Thursday, June 4, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance? Season 5 - Las Vegas 2nd auditions

"I love cutting people," Mia growls at the assembled dancers trembling on the stage, glaring at them over the rims of her ugly glasses, her hair standing straight up on end like something from A Flock of Seagulls. "I love cutting because I love seeing people who aren't good at what they do go home."

Oh-kay! Well! Looks like it's gonna be a fun time in Las Vegas!

Last night's show highlighted the fact that we have seen very, very few of the dancers who made it through to the one hundred seventy-eight nervous people assembled before us. Just a thought: maybe if the producers had wasted less time last week on David Soller, his mother and that other talentless guy, we could have seen more people who have the real thing? I don't know. Anyway, five minutes into the show, people are already passing by in blur. There's someone I sort of remember, although her name escapes me. And he looks familiar, but I am just as bewildered as some of the dancers seem to be.

The only people I know for sure are the judges, that panel of experts sitting at a long desk in front of the stage: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Mia Michaels, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman, Lil C. Thank goodness Tyce Diorio has been locked into a supply closet somewhere in the hotel. Tabitha and Napoleon aren't there; I'm sure they're out in Las Vegas somewhere being about a thousand times better looking than the rest of us, and I don't mind that because they're both so nice. Where is Sonya Tayeh? Can we trade her for Mia?

What the dancers are going to do is this: They're going to dance in a number of different styles, with dancers being cut after each round. That seems relatively straightforward, doesn't it? Not confusing at all! Just you wait! This show is a strange mish-mash of events and I can't keep everything straight. If I'm confused by what's going on, sitting there on the couch with my popcorn, imagine how the dancers must feel. Choreography here and there, small groups, more choreography in different styles, people being told they are the worst dancers to ever grow legs in a womb, but then being told that they can dance for their lives? I don't get it.

Not necessarily in this order, the dancers have to learn the moves to a jazz piece choreographed by Sonya. There she is, at last! TabiNapo choreograph a hip-hop routine; Jean-Marc Genereaux and France do a ballroom piece. Mia does some contemporary choreography that nearly brings people to tears, and someone lets Tyce out of the supply closet so that he can do two Broadway pieces for the guys and the girls separately, set to music from West Side Story. Plus there's the group dancing thing where all the dancers are split into groups of six, pick a music CD out of a box that our beloved Cat Deeley is holding aloft, and then have all night long to choreograph their own bit.

Looks like a tough few days ahead for the dancers.

Now I come to a difficult part of this review, because I can't even pretend to know the names of all these people. All I can say is this: some people from the city auditions that we really liked were unmercifully cut in Day 1 and Day 2, including Natalie Reid. Sad and shocking! Megan Kinney hugs her sister Caitlin goodbye and trudges off to the airport (but wait -- I just realized that happened on Day 3!) Philip's girlfriend, Ariel Coker, is sent home and it's just awful. Sammy Ramirez of the "hair choreography" leaves the hotel, still smiling that awesome smile. Tap-dancing Silky heads home on Day 3. I'm glad I don't have Cat's job, or I'd probably be outside the hotel telling everyone that the judges suck swamp water and getting my butt fired.

At the end of Day 2, the small groups are formed and Cat lets them choose their CDs. This is generally an interesting night as viewers watch the dancers tryin to pull together some kind of choreography that won't stink the place up. There are usually some clashing egos somewhere along the line, along with a couple of dancers who feel that they could best pull a routine together by going upstairs to bed. THAT never sets well, let me tell you. As you could imagine. Strangely, we're shown very little of this kind of thing, which is a departure from past seasons, which reveled in the petty jealousies, hurt feelings and the inexplicable need for a little shut-eye.

"A lot of people think that today doesn't mean anything," Nigel says preachily on the third morning, when all the small groups are going to be doing their thing. This kind of statement makes me crazy. The remaining dancers have seen people being cut left, right and center during the different styles in the past couple of days. Tension is running high as time draws short. Why, Nigel, would any of these people thing that today doesn't mean anything? Sheeeesh.

The different groups get up to perform, nearly all of them to annoying music that just jars me with its silliness. I think the judges do this on purpose. If they gave the dancers good music, it would be easier to choreograph a good routine, right? So if you can choreograph a good routin to BAD music, then that would be a sign of awesomeness that would shine through the heavens. Evidently not. People are cut and go home.

Now it's finally time for Mia's choreography, which just about makes people cry. "Do not give me empty steps, because that's when my horns will come out!" she drill-sergeants at them, stomping around the stage. Oh, so that's why she's got the crazy hair: to hide the horns. Glad we've got that cleared up.

Evan and Ryan Kasprzak are still waiting to see if they're through Mia's choreography, and I think they look fabulous, but then I thought Natalie Reid was great, and she was sent packing. I also like Caitlin Kinney's dance-for-her-life solo, but the judges were all up in her stuff for doing an "old-fashioned" contemporary dance, whereas Mia's choreography was "of this time"? Huh? You'd have thought that Caitlin was out there on the stage, leaping around while wearing hoop skirts and a bonnet. Caitlin, I thought you were wonderful. The judges send her on through to the next round, leaving her very grateful and me more confused than ever.

Then there's a guy named Tony Bellissimo who has been featured in just about every segment of the show. Not that I'm complaining: he's a good dancer and did a clever solo, but where did he spring from? At any rate, Tony starts to fall to pieces emotionally as the show progresses: it's like the producers have given us a window into his private nervous breakdown. Is Pfizer, the manufacturer of anti-anxiety medication Xanax, a sponsor of this episode?

Tony does Mia's choreography and Debbie calls him forward on the stage afterwards and tells him that he's really let them down. Tony bursts into tears. Then he has to dance for his life, and the judges tell him his solo wasn't that great, but they're going to pass him on because they like him. Wha-? If they were going to send him through because he was likeable, why did he have to dance? Couldn't he have just given all the judges a hug? Tony cries through the whole thing. He is one raw nerve. As am I.

This brings us to Tyce's West Side Story choreography. Thankfully, he's so busy bossing everyone around and doing those Jets/Sharks finger snaps that he has little time left over to be annoying. The girls dance first while the boys lounge poolside, and then the boys dance while the girls ditto. Things are narrowed down still further, but at least the West Side Story music is cheerful and familiar.

This Las Vegas episode ends with sixteen boys and sixteen girls, all of whom are to dance a solo which will be the final criterion by which they are judged. We're left waiting to see which twelve will be cut in Thursday's one hour show.

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