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!