”We don’t have a lot of money. We just have our friends and our dancing.” What can I say, dear readers? It’s this kind of line — delivered with simple sincerity and spirit by Philip Courter after witnessing his friend Yesenia Gomez’s year-long dream quashed by a bum knee — that just gets my eyes all soggy no matter how many hair dryers my snark demon Smirkelstiltskin fires up to keep ‘em tear free. You can scour through hour upon hour of America’s Next Top Models and America’s Got Talents, Shear Geniuses and Top Chefs, Project Runways and American Idols, and I doubt you’d be able to find a clean dozen moments that when added together equal the deeply felt heart in Yesenia and Philip’s auditions. Yeah, it was a twinge self-congratulatory for Nigel Lythgoe to air so much of Yesenia heaping praise upon him, the other judges, and the show itself for changing her life, but, TV-friendly cliché or no, it’s pretty darn clear Nigel, the other judges, and the show itself changed her life, as shown by the 50-pound weight loss, the massive leap in self-worth, the unshakable determination to become a great dancer.
That ain’t manufactured drama, of which I’m certain we’ll get plenty during So You Think You Can Dance’s Vegas-week show tonight. Nope — if I had any doubt why Nigel and Co. chose to end their audition episodes in the apparent dancing mecca of Milwaukee (which, I’m sure, has nothing to do with its proximity to the more expensive theaters of downtown Chicago), it was blown clear away by Yesenia and Philip’s twin bull’s-eye shots at my sappy sweet spot. (Meanwhile, because Smirkel’s now turned the hair dryers on my ears: Who wants to place bets now on the number of times Cat utters variations on this line tonight during Vegas week: Will both these roommates/partners/BFFs/part-time lovers make it to the Top 20? He’s also curious if Cat’s stank face over the blizzardy Milwaukee weather really means that she loves it; the calculus of stank facery is evidently too much for his wee horns to handle.) (Ouch, watch the lobes, dude!)
It really does seem like the producers and editors are listening — to me, to you all in the comments, or maybe just to the subliminal directives Smirkel’s lately been whispering in their ears at night (I’ve got nothing to do with that, honest, but I’m not complaining either) — since I couldn’t help noticing a few marked improvements from previous episodes. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in worrying at the start of last night’s episode about how the producers planned to stretch a single city’s auditions into a full two-hour episode. Is a stay-at-home B-boy dad going to walk us through his laundry routine? Were we going to visit the adjoining office cubicles of the ballroom couple who can barely manage a single twirl? Mercifully, to fill the time, we were instead treated to four auditions from previous cities that we hadn’t yet had a chance to see. Michael Kim’s ball-bearing joints won him a ticket to Vegas (rare for a popper, though, really, will any popper ever be able to surpass the insanity of Robert Muraine from the L.A. auditions?), and Janette Manrara and Romulo Villaverde showed off a few tricks that came off more like a rough rehearsal of a sub-Cirque du Soleil acrobatic routine than what I’ve come to expect from salsa. Meanwhile I’m not sure what Katee Shean would call the move where you clench a fist and then wiggle your other hand’s fingers, but I’d hazard it’d be a close relative to the ”shimmy shim.” According to Mia Michaels, we should call her roommate Natalie Reid’s variations on the bow-legged straddle ”honest” and ”vulnerable.” Okay? I guess? If you say so? But hey, at least it was dancing, and I suspect that Katee, Natalie, Michael, and Janette will feature in some part of Vegas week — otherwise, why single them out from all the other auditions we didn’t get to see?
NEXT: When they were bad, it was good