They say you learn something new every day, and you can definitely learn something new every time you watch "So You Think You Can Dance."
This week’s lessons include: sob stories earn you air time, arguing with the judges will not make you look cool, second chances can be worth giving, and break dancers will never get straight through to Vegas.
If you're new to the show, here's how it works: after dancers audition, the judges decide whether to send them straight to Las Vegas to continue on in the competition, to have them learn some choreography before a final decision is made or to just cut them outright.
It was pretty obvious which of the three rulings Chelsea Hightower would receive before she even took the stage. With a whole monologue about how her brother rescued her during hard times by paying her dance school tuition, Chelsea locked in some serious sympathetic camera time, something not normally given to a contestant who’s not moving on.
Still, if there was ever any doubt, she definitely sealed the deal as soon as the music started. Clearly a very experienced ballroom dancer, this girl can surely shake what her momma gave her.
Weird thing is Chelsea’s face doesn’t match the rest of her, and not just because of her crazy spray tan. With her innocent, apple pie appearance and demeanor, it’s disconcerting to see her hips gyrate the way they do. Still, she is one of the cutest girls ever and one of the best dancers so far. Chelsea is straight through to Vegas.
Gev Manoukian also got a little extra face time on camera. His story? He’s back from a previous rejection on season two. Might not be that much of a sob fest, but it did drive him to practice his dancing on ice, which made for some quality footage.
Hard to believe there could be anything more entertaining than watching someone break dance on ice skates, but Gev was even more attention-grabbing once he started his audition (on solid ground). I can't understand why he didn't make it the first time he auditioned, but I'm definitely happy he gave it another go.
Contemporary, hip-hop, it seemed like there was nothing he couldn’t do with his body — nothing except go straight to Vegas, that is. The judges are crazy for not handing him a plane ticket right away, but Gev made it through the choreography round, so he found his way there anyway.
Take two also worked out for Brandon Bryant, who lied about his age to audition back in season one. Eventually Brandon made it through a few rounds and had to 'fess up -- mother's orders. Three years later and 18 years old, he returned ready to legally audition. Boy was he worth the wait.
I have to admit I was a little scared at the start of his routine, and a shot of Nigel's face tells me he was right there with me. Just standing there holding this weird one-legged pose, I wondered if Brandon was ever going to move. But move he did. At one point he practically flew!
Between his strength, flexibility and endurance during the contemporary performance, the judges were unanimous: they could think of no one who would be able to duplicate Brandon's routine and needed to give him a ticket to Vegas immediately. Good thing he didn't try any break dancing.
Of course, not everyone could make it to Vegas, but few people handled the rejection worse than Steven Arner. After seeing this guy’s Mickey Mouse-wannabe hairstyle, you’d think he had nowhere to go but up, but things managed to somehow get worse once he started his routine.
Aside from the fact that a grown man has no business wearing pigtails or dancing with a chair, Steven looked like he was sleepwalking through the whole thing, a la Britney Spears at last year's VMAs.
To justify the train wreck, he explained, “I got lost ... I was doing good at first." When judge Mary rightfully suggested that Steven might be delusional, he replied by calling her a bleeped out word and getting himself kicked out of the auditorium.
Syiddah King, on the other hand, didn’t need anyone to tell her to take a hike — she just started walking. Rocking Shirley Temple-style spirals, the girl looked like someone put a Christmas bow on top of her head and curled the remainder of her hair like gift-wrapping ribbon.
Her dancing was just as catastrophic — if you can call it that. Syiddah says she doesn’t refer to what she does as “dancing,” but rather defines her movements as “just me,” and with that told the judges that the only opinion that mattered to her was her own.
Well, Syiddah, on this show you have to be able to “dance,” and it’s actually the judges opinions that matter. So Syiddah was not only sent packing but actually stormed off the stage in a toddler-style temper tantrum.
Of course, it wasn’t long before I threw a temper tantrum of my own.
BJ Harris, the dancer from Brooklyn, N.Y., had moves like no one I’ve ever scene. This boy can make you laugh, cry and cringe all at the same time, and all in a good way. Mary described it perfectly, saying, “It was like from one second to the next all your bones were gone!”
But even with a great back story (the performing arts school he attends actually raised the money to send him on the first airplane ride of his life off to his audition in Charleston) he still didn’t get a plane ticket. Anyone that good at what they do deserves to at least make it to Vegas before being cut, if for no other reason than to entertain me for one more week. But alas, BJ is gone.
With Salt Lake City, Dallas, Charleston and Washington, D.C., now covered, the judges head to the Midwest for the last round of auditions before Vegas. I’ll try not to get too attached to the best b-boy in the lot this time ... lesson learned.