This season's callback week was exactly as riveting as we've come to expect of the show. Despite some upsetting dismissals of people we'd been pulling for, the finalized Top 20 nonetheless appears extremely promising.
Yeah, see, we talked about this. Hopefully you didn't become overly attached to anybody you met in the first four weeks of auditions, because most likely they were casually eliminated from contention during one swiftly edited montage. Looking at the final Top 20 as determined by this week's callbacks, fully half of them are people we'd never even laid eyes on before. The producers obviously know what they're doing when it comes to casting; we have no quibbles with their ultimate decisions usually. But why even put us through the emotional gauntlet with so many touching backstories? Couldn't the auditions have put a bigger emphasis on the dancers that would make the finals rather than dead parents or Alopecia? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have met those beautiful athletes, but still: It was often tough to feel entertained by TV so thick with heartache this week. Poor Jaja!
That being said, come on, get real, So You Think You Can Dance is amazing and this week's callback episode was no different. Cramming what felt like several weeks' worth of events into two jam-packed hours, this was one dense block of dancertainment! The L.A. (well, Pasadena) callbacks entailed several rounds, each focusing on a different style of choreographed dance. Not only did this afford us glimpses of our favorite choreographers (Sonya! Travis! Dreamy Christopher Scott!), it focused on the dancers' versatility, which is by far the most important skill to have on this show. An amazing solo is one thing, but can a dancer learn four dramatically different routines each week all summer? That's what these callbacks were for. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Which is why the solo as ultimate do-or-die arbiter has never made complete sense to me. I realize there ain't no drama like no-one-to-help-you drama, but when has being a superb soloist done anyone a lick of good on this show. Hi, I have slight quibbles with this fantastic show sometimes. —Joe Reid]
A panel of six judges (including tWitch, the traditionally unwatchable Adam Shankman, Olympic figure skater Tara
Reid Lipinski, and occasionally frightening prima ballerina Irina Dvorovenko) sorted through over 157 dancers on our behalf. Obviously their critiques were more focused and technical than the audience-pandering ones of the audition rounds, and of course there was another factor at play that SYTYCD wasn't quite as candid about: Physical aesthetics. Let's be real, television is a visual medium and the only thing more valuable than expert dancing skills on this show is being attractive as h*ck. Mary Murphy even sort of alluded to this factor in one of her final you-made-it fakeouts: "At this point it just comes down to casting." That explains the huge discrepancy between who we meet in the audition rounds and who makes the Top 20, and that's why there's kind of a lack of suspense when a dancer just doesn't seem very young or cute. Sorry, but that's how it works on this show; it's only a meritocracy until it isn't.