So You Think You Can Dance: Abs, Abs and More Abs

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Near-nudity is pretty standard when it comes to SYTYCD, at least when it comes to the girls who tend flit about in sports bras and short-shorts. On last night's installment, though, a few of the boys bared all (including a Tahitian traditional dancer who really bared it all). The real treat, though, wasn't getting a chance to glimpse some washboard abs, but watching judges Mary Murphy's and Robin Antin's reactions, as they stared wuth hooded eyes and pursed lips. Yeah, you know the look I'm talking about.

Last night, the judges were in Salt Lake City and New York City. Don't let the Mormon propriety fool you: Utah is responsible for fostering a host of Top 20 contestants in the show's history, as well as season 3 winner Sabra Johnston. New York, meanwhile, we're not surprised to find, brought oodles of talent, weirdness and ego.

Let's recap.

Salt Lake City Sorry, SYTYCD. Packing a theater full of contestants, cranking up the music and telling them to put their damn hands up isn't going to convince us that Salt Lake City is one giant party. A for effort, though.

The guest judge here is Pussycat Doll Antin, who has a great dance vocabulary and brings a pop/music video sensibility to the panel. We've also got Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe, who's looking increasingly like he and David Bowie could play brothers in a movie.

The judges appear to be a little more serious this week (no mention of "Hot Tamale" at all tonight), but that's probably because they're on a quest to find America's Next Great Dancer and questing's serious business, OK?

Made it through:

Stepper Devon McCollough made it through the choreography round and is headed to Vegas. His partner, Micah Clark, with whom Devon charmed the judges with their lively performance, went home after the choreography round. It's like the judges just broke up their favorite band.

Sidenote: Nigel, clad in a bow tie and double-breasted sweater, refers to "Step" as "Steppin'" and I waited for seriously, like 3 minutes for him to break into "Steppin' Time!" from Mary Poppins.

Chyna Smith claimed to be "obsessed" with the show, told host Cat Deeley she was "so beautiful," then Cat made some kind of remark about wardrobe and make-up, the subtext of which was "who is this weird kid?" Chyna impressed the judges with her "star quality" and "sensuality" while actually saying very little about her routine, which was more limbs than torso: very MTV. Antin even said Chyna would be at the top of the list if the Pussycat Dolls were auditioning. Still, we get very little sense of training or versatility from Chyna, and we predict she'll probably get throttled over the course of the season.

Annie Gratton's contemporary stylings made the judges happy, and her dad, also a dancer, got up on stage with her for their first pas de deux after the judges told her she'd be going to Vegas. And, I'm not gonna lie, Dad had moves.

Tadd Gadduang's hilarious routine, a mix of tumbling, breakdancing and mime backed by accordion music, won over the judges (and a spot at the Vegas callbacks).

Chase Thomas showed up in a Speedo, then brought it home with his fluid technique.

Honorable mentions:

Samantha Hiller said she blacked out while practicing three weeks before and was in the bouts of a case of amnesia. She was trying out because her friends had told her how much she loved the show (even though she didn't remember it). Though Robin says she has "beautiful lines," Samantha doesn't make it past the choreography round.

Brittany Starr had a story about how she was Ringo Starr's daughter (NOT Ringo Starr, but Ringo Starr). Yeah. They even went to her house to meet her dad, who answered the door wearing a bright pink Sgt. Pepper getup and a house full of Beatles memorabilia. But he's not THAT Ringo Starr. He's Ringo Starr. Only in America (probably only in Utah) will you find a man who thinks he's one of the Beatles but doesn't think he thinks he's one of the Beatles. I love America.

Montages: An answer to the question "how many times can you watch someone fall down?" The answer: throw in some footage of a bleeding foot, and it's indefinite.

There was also something about blonds being stupid, but that was a low blow, and I'm a brunette.

On to New York, where Mary and Nigel are joined by Broadway choreography Jason Gilikson.

Made it through: Samara "Princess Lockerooo" Cohen introduced the judges to her own invention of "wacking" in which she accentuates an arrangement of "Flight of the Bumblebee" with the propeller-like spinning of her arms. It's actually kind of AWESOME, and her characterizations and unique choreography take her all the way to Sin City. I'm guessing there's a lot more under the surface her (she freaking INVENTED a technique), and I think she'll go far in this competition.

Contemporary/lyrical dancer Brandon Jones made an impression with his powerful style and humble ego (in New York?). Mary tells him he shouldn't be surprised, and Brandon tells us a story about his dad, who died in a traffic accident Brandon's first year in college. The judges tell him he could go on to inspire thousands. And I guess what this show is all about. That and ads and abs.

Brian Henry made it through the choreography round, but his initial audition was a little off-putting for the judges. When Nigel suggested his powerful, violent style of krumpin' was the result of some kind of frustration, Brian got defensive and said it was a "dance of praise." Mary also told him to be careful of knocking fellow dancers (Brian had said Lil C had taken krumpin' to the mainstream--Bryan was taking it back). Then he got defensive again...Still as the judges said, it will be interesting to see this guy, who ripped off his shirt in the middle of his routine, dance in a very different style, say a Viennese waltz.

Irish dancing champion Mary Kate Sheehan actually made Irish dancing look not so much like an awkward teenager on a first date; actually, she was graceful and used the entire stage, to the judges' delight. She went through after the choreography round, but according to Nigel she "still has some work to do."

B-boy Virgil "Little O" Gadson was a welcome sight after a montage of particularly horrendous performances (a hula hoop was involved). The panel praises him for being a performer as well as a dancer and send him straight through.

Broadway dancer (and singer and actor) Jess Leprotto's jazz routine impressed the judges as far as technique went, but Nigel and Mary agreed that they wanted to see him get more joy out of performing. Ouch. He makes it to Vegas after going though the choreography round.

The judges agree that ballroom dancer Kristen Dobson's Latin stylings are just okay (Mary thinks that leg stretch was just plain weird) and that she was kind of closed off when it came to her partner. She goes on to choreography and makes it through to the Vegas callbacks.

Robert Taylor, Jr. put on the funniest solo hip hop routine so far this season, with robotic moves, dorky facial expressions and a nerdy little wave. The judges go ga-ga over his personality (he really likes to say/sing "wooooooo") and he goes straight through to Vegas.

Tonight: City of Angels auditions, the last stop before the Vegas callbacks.

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