Thursday night’s So You Think You Can Dance Los Angeles auditions couldn’t have been more enjoyable if Mary Murphy had come to my apartment bearing expensive champagne and a crisp wad of hundred-dollar bills. Okay, okay…free money and hooch makes everything better. Nevertheless, mad props to SYTYCD for making me tear up (on at least three occasions), gasp (behold: The Ring: The Musical!), wince (at irritating Tyce Diorio yapping with abandon during the night’s opening audition), and even laugh at one of Nigel Lythgoe’s jokes (Contestant: “No ballroom, I’m afraid.” Nigel: “Like Tyce’s trousers!”)
Best of all, the one-hour telecast was full to bursting with fantastic dancing. Without further ado, I shall attempt to tackle the surprisingly difficult task of counting down the episode’s five best auditions:
5) Derion “D.C.” Chapman: Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve got a sinking feeling this charming young father-to-be will crash and burn when he’s forced outside his comfort zone in Vegas. That aside, however, I’m not sure I’ve seen a SYTYCD audition packed with more humor. I loved how Derion’s body absorbed the impact of an imaginary bullet on the line “shot down in May” (on Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”), and the way he oozed across the stage — his body seemingly free of the constraints of a skeletal structure — like a modern-day Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. Bonus points for getting Nigel to do “the cat daddy.”
4) Patty Anne Miller: Maybe her hip-hop routine to Ke$ha’s “Blow” wasn’t the most complicated or packed with tricks, but there was something hypnotic about the movement of Patty Anne’s body, the way she stuttered and skittered as if some special-effects whiz had removed two out of every three frames of film from the footage. What’s more, the argyle-sweater-sportin’, bowtie-lovin’ chica served great face to the judges, at once comical and confrontational.
3) Sasha and Natalia Mallory: There was something wonderfully organic about the modern/African routine concocted by this adorable sister act. I liked how their bodies struck poses that froze in slightly off-kilter ways, and the way they’d perform in perfect sync before breaking off into vaguely discordant positions, then seamlessly come back together. The fact that their playfully argumentative pre-performance banter had me howling with laughter was just icing on the proverbial cake.
2) Hero McRae: I initially worried that Hero — with her black vinyl pants, gold jacket, and braces — was being set up as some kind of joke audition, another sad riff on Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girl horrors. I mean, we even had Nigel congratulating her on her English. (Insert groan of agony here.) But to my surprise and delight, the bubbly Japanese import was absolutely astonishing, a super-fresh robot in jello — complete with routine-capping peace sign. I’m not sure how she’ll translate in, say, the Viennese Waltz, but I’m itching to find out.
1) Arielle Coker: I’ve watched Arielle’s routine four or five times now, and I suspect I’ll hit double digits by the time the weekend rolls around. Back for her fourth SYTYCD audition (she tried out in seasons 4, 5, and 7, too), Arielle brought equal parts beauty and horror to the stage — her face transforming from brilliant smile to terrible agony, the dynamics of her body language flowing from smooth and lyrical to tight and jittery. As Nigel pointed out, that move where Arielle created an arch with her legs, then made a 90-degree turn through the tiniest, quickest little steps, was mesmerizing. And I can’t recall a SYTYCD audition where a contestant had me holding my breath from the simple act of walking slowly, sensually, and perhaps just a bit menacingly, toward the front of the stage. (Wonderful ending pose, too — very Ringu!) If she’s not in this year’s Top 20, I’m calling 9-1-1.
Who were your favorite contestants from the SYTYCD L.A. auditions? Was I wrong to leave Jeanine Mason’s sister off my Top 5 list? (Not that she wasn’t pretty darn good…but I had her ranked at No. 6.) And was this one of the best audition episodes ever? (Heck yeah!) Sound off down in the comments, and for all my summer reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!