There’s dedication, and then there’s dedication. One of the reasons I like to watch performance-related reality shows is I’m always impressed with the dedication of those that get further and further in the competition. By this point in the season of So You Think You Can Dance, it’s the next step past the auditions. The people may have shown some initial talent to get to the next step, but to move on past this, there has to be some dedication shown by them, something other than pure talent.
Everyone that made it to the next step after the auditions is now in Las Vegas, Nevada. They will be put through three days of grueling auditions to separate the talent dedicated sorts from those that are banking on just their talent, or those that are dedicating their lives to something that isn’t meant for them. The night before the first hard work day in Las Vegas, all the dancers are partying in their hotel rooms, letting off some steam and nerves of what’s to come in the next few days.
This round of the contest will work a little differently than last year. Instead of doing rotating days with different choreographers, all the dancers will work with the same choreographer, and have an hour to learn the routine. They’ll then dance for the judges, aka the choreographers and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, in small groups. The judges will then decide after each different routine with a different choregrapher whether the dancers don’t have what it takes and will leave, whether they will move on, or whether they are borderline. If they are borderline, they will come back later that night to dance a solo in their strongest style to remind the judges of why they liked them in the first place.
The first dance is a hip hop choreographed and taught by Shane Sparks. Michael had arrived late last night after a delayed flight, but doesn’t seem to be affected. Andrew was not nearly as impressive with the hip hop as he was when he auditioned in tap. Claire explains she was doing a Chqarleston recently, and was dong a back tuck. When she landed, she hit a metal bar, and smacked into it with her foot. It’s not broken, but it’s bruised all the way through, and there is a bunch of stuff torn. She’s been on crutches the past three weeks, yet here she is not even showing a limp onstage. She says she just wants it really bad. Lynn Rae had grabbed the attention of the judges at the Los Angeles auditions for showing the other ladies what it takes to wake them all up, but now, doing Shane’s routine, it’s a different story.
Each of the five judges – Shane, Nigel, Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman, and Mary Murphy – gave the dancers from zero to three points watching them do Shane’s routine, giving them an opportunity to get up to fifteen points. Andrew only got one point total altogether, and thirty-three dancers called to the front with him got from six total down to one point. Nigel warns these dancers that normally they would have been cut, but it’s the first morning, and they’re going to give them the opportunity of getting better. If they don’t score much better in Mary’s ballroom choreography, they’ll be going home. Andrew isn’t worried, as he knows he can do much better in ballroom, but Lynn Rae is getting more and more panicked.
By the time everyone is due to meet back in the theatre, Lynn Rae is missing. She went to change into her ballroom dress and shoes, and hasn’t made it back yet. At 4:25 PM Mary’s samba clas begins, and Lynn Rae makes it just in time. Mary has brought Artem, a finalist from the first season of So You Think You Can Dance, in to help her teach the routine. This makes me wonder if he often works with Mary these days, or whether they just cold called him and asked him to come in just for this. The large group is broken in two, and those that aren’t dancing, instead of watching from the audience, they stand in the audience and practice the routine.
After performing in smaller groups again, Nigel tells Andrew that two out of the five of the judges gave him one point. But it’s still better than the single point he received in hip hop. He managed to pick up only three points out of a possible thirty. He asks if he was that bad, and is told he was. As he’s cut, along with thirty-four others, he beings to wonder if he has been chasing he wrong dream all this time. Claire, on her bad foot, still managed to get nine points on the samba.
Lynn Rae had only gotten three this morning, and she admits to Nigel that she knows she sucked. He tells her he’s afraid she sucked this afternoon too, as she only scored a total of five in the samba. Either they were terribly wrong in asking her to Las Vegas, or she went terribly wrong that day. She is being asked to return in the evening to dance a solo and remind them what they liked about her. Another being asked to do a solo is Ryan from Hawaii. He fell in the auditions, but was given the benefit of the doubt then, and moved on. He’s upset, saying the hardest working guy here doesn’t deserve to be called mediocre. Lynn Rae is just having an emotional day, and admits to being very confused by the choreography.
At 8:00 that evening, Lynn Rae runs back to her room to change once again while Ryan dances a hip hop solo. As he dances, he takes off his shoes and jacket, does a few continuous backflips, and lands on what looks like his chin, with Nigel yelling out, “Medic!” The medics never arrive, by Ryan manages to pick himself off the floor, and is more stunned than hurt. After all that, he’s cut. He blames himself, and decides he should rethink what he wants to do with his life.
Lynn Rae has not only changed her dress, but also took a shower, then drew on herself. She writes “Where did you go today?” on her belly, and “Fearless.” on her left arm. She does an odd freeform dance, that is more anger and running around than anything else. Afer she thanks Brian for giving her energy, he says he’s feeling it. Mary, however, is not feeling it. Nigel says the improvisation consisted of just a lot of running around the stage. Lynn Rae tries to say she has confidence, but Mary says someone that has confidence doesn’t have to write all over her body. Lynn Rae answers this saying she realizes she’s the oldest dancer she has ever met, and Nigel replies, she’s wrong. He is. She follows Andrew out the door.
With Mia Michaels’ lyrical choreography, she’s looking for something out of the remaining dancers that takes them out of their comfort zone. Shane was pulled away from judging for the day by other responsibilities, but he is being replaced by Ron Montez. Claire is still limping, and says she is experiencing sharp pains all over, and says the pain is about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Yet, everyone is concentrating on if the only three remaining street dancers can pull this off. There’s Chris and Hawk from the Six Step Crew, and Musa as well. Chris resorts to dancing in freestyle when he forgets the moves, and Musa remembers the routine, but is perhaps too robotic.
Seeing them do the lyrical routine in small groups, Mia tells Christopher she likes his quirky and fun style, yet she’s not sure he can hit all the other things. She’s giving him a no. Nigel tells him it’s worth coming back next year for, as he’s unique. Christopher is upset enough after that he can’t even get any words out. Hawk moves on, but with Musa, the judges want to see more of him, so he’s staying. Musa only pulled 5 points total, so he’ll be dancing for his life in a solo of his preferred style this afternoon. Joining him will be Benji Schwimmer, the son of the King of Swing. He only got 6 total points. He asked Nigel if he can use a partner, and Nigel says certainly, as long as it’s not him. While this is going on, Claire is headed for the hospital. It’s not looking good for her.
Musa does a unique street dance with a definite tribal feel to it. When he’s done, the crowd, which consists of the other dancers, roars. His fellow dancers obviously liked it. So do the judges. He’s asked how they can turn him down when he dances like that. Mary calls him one of the brightest stars there. Ron liked him as well, saying he was able to slow down when needed, yet also punch up the energy when needed.
Benji brings another contestant, Heidi, as his partner. She also happens to be his cousin. He does the most unique version of swing I’ve ever seen. It’s so unique, I wasn’t even sure if it was swing. Benji and Heidi do a … I don’t even know how to explain it. with linked arms, they do cartwheels, kind of, so that one or the other is always on the ground as they go down the line. They were amazing. Nigel confirms that what he just saw is West Coast swing, and asks who the US champion is. Benji sheepishly admits it’s him. Brian says he took a lot of risks, but nailed it all. Ron expected him to be good, and he just couldn’t lose. Mia says we all need a little bit more fun in our lives, and Benji brings a lot more fun.
Claire, who is back from the hospital, has a sitdown with Nigel. She tells him her foot is just bruised, but the doctors don’t recommend she dances with it, but it’s her decision. Nigel tells Claire she already made it to this part of the competition, and he offers to let her come back next season, without going through the auditions. Something about this just gives me chills. Nigel tells Claire, “I can’t let you carry on in that situation, Darlin’.” Nigel announces the decision to the other dancers who all cheer as Claire leaves. She thanks everyone for the chance to work through something. Nigel’s last piece of advice is to train up, but give her foot plenty of rest first. I have to say right now I love Nigel for this. He could have just said, sorry, you’re done.
The hardest choreography yet is still to come the next morning from Brian, as his style he calls a fusion of jazz and hip hop. He admits to it being very intricate, and not easy. As they break into small groups to demo the dance, it’s clear that many just aren’t cut out for this type of dance. The judges let many of them go. Julia, Mike, and Mark, none of which are hip hoppers, all seem to be struggling. Julia inexplicably staggers off the stage, and Mike just stops altogether. Mark is cut, and Mike is told he showed his age, 18. Shane wants to give Mike a chance, and Mary says yes, but Nigel has a big no. Yet, even without him, the votes are there for Mike to stay, but he warns him that he knew he would mess up before it even started. He had more time than the others, and he doesn’t care what the other judges say, he’s the executive producer. If he thinks he will continue to screw up, he won’t go on. Nigel will overrule every one of the judges, as he won’t be screwing up on his show. Woah. I have never seen Nigel exert that type of authority before. He was just … powerful. And in that moment, we knew the power he carries on not only this show, but American Idol as well.
Backstage, Julia has collapsed. Her boyfriend, and fellow dancer in the competition, Stanislav, comes to check on her. She ends up going to the hospital. Benji is told after doing Brian’s choreography that he is one of the best all around dancers here. Hawk is told for him to be untrained and still hanging in there, is remarkable. Mary says it was wasn’t the best, but for now, she wants to see more of him. Shane advises Hawk not to look down, and to hold his head up, because he’s outstanding. He says it takes so much to get where Hawk is right now, especially when everyone considers him just a breaker. Mia tells him he is what the competition is about, and she is really proud of him. Brian tells Hawk he hasn’t stopped surprising him, and every time he is always trying his hardest, and it’s paying off. Off stage, host Cat Deeley consoles Hawk as he cries and apologizes. He’s his own worst critic, and doesn’t thing he deserves to be there among all these dancers who have trained their whole lives for this.
Nigel addresses everyone that is staying past this round, saying many of them broke under the pressure, and that’s not good. He tells Ben he doesn’t want to hear he isn’t well, as they have a show to do. Either you strap it up, or if you’re sick, you put a bucket by the side of the stage if you have to. The next day they are doing solos, and the final 20 dancers will be chosen. We don’t get to see but snippets of the dances, and on Thursday night, we’ll see more of that, as we are shown the 20 finalists, and also get to see some with big dreams get rejected.
Either way, to get to this point, they all have extreme dedication. Even Hawk. He couldn’t do what he has done without some natural talent residing inside him, and without a lot of hard work and dedication. I hope for his sake he realizes this before he does his solo and impresses the hell out of them once again. Even Claire, leaving on crutches, left not because she didn’t have talent or dedication, but just bad luck. In fact, she made it through those early rounds in Las Vegas with a severely damaged ankle. That takes dedication.
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