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!

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. Rose says:

    I thought Marcquet and Brooklyn were fun, but sloppy—they were definitely lacking a lot of technique, which I think gets overlooked when they’re a young, good-looking couple. I was not impressed by their performance in the slightest. They didn’t fully hit everything, their arms were all over the place….I completely agree with your assessment of Trevor Bryce, though!

    • MariaD says:

      Agree with you. I was not impressed with them. I thought the Garcia boy was much more polished than these two.

      As for Caleb, I think he should have gone home, gotten more training and come back next year. He has lots of promise but if he can’t do choreography with a partner, he is going to get slaughtered at the next rounds, and I would hate that to happen to him. He needs to recover a bit from his grief, not do this “for” his dad but rather for himself, and get better through more training.

      • Trinity says:

        It will be interesting to see how he handles LA (formerly Vegas). I will be surprised if he makes it to the final cut.. seems like there is a lot of major talent out there this year…

      • snailagain says:

        ITA! Especially about Caleb and the ballroom kids. One of the things I enjoyed most was Mary’s face while the Garcia boy was doing his solo ballroom routine. The other two judges were smiling and obviously enjoying it; she was completely focused on his feet and what he was doing. Not an expression anywhere! All her “hot tamale train” nonsense and screaming aside, the woman is an amazing dancer and when she’s critiquing her field of expertise she knows what she’s talking about. So when she’s that intent on what a dancer is doing, and her comments are so positive, I can’t help but think he’s going to be Top 20.

        • Mary's Merkin says:

          I love Mary…but the lap dance thing did hurt my eardrums.

        • Mike says:

          I LOVE Mary! At first I couldn’t stand her – I thought she was loud and obnoxious. But her critiques are spot on. And I may be in the minority, but I laugh every time she puts someone on the hot tamale train. Regarding Mary and the judges in general – two things that makes this show so special are the specific, useful critiques the judges usually give (I am NOT talking about Carly Rae Jepson!), and also how invested they are in the dancers. I watched SYTYCD for the first time after the one time I watched an entire season of American Idol (Simon was still on at the time). The difference between the shows was staggering to me. That’s one reason why I come back season after season. One of my favorite shows – and certainly better with Mary a part of it.

          • PIMB says:

            I am the biggest Mary fan. Yeah the first season I wasn’t on her team, but she is so positive and encouraging. And a little wild too. I wish she would dance more for us.

  2. danin says:

    Oo,I liked Tenisha&Rudy’s ballroom friendand Caleb’s final solo was probably my fave.

  3. Ashley says:

    Megan, Trevor, and Caleb are in my top 20. I can see Megan making it, I’m hoping Trevor does too, but I’m worried for Caleb.

  4. David4 says:

    Trevor Bryce was such a blast to watch.

    • snailagain says:

      Absolutely! I thought he was going to be an absolute dork when he got on stage – SYTYCD has cut way, way, back on the joke auditions but they still show a few, and I was certain he was going to be one. He was so much fun! And I appreciated – and was glad the judges mentioned – that in the middle of seeming to be doing nothing but clowning around he was doing a lot of really good, and really difficult, dancing.

  5. jen says:

    Loved Megan! Really looking forward to seeing more from her! Agreed about Beiber presence, could do without it but if it brings the tweens and raises awareness for the show I can live with it!

    • Trinity says:

      While watching Megan I thought if she can make it to the top (however many they are taking) we could be watching another Melanie….

  6. Aprilcot says:

    Megan was the stand out for me. While I enjoyed Trevor’s audition, his personality was extremely irritating. He seemed very full of himself. I hope I’m wrong about him.

    • SW says:

      I’m glad to finally see someone who agrees with me about Trevor’s personality. His cockiness – “others try to do what I do, but they can’t” – right off the bat, put me off. I couldn’t enjoy his audition because of it. He might be talented, but he needs to work on his attitude.

      • Trinity says:

        I FFWD through the pre stories so I didn’t get that from Trevor.. plan to watch the whole thing tomorrow so he will probably irritate the heck out of me… I liked his solo but didn’t think it was up there with the best ever… and I know this is snarky but his snaggle tooth was distracting..

  7. Joe Dog says:

    A shame so few people watch this show because it remains 55 times better than American Idol.

    • LB says:

      I totally agree. SYTYCD is easily my favorite. Both shows cut away too much for judge reactions, though. SYTYCD has always done that, so it’s nothing new, but it has always annoyed me. At least with Idol, you can still hear the singing, but with dancing, you get nothing.

      • Aprilcot says:

        But they don’t cut away during the live performances…only the pretaped stuff. That’s a huge difference.

    • Aprilcot says:

      Agreed (and I say that as an Idol watcher). My husband will even watch SYTYCD with me and he *hates* Idol. There is much more heart, and I think a big part of that is Cat Deeley. She’s such a phenomenal host, and you can just tell that she truly cares about the kids.

    • Jana says:

      And 55,000 times better than Dancing with the Stars.

      • PIMB says:

        I wouldn’t mind seeing Meryl again. I think they shoul dtake a song and do it in 3 styles. Like Talk Dirty to me in Argentine Tango, Hip Hop and Waltz. No message. Just fun!

        • Palindromic Anagram says:

          Right on, PIMB! What a brilliant idea! Actually, Jimmy Fallon’s comedy barbershop quartet, The Ragtime Gals, did a version of “Talk Dirty to Me” (featuring Kevin Spacey) that would be perfect for a Foxtrot. Where do I sign to make your idea a reality??!?!?!?!

          You know, DWTS did a similar thing a few years ago where couples were asked to dance 2 routines to 2 different versions of the same song. I’d love to see SYTYCD do the same.

  8. M says:

    Best reality show on TV, hands down! Can we get rid of Bieber tho?! He has the personality of a wet rag. What if the Wendy Williams impersonator guy does his job instead?

    • elr says:

      I whole heartedly agree with everything you wrote! I really like your idea about the Wendy Williams impersonator too. Almost anybody would be better than Bieber.

  9. Jss0058 says:

    So glad it’s back!!! Meagan was most definitely my favorite tonight

  10. JAO says:

    A summer favorite for sure. Looks like another amazing season is in store. Loved Megan.

  11. Babybop says:

    I thought I was going to hate Trevor, but I LOVED his routine. To be honest, I didn’t really like Megan’s routines… There’s something about dances with incessant arm flinging that bothers me.

  12. forwarddad says:

    I didn’t love Trevor. I liked him. His personality annoyed
    His dancing was good it was the best. Need to see him again.

  13. forwarddad says:

    Still no edit :-(
    ^his dancing wasn’t the best.

  14. kevin says:

    Megan was my favorite of the night. Rudy has a hunking body and is just as strong a dancer.

  15. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Trevor made my night. He made my week, my month. A joy to watch. His movement perfectly mimicked the music. His personality is infectious. His talent unrelenting. His routine brought a smile to my face, one that 3 hours later after repeated viewings is still there. I look forward to his long stay on the show.

  16. I love SYTYCD, and some of the people who made it through these first auditions were phenomenal. Caleb made me cry. Twice. The boy’s got heart and I hope he makes it past the next round.

    Love the show, love the dancing, but in all honesty, you guys ruined it for me by putting that insipid twit Justin Bieber on your show. Seriously? You couldn’t find ANYONE better??? He looked like he was stoned!

  17. The Dog Whisperer says:

    Loved Megan – beautiful dancer and her life story was heartbreaking and inspiring. Also really like the girl who was the first to audition (whose dad did the “bottle dance”). In my opinion SYTYCD is the best show on TV. My only wish is that they would go back to the original premise of the show and have only choreographers and professional dancers as the judges for both the auditions and the live shows. I think that because I used to be a dancer, I wish they would show a lot more of the choreography sessions (would like to see the contestants learning the dances) and would also love to see the dancers during Vegas Week working with the choreographers to learn different dance genres. I think it would be really entertaining and educational as far as seeing a routine come together from the beginning, rather than just seeing the finished product. It would also help us all understand more about how the final dancers for the live shows were chosen.

    • PIMB says:

      Hey Lady. Just wondering. Who paid for Megan’s dance lessons? These sob stories were out in full force last night. I wish they would stop. I am a cynic. :)

      • Kikidee says:

        I was wondering the same thing! Cynics unite!!!!

      • Trinity says:

        Glad I only watched the dance… I didn’t have a sob story to ruin it for me… Dance lessons are expensive along with the costumes…

      • PIMB says:

        OK I just gave the cynic in me an ambien. Here is an excerpt from an article about Megan. For the entire article Google her name and look for dance troupe.

        It was Megan’s 11th birthday, and she was excited to get home from school. When she arrived, there were no presents, no cake. Only her mother, bruised and bloodied, pleading with her to “leave and don’t come back.”

        She went to a friend’s home, but was worried. She returned to find her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, who had been arrested on drug charges, being taken away in a police car. It would be a year before she saw her mother again.

        • Jenks says:

          For me, the thing that saved Megan from Sob Story Hell was her amazing attitude. She told her story simply, but she didn’t cry, complain, moan, etc. When Cat said “that’s awful!”, Megan was like, “Yeah, it was.” She likely got some breaks along the way, but the girl has brought herself pretty far and doesn’t seem to be wallowing in her back story. Definitely one of my early faves.

      • Carla Krae says:

        She mentioned she stayed with various people between 12 and 18 like friends, compassionate teachers, etc. I’m sure she had people here and there who believed in her enough to help her out. And then she could get a job from age 15 on, too. I don’t have a problem believing her story because of 1) how she told it, without drama, and 2) my mother taught in a disadvantaged h.s. for decades and every so often there was a kid that had an amazing work ethic and maturity to do it all. One girl she taught became emancipated at 16, was taking AP classes, working, and developing her fashion design and sewing skills to get into FIDM. Even had her own apartment. So, it’s rare for a teen….but possible.

    • Aprilcot says:

      I completely agree. I’m a dance teacher, and I cringe when the guest judges don’t understand the technical aspects of what is happening onstage. Carly Rae Jepsen, Gabby Douglas, and Erin Andrews were a joke last year. Anna Kendrick and JTF are hilarious, but come on. At least Jenna Elfman is a celebrity judge with dance knowledge. I want a knowledgeable third judge every week: Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman, Kenny Ortega, Mia Michaels!

    • Trinity says:

      As long as Nigel and Mary keep it to a minimum I am okay with the Celebrity judges.. Wayne has dance experience and we know Jenna does.. Keep Erin, Carly, Gabby far AWAY!!!! The stitck gets on my nerves.. dad dance, babies dancing, etc.. let me see more of these amazing dancers… Sorry Wendy Williams impersonator wasn’t good…

  18. Lore says:

    So glad that the show os back, dont like Bieber getting with this, but so happy that Kathryn is there, i love her

  19. MK204 says:

    I will have to watch it again as I fell asleep in the middle (thus the life of an old fartski who gets up early in the AM), as I missed the ballroom couple but I did see all the others who were quite good. I also shed a tear over the returning gent whose dad passed away. At least with this show they show you good auditions, not ridiculously silly ones as their singing counterpart does. I have this recorded so I’ll watch tomorrow.

    • Andy D says:

      SYTYCD is still the best show on TV. Great dancers, great music, great judges. I absolutely love Megan…beautiful dancer, beautiful spirit, so good to see someone blossom like that, overcoming difficulties with such a refreshing and positive attitude.
      (I agree with person who wrote replace Justin Bieber with We dy Williams impersonator)

  20. MariaD says:

    I enjoyed Bryce, Marcano, Garcia and Abreu. Please make Bieber go away, and while you are at it, take Nigel with you. I am tired of his overt attempts to manipulate the outcomes of the show, his inappropriate jokes, and his worship of all things Cyrus (does anyone even remember that the winners of season 9 were Chehon and Eliana–whom the show has virtually ignored since, as if the public’s vote is of no consequence). And finally, apropos of nothing, can someone in the SYTYCD machinery explain to me why would one put a delectable a dancer as Jasmine in a deodorant commercial? I want to see that woman dance, ’cause she can fly!

    • Cynx says:

      I agree with everything you said, MariaD, but I was excited to see Jasmine in the commercial. It means she’s getting attention, and that can never be bad. They should have thrown in some dance moves, but I’ll take what I can get.

  21. Heimlich Manure says:

    I am so glad Caleb made it. If he didn’t I heard he was going to have his dad exhumed and would dance with his corpse at the next city. At least we avoided that.

  22. Heimlich Manure says:

    Ooooh Justin Beiber. She looked good last night. But she really needs to come out of the closet. I mean flannel shirt. Bar Mitzvah moustache. Is there any doubt she is a lesbian?

  23. Heimlich Manure says:

    Why do they keep showing these lame dads. I would rather watch “sex”!!!!

  24. PIMB says:

    I liked Brooklyn and Marquet but they definitely ran out of steam. I thought Rudy was overrated. Novian..only good sob stories are allowed. Could you add to the death toll please? Reefer beiber was a waste, but what’s new. Loved loved loved Trevor!!!I think I liked Megan but I am still recovering from the concussion I got from being hit over the head with her questionable sob story.

  25. PIMB says:

    I’ll have some of what mary’s having. Except for the shrugs that is.

  26. Nick Garcia's Sister says:

    I’m sorry I couldn’t make it last night. I had hemorrhoid surgery. Then the dog ate my homework. Then grandma dies. I got my period. My shoelaces came undone. I got montezuma’s revenge. Landshark….

  27. waterbug says:

    Usually when the contestant have emotional backgrounds they fizzle out in hollywood week. Nigel loves drama and emotional back stories. The most emotional stories are the first to dancers to be given the boot..

  28. waterbug says:

    Trevor needs to be aware of his dopey look while mouthing the song. It distracted me from his routine at times. Seriously.

  29. BrazenSongBird says:

    For the life of me, I don’t understand people who get offended by a performer’s belief in themselves; especially when they have the goods to back it up. Trevor was stating an objective fact. He said, “some people try to do what I can with my body, but they can’t”, or something along those lines. I mean, what’s so wrong with that statement? IT’S TRUE!! It definitely sets the stage for “Alright, let’s see what you can do”, but then the kid delivers! The humble, shrinking violets who sometimes win these shows based on likability, get swallowed up by the harsh reality of the biz called Show. When you’re out there and auditioning, you had best BELIEVE in yourself and your talent otherwise NOBODY else will. If it’s an objective fact that you’re a good performer and talented, then people shouldn’t knock you for simply stating it. Granted, it’s a fine line between being confident and cocky, but let’s not dismiss the confident kid for being cocky, when he/she is just not.

  30. MLO says:

    Was hoping for less sob stories and more auditions. They put through so many we didn’t get a chance to see. This is why I tape the show and then start watching it about an hour in – I can FF through the back stories and crying when necessary! Another complaint – not enought Cat!

    • LisaB says:


    • elr says:

      Unfortunately there is not a lot of Cat until the live shows, which I am okay with, even though I adore Cat and think she is the best reality show host around if we were to see more of her that would cut down even more on the auditions that we do see. What the show needs to do is stop cutting to the judges when someone is out there dancing.

  31. LisaB says:

    Chehon, Season 9’s male winner, set the bar too high to accept many of these ballet/contemp dancers. I’ve yet to see any male dancer who can touch his technique or expressiveness.

  32. Lana says:

    TVLine has changed its look here. Loved the show, my favorite reality show since day 1. We had an electrical outage and I missed all of the second hour, but for the last 13 minutes so I was very disappointed especially since you’all have been talking about all these dancers I missed. I also missed Beiber, but maybe that was a good thing. I have no complaints so far and thrilled to be back in SYTYCD land!!!

  33. rrg says:

    All good, but get rid of the Bieber bits. Did nothing for the show

  34. Morisot says:

    Long-time SYTYCD fan here. Guess I have my cranky-pants on. I was really disappointed with this episode. I thought the judging was insipid. And, we all go through tough times; I think there is way too much reliance on “tug-on-the-heart-strings” back-stories now on all these shows.

  35. Jan says:

    So glad Slezak is doing the SYTYCD recaps! I’m thrilled to have the show back. Do wish we had seen more of the dancers who were put through.

  36. Gia says:

    Improve the show ..get rid of Mary Murphy!!!!!

  37. Jenna says:

    All you talking about Marcquet Hill’s lack of technique and etc and about him being sloppy are going to regret it when the show actually comes on live. You guys don’t even KNOW what you’re in for. He’s an amazingly overly talented dancer. He’s going to ATLEAST easily make the top 10. This guy is amazing at every genre of dance. Brooklyn just held him back at the audition. Brooklyn personally shouldn’t have made it. She lacks a bunch of stuff. But Marcquet has so much to offer just mark my words

  38. PIMB says:

    I kind of liked Tanisha. Nigey wanted Jessica to solo because of all her crotch shots. Well at least they spared us the Beibs lat night. I am sorry Silky didn’t make it. I think I like some of the people cut more than some who remain.