So You Think You Can Dance: The 5 Best Memphis Auditions! (Vote for Your Faves!)

So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance-Memphis-AuditionsAs someone who gets a full-body shudder anytime I accidentally stumble across an episode of Let’s Make a Deal, I can honestly say I didn’t realize I needed more Wayne Brady in my life. But the comic/actor surprised me in his guest-judge debut on the Memphis audition episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

Indeed, Brady proved charmingly enthusiastic and yet at the same time, was able to articulate his likes and dislikes with a flair that often trumped permanent panelists Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy. I mean, comparing contemporary dancer Caleb Brauner to a Norman Rockwell painting set to music? Genius! And getting up to hug a dancer who’d come to his audition without the support of family or friends? Downright adorable!

Here’s hoping Brady gets worked into the regular guest-judge rotation along with Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Christina Applegate and (of course) Debbie Allen. In the meantime, though, let me count down my picks for the Memphis episode’s five best auditions:

5. Novien Yarber: I’ll admit I was ever so slightly peeved when Novien started boasting about his “masculine” contemporary style, but how can I begrudge him the ability to play up a quality that’s going to play directly to Uncle Nigel? Dude definitely brought a martial arts quality to his movement — “your legs were slicing like samurai swords!” squealed Mary — and his leg extension was insane. He’s definitely one to watch in Vegas.

4. Shanshan Qiao-Rothlisberger: I love seeing something new and unexpected in an audition, and Shanshan’s Mongolian Bowl Dance was indeed a thing of tranquil beauty. Her liquidy shoulder action, though, could serve her well in hip-hop routines, too, no?

3. Caleb Brauner: I wasn’t entirely convinced about the quality of Caleb’s movement — a few of his transitions seemed a wee bit unsteady — but his Chaplin-esque expressiveness and ability to tell a story with his body won me over completely. That joyous embrace with his burly, dancing dad when he won his ticket to Vegas may have made me a season-long fan.

2. Jenna Johnson: It looks like Season 10 is going to have its fair share of ballroom powerhouses, but I can’t recall a dancer who made the genre look quite as fun as Jenna, a whirling dervish of red fringe, lightning quick footwork and legs as flexible as bendy straws.

1. Dorian ‘BluPrint’ Hector: I know we already had Cyrus representing the Dragon House crew last year, but BluPrint’s precisely contained animation filled me with equal parts fascination and giddiness. Let’s be honest, if you can make Mary Murphy drop an f-bomb, chances are you did something pretty flippin’ great.

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of last night’s SYTYCD? Who was your favorite auditioner? Take our poll, sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Maggie says:

    I really liked Tucker Knox. He reminded me a lot of Adrian Lee, who just missed the top 11 in season 7. He wasn’t quite as polished as Adrian was, and sometimes he looked a little overextended, but he had a lovely quality to his movement and has loads of potential.

  2. Drew says:

    I’ve been wondering where Cat is lately. It seems like we only get quick glimpses of her these days. I remember her pre-audition interviews being a larger part of the process before. Am I wrong, or has something changed there?

    • Kate says:

      No, I think you’re right. It was one of the early episodes where it was well into the episode before she ever made an appearance. It wasn’t until they finally showed her that I realized how odd it was. Not sure if she hasn’t been available as much or if maybe with them having to compress the auditions they haven’t used her interviews as much.

  3. Cory says:

    I hate that this is on opposite The Voice on Tuesdays. In a perfect world I would have a DVR, but I’m trying a new thing called “living within my means.” Talk about challenging! Anyway, I caught most of the performances on YouTube and was totally blown away by the Mongolian dance. I loved the goofiness of Caleb and I definitely think he can dance, but Michael is right about some of his movements being unsteady, and perhaps a little awkward. I’m really excited for the rest of the season and I loved Wayne Brady as a guest judge!

    • Kim says:

      Caleb was far better than anticipated. Some of his moves did seem a bit disjointed and I kept wondering if it was the pants. They didn’t seem to allow free movement as much.

  4. Marcus says:

    I’m with you guys – not enough of lovable Cat yet this season and too much of Mary howling. I am also ever-so-sick of Nigel’s hang-ups about male dancers not being masculine enough. Rumor is that he was floored when Cyrus didn’t win SYTYCD last year and he is determined to see a male hip-hop dancer take the trophy this year. Watch him pull off another behind-the-scenes plot and pick a weak slate of boys this year that dance in the classical and contemporary fields. It was this type of crap that ruined AMERICAN IDOL and got him canned…Nigel better watch his step with the FOX brass from now on.

    • Aprilcot says:

      I think the men have been pretty strong this year and it will be too obvious if they try to stack the deck one way or the other. You can be a beautiful contemporary/classical dancer and still be masculine. Off the top of my head, Ade, Danny, Jason, Chehon, and Alex Freaking Wong were all very masculine dancers.

      • marcus says:

        I guess Nigel is worried that the millions of frat boys and redne
        cks that are the show’s largest demographics will quit watching if they find out their favorite male dancer is gay…

    • KevyB says:

      Not even close to true. Nigel said on the show that he wouldn’t vote for Cyrus to win. And he knew no dancer was more hated than Cyrus (yes, who was also loved, but websites weren’t overflowing with hatred for Chehon). The show barely got renewed as is, and he knows as well as anybody that had Cyrus won, this show wouldn’t have survived. It’s not like hip-hoppers haven’t won before. Nigel wants someone with a lot of charisma to win, which is why people with questionable skills often make it onto the show. Which is also why they started the All-Stars rounds, so if the contestants weren’t filling the bill, we could rely on the ones we loved previously.

      As for Wayne Brady… love him but did NOT love him as a judge. He didn’t seem to bring enough constructive criticism to people that needed it. I felt Minnie Driver was much better, and her enthusiasm was quite charming,

    • canadian ninja says:

      Nigel hasn’t exactly been the one bringing up his appreciation for masculine dancing (which is really just a distaste for overly feminine dancing from men).

  5. dani n. says:

    Nigel is a screen hog & often a horses ass.

    • Nigel Is Pervy says:

      SO true! Hopefully they will get rid of Nigel like American Idol did. I love SYTYCD except for Nigel.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Don’t insult horses like that! They are fine, noble creatures — I doubt that you would say the same about Nigel.

  6. sororsalsa says:

    I don’t get Nigel’s attitude about so-called “masculine” dancers. This is SYTYCD, not So You Think You Can Project Butchness. It’s dancing…I think folks are accepting of men with flowing lines who land silently. Nigel’s almost desperate need to portray every guy as “straight” is downright pitiful, and he should be ashamed. I don’t care if the dancers are straight, gay or circular…I just want to see good dancing.

    • KevyB says:

      Oh, please! The entire audition process is jam-packed with less-than-masculine male dancers getting tickets straight to Vegas. Nigel has NEVER gotten on any of the guys for dancing feminine UNLESS the dance REQUIRED masculinity. If that isn’t a valid issue, then you don’t understand dance. Most, if not all, of these men are required to dance relationship-oriented dances with women – on the show and in their careers – and it’s a bit jarring to watch someone who is supposed to be in love with his female partner flouncing about. And some dances, like hip-hop and the paso doble, are masculine by nature. I loved Billy Bell but I did not enjoy his inability to connect emotionally with his female partners… or his attempt at hip-hop. Similarly, sometimes the dance is meant to be more “feminine”, and watching some dude stomp about through that is not enjoyable. Great dancing is about the entire performance. Women are required to dance the gamut from “feminine” to “masculine” on this show, so why can’t the men be expected to do the same? Or is it your belief that gay dancers shouldn’t have to?

      The best thing about this show is when it puts dancers outside their comfort zones. I don’t want to see a hip-hopper dance hip-hop every week. I don’t want to see the ballroom women smiling and being twirling Barbie dolls every week. And as much as I love me some gayboy dancers, I want them to show the world that they can do it ALL, including the masculine dances. Don’t put them in a box.

      • Rain says:

        Love your comment so much! I was just about to rant about people not understanding the need to have the ability to dance “masculine”. It’s all about the style they’re dancing, the Paso Doble is terrible without that feel!

  7. Meghan says:

    When that dad shouted out “That’s my nerd!” did anyone else immediately think of “I love my dead gay son!”? Or am I the only one who makes random Heathers references?
    So much dance dad love in this episode.

  8. margi says:

    I thought Wayne Brady was a great guest judge, but Michael, how could you not mention his great impersonation of Li’l C which was made even funnier by the contestant saying, “what are you talking about?!” (Wayne Brady obviously watches the show; I’m not so sure about the contestant). Also, I wish Nigel wouldn’t repeat the information we’ve already heard in Cat’s interview with the dancer. His questions are so stilted to elicit the backstory we just heard.

  9. Babybop says:

    The bowl dancer and the guy in the sweater vest were my favorites! I also loved the trapeze girl.

  10. Jeanine says:

    ShanShan was awesome. The only way it would have been better was if there was whores’ milk in the bowls.

  11. waterbug says:

    I wish there were two nights of SYTYCD–instead of the stupid Masterchef. Everyone knows the majority of the these bozos worked in a restaurant or had training in some areas of culinary arts. Pretending to be just a home cook is transparent.

  12. S says:

    I genuinely wish that Nigel would stop making references to how “Hot” women are before they have danced, or about people’s families. He seems so very sleazy. Even when someone is a spectacular dancer, you can tell when Nigel doesn’t like the way they look because he turns over the talking to Mary and can barely manage to say two good things about them.
    It also seems as if, by Nigel explaining what he wants to happen first (Vegas or Choreography) that the other two judges are expected to fall in line and not decent. Has there been one time that each of the other two judges have stood up to him and said “Were you watching the same thing I just watched?”