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'So You Think You Can Dance' judges award a 12-year-old the first prize

May 19, 2009 | 11:31 am

Sytycdevent

Bracing itself for the "Idol" finale, the courtyard of the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live was bright and bustling just before 2:30 p.m. Monday, the site of an open-to-the-public “So You Think You Can Dancedance-off, judged by the show's stalwarts Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman and Mandy Moore. The popular show’s Season 5 two-hour premiere is Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Host Cat Deeley was on hand to help KIIS-FM’s Manny on the Streets’ Manny Guevara introduce the competition. Does Deeley think she can dance? “I know I can’t!” quipped the Brit beauty, who wore a chic beige dress and matching Christian Louboutin heels. She told us what we’ll be getting Thursday night -- audition shows. “The auditions are so quick, they’re fast, you get introduced to everybody, you learn everybody’s stories, and also, you know, you get to see some of the bad dancing too, which is always kind of entertaining.”

Past season dancers -- including Joshua Allen, Katee Shean, Courtney Galiano and Jamie Bayard -- came out to perform for as well as instruct the largely amateur crowd. They all have a lot going on in their post-“Dance” lives, and gushed gratitude for the platform the show provided.  Season 4 winner Allen has a part in the upcoming film ‘Step Up 3-D’, Galiano (who recently became “an L.A. girl”) has done many television ads, including one for Clearasil, and Bayard has a role in "Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage," now at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater.

The dance-off contestants’ ages ranged from about 10 to older than 50. An overweight older man who was told by Lythgoe, “You remind me of my first wife” got an honorary mention with the winners and a gift bag from FOX. The first prize, however, went to a spunky 12-year-old in Vans named Brianna, who won a limo ride, finale tickets and party passes for “American Idol” this week! Moore, who noted, “I think just, in general, dancers are crazy,” is lending her talent to the “American Idol” finale preparation. Of “Idol,” she said, “It’s going really well, the show’s going to be phenomenal.” And of course, as soon as “Idol” ends, we also have a lot to expect from “So You Think You Can Dance”.

Shankman said in Las Vegas he saw “an extraordinary collection of incredibly talented, passionate kids.” Emotions ranged from “thrilling” when watching great dancing to “heartbreaking” when it came time to narrow it down. Fox, eager to get Season 6 going as a fall show, auditions will begin May 28 in Boston, just one week after the Season 5 premiere. How will the judges balance this? “I am curious as heck!” said Shankman. Lythgoe seemed a little more concerned, jokingly exaggerating exhaustion by sort of falling onto my shoulder. “I don’t know!” he exclaimed. “We are looking to go to cities where a plane will get there the evening of our live show and then get us back the day before we do the next show. But it’s going to be tough, you’ll see us getting tired I’m sure during the season, and that means I’ll get ratty and pick on people, which will be good for the show.” So you think you can keep up? Tune in Thursday at 8  p.m.!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

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