SYTYCD Season 14

So You Think You Can Dance Premiere Recap: Which Auditions Wowed You?

Oh, how I’ve missed you, So You Think You Can Dance — the real you, that is.

After shaking things up in 2015 with the lackluster “Stage Vs. Street” theme, then introducing SYTYCD Jr. in 2016, the Fox competition series at last returned to its original form with Monday’s Season 14 premiere. There were no teams, no child contestants and — perhaps the best news of all — not a single frame of footage featuring Jason Derulo. Praise be.

Instead, as the auditions kicked off in Los Angeles, it seemed all was right in the SYTYCD world: Mary Murphy was back behind the judges’ table, joined by Nigel Lythgoe and series rookie Vanessa Hudgens, whose Grease: Live performance I still think about regularly; Cat Deeley was effortlessly charming with the contestants, even when faced with the most gut-wrenching of life stories to discuss; and the auditions themselves ranged from breathtaking to puzzling — or both, in the case of one particular tryout.

It’s too soon to tell if the eventual Season 14 champion was among Monday night’s bright-eyed rookies — but in the meantime, let’s rank the auditions that garnered a ticket to The Academy.

6. Mark Villaver (Breaking/Contemporary) — Mark seemed completely at ease both in front of the camera and on the stage — no easy feat, given that he was the season’s first auditioner. But despite his marvelous ability to fuse the staccato movements of breakdancing with fluid contemporary steps, Mark’s performance didn’t have that moment: the goosebump-inducing move that leaves us saying, “How did he do that?!” Dressed in a drab all-black ensemble, and saddled with the first performance slot of the season, Mark’s routine was regrettably easy to forget.

SYTYCD Season 145. Alexis Gilbert (Jazz) — Although she was clearly nervous in the moments before her audition, Alexis proved with her piece that she’s both physically strong and completely dazzling to watch. (You work that long hair, girl.) But given her choice of music — Bishop Briggs’ bass-heavy “River” — I so wish that Alexis had embodied a more badass, serious character during her routine, instead of shooting the judges a winning smile at every turn.

4. Robert Green (Hip-Hop) — Putting aside his distracting poncho get-up, Robert brought an enthusiasm and creativity to the dance floor that was reminiscent of Twitch and Fik-Shun before him. I do worry that his choreography will become a tired schtick, and his skills won’t translate into other dance styles. But on a show that tends to favor emotionally weighty, tearjerking routines, Robert’s good-plain-fun audition was a joy to watch.

3. Kristina & Vasily (Latin Ballroom) — Many a real-life couple has taken to the SYTYCD stage, only to perform a routine that lacks chemistry or sensuality, despite their offstage romance. Not the case for Kristina and Vasily. Even when they weren’t literally kissing during the dance, the couple’s love for each other — and for Latin ballroom in general — was impossible to ignore. Plus, Kristina’s legwork? Fire emoji. Fire emoji. Fire emoji.

2. Anastasiia & Viktoriia (Modern; pictured right) — Truthfully, I thought these twin sisters should have gone to the choreography round first, instead of sailing through to the Academy; captivating as it was, their routine lacked synchronization and failed to prove they can handle partnering work outside of their own. Having said that, I will probably go to bed thinking about those few seconds in the audition where they mouthed a series of words to the audience and then clung to each other for dear life. Haunting, dizzying and completely entertaining, the sisters’ performance proved they can tell quite a powerful story — and hopefully not just when they’re dancing side by side.

1. Darius Hickman (Contemporary) — Oh, my heart. Having lived through a tumultuous childhood (including a drug-addicted mother and domestic violence), Darius seemed to pour every ounce of adversity into his audition, resulting in a performance that was as moving as it was technically astonishing. Although his choreography seemed inspired by the sadness and anger he experienced in his youth, Darius’ lines were still so elegant, his gymnastics so graceful, his passion for dance so evident and authentic. His ticket to The Academy was a foregone conclusion — and a spot in the Season 14 finale doesn’t seem out of the question, either.

With that, I hand it over to you. Has SYTYCD sucked you back in with its return to original flavor? Which of Monday’s auditions impressed you the most? Drop a comment below with all of your thoughts.

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. Ronnie says:

    So You Think You Can Dance, you’ve won me back for another season. I said I would give it a shot if Mary returned and I’m so glad I did. It FELT like the show again! WooHoo! Also, I was a little worried Vanessa Hudgens would be a waste of space, but she didn’t bother me at all. I like that she was expressive and descriptive (and apparently has a greater vocabulary than He Who Shall Not Be Named). I’m just gonna pretend the seasons with P and J don’t exist and enjoy this summer’s ride.

  2. I am really pleased the show I loved is back. The first round of contestants were great. Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Barbara Sharp says:

    Anastasia and Victoria’s modern dance routine was very reminiscent of and even copied multiple elements of both the performance routine and presentation style that was performed in World Of Dance Competition by French Street dancers Les Twins. Since many of Les Twins ‘s routines are well known on You Tube, these Russian Twins should be giving them credit.

    • Jessica says:

      How do you know who influenced whom? The Twins are on You Tube too.

    • GrumpyMittens says:

      I actually felt like it was Robert Green who caught some of the signature Les Twins style – this mix of sharp, heavy-hitting moves and languid, playful ones is pretty damn hard to forget.

  4. Shaun says:

    Well,does choreography even exist anymore?The judges were too soft on these dancers.Some were just contortion and voguing,lol.

    • Gorgonzola Matrix says:

      Anyone else notice how the quality of production has diminished greatly from past seasons? Like, that premiere was only an HOUR and too much time was wasted on that austin powers looking kid. The routines were good, but not much was exceptional. Best tonight was the couples ballroom. I also hope that Vanessa isn’t going to be just a cute repackaging of Jason Derulo. She needs to bring more than OMG MIND BLOWING AND EMOTIONAL I WOULD PAY BIG MONEY TO SEE THAT AT A SHOW. I really hope SYTYCD isn’t at death’s door, it’s been a summer staple of mine for years. I think the all-star pairing format is super cool but I wish one of those all-stars was representing ballet. I think the Russian twins routine was poignant especially considering what has occurred just today in Russia.

      • anon says:

        I’m sure any production cuts were inevitable considering the show has been on the bubble in terms of renewal for a few years now (largely due to the “twists” they tried).

        • Percys Owner says:

          I think it went the other way around, the “twists” were introduced because Fox was saying the show was on the bubble and wanted better ratings. So the producers tried to come up with a new look that would bring in more young viewers. I’m just glad that the show is back to the original format.

    • Temperance says:

      It’s SYTYCD, not SYTYCChoreograph.

    • AngieD says:

      There are so many dance styles represented. What is contortion and voguing to Shaun is an art form for others. Perhaps the dancers aired last night weren’t the best, but they were the best of what they had at that location. They make up their own choreography for the tryouts, but they will only choreo their own solos during the actual competition. Besides the title is America’s FAVORITE Dancer – not Best Dancer, not Best Choreographer….

  5. Percys Owner says:

    I’m so glad my show is back! Admittedly, I wasn’t interested in the concept of Street vs. Stage and I hate watching kids perform, so I gave the last 2 seasons a pass. But THIS is what I love to see, talented dancers doing their thing, superbly.

  6. Sue Conley says:

    I love SYTYCD. Look forward to it every year. I am 65 years old and I just love watching these kids dance. They are amazing. However, Nigel, please keep your political comments to yourself. Your edit crew could have just cut that statement out. Can’t we just have a show that is just entertaining and fun without bringing politics into it. Let’s just focus on the talent of all these young people. Thank you!

    • Wanda says:

      Agree 100%. It’s about entertainment, not politics. Looking forward to a marvelous season. Glad Mary is back!!!!

    • Tammy Cagle says:

      Won’t be watching because of his statement!!!

      • Alexandra says:

        After the hundreds of inappropriate things he’s said over the years, that was the statement that did it for you? LOL.

      • Temperance says:

        Sounds good. You can miss out.

      • Dini says:

        I wouldn’t give Nigel the power to take away the enjoyment of this wonderful show. Who cares what he thinks? I will keep watching as long as the show is on the air and stick to my own opinions about political matters. Nigel is of no importance to me!

      • Jessica says:


      • Susannah says:

        Typical trumpkin comment and the excessive use of exclamation points speak volumes. Personally, I applaud anyone who possesses the courage to speak out against that abomination. I will enjoy the show more than ever now. Thanks Nigel. Also, very happy to see Mary Murphy back. Hudgens doesn’t appear to have much to offer in her critiques but her brilliant smile, enthusiasm and appreciation for the dancers is lovely to watch.

    • signlady42 says:

      I was SO hopeful that we could just watch young, talented dancers dance and keep politics out of at least one show, but they just can’t do it. I watched the show tonight, but I won’t be watching anymore. Lost a HUGE fan of this show tonight.

    • JR says:

      I tune out most of what Nigel says. I didn’t really notice anything, but it could have been when I was FFing through him. My one complaint is he doesn’t take it as seriously as he did the first few seasons. I think he’s too comfortable.

    • Jeannie Rosenberg says:

      I was thrilled to have SYTYCD back last night. Most of the performances were amazing. I was glued to the television. I had forgotten how much I had missed it. Then, right in the middle of my unbelievable great joy, smile plastered across my face, heart pounding, head spinning, one of the judges (Nigel and my favorite) has to make a snide political remark. I had just read the following requirements for participants.
      Dancers either must be U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents of the U.S. or possess current legal Employment Authorization Cards enabling them to seek employment freely in the U.S. (i.e., without restrictions as to employer) by the date specified in the eligibility rules. Dancers must be no younger than 18 or older than 30 years of age on the day of their in-person audition. Dancers must provide legal, valid proof of age when they register for auditions. Ironic?

      • Percys Owner says:

        Not really ironic. They are about to use these dancers in their show, so they HAVE to abide by the legal requirements, or the show can get shut down. Noting that if our President had his way, many of the contestants would LOSE the legal documentation and be shipped back to “where they belong” is just that.

        Look, I would love to try pot, but in my state it’s not legal, so I don’t. I STILL get to talk about how appalled I am the the new Attorney General is trying to bring back the older marijuana laws that put people in jail for YEARS just for possession. It’s not ironic, it’s me obeying the law while still thinking the law is wrong and the intent to enforce it in a heavy handed way is not only stupid, but somewhat evil.

    • Jessica says:

      Have a sense of humor. We have an Arse for A Pres. he needs to be mocked as much as possible.

      • That’s not the point Jessica. This is a dance competition, watched by people from all political walks of life. Politics sucks the joy out of everything, and one person’s opinion, though it may represent many, is not welcome by those who disagree, and want to get away from antagonistic comments. If, and, when Nigel Lithco’s dance judging ability is critiqued during a presidential debate, then I guess, anything goes. Meanwhile, I don’t care about Hollywood’s opinion on anything other than their particular skills in acting, dancing, singing, directing, cinematography, costumed-design, etc. I still like Nigel, and I still love SYTYCD. I thought the auditions were great, but I did miss the two hours. I can never get enough of my favourite show, and even enjoyed the kids, though I’m GLAD the adults are back. But somehow, the atmosphere seemed a bit quiet, as if they’ve cut costs. I still want to see some of the old faces and choreographers, like Adam, Tyce, Mia, Dan, and so on.

        • Sarah says:

          You’re right – politics does suck the joy out of everything… including the lives of those actors, dancers, singers, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, etc. when the future of their industry is being threatened.
          No one wanted to hear it when our government announced their cuts 2 years ago either… they were “shocked” that their neighbours lost jobs, houses, businesses… I mean, those “Hollywood” types were rich, they didn’t need our tax dollars – why are hotels and restaurants closing? Why are teachers, electricians and carpenters moving away? Didn’t the government promise that private donors would make up for the cuts, and I’d end up with more money in my pocket? But they didn’t understand that people had built businesses based on housing and feeding film crews and theatre audiences, that people relied on part of their income coming from building film sets and coaching artists, that when spending and employment dries up so does government income from sales and income taxes, or that the rich people they were annoyed at were using their platform to speak up on behalf of many others who didn’t have one…
          So it stands to reason that an Executive Producer, who moved to the US on a visa he’d no longer get, built a career training and working in places and for people whose businesses are open due to arts endowments, and has spent many years hiring people who wouldn’t have their visas, education or careers without the funding and policies now being threatened MIGHT have something to say about it… Or maybe he should just keep his mouth shut and see what happens to his show, charity, hundreds of employees, and millions of viewers who cite this show as the reason they love (and pay to learn or watch) dance…
          Oh, and that funding our politicians promised would end up back in our pockets? Funnily enough, the country’s largest bank ended up with a grant for almost the same amount, supposedly to hire people at a location that’s now barely staffed… Odd how that happens…

        • Temperance says:

          Then you missed the point of the comment. The comittable sociopath temporarily in the White House wants to eliminate all funding for the arts and is an abject racist and homophobe. His comment was merely noting reality. If you don’t like what he had to say, then you’re being a complete hypocrit watching a show that’s the opposite of everything Trump wants.

      • toughhombre says:

        No, we have a leader. The arse was the nitwit that ruined this country in every way for the last 8 years.

    • Paige says:

      I agree, leave the political stuff out. Otherwise, it looks like it will be another good season.

      • Temperance says:

        The political stuff doesn’t leave the show – or any of us – out, so why should the reverse be true?

  7. Tammy Cagle says:

    I was all set to watch the new season until Nigel made the remark about president Trump banning the show because of the different nationalities. Nigel you just don’t get it!!! You, Nigel are an IDIOT!!!!! Will not watch ever again!!!!

  8. ALM says:

    Finally the real SYTYCD is back! I am willing to overlook a lack of some good judging comments just to have Mary and the Hot Tamale Train back, along with a lot of great dancing. I am looking forward to every minute of every episode this summer and hoping that people respond to the return to form and watch again.

  9. Lu says:

    Omg… i’m cried when I woke up two hrs later. I’be been waiting like everyone else for June 12th, and I fell asleep due to 90 degree heat. Been searching but no luck. Where can I see today’s show?? PLEASE HELP. Thanks.

    • Big Cheddar says:

      It’s already on Hulu. Also, some of the audition clips are on youtube. Good luck and stay hydrated!

  10. Kirsten says:

    I didn’t mind Nigel’s comment one bit. He was merely stating an off the cuff opinion. I hear things like that all the time. It’s not like he’s wrong. Trump doesn’t think before he speaks( or Tweets). We should all be wary. As for the show, SYTYCD is back. Thank you. I lost intrerest in 2015. And didn’t watch the kiddos in 2016. Tonight made me cry a couple of times. Love Vanessa as an actress already. I didn’t know her dance background. Too old I guess for those movies. Haha.

    • Percys Owner says:

      Agree on all counts. The show made one off the cuff remark, focused on a known and stated position of the current President. I was not bothered.

      I understood the idea of Street vs Stage, they often are two different skill sets, but the idea never caught me. I didn’t even give it a chance (I’m 64, they don’t care if I watch or not). I don’t like watching kids in competition shows, so last season was totally off the schedule for me.

  11. Adele says:

    Production feels small and sparse. Not enough constructive comments and too much gushing for fairly ordinary performances. A little less screaming from Mary would be good!

    • mrmcgee says:

      These are the auditions though. This is how they usually are.

      • Gorgonzola Matrix says:

        I agree with Adele. I think that some of the YES performances tonight would’ve been NOs in the past.

    • Gospino says:

      I tried to give the show another chance, but Mary’s annoying screeching reminded me of why I quit in the first place. It was because of her. She’s good when she speaks with actual comments, but she is absolutely unbearable when she screams. My remote control doesn’t have a working mute button, and I’m
      not about to pay for one that does just because of her.

  12. Jenny says:

    I have to point out that Robert Green is not a b-boy. There was no breakdancing in his routine at all.

  13. Bill says:

    SO glad to have the real show back!! Love it, love it, love it. But, do you think they could work in a few more commercials? :(

  14. mrmcgee says:

    I’m also glad original flavor SYTYCD is back. I know I’m in the minority but the kids version last year was not that bad. There were some excellent routines and overall it was better than Street v Stage.

    But that’s all behind us. I love having Mary back, but she needs to slow down the Hot Tamale Train! Giving it in the first auditions, twice, is too much, lol. It’s supposed to be for the blow-away dances, not just the ok ones.

    Now we just need Mia and Sonya to return.

  15. Jason Paul says:

    Woo hoo! So happy to have this great summer show back.

  16. LAwoman says:

    I’m so glad the show is back to its roots. I skipped last year, but I’m happy to be watching again.

  17. Temperance says:

    Reverse Mark and Darius in the ranks, and I’d agree. I’m not particularly enjoying (or hating) Vanessa yet. but I’m loving the show back to normal.

  18. KayCeeCee says:

    Which do you prefer SYTYCD or World of Dance?

    • GrumpyMittens says:

      World of Dance. More dancing, less sob stories.

    • Peg Grover says:

      SYTYCD always has been my fave over DWTS, and now over WOD. [like all of you, ignoring last 2 seasons.] DWTS, the dance styles and quality are much more limited than SYTYCD.
      WOD, it looks like the contestants will just be doing their own styles. As great as they might be doing that, one of the things that’s so great about SYTYCD is that they push the dancers outside of their style – the ones who make it thru to the end are those who prove their versatility and growth.

    • toughhombre says:

      The judging on World of Dance is abysmal. How can Lopez be a dance judge when she is untrained and is only a glorified backup hip hopper. I am even disappointed in Derek Hough. He is purposefully holding back to not outshine Lopez whose critiques are laughable, no dance training or disciplines. The other guy is a joke. At least SYTYCD judges Lithgoe and Murphy are trained ballroom pros. Both shows promote too much hip hop and street dance which is not real dance, only gyrating and contortions.

    • Liz says:

      SYTYCD – 100% less J Lo.

    • Temperance says:

      SYTYCD by a billion times. WoD is a cheap knockoff of AGT, and it’s pretty boring. The judges are terrible.

  19. Blondage says:

    Great review! I didn’t realize the show was debuting last night. Thank god for DVR’s. :) So thrilled they went back to the format I love.

  20. dancingshiu says:

    Love the show forever.

  21. Jessica says:

    Just breezing through the comments and I’m so surprised that a clearly liberal, arts focused site has so many political complainers. Interesting, really. I didn’t ever realize the right would be interested in the Arts.

    • Eurydice says:

      Well, now you know.

      • Temperance says:

        We all know the right wants to delete all funding for the arts. Full stop. At least the psycho right in the US. Churchill was a huge proponent of the arts – going so far as to refuse to cut the arts budget during WWII, asking “then what are we fighting for?”.

    • Peg Grover says:

      wow – nice stereotyping. So as a moderate Republican who wants a smaller federal government, I wouldn’t care about arts?!?!? I”m also a classically trained pianist and singer, and passionate about SYTYCD!!

  22. toughhombre says:

    We have always loved the show but lost interest last year with the ridiculous DeRulo and that teen age twit judging. Oh how we missed Mary Murphy. Well, thank God she’s back complete with her maniacal laugh and screams. Hudgens is underwhelming and I don’t know if she has any real dance expertise other than hip hop gyrating. For the most part there was some great talent especially Kristina & Vasily, outstanding ballroom dancers in every respect. Other than them there is too much inclusion of hip hop related gyrating. Hip hop is not dance. It is street gyrating, gymnastics, contortions, and gross movements without any fixed disciplines, rules or steps. Interpretive Jazz dancing is totally different and great to watch although the highly tauted kid, Darius, was hard to watch for us. The low point of the show was Lithgoe’s uncalled for and rude remark regarding President Trump and the many nationalities present. There is no right or reason to interject his liberal politics into an entertainment show. He was out of line.

  23. mary says:

    One-production is lower because ratings had drastically gone down in the past. That’s why they cut it to once a week(same for AGT). Otherwise we would not be watching another season. Two-Nigel said one sentence in regards to the Prez. Don’t forget the prez became known for a reality show. Combine those two, yes he’s going to be mentioned! And it was once! If you actually like the show itself, why does that bother people so much they will refuse to watch it anymore?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, I immediately tuned out and changed to another show. He didn’t just mention Trump, he said Trump might cancel the show because of the nationality of come of the contestants. I think he was trying to be “funny” but he came across just stupid.

  24. spacyz says:

    The episode was enjoyable with some really unique routines. So glad to have it back after I skipped last year and lamented the change to young kids. I understand the complaints about the lack of critical review of the routines and about Nigel’s immigration comment. However, neither of those impacted the show for me. The auditions are always more lenient than the later competition. Dancers will quickly be axed during Vegas week if they can’t make it.

    People should lighten up a bit about Nigel’s one comment, as long as it doesn’t become a regular thing. I don’t appreciate political statements in shows that are just about entertainment and relaxing after work. As a conservative Trump voter who didn’t agree with Nigel’s comment, this seemed rather tame though and harmless compared to much of TV nowadays. Smug writers feel the need to force their liberal political views and anti-Trump rhetoric where it doesn’t fit or takes you out of the show. Scandal had many instances this past season. Brooklyn Nine-Nine did a very awkward and ridiculous episode about racial profiling that changed the whole tone of the show. There are many other examples. This was relatively nothing and was just an impromptu and unplanned thing. It didn’t even seem like Nigel took it seriously.

  25. Claire says:

    I do not like this new judge at all ! I am fade up with the show already ! Thanks to tbe dancers though ! Please do not show any more artist who are not good and not even fun , it is much better to give exposure to the great talented artists who come to audition and they are many of them.
    Swicht vanessa with something else and the show will be fine !

  26. Kate vivian says:

    Not impressed w Vanessa hudgens at all. Nigel shame on you for not having a judge w more experience and whose opinion matters.
    someone, anyone with more experienceMary Murphy will you please stop the crying!?

  27. Rob says:

    I was really enjoying the show, right up until Nigel made a political bash of Trump, basically saying that because the show had people from other countries, Trump might ban the show. Really? Is Nigel that stupid? I won’t watch it anymore unless the idiotic political statements are out.

  28. Kate vivian says:

    I’d like to state that a true blue fan doesn’t jump ship because the show evolved last year and you didn’t. If you hadn’t been so opinionated and disappointed that the show tried something new with the kids, well, you missed out. Now, you want to freak out over a comment that you didn’t like, well all I can say is evolve people. It’s the dancing, the contestants and all stars, and choreography that makes sytucd the show that we all love. Hopefully as we tune in each week we will be astounded, excited, inspired and greatly entertained. Like always. Goodness people, get a grip!!!!

  29. westie says:

    I haven’t watched the show for several seasons. The banishing of Mary Murphy and the constant “reformatting” of the show, made it unwatchable for me. It was like they deliberately intended to remove all the fun and heart form the competition and turn it into a kind Hunger Games of dance. but, if it truly has returned to its roots, I will definitely give it another shot.

  30. westi says:

    I haven’t watched the show for several seasons. The banishing of Mary Murphy and the constant “reformatting” of the show, made it unwatchable for me. It was like they deliberately intended to remove all the fun and heart form the competition and turn it into a kind Hunger Games of dance. but, if it truly has returned to its roots, I will definitely give it another shot.

  31. kariweddle says:

    Love there is older dancers again

  32. MAS says:

    My 6 year son who is about everything and anything with a ball (and completely obsessed with basketball) was mesmerized. That was pretty cool. I did have to explain how strong a core the jazz dancer needed for her moves. After the show, he was trying (and utterly failing) to replicate what he saw. He loved the shaking legs of the Austin Powers guy. That one he could do. :)

    Trump is awful, but those type of comments have no place in this type of show. I agree with a prior poster – it sucks the joy out of the dance and the joy out of reading these posts!

  33. katdean96 says:

    To sum up my viewing experience:

    Me: Oh man, I’m so excited to have Mary back!

    Mary: *one hour of uninterrupted screeching and “hot tamales”*

    Me: You know what, I’m good.

    (sidenote: does anyone know what the twins said to the audience during the dance??)

  34. dancingshiu says:

    Always love the show – glad you agree

  35. Janelynn says:

    THANK YOU for speaking to Darius’ amazing technical skills completing beautiful passion and a moving routine.
    Nigel especially seemed to emphazie Darius’ story SO MUCH that you could exploitive dollar signs in his pupils.

  36. Allyson Collins says:

    I was so shocked with Vasily Wow he was one of my favorite, when he and
    His wife dance the 1st night, I were blown away, but when he open up his mouth and wanted to be in charge only, male chauvinism.