I laughed, I cried, I shrieked, I squealed ... clearly Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" has made its triumphant return for Season 9.
While the show is changing things up this season -- dropping down from two nights a week, to one night (and I'll be honest I'm apprehensive about the new format) -- I resolved to stop the nail biting until June 27th when they'll announce the Top 20, and just enjoy the auditions. After all, it has been practically a year since I've craughed (the combination of crying and laughing) along with Mary Murphy, developed an even bigger crush on Nigel Lythgoe and watched in awe as the contestants throw themselves all around the "SYTYCD" stage for our own personal enjoyment.
Join me each week as I present my comments, questions and concerns from each episode, without any technical dance knowledge, and heck, no actual dance skills ... just straight up love for "So You Think You Can Dance."
Here are few highlights from Season 9's premiere.
Guest Judge: Tyce Diorio
Amelia Rowe literally silenced the judges with her 1920s style and Parisian flare, kicking off the very first audition of this season. Her performance was well received by the judges and with all the cheesiness we love, producers edited the end of her segment, turning it into a parody of "The Artist," fully equipped with a silent ticket, straight to Vegas.
Toshihiko Nakazawa was a ... well ... bright contestant, with very big, Kool-Aid red hair and a matching red jumpsuit that won over the judges with his sweet personality and obvious talent. But after struggling in the choreography round, Toshihiko wound up leaving the competition on his own accord. We'll miss you Ronald McDona-- Toshihiko.
Shafeek Westbrook was the next contestant to make it straight to Vegas, bypassing the choreography rounds. Shafeek wowed the judges with his strength and talent, doing a back bend while resting on his head (yes, we were just as confused watching it as you are reading about it). But Shafeek's performance brought the first of a "SYTYCD" staple for Season 9: Nigel's not-so-subtle dirty jokes. After Shafeek's oh so impressive headstand, Nigel proclaimed, "I wasn't sure what he was going to balance on next." Right, moving on.
Guest Judge: Lil' C
Bree Hafen's audition produced the cutest television clip since Sophia Grace and Rosie hit Ellen's stage. The mother of two put on a beautiful performance for the judges, but her adorable kids, five-year-old Luke and two-year-old Stella, absolutely stole the show. Stella's mini-audition after her mom's had me laughing, crying and aww-ing until my face hurt. But the real pull-on-your-hearstrings moment was when Bree's son interrupted her performance to hand her her ticket to Vegas. Sigh.
And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Hampton Williams happened.
Hampton Williams will be awarded the turn-around award for the Season 9 premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance." His chit chat before the audition made it seem like his "Exorcism style" was a little bit like a gimmick, but once the music started and he began to dance, I was spellbound. The judges just let him dance and dance and I am glad. It was really quite good. Nigel hit the nail on the head when he said, "I think you could be a genius ... How you will get on in a dance comp like this show -- I don't give a sh-t, to be honest with you. Whether they say yes or no, you're going to go to Vegas because I'll pay for it myself." Keep an eye on this one, I think he might stick around a while.
Next up in Dallas were two auditions on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum: One will melt your heart and the other will make your blood boil. Sam Shreffler was a bright-eyed guy whose enthusiasm was contagious. Admitting he was Autistic and felt like a social wallflower, Sam hit the stage doing the "ocean wave," pleasing the crowd ten-fold. Though Sam didn't make it to Vegas, he made my day and had everyone doing his signature move.
Von "Legend" Kipper on the other hand, quickly soured the mood after Sam's audition. Though Von showed some potential, his smart mouth and desperate need for an attitude adjustment ruined his chances. He bantered with Nigel, expressing his dislike for how the show is run, even throwing a few digs at performers like Sam. Not cool, Von.
In true "SYTYCD" fashion, they finished on a high note. Jarell Rochelle (the next Phillip Phillips perhaps?) got my attention with the suspenders, but hooked me with the dance. (OK, the sob story about his mom going blind didn't hurt either.) I know it's early and I may be speaking out of turn on this one, but I think we'll be seeing a lot of Jarell this season. It's probably just the suspenders.
"So You Think You Can Dance" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.