The first stage of SYTYCD 2011 auditions are over, and now things get really exciting. Dancers that seemed like front-runners fall (often literally) and dancers that we’ve never seen come out of the woodwork to be the new front-runners. As Cat said, this is the toughest week of the competition, minus the finale, I suppose, so let’s get to the excitement!

Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Tyce DiOrio, Robin Antin, Adam Shankman and Debbie Allen

To break down Vegas week for those unfamiliar: There are 5 rounds of choreography- Hip Hop, Broadway, Ballroom, Group round (groups create their own choreography), and last, Contemporary. There are cuts all along the way. At the start of Vegas, there are 160 dancers (this year) and at the end it will be cut down to 20. Brutal.

Before they even start choreo, they all do a solo without feedback. Afterwards there wil be cuts. Can you imagine getting to Vegas only to be cut before you get to do one round of choreography?!

This SYTYCD episode was a whirlwind, so I’ll just give you the scoop, round by round. It’s hard to keep track of everyone, but I’ll do my best!

DAY 1:

Solos:

To start things off, ballroom dancer, Iveta Lukosuite, did a very saucy routine in a stripper cop costume to Queen Lafitah’s “Good to Mama” from Chicago. Cue Nigel’s dirty old man face! Despite being possibly a little TOO sexy (but a lot of fun) Iveta danced the hell out of that routine. And got through.

Sasha & Natalia Mallory, who we saw in LA, did another duet. To an Adele song, so extra points for them. They are adorable and Debbie Allen loves them. They make it through! Chances are both won’t make top 20 (if either of them do) so you know there will be drama on the way!

Number of Dancers left: 114

Hip Hop:

Choreographers: Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo aka NappyTabs (yay!)

First Injury! Wadi Jones has a pain in his legs… hmmmm. But he still made it through.

Chyna Smith, who we saw in SLC – the SYTYCD groupie – had a hard time with the routine, but as they tend to do with producer’s favorites, she is given a second shot to try to get it right. Iveta also got a second chance. They both figured out their issues though, and made it through.

This NappyTabs routine was BRUTAL. Cut during the round were some of my favorites: Hero McRae, Princess Lockaroo and Patty Anne Miller. Also the Irish step dancer. I may have cried over Patty Anne Miller. (spoiler alert: I totally did)

Number of Dancers left: 95 (I think)

DAY 2:

**Jason Gilkison is judge while Adam is out

Broadway:

Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio (snaps!)

According to Tyce, the girl character in this dance is “100% trash….. in a good way.” Naturally. This is where things really start to get fun. In the Hip-Hop routine NappyTabs did, there weren’t really characters to interpret, but Broadway opens that up and some of these dancers don’t “get it.” Lots of snark ensues. I actually love the routine, because I love anything that salutes Fosse.

Jordan Cassanova (who I enjoyed a lot in LA) is paried with Wadi. And Lil’ O found a partner even tinier than he is. It worked out for all 4 of them. Happiness for them, and which seemed to go on throughout the auditions.

We were reintroduced to Rebecca Hart and Jeremiah Hughes, who have both been around for several other season (note Nigel Lythgoe’s Farrah Fawcett hair). Rebecca seemed sweet, and Jeremiah I remember irked me. (Not surprising from the old clips) But Jeremiah makes it through and Rebecca gets cut. She asks to dance for her life, but they all point out she has been here 5 times, so it’s a no.

14 more dancers got cut. Including Brian Henry (the Crumper with attitude).

Dancer Left: 81

Ballroom:

Choreographer: Jason Gilkinson

Jason chose a Jive for this routine. Good choice – it’s up tempo so the kids won’t fall asleep (I’m looking at you, Viennese Waltz) but it also has a lot of tricks and foot work. It should weed out quite a few more dancers or at least make some feet bleed. Ew.

It also led to some awkwardness because Natalia’s partner isn’t strong enough for her (she isn’t the smallest). They decide to have her do it again with another partner. And when she gets that new partner, “The Professor” she is a whole new dancer. As Nigel says, “there are no words to the joy that [she] brought to that routine.” It was glorious to watch. And she made it through!

Meanwhile her sister Sasha gets through, as does Ryan Ramirez (Mia’s protege that almost made top 10 last season), and my absolute favorite of all the auditions, Melanie Moore.

Alexis Mason, Season 5 winner, Jeannine Mason’s sister, is asked to dance for her life because she has not shows the maturity that she needs. She doesn’t have the high level of performance. (BTW – when someone dances for their life, each judge votes yes or no, needing a majority to stay) Alexis gets through. And now she is a determined little girl.

Dancers left: 74

The Dreaded Group Round (it’s official title):

The dancers are split into groups (by the producers, so we don’t have that drama of “I don’t have a group!!” like on Idol) and they choose a CD out of a hat and off they go. Just so you are keeping track – it’s 11pm for them. They have danced the Ballroom and Broadway routines already today. They perform in the morning .Here is where the real drama sets in because no one is happy at 1am.

And now it’s…..

Day 3:

(Adam’s Back!)

Group Round Performance:

Natalia isn’t doing well, and she is off to the medic. Her group is being supportive, thankfully. And “DC,” who you remember got Nigel up doing moves during his audition, is having a hard time with the routine not being street enough. That’s all the drama we get though. (Once again, they seem to be barrelling through to get to the regular episodes.) Natalia had an IV put in and got her rest and was cleared to dance, and she did fantastic. Nigel gave he the “ you are amazing, especially for a heavier girl” speech. And DC gets lots of love for excelling in other styles. Love all around.

(Side note about group rounds: do they give them costumes or a costume budget? Because I find it highly unlikely that the first group had three girls that just happened to bring black halter tanks and red hot pants.)

Apparently group round isn’t as dreaded as in previous years, because we get a nice montage of happiness and only 7 dancers were cut!

Dancers Left: 67

Contemporary:

Choreographer: Season 2’s runner-up and OUTSTANDING choreo for the past several seasons, Travis Wall.

Assisting: Season 3’s Jamie Goodwin and Season 7’s Robert Roldan

Contemporary is no joke. You can’t fake your way through it even a little. And Travis says it’s a difficulty of a 9. So that is more than a little scary!

Before we even get started Ryan Ramirez and Natalia Mallory are off to the hospital. Sasha doesn’t take seeing her sister leave well. But she channels that into her dance, where she is paired with Natalia’s old partner, The Professor. They both get through. Ryan comes back from the hospital to perform (and she gets to dance with Robert… swoon). That girl is a pro, and makes it through. Hurray for her.  Natalia got a free pass to the next day.

Jeremiah is back with Arielle Coker (from LA) as a partner. They both have been cut during contemporary rounds in the past. Arielle gets cut again. She goes into shock a bit. Jeremiah on the other hand makes it through. (Careful Jeremiah…. if your partners keep getting cut, you are going to be considered a curse!)

DC, sadly, also gets cut here. He does not handle it well. Debbie offers him lessons and tells him to stand up and get ready because she is a BAMF. (my words, not hers). The last kid she did this with ended up doing really well in a future season, I believe. Chyna Smith is also going home.

Dancers Left: 55

Day 4:

Final Solos:

Once again, there are more cuts. Some just get cut, some get to make an impassioned speech as to why they should get through, such as Natalia, who makes it through. Those who get through, get to go chill in penthouse where they party and dance the Electric Slide. As you do in Vegas penthouses….

Alexis Mason gets cut, along with that nearly naked guy.

Melanie Moore is still in it. I literally breathed a sigh of relief.

Tomorrow night: The Green Mile episode where the top 20 are revealed and we get to see them dance!!

Fair Warning:If Melanie gets cut tomorrow, I’m not going to handle it well. I’m very nervous. I’m counting on your all to virtually hold my hand!

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter: @serrae

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