So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 Premiere Recap: 5 Best Auditions from New Orleans and Chicago

When I hear people say “There’s nothing good on TV during summer,” I immediately know they’ve never watched an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

Tonight’s Season 11 premiere, for example, carried us from the ridiculous (fusty British judge Nigel Lythgoe attempting to imitate Wendy Williams’ “How you doin?” catchphrase) to the heatbreaking (yeah, I shed a few tears after learning returning auditoner Caleb Brauner’s dad had passed away) to the undeniably sublime (hi there, Rudy Abreu, Trevor Bryce and Megan Marcano!).

Oh, sure, there was a confusing little segment asking us to vote between two dance crews based on a few seconds of sloppily pieced-together rooftop footage — a battle that was introduced by someone whose name rhymes with Dustbin Pee-Blerg — but if it boosts ratings and ensures there’s a Season 12, it can’t be all bad, can it?

MEGAN MARCANOSo let’s jump right to my countdown of the five best auditions from the New Orleans and Chicago tryouts:

5. Tanisha Belanap | Utah teen who happens to be one of a whopping 12 siblings brought an undeniable sensuality and contemporary sensibility to her solo ballroom routine. Too bad she had to endure Nigel’s pervy comments about her sex life before getting her ticket to the L.A. callbacks.

4. Marcquet Hill & Brooklyn Fullmer | Ballroom couple (he partnered with Witney Carson for her Season 9 audition) displayed wicked footwork and charisma in a routine set to “Blurred Lines.” Their partnering skills should be a big boost in Los Angeles.

3. Rudy Abreu (pictured above) | Miami native who arrived at the Chicago auditions with his equally adorable BFF told the judges that his “warrior”-style dancing sprang forth from his childhood surgery scars. It all sounded silly on paper, but his powerful, passionate routine silenced my inner cycnic — and made me an instant fan.

2. Megan Marcano (pictured above) | Her backstory of raising herself since the age of 12 wouldn’t have resonated without her lithe, light-footed routine, which mixed sadness and elation into a single serving that makes me think she’s a serious contender for the Season 11 crown.

TREVOR BRYCE1. Trevor Bryce | His fusion of hip-hop, classical and animation — and winking sense of humor — prompted Nigel to declare his audition “one of the greatest solo performances I’ve seen on So You Think You Can Dance.” Honestly, dude was good enough that I can’t be mad at our head judge/executive producer for his hyperbole.

What did you think of tonight’s Season 11 SYTYCD premiere? Who were your favorite auditioners? Sound off in the comments, and for all my summer TV news, interviews and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!