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'So You Think You Can Dance': Second chances in Vegas

June 4, 2010 |  9:59 am
LASYTYCD-LA_Signage_9043 It's been a whirlwind week of audition episodes but I'm glad it didn't take that long for us to arrive at Vegas callbacks. Of course before we got to Sin City we had to take a little detour through Dallas and Nashville for additional auditions.  In Dallas we met Ida Saki, a contemporary dancer with crazy muscular legs and, to me, a very appealing, classic profile (I felt like I could see a photo of her as a dancer from 100 years ago).  Her story was that her parents were both aspiring dancers but couldn't pursue their dream when they lived in Iran.  I really hope that the teaser we got at the end of the episode, of Ida proclaiming that she wants to drop out of the competition, is misleading, because I enjoyed watching her.

Dallas was also where we met Nicole Knudson, "Marge Simpson." I loved the way she looks and her exotic, somewhat severe style of dancing: Something about her quirkiness reminded me of the actress Amanda Plummer. The judges adored her but she had some troubles ahead of her in Vegas. 

Per usual there were some bad auditions too. Personally I liked the dancer in sweatpants whose purple briefs were revealed in slo-mo as his pants fell down, but there was also Conor McLachlan, "Scooter Style," the guy on skates. I'm surprised that we haven't seen more people on skates, actually. But regardless, he was pretty much a joke although I did think it was funny that he somehow tried to tie the bad economy into his audition (yet it remains to be seen how a bad economy means that it's Scooter Style's time to shine).

On Day 2 in Dallas we met Jordan Johnson, a wiry red-eyed guy who was five years' clean after coming out of rehab and who danced in a quirky, explosive hip-hop-meets-contemporary style. I would have loved to see what Sonya Tayeh would do with him. The judges loved him and guest judge Toni Redpath told him she found him sexy.

In Nashville there wasn't a lot to be excited about.  We saw a pair of female flamenco dancers, who had a sort of strange friendship, demonstrate how not to do flamenco: slow and boring. The judges actually advised the girls to quit flamenco.

But we did see a familiar face: Brian Gaynor, the dancer with scoliosis who charmed the judges a few seasons ago in his bowler with his precise robot and the way he folded himself up. I love how he can take a style that can be so jokey and gimmicky and actually make it elegant in addition to amusing. I also liked seeing him out of costume, so he looked more like a person and less like a character. While his illness will prohibit him from being a contestant on the show, he's in a crew now which Nigel promised would appear on "SYTYCD."

That was a nice note to end on before we headed to Vegas, where we saw two familiar faces, contestants who had been promised a trip to Vegas but didn't have to audition this season.  First there was Alex Wong, who tried out in Season 5 but couldn't be a contestant due to his contract with the Miami City Ballet. What to say about Alex -- it seems like it would almost be unfair for him to compete against the other contestants (assuming he can learn the other genres) as he's clearly a pro. No other word for it. Also, I may state a fact and not just objectify: His body is sick. Then there was Billy Bell, who, if I recall correctly, was the dancer who made Adam Shankman weep last season when he tried out. He made it to the Top 20 last season but had to drop out due to an illness. He seems to have matured in his style.

For the first set of cuts the dancers had to learn hip-hop from Tabitha D'umo.  Rachel Germa, the rhythmic gymnast, got cut at this point, although b-boy Jose Ruiz made it through as well as tapper Melinda Sullivan.  Once again Teddy Tedholme, a darling during auditions, got cut before the competition part of the show. Teddy, you need to learn hip-hop, son! Sarah Brinson, the "big girl" from the first round of auditions, also got cut, crying and saying, "I feel like I disappointed you guys."

But that was the "easy" part: next was ballroom with Toni Redpath, who showed the dancers how it's done.  Billy Bell gave her the unsavory nickname "Nazi Barbie."  Right away Jordan from Dallas got cut, while Nicole Knudson and Adechike Torbert disappointed the judges with their ballroom, but the judges gave them each a second chance, Nicole particularly just the opportunity to dance with her hair down.

What did you think of these second chances? I liked Nicole as a dancer but I don't know why she would get a second chance while other dancers wouldn't. Adechike, meanwhile, disappointed the judges three times already, first by performing tap in his Vegas performance (he's a contemporary dancer), then just doing OK with hip-hop and ballroom. The judges gave him an opportunity to dance for his life. I thought he was fine but I didn't see what the judges saw, why his solo was so good it should transcend his other subpar performances and decisions to keep him in the competition above other contestants. I'm not upset about it, like they're taking the place of someone I liked more, but I'm just a little confused.

Next week we get more cuts, plus the Tim-Gunn-style twist of the judges visiting the contestants' homes, which should be fun.

--Claire Zulkey

A contestant shows off her moves at the Los Angeles auditions. Photo credit: Ron Eisenberg / Fox
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