This episode! Come ON! If last week’s season premiere got things started off in an exciting direction, then tonight season 9’s momentum really took off with a flying jété. These auditions were so jam-packed with goodness, madness, awe-inspiring talent and, of course, a couple doses of ridiculousness. Above all, right now I’m so proud of Los Angeleese, my home, where, as Cat said at the top of the show, one is able to dream of sandy beaches and palm trees *and* dream of a shot at becoming Ameriker’s favorite dancer! At the same time!
Jesse Tyler Ferguson was on the judging panel with Nigel and Mary, and just seeing him up there warmed my heart. I think he’s a great guest judge, and unexpectedly so. He may not have extensive training in dance, but he does have the unique ability to be both entertaining and earnest, and I think he understands really well the human elements of what it means to be a performer. I read somewhere that Cat said ever since he guest judged last season they’ve been best friends, and I love this since he’s such a mensch – and of course if I feel any jealousy at all, it’s just a twinge. By the way, maybe I’m behind the times and all of you Dance fans already know about this glorious internet treasure, but I just discovered it today. You can watch videos of Cat discussing makeup, hair and fashion tips and the like with all the members of her team and it’s just brilliant. A virtual sleepover, if you will – which will have to do for me until we get around to having our real one which will be sometime soon probably.
Anyhoo, we met a lot of new faces tonight – and saw several returning ones, too – so let’s get to it.
Kicking off the episode was pretty, blonde Alexa Anderson, who just missed making the top 20 last year. Immediately I thought She looks exactly like Ryan Ramirez but with a smaller head! and then they showed footage from last season and I was reminded that she *was actually* the blond R.R. doppelganger they paired with Ryan on the Green Mile for the highly dramatic final girls’ spot pick. So she’s back this year and her stunning contemporary routine got her sent right through to VEGAS, baby! Good for her.
Waacking is not new to SYTYCD; it got a fair amount of attention last season with Princess Lockeroo – and later, Sasha and Ricky’s waacking routine – and so tonight we knew more or less what to expect when we met waacker Jontel “Johnny Waacks” Gibson. His was a totally joyful performance, and, as he waacked it up dressed in head to toe polyester, his body was liquid music. His performance also prompted my favorite piece of feedback of the entire night (obvi it was from JTF): “If Lenny Kravitz was a Russian nesting doll, you’d be, like, the little one on the inside. I want you in my pocket all the time and I’d take you out and let you waack.” If you think the judges missed an opportunity to descend into a slate of jokes about “wacking,” you’re insane. There was talk about when and why Johnny decided to start waacking, watching waacking on Youtube, waacking by yourself, practicing waacking and more. These judges really have fun! Johnny Waacks got sent to choreography and this had me jazzed, because while it’s clear he has insane skill when it comes to interpreting music, I was interested to see what he’d do with other styles of dance.
NEXT: Working the pole