Season 12 of “So You Think You Can Dance” will bring a lot of fresh blood to the dance floor. New judges and a batch of new dancers will navigate through a premise that pits formally trained stage dancers against the agile street dancers. So how did “SYTYCD” kick off its search for 2015’s next best dancer?
“So You Think You Can Dance” opened with an extensive intro for the judges, reintroducing Nigel Lythgoe as the Emmy Award-winning show's creator. His two new permanent judges for Season 12 will be former “American Idol” judge, award-winning choreographer and singer Paula Abdul and talented young pop star Jason Derulo.
Host Cat Deeley walked through the new rules for Season 12. Each of the audition hopefuls must declare whether they intend to audition for the street or stage team. Should they make it to Vegas, the contestants will then be pared down to 10 stage-trained dancers in ballet, contemporary, jazz or ballroom and 10 street dancers versed in hip-hop, breaking, animation or krump. Once “SYTYCD” has its top 20 dancers, then competition will really heat up against stage team mentor Travis Wall and stream team captain Twitch. Cue the new Season 12 opening montage!
Starting in Memphis, the search for the new street and stage dancers began. Peyton Albrecht, 18, kicked off the show with a dramatic contemporary routine to join the stage team. His gymnastic-laced routine won over Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo instantly while Nigel Lythgoe complimented Albrecht as a “young Travis Wall.”
The next contestant hopeful was an animation dancer from Atlanta. Andre Rucker, 24, made it to Vegas in Season 9 but decided to go home when he felt out of his depth. His fellow animation dancer, Cyrus, made it to the top four contestants, and that’s when Rucker decided to give “SYTYCD” another go. Good thing, too, because although Lythgoe had stopped his music early, all three judges were in unanimous agreement to give Rucker another ticket to Las Vegas.
Then local dancers introduced regional stylings to the national competition with a few jookin’ routines. The dance even came with its own short history lesson before one young dancer impressed the judges and earned the next ticket to Vegas. Lydia Yates, 23, gave an unique and thrilling audition that naturally bowled over the judges. Derulo not only invited Yates to teach his crew, Lythgoe invited the young team she teaches to take the stage and dance alongside Derulo. Even Abdul and Lythgoe got in on the dancing behind the judges table.
Just as 15 stage dancers and nine street dancers won their ticket to Vegas, drama struck. The old Memphis theater holding the auditions lost its power due to an underground fire, and the entire crop of dancers hoping to audition was turned away.
In comparison, the “SYTYCD” auditions in Dallas seemed to go off without a hitch. Jaclyn Hamric, 18, charmed with a slow contemporary routine. Unlikely animator Steven Ban, 24, scored a ticket to Vegas despite Lythgoe calling Ban his “dancing Bill Gates.” An emotional freestyle performance from 21-year-old Vishonda Sims also won over the judges, while Edson Juarez, 24, earned the highest praises of the day with a spellbinding contemporary routine.
After the two cities, 43 dancers are on their way to try out for the stage team and 37 are heading for the street team in Las Vegas. What’s in store next week? Find out when “So You Think You Can Dance” returns to Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. EDT.