Fox's long-running dance competition returned this week with its first round of auditions. Here's a selection of highlights and lowlights! [Note: GO HERE for a comprehensive list of the best So You Think You Can Dance routines of all time.]
Look at us, we've grown so old. You can barely velcro your shoes and I haven't been out of my motorized bed in months. Where did the last 10 years go? It seems like only yesterday So You Think You Can Dance debuted and proved that an American Idol clone could be as good if not better than we had any right to expect or deserve. You want fine art on a national stage? You want a marriage of athletics and aesthetics to rival the Olympic games? You want a celebration of youth and music and talent and art and joy on a weekly basis? You want Cat Deeley gracing your living room and Mary Murphy haunting your dreams? So You Think You Can Dance gave us all of those things all at once and, ladies and gentlemen, it still does. Welcome back, you beautiful athletes of dance.
Not gonna lie: A haze of uncertainty lingered over last night's Season 11 premiere (or was that just whatever made Justin Bieber's eyes all red?) as it's widely believed that this will be SYTYCD's final season. So introspection may be warranted here: What becomes of a reality competition ten years in? If you're American Idol you cling to maddeningly broken tropes and watch your ratings spiral. If you're Survivor you relinquish your watercooler TV status and reconfigure the rules each season to keep the die-hards hooked. If you're The Challenge you do absolutely nothing because you're perfect. SYTYCD has taken a middle road by holding firmly to aspects it believes its core audience wants while also occasionally attempting reinvention. Past seasons introduced all-stars, shifted to one night a week, and included more and more celebrity judges, but this season's most dramatic change? Justin Bieber! Or at least some segments in which a very bored-looking Bieber introduces pre-taped amateur dance crews and encourages America to pick the crew that will perform in the finale. Yawning yet? Don't! Because aside from that underwhelming addition, this week's premiere still featured some terrific dancing and that entertainment value hasn't diminished in the least.
This season's first round of auditions took place in both New Orleans and Chicago and all the usual audition-episode rules applied: First off, don't get attached to ANY of these people, not even the ones with the well-produced EPK packages, heart-rending sob stories, or triumphant auditions. Like American Idol, these early spotlights have almost no bearing on who will actually be competing in the season and even the most prominently featured tend to mysteriously disappear sometime between when they're handed a plane ticket and when the finalists are selected. Secondly, the auditions will waste a frustrating amount of time on cutesy human interest moments (family members taking the stage) or oddball dancers who are treated like clowns for the judges' benefit and quickly dismissed. Third, Nigel will make creepy sexual comments to teenage girls. All of these rules were in FULL effect this week.