Adam Rose/Fox
Breia Brissey
May 27, 2011 AT 05:00 AM EDT

Well, America, you just crowned your Idol, so now it’s that special time of year when you get to choose your favorite dancer, too! Let freedom (and reality competition shows) ring! It feels like it’s been years since the last season of So You Think You Can Dance, so much so that I couldn’t even remember who took home last year’s crown. (It was Lauren Froderman, by the way.) But now that it’s back, I couldn’t be more excited about the season 8 dancers. It helps that resident hot tamale Mary Murphy has reclaimed her seat at the judges’ table. My ears might regret that last sentence as the season goes on, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? The audition rounds opened up in Atlanta, Ga., with Nigel, Mary, and Lil’ C at the judging table. So let’s dive right in and discuss all the people who think they can dance.

Eighteen-year-old Bianka Hinklerian opened up season 8 with her super-speedy Colombian-style salsa. She and her non-competing partner, Giovanni (who will likely be back to audition next season), wowed the judges with their lifts and fast footwork. In fact, their feet were moving so quickly my eyeballs could literally not keep up. Bianka unanimously moved on to the choreography round and got her ticket to Vegas.

The first contestant to get sent straight to Vegas happened to coincide with the first sob story of the season! Melanie Moore, a 19-year-old art major, put all her energy into dance after her dad died following a liver transplant. I must confess I teared up like the sad sap that I am. What’s wrong with me? Only a few minutes in, and I’ve been reduced to tears by some sad-story editing! Lil’ C looked like he was going to fall asleep during Melanie’s performance, but he apparently enjoyed it because he said “Zeus himself would invite you to come and dance on Olympus.” Umm what? He also wouldn’t clap because that wouldn’t do it justice. That’s buck, ya’ll!

Next up were BFFs Deon Lewsa and Damon Bellmon. When they stopped trying to pick up girls and Cat Deeley, they proved that they could actually dance. Their entertaining, fluid movement convinced the judges to send them both straight to Sin City. Who knew Hotlanta was such a breeding ground for talent? The judges sent the next 10 dancers straight through to Vegas. In fact, those 10 dancers were so good we only got to see small edited portions of their auditions and we didn’t even get their names!

Marko Germar brought with him the first really interesting back story of the season. Apparently, he fought back during an armed robbery, and got shot in the arm. The bullet, however, was never removed. Marko underwent intense physical therapy to be able to dance again. Yay for overcoming obstacles and surviving shootings! He moved on to the choreography round where he and his partner (who remains nameless) both made it through to Vegas along with 11 other dancers. I’m glad Marko made it through because his movements slightly reminded me of Mark Kanemura from season 4. But here’s my question: with that bullet still in his arm how will he make it through airport security on his way to the Vegas?

NEXT: A special guest judge, Grandma Mandy…

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