repeat viewers. It has to, to some degree, because dance is a less celebrity-driven profession than singing, but it makes the show feel much more homey and familiar.

Is it next week yet?

So You Think You Can Dance Top 6 and Top 4

Since these episodes aired last week and the week before, I’m going to run all the videos together and not do a lot of commentary. Just so the videos are up here in case anyone missed the show or something.

This means there are a TON of videos after the jump. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So You Think You Can Dance Top 8

I didn’t watch live last night because I was watching The Shining (for the first time!) with a friend. And I think I made the right decision. ;) Nice that Nigel at least offhandedly mentioned how important it is which choroegrapher each couple gets. I mean, we’re supposed to vote for our favorite dancer, but if everyone else is like me, then a lot of that comes down to what was my favorite routine. Which depends as much on the style and choreographer as on the dancers.

Video and commentary after the jump.

So You Think You Can Dance Top Ten

Top ten! No more judges saving people! All up to America! Which actually kinda sucks, because America has not been what I’d call intelligent about who should be in the Bottom Three. And I even voted last week, so yes, I get to say that. Lauren, you better be stepping it up, girl. We lost Anya over you, and while I get that from a solo point of view, you’ve got a long way to go to match her as a partner. Are they drawing partners this week? Yes, they are. :( I miss my couples once they’re gone.

Mia’s the guest judge, so no esoteric contemporary routine from her, but hopefully we can have a totally awesome weird-ass Wade Robson routine. Ooh, there’s Wade now! Yay Wade! Ooh, is he choreographing their solos? That’ll be good–take the pressure off the dancers from having to choreograph their solos and let them focus on the, you know, dancing.

edit – Now with video and results talk.

Allison and Ivan – The Umbrella Dance

I just started using a new (to me) statistics tracker (Pmetrics from Performancing, which I highly recommend based on the week I’ve been using it), and I’ve noticed several hits from people looking for Allison and Ivan’s umbrella dance from last year, which Nigel mentioned a week or two ago on SYTYCD, and which I have also mentioned a time or two as being one my absolute favorites from Season Two. So, I thought I’d oblige and share it. Here’s Allison and Ivan dancing Shane Sparks’ hip hop routine from SYTYCD S2, the one with the umbrella. :)

And looking at that episode, I discovered that it’s also the one in which Heidi and Benji danced their incredible Black Mambo number, so I ripped that as well. It may still stand as the best dance on the show. Although, considering that they are both trained Latin dancers who are also cousins and have danced together competitively and they’re dancing a Latin dance, that’s perhaps not terribly surprising.

(I also updated my earlier SYTYCD recap post with videos; I don’t know how various people’s RSS readers deal with edited posts, so I’m not sure if people can tell when I update the post.)

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