so you think you can dance recap

SYTYCD: The Next Generation Premiere Recap: Were These Kids All Right?

Fire up your Snapchat. Upload something cool on fleek to Instagram. And, Oh Em Gee, limit your opinions to a Twitter-friendly 140 characters. So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation is upon us, and it’s going to improve its ratings in the advertiser-craved 18-34 demographic even if it kills those of us who’ve faithfully watched Fox’s summer staple for the past 12 seasons.

Ah well, for all the social-media ridiculousness that pervaded the hour, at least they didn’t replace Cat Deeley with a series of emojis. The tall drink of British springwater may be the best reality-competition host to never win an Emmy, but considering exec producer Nigel Lythgoe thinks viewers want an additional serving of Jason Derulo’s monosyllabic mumblings behind the judges’ table, anything’s possible.

All my old-man kvetching aside, though, the new incarnation of SYTYCD — focused solely on contestants between the ages of 8 and 13 — was more enjoyable/less child-pageant creepy than I’d feared. Dance is dance is dance is dance? Well, let’s reserve judgment ’til the pre-pubescent contestants are paired with All-Stars like Robert Roldan, who exude more sex while flossing their teeth than, say, Kim Kardashian during a carefully contemplated/extremely trussed paparazzi encounter. (Oh, yes, foloowing the Dance Academy round, each member of the Season 13 Top 10 will be partnered with a full-grown adult picked from the show’s prior casts.)

Still, while I didn’t see any auditions that truly stirred my soul (like, say, Melanie Moore’s Season 8 stunner), I did spot a handful of kids who could bloom into exciting artists with the right nurturing and mentoring (and a minimum of nationally televised humiliation).

With that in mind, let’s count down the three most promising auditions from the Season 13 premiere (which do not include 10-year-old Merrick [pictured above], a kid with some talent but an overabundance of “It was awesome!” over-rehearsed-ness, or tapper Ava, who didn’t come off quite as astonishing to me as she did to the judges):

3. Lev, 10, a French-born ballroom sensation drenched “Uptown Funk” in a layer of melted cheese, but his razor-sharp lines and effortless hip action could wind up making him his generation’s Derek Hough.

2. Ava, super tall 13-year-old (5’10” and rising), displayed elegance in the extreme — both in her melancholy contemporary routine and in her post-performance chat with the judges about being bullied over her body type.

1. Kida, a 13-year-old hip-hopper who lost his dad to the flu two years prior, brought a wicked mix of tempos, impressive burst of humor, and a stuttery shock of animation to the stage — and instantly became a front-runner in the process.

What did you think of the SYTYCD: The Next Generation premiere? Grade it in our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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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49 Comments
  1. Ann says:

    For someone who has watched since season two, this episode is so incredibly disappointing. What made this show so successful in the past were the emotionally choreographed routines. Kayla and kupono’s addiction routine, Melanie and Marko’s any routine, any routine by Travis wall, will all be inappropriate when danced by a child. I don’t doubt that these children are talented, but they already have dance competitions to participate in, leave sytycd to adults. I’m only watching to help with ratings in hopes that it doesn’t get cancelled and can return to its former glory next season.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree completely. I am very sad the show I loved to watch is gone. FYI though, the only way your watching will have an impact on ratings is if you are being measured by Nielsen. Otherwise, your watching won’t affect the ratings at all.

      • TJ says:

        well unless you watch on hulu or some other measurable device. Nielsen is the ultimate and what they pay attention to the most. But if you watch on the FOX now app or Hulu, they can still track number of views.

    • Kelly says:

      Wholeheartedly agree!

  2. S says:

    Whoever thought this was a good idea was mistaken.

    Dance is sexy. This is creepy. I felt awkward attempting to watch it, despite a coulple good little poppers.

  3. David4 says:

    Dance is about expressing yourself, it can be sexy or not. However it doesn’t fit into this show where it’s supposed to be about talent and expression. How much talent and expression can an 8 year old have? I would have been okayish with lowering the age range to 16 but this seems silly. Maybe everyone knows the show is DOA so they want to help out and build the next generation of dancers, even if it is weird / bad TV.

  4. James says:

    This show was on life support last season. The stage/street gimmick was a total failure. Abdul and Derulo are terrible judges. So how can we improve on that? Well, let’s keep those judges, add a kid judge, and make the show all about children. No. This isn’t going to work. The movelty of stuff like Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots is that the kids on there do a wide range of things and each episode features new ones. This is going to be an actual competition with routines and all-stars and eliminations. That just screams awkward. I adore some of the all-stars they have planned but I am cringing at the thought of seeing Robert matched up with a kid dancing a Sonya contemporary piece. That just doesn’t work. And I definitely have no desire to see a little one’s hopes and dreams get crushed when they are eliminated. If they opted for an age group of say 16-19 only, it would be a bit more understandable. This is just bad. I think the show will come to a close at the end of this season, a real shame considering how wonderful it was and how many stars it has uncovered in the dance world.

    • David4 says:

      I feel like Fox is waiting as long as possible to destroy the show so another network has no willingness to pick it up.

  5. Karen O says:

    I danced competitively as a child and have been following Dance Moms since its inception.

    People writing off the emotional capacity of kid dancers are dead wrong. Really mature young dancers can deliver incredibly moving performances about things that matter to them. Relationships with family, personal hardship, body issues, all kinds of things that are age-appropriate. Dance Moms is an obnoxious tv show but they’ve created some beautiful pieces for their girls. Don’t write off SYTYCD kids just yet.

    • Carla Krae says:

      +1 !

    • LaDonna says:

      I’m fairly certain Ava (the tall one referred to in the article) was referring to ALDC when she cried about being kicked off a team for being too tall. She was also kicked off for her mother’s pushy, arrogant, overbearing attitude. Ava is a beautiful dancer, but Jason Durulo even said it in his feedback to her last night. She’s going to get negative online comments no matter who she is or how good she is. It happens to anyone who puts themselves out there. Ava needs a thicker skin.

      • Mona says:

        I couldn’t agree more about the negative comments, in any visual medium someone will always be too tall, too short, too brunette, too blonde or so on for the casting director, so that is a lesson any dancer has to learn. However, Ava is 13 which anyone who has been 13 will recall as an emotional, raging hormone fueled age, so maybe a little harsh to say she needs to get a ticker skin.

        • LaDonna says:

          I completely understand what you’re saying, but 13 or not, she’s been in the national spotlight one of the most popular shows on TV. Not saying what Abby Lee did to Ava on Dance Moms was right, but yes, as you said, she needs to learn that every casting director has their “look” in mind. Ava didn’t meet that. What concerns me more than that part, though, is her references to her online presence. Any celebrity will tell you they get comments, both positive and negative, online. The only way to deal with the negative is to 1) get off the internet altogether or 2) develop that thicker skin I was talking about. I suppose for a 13 year old, the third option would be for her mother to pay closer attention to Ava is doing online. Honestly, I think Ava is a lovely girl and a beautiful dancer. Her mom is another story, but I wish all good things for Ava.

    • mary says:

      I danced when I was younger & saw the little ones dance. They were just as astounding as the adults. It’s this particular competition show in conjunction with the kids I don’t like. I don’t like seeing little ones cry(I know I’m a bit sensitive). Funny, I never saw them cry at the dance comps.

  6. Eurydice says:

    It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t very interesting, either. I’m already bored with hearing 8-year olds say they’ve dreamed of dancing all their lives – it’s only cute for about 3 seconds. This won’t be must-see for me.

  7. Heather says:

    Whiny little kids and their stage moms are NOT cute. This show has gone from fantastic to pathetic and unwatchable in one season. And pairing adult dancers with these children is just creepy and awful.

  8. Cindy says:

    I flat out won’t watch. If it was all kids all the time, kids dancing with kids it would be okay. I probably still wouldn’t watch because it doesn’t interest me. But children dancing with adults has too much creep potential. Which makes me very sad because this has been my favorite summer show since if first came on. They have jumped the shark in my opinion.

  9. bridyyc says:

    Jumped the shark. Turned around and jumped over it again. Grabbed the shark, stuffed it, spun it around like a skip-rope and jumped it a thousand more times. Doublejumped it. Went out and got an army of complete strangers to also come and jump it.

  10. Pat says:

    I love Cat Deeley, but I have no interest in watching the kiddies. I have watched every episode since the first and it was so great to watch the incredible talent and the amazing choreography. This is not the level I want to watch.

  11. Morisot says:

    I vote: Ugh.

  12. Lola says:

    As expected that was horrible. I have little patience for adults clamoring for second chances after their initial audition wasn’t good enough. I don’t need to see blubbering children begging. The show is way past its expiration date. Just put it out of its misery. The days of watching fantastic dancing and fun judging is over.

  13. Velocisexual says:

    I think you’re being very mild Mr. Slezak. This episode was the exact opposite of everything we like about the show. It’s not that the dances with the allstars are gonna be creepy or inappopriate, it’s that in trying to stay away from that they are gonna be soooo awkward.

    Also the show was so obviously scripted and manipulated to make these kids seem as cutesy and endearing as possible and the first kid was the worst, but many of them were clearly told to do or say something specific to make themselves be adorable.

    Add to that terrible judges that are really pointless cause we will never hear a single actual critique from them since it’s FORBIDDEN on american tv to say something not nice/positive to a kid.

    I will add one positive note: Ava was good and a breath of fresh air. Why? Because she was by far the most mature of all the contestants, she appears to not just physically be beyond her years but also mentally. And being the same size as the all-stars is gonna be a huge boon for her come the live shows.

  14. CATBETHEBEST says:

    “The tall drink of British springwater may be the best reality-competition host to never win an Emmy,…”
    SO TRUE. Cat is the best thing about this show and will probably have no chance at an Emmy with this ridiculous season.

  15. Kelly says:

    I don’t like this new format. The 11 year old ballerina was exquisite though. Perhaps, it’ll get better. I’d just rather see more mature dancers.

  16. James says:

    This is very upsetting. The main problem is that no one can relate to an 8 year old. You’ve been wanting to dance your whole life? So like, what, 10 minutes?

    18 year olds on the show already had a hard enough time connecting to mature themes and routines. Does anyone honestly expect anything from an 8-13 year old other than flexibility, sharp moves, smiling, and posing? Also, didn’t like 3 kids cry and break down after they were eliminated on X Factor? Is every elimination going to be dramatic kids throwing a hissing fit while Cat tries to calm them down after scrabbling to cut to a video package of their ‘best moments’?

    When I first heard the idea, I hated it. After seeing some previews and learning more about it, I thought I’d give it a chance. After giving it a chance, I hate it more than I previously did.

  17. JOANNE says:

    Refuse to watch.

  18. Larry says:

    I barely registered the show had returned last night. I decided long ago after learning of this years gimmick that I wouldn’t be watching. I’m sure the kids are talented but getting rid of the older adult hopefuls takes a lot of the show for me. It also would feel strange to me seeing a tween dancing alongside a returning adult SYTYCD superstar.

    When a show is in danger the network resorts to going to a kid cast to spruce up the ratings. It works for some. But in this case, taking young adults, who are on the verge of their careers, out of the equation -you lose the true heart of the show. Kids are cute and amazing but they don’t nearly have the emotional stories and struggles like an adult dancer who is trying to make dance a career. The producers jumped the shark with this decision. They essentially killed the enjoyment of this show. Although I’ve supported this show since the 4th season, I’m preparing myself that this will be the final season and getting out of the routine of making this a must-see summer show.

    • Eurydice says:

      Yes, trot out the children for a boost in ratings, but why stop there? Pets are very popular – how about “SYTYCD: The Canine Edition”? A super challenge for the choreographers and think if the emotion – Chasing a Squirrel, Leaping for the Frisbee, I Forgot Where I Buried My Bone…

      • mooshki says:

        Now, that’s a show I’d watch!

      • Mona says:

        I’m with you that kids are not the answer for SYTYCD, and I know you were joking about the pets, but FYI there is a branch of canine sport known as Canine Freestyle. Freestyle consists of handlers choreographing obedience routines to music which they perform with their canine partners. I’m a proud participant and I will tell you I’ve seen many a dog and handler team that worked better together than some of last’s season’s SYTYCD parings. I’m just saying!

  19. Ray says:

    FOX has made many missteps with this show over the past few years; first they fired Mary Murphy and replaced her with the insufferably incompetent Jason Derulo. Next was the inane street vs. stage format…but now this? I used to look forward to SYTYCD every summer but having these kids is the last straw. I’m officially out. Cancelled my season pass after being a loyal viewer for countless years.

  20. chocolatfrog says:

    They are trying to save the show, it has been going down for a coupe of years now, but I think this new version will kill it…. or else, find a new audience.

  21. Bobby says:

    BIG MISTAKE! HUGE! I don’t want to see children dancing. I had NEVER been a fan of dance until I watched SYTYCD and got emotionally involved with some of the routines. There’s no way these children can have the emotional impact like the adults did. We just aren’t watching this year and we are also 100% certain this will be the last of SYTYCD.

  22. kirads09 says:

    Can I grade lower – like an F- ? As if adult reality (in all its forms) wasn’t insipid enough. I find the trend toward juvenile exploitation in the genre even more distasteful. Granted, Hollywood trying to cash in on the backs of children is nothing new.

  23. Mona says:

    I blame the former glory of SYTYCD for causing me to overcome my objections to this entire next generation premise and watch the season premier. After avidly following every episode of every season since day 1; okay I followed last year’s mess a little less avidly, but still didn’t miss an episode; summer without Dance just didn’t seem right.
    It was less cringe inducing than I anticipated and while no one really knocked my socks off, there were some very talented young dancers showcased. Therein lies my problem. I don’t want to see talented young dancers, I just want to see talented dancers.
    A couple of last night’s standouts danced with a maturity that indicates maybe they can put aside the young label and just get on with the business of being talented dancers. In the hope of seeing those dancers, I will probably watch, no matter how much I complain here later.
    As for the larger-than-life, giant bow wearing, I’m-so-cute-I-could-just die-dancers, I hope the producers will relegate them to a permanent place in the audience along with the “dance moms and dads”, and if I had my way a certain “4th judge on the panel” who has no business passing judgment on her peers.

  24. MLO says:

    Hours and hours of my summer just opened up because I WILL NOT BE WATCHING. Children cannot achieve the lines, beauty and depth of emotion that make the dance beautiful and powerful. I’m sure there may be some exceptions, but the style of dance will have to remain ‘sexless’ and vanilla otherwise this show will end up bordering on pervy – lol perfect for Uncle Nigel.

  25. JR says:

    I wasn’t even aware this was on this week. I’ve been anxiously waiting for it every year for years. I’m not really concerned about dancing with the adults being creepy, but that’s all up to the choreographers and producers. It can be done ok. Neverthless, I have no interest in watching this. They took everything that was wrong with last season and doubled down on it, which is astounding to me. All they had to do was read the comments on here and other online places to see what the long-time fans want….which is a return to the original formula which we liked before they decided to screw with it. Its sad, but it gives me another free 1-2 hours a week.

  26. Sue says:

    I have watched every season of SYTYCD, even the abbreviated first season. I watched four minutes of its evil doppelganger and had to turn off. I expect it will fail and the show will be cancelled. Last year, stage v street was so much fun. This…is not.

  27. Sarah says:

    As a former professional dancer, I am absolutely disgusted by what SYTYCD is doing this season. It is one thing to encourage children to train to become extraordinary professional dancers at age 18; it is another thing entirely to encourage them to push their developing bodies to the point that they dance like extraordinary adult professional dancers at age 8. The only way to do what they are asking is to train to the point that your body will be falling apart by age 16, and cause you chronic pain throughout your adult life. The kids may be cute, and they may even be very good, but listen to them talk and you know they have trained specifically towards what they know this show looks for. Cutting the age by which they’re telling them they should attain it by 10 years is reckless. And wrecking millions of children’s bodies for ratings and advertising dollars is downright perverse.

    I have never missed an episode of this show, and just cancelled my series recording. I can’t support them any more.

  28. I have been a great fan of SYTYCD since it started. Loved being able to see the touring show after the end of the TV season. I was terribly disappointed to see the opening show of this season. There was some budding talent especially he lovely ballerina in the red tutu; however, I missed seeing the mature talent such as that of Jim Chew. I will not be watching again this season. I hope the show gets back on track next season.

    • Mona says:

      Mr Slezak, have you opted out of reviewing this season? If so then I’m curious why? While I despise the Dance Moms way of attacking the dancers’ characters and parents, and so on, I don’t think there is anything wrong with honest critique as long as it addresses skill, performance and technique. When these kids and their parents decided to audition, they had to expect feedback not only from the judges, but on social media as well. Unless of course they have been living under a rock. I don’t think kid appropriate critique has to be all sunshine and flowers. I just think it has to steer clear of attacking on a personal level. I promise to remember that in my comments if you promise us another season of your clever and insightful opinions on SYTYCD.

  29. K says:

    Just not interested. These kids may have talent – so they should be studying dance and can come back when they are 18. To me, truly beautiful dance requires some maturity.

  30. Jocelyn W. says:

    SYTYCD has officially Jumped the Shark!!!

  31. Julie says:

    Last year was bad. I was so shocked after the first show this year. Part of the appeal of the show was the sheer talent mixed with choreography that would often bring me to tears. And will forever be remembered. This has now become dance moms. The children are talented. But have not earned the right to be here after years of training. The other areas of performance and emotion and life experience along with years of dedication are missing. As well as the wonderful expertise of Ms Murphy and her fun persona. I quit watching. So sad

  32. Julia says:

    Won’t b watching that’s all

  33. former sytycd fan says:

    Been a big fan of the show since Season 1 and this is the 1st time that I stopped watching/recording the show. Kids as the new format? How desperate are you FOX? The show’s been failing because of your stupid formats and change in judges. Why change something that ain’t broke? I miss the old format and all the pros and guest judges. Mary was a huge part of what made the show entertaining but you got rid of her, and got crazy Paula & lame Jason instead? BIG yawn…. bring back the old format and Mary and Adam and fun guest judges and maybe I’ll tune in again but if not then FOX (are u listening?) you may as well cancel the show.

  34. monica valverde says:

    disappointment with this year show the next generation, hope they change it back to the way it was before. I guess it’s up to ratings