E: Almost as exciting as meeting the Top Twenty – let’s see the pairs!
And, how fun: the first competitive episode opens with four of the dancers (Jasmine Harper, Alexis, Curtis and Paul) hopping out of a car with the license plate SYTYCD and dancing their way through a loading dock, layered in sweat clothes and hats. They’re grooving to Herb Alpert’s “Putting on the Ritz” – mostly instrumental but with a little choral section which I guess is the part attributed to Lani Hall. To the side of the loading dock, Tabitha sits between Jade and BluPrint at a table, dancing with their hands. All 20 dancers, a whole raft of choreographers – Sean Cheesman, a be-feathered Travis Wall, Jason Gilkison, Napoleon and a super cool looking Christopher Scott – get in on the fun, dancing through racks of clothing (where Aaron fakes a move on a very surprised Nico), through make up and the control booth and popping out of dressing room doors. They swan through a little cafeteria area where extras/staff members snap their fingers, past a guy in a gorilla suit, past a bar where an older bearded man stands with a trumpet. Mary Murphy steps out of some staging to dance with Jason, and Nigel tries his hand at animation; all in all, there’s a great feeling of camaraderie and good spirits. The dancers end on the stage in retro tuxedos in a lovely synchronized ending, and Cat pops up a the end, laughing and smiling with sleek hair and a hot pink t-shirt mini-dress.
And, yep: the man with the trumpet was Herb Alpert himself, who Cat points out in the studio audience – and also in the studio audience are choreographers responsible for this piece, the D’umos. Napoleon is wearing their little boy in a carrier on his chest. Yay, D’umo family!
E: 33 contestants. 20 spots. Boys, girls, dancers of many different stripes. And, well. That went surprisingly according to plan. There’s only one person I hadn’t heard of before. Amazing! Most of the dancers I felt passionate about made the show. Cat was shimmery and adorable. And I learned Paul Bunyan’s real name! Oh, and there was some pretty great dancing. Some of it choreographed – ready the smelling salts, dance fans – by a certain brilliant Canadian not seen on the show for the last several seasons! Now that is some seriously good news.
Ah, the live shows! How I love you! Actual dances. And, I admit it. Cat. That magnificent giant blond disco ball of a host; what a joy that woman is!
E: These are the things we know about the way the show picks the Top Twenty:
The dancers are, of course, ridiculously talented.
They are also, in their different ways, ridiculously decorative.
Now, if it were just about dancing on a stage, those two factors might be enough – especially when combined with aspect we don’t see as much of, like attitude and work ethic and the ability to play well with others. But this is about casting a TV show, so there are other obvious factors.
E: 4 days. 6 rounds. 159 dancers in the toughest, most merciless audition process most of them will ever experience.
And because they’re dancers, guess what most of them say about it? They loved it. Even through tears and the injuries and the humiliations, they’re grateful for the chance to work and learn. You have to love that attitude, seriously. As always, some of that was extremely disappointing – for the dancers who we didn’t get to see, yes, but mostly dancers who were cut. And in a couple of cases, those cuts were extremely disappointing. In better news, we were reminded of some outstanding dancers from the auditions and from years past. We laughed. We cried. Sometimes at the same time. Let’s get down to business, dance fans!
C: After a big May for movies, you’d expect June to roar in with even more would-be blockbusters. Surprisingly… there are only a few. But there are also some that we hope will be little gems, and a mishmash of strange films, waiting at the starting gates.
M: It’s funny, you would expect June to be a huge “summer movie” month, but it never seems to be as big as either May or July. Bigger than August, yes, but never as many blockbuster releases. I’m sure there’s a monetary reason for it, but it’s still odd.
E: Whether it was the studios’ intent or not, I’m really looking forward to more than a few of these movies.