And...cue music

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to

So that's how the opening goes for this show. Nigel said "cue music" during auditions, and Cat introduces the show "Welcome to SYTYCD".

I haven't been out for rounds yet. These posts are a bit more involved than the ones for DWTS. I want to make sure I give you enough links so you can get to know the choreographers. They are critically important to the dancers. If you're new to this show and you have any questions, just ask in comments or email me. I'll try to be as thorough as I can without being too boring.


Cue music!

Our judges this week are...

Nigel Lythgoe is President of 19 Television. He is a co-creator and executive producer for SYTYCD. But if you go to youtube and search on his name, you'll find stuff like this or this. The man knows whereof he speaks with regard to dancing.

Mary Murphy is an accomplished actor, dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She has worked in film and television, as well as judging major ballroom competitions. She runs Champion Ballroom Academy in San Diego CA.

Adam Shankman is a dancer, actor, choreographer, and director. He has worked in film, television, music video, and musical theatre. He has worked on such projects as Hairspray, Prop 8 - The Musical, Step Up, and The Wedding Planner.

Nigel and Mary will be on the panel weekly. They'll be joined by one and sometimes two guest judges. I'll try to bring you some bio information on the guest judges each week. Be assured...these folks are extremely well-credentialed.

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't disagree with them. We're in search of America's Favorite dancer and our votes get to decide who that is. Let's get to it, shall we?

Here's how it works. The kids are put into pairs, one boy with one girl. They randomly pull a style, and then they must learn the choreography and perform. The judges critique the performance, generally offering some notes to help the dancers improve.

Oh...beware Mary Murphy. She's a screamer when she likes something.

In the early going, the audience will phone in votes for the pair. The 3 pairs with the lowest vote totals will each perform a solo on results night. The judges will then decide which boy and which girl are out. Then we'll do it all over again each week. If I recall correctly, the judges have this control until we get to Top 10. That's when we start voting for our favorite dancer instead of our favorite pair.

Got it?

Oh...indulge me a moment please...

Hello my darling Cat...looking beautiful as always! Damn that woman has some LEGS LEGS LEGS LEGS!

Enough chatter now! Let's dance!

Jeanine Mason, a Contemporary dancer, and Phillip Chbeeb, a Popper, are paired in a Hip Hop dance choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo. Tab & Nap tell stories with their choreography. Jeanine and Phillip have surprisingly complimentary styles. He is so raw, but so incredibly talented. His control over his body is natural. He got a lucky draw to get Hip Hop, but I can see quite a bit more there than just a popper. Jeanine held her own with him. She's got no hip hop training, but she did well with Tab & Nap's brand of choreography. And I agree with Adam...Phillip is an excellent partner. Well done to start the show.

Asuka Kondoh, a Latin Ballrooom dancer, and Vitolio Jeune, a Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Broadway dance choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Tyce makes dances that are about character. Asuka is amazing. As a ballroom dancer, she understands how to pull the over the top expressions. And her technique is better than I expected. Vitolio's lines and movement were wonderful. They might have fallen just a little bit short in terms of bringing the characters to life, and that limits the connection to the audience just a little bit. Technically they were both excellent, but they'll want to work on performance and connecting emotion to character to movement.

Karla Garcia, a Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Jonathan Platero, a Salsa dancer, are paired in a Cha Cha Cha choreographed by Tony Meredith. Tony always adds a bit of each dancer's style into his ballroom choreography. I didn't like that as much as I wanted to. They didn't seem to have a connection with each other. The movement wasn't smooth. It wasn't cheeky. And if a Cha Cha Cha is not cheeky, then it better be sexy. And it wasn't. The judges liked it, but I just didn't enjoy it.

Randi Evans, a Jazz dancer, and Evan Kasprzak, a Broadway dancer, are paired in a Jazz dance choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Well that's a great draw for these two, both in the pairing and in the dance style. Tyce...story and character. Evan's strength was a bit startling. He made those lifts look effortless. And Randi was also unexpected. Both of them have such exuberant personalities, but they showed such a radically different side in this piece. It was sensual and enticing. They took beautiful choreography and made magic with it. It was so smooth. Just excellent.

Paris Torres, a Contemporary dancer, and Tony Bellissimo, a Hip Hop dancer, are paired in a Hip Hop dance choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo. This is one of the few times I haven't liked Tab & Nap's choreography. And I expected a lot more from Tony in his own style. I don't know much about Paris, but she didn't really grab me either. Sometimes the package just misses. They weren't sharp and hard in their movement. It was designed as an aggressive piece and they didn't seem to attack it. I think Tony has a fan following because he's charming, and Paris will ride that for a bit. This was his style and he had a real opportunity not only to show how he can dance, but also what kind of partner he can be. But the result just wasn't good enough.

Caitlin Kinney, a Contemporary dancer, and Jason Glover, a Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Bollywood dance choreographed by Nakul dev Mahajan. This is one of the more difficult styles. Jason is tremendous. He has incredible control over his core. When his legs were in motion, his core was perfectly still. That technical strength draws your eye. I had to pull my focus to see Caitlin. I only saw a few seconds of her. Whereas Jason was clean, Caitlin seemed a bit manic and out of control. They have a terrific connection between the pair of them. The performance was wonderful. I need to watch this one back so I can focus on Caitlin. Jason really was so good he completely pulled my focus.

Janette Manrara, a Salsa dancer, and Brandon Bryant, a Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Foxtrot choreographed by Louis van Amstel. Hey! Louis crosses over from Dancing with the Stars. A great Foxtrot makes me smile. Janette was elegant and I loved her lines. But Brandon looked a bit awkward to me. Some of his foot placement wasn't solid and confident, and that made some of the movement look rough. But having said that, I thought that Brandon's strength showed off Janette to great effect. She was the star of the piece. This was a good Foxtrot, not a great one, but it still made me smile.

Ashley Valerio, a Contemporary dancer, and Kupono Aweau, a Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Jazz dance choreographed by Wade Robson. Wooooo! Wade is brilliant. His work is performance art in dance. This piece was captivating. The choreography was odd and strange and wacky. But the dancers! Ashley and Kupono brought the odd love story between a couple of crash test dummies to life. You can't picture it, can you? LOL. I can't describe it either. They were so good...I thought they surpassed the choreography, which was astonishing. That piece might not have been entertaining in the hands of other dancers. Absolutely incredible.

Melissa Sandvig, a Ballet dancer, and Ade Obayomi, a Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Contemporary dance choreographed by Mandy Moore. Mandy's work celebrates the power and impact of movement. When you watch two extraordinary talents who also understand how to partner and dance together, you get something special. And this dance was special. Melissa and Ade made intricate and difficult shapes and movements in this piece look so effortless and joyful. That dance was absolutely breathtaking. Wow. Simply stunning. This was a the first show. Dang that was good.

Kayla Radomski, a Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Max Kapitannikov, a Latin Ballroom dancer, are paired in a Samba choreographed by Louis van Amstel. I'm so pleased to see Louis making dances for this show! And Max has studied with Louis. That Samba was HAWT! It helps that Max is a generous partner. And it helps that Kayla is so dang talented. What she lacked in ballroom technique she made up in performance. Max did the rest in terms of guiding her around the floor, showing off what she did well and dancing bigger when he needed to cover.

Well gang, it's full speed ahead in our search for America's Favorite dancer. And this is an immensely talented group. I don't know that we've ever had a Top 20 that has been this good all the way through. Every one of these kids brings something unique to this show. I do not envy the judges. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut.

I liked a lot of dancers last night. I could have voted for Melissa and Ade or Caitlin and Jason, or even Ashley and Kupono. But I did not split votes. I guess I'm a Kasprzactivist because all my votes went to Evan and his partner Randi.

Now Pam did split. She rotated her calls between Melissa and Ade, Caitlin and Jason, and Randy and Evan.

Tune in tonight for the results show. And of course tomorrow I'll recap those results and give you some links to some of these amazing performances.

And just between us...this was a lot harder to do than Dancing with the Stars.


  1. Thom says:

    I swear to god Mary drives me absolutely nuts. That screaming is enough to drive a square peg through a round hole. And please don't tell me she does that train thing every episode? I thought it must be something she does because Nigel had the earphones on. She is the most annoying person. I could rant about her forever but I'll stop. Give me strength someone. That Cat has got to be one tall leggy woman. She does have legs for days. I don't think many of those dancers are taller than her. Very nice I must say. Now some questions if you don't mind. Do they stay with the same pairing until the top 10? And when they get to the top 10 do they dance individually? I'm assuming there isn't a boy winner and a girl winner. I suppose that everyone knows if you get paired with someone that doesn't dance well, aka Shawn on DWTS, that the public can keep them in there, but then I suppose we have the judges who know they are looking for dancing and not the popularity contest so many of these shows are. Anyway, I really liked Caitlin and Jason. Just awesome. I like you had to rewind my DVR to focus on Jason the second time around as I was enthralled by Caitlin. Ashley and Kupono were just as good. I loved what they did. Kayla and Max were just as good as well. All those young kids were excellent I must say. I really enjoyed them all and this is so much better than DWTS. Does someone have a muzzle I can borrow for a judge named Mary? Aloha

  1. It was a wonder start to the season. There are going to be some very talented dancers going home very early this year. That Samba was past HAWT! I'm still sweating. Game one, ya'll.

  1. Anndi says:


    This was a season opener for the books!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    Did I forget to e-mail you about Louis? Oops! *giggle*

    I just watched Evan and Randi again this morning... oh my, oh my, oh my...
    Evan blows me away. His control and strength astound me... and he brings a sexy that's smoldering (yes, Mary.. exactly) and not in your face. *sigh* I wasn't sure I was going to like him being paired with Randi, but there's the potential for a super couple there... She's come a long way from unitard girl LOL.
    Chicklet couldn't believe how tall Cat is when she towered over them LOL

    We've had discussions about Brandon in the last few days, and I do agree with you on his performance but I will give him props for his upper body form and the strength of the lifts.

    Didn't I tell you Wade's number was amazing?! Holy crap! I see some Mark Kanamura in Kupono... the island boys have a certain something *wink*

    And as I had managed to pull myself together after Randi and Evan, I watched Ade and Melissa... *sigh*. My God , but that was beautiful.

    I'm enjoying watching/reading the reactions of people who are just starting to be exposed to Mary (hi Thom!) and I can't help but chuckle. Basically, the dancers want the "Hot Tamale Train" (there should probably be a copyright sign next to that LOL)... but as loud as she can be, she knows of which she speaks and her criticism is usually right on target.

    Thanks for the Nigel tap-dancing clip... I LOVED it when I saw it live and still do.

    I'm going to hate to see the field narrow down... what a wonderful group they gave us.

  1. Marsha says:

    Dang, they were good last night weren't they!

  1. Julie says:

    Crap.....after swooning over the first date story I haven't time to read this thoroughly...but I see one that you like is my fav!

    YAY! I'll be back baby!

  1. Travis says:

    Thom: Hang in there with Mary. And thanks for the questions! I'll answer them in my recap post.

    Drilleraa: Game definitely on!

    Ann: Yup...they strive to get on the Hot Tamale train. And I've learned to turn down the sound just a bit. The screams aren't quite as bad and I can still listen for the notes.

    Marsha: Yes they were!

    Julie: Even some of the dances I didn't like as well, I still liked!

  1. Bond says:

    I think Jonathan and Karla are the ones in danger.

    I turned to Nancy and said "Man, I did not realize Evan had that kind of strength"

    He really surprised me

  1. Thom says:

    One more question? Is that the American Idol set? Sure does look like it.

    So that damn Tamale Train is a real thing...OMG...I just want to swear right now LOL

  1. Thom says:

    Ooops...and Hi Anndi...I meant to put this in my last comment...thanks for the info and sister...I don't think you've heard the last of me with Mary LOL...ohh how quite contrary

  1. Thom says:

    Trav - if I'm not allowed to do this on your site please please please let me know. If you delete this I will understand. Never mind, I'll give anyone that wants it the link to my site where I posted this: ScuttleButtMoTV comment. I just want to make sure that everyone knows what I'm talking about and why I need a muzzle, or lip locks, or a gag and poor Nigel is gonna need surgery the way she ripped those headphones off:

  1. Anndi says:

    Thom, I've been watching for years and it took me a while to acclimate to her... take your time brother LOL!!