'So You Think You Can Dance' Like a Zombie?

Even before the So You Think You Can Dance theme song came on, viewers got a taste of what to expect in the first round of auditions, with one very noticeable change — hip-hop did not dominate the stage. This year is all about variety. There was no shortage of memorable and scary moments in the two-hour premiere with some Dawn of the Dead lockers, warp speed spinning, real-life Blades of Glory, and one dancer who brought Mary Murphy to tears — all a confirmation that in its 5th season, SYTYCD is going to bring it. Again.

Things opened up in New York with Gabi Rojas, 24, of Albuquerque, N.M., a contemporary dancer with rheumatoid arthritis who gave a refreshing and mystical combination of contemporary and pop-locking. Judge Nigel Lythgoe declared it as “one of the best auditions over five years,” sending her straight to Vegas.

Rising from the streets of Brooklyn, Storyboard-P, 18, and Hobgoblin, 20, as they’ve dubbed themselves, brought the world the “mutation,” a new form of zombie-inspired joint-popping contortionism (to rock and roll no less). Watch a clip. The green-faced creeps made it to the choreography, but rather than learn the steps, opted to head back to the graveyard.

Born with spinal thoracic dysplasia (having only three vertebrae in her back), Tiffany Geigel, 23, lives in a world of physical and emotional pain. But it hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dream of dance. But after some honest criticism from the judges, she did not make the cut.

Before heading to Denver, Brooklyn had one more treat left: Latin-style ballroom dancers Nina Estrina, 18, and Igor Zabrodin, 23, took it to warp speed, ending their number with a never-been-seen-before move — but only Zabrodin would move on after the choreography.

All in all, 41 dancers made it to Vegas from New York, and then it was off to Denver, where Murphy and Lythgoe were joined by last season’s innovative, Sonya Tayeh.

In a first for the show, Misha Belfer and Mitchell Kibel, both 26, offered up some same-sex ballroom. They certainly deserve an A for effort, but Nigel said it was like “watching Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory,” and not in a good way. They didn’t make it beyond choreography.

Day two in Denver had Allison Moist, 19, wielding light sabers while doing a Star Wars-inspired dance that would have made George Lucas proud, as well as woman dancing bad ballroom with a life size dummy.

But it ended on a high note when, after not making the cut last year, Natalie Reid, 23, went straight to Vegas after her contemporary routine, and, finally, Brandon Bryant, 19, wowed the room with strong contemporary moves that literally brought Mary to tears. Straight to Vegas!

In Denver, 19 more made it to Vegas. Next stop sunny Miami, and then off to Memphis as the search continues for America’s favorite dancer! — Jed Dreben

Tell us: Any early favorites from New York and Denver?

Related Articles