So You Think You Can Dance

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The Real Dance Styles of Atlanta

You know, I've thought long and hard about what kind of scenario wouldn't be improved at least 30% by the presence of Cat Deeley. Roman Polanski extradition hearing? Nope. Al-Anon meeting? Nope. Thanksgiving at the Gosselin house? That's pushing it, but I have faith in our Cat. By the way, hi! I'll be swapping recaps with Monty for the rest of the season -- huge props to Daniel for shouldering three summers' worth of Nigel and Mary. This week, the auditions take us to Atlanta (where the players, I'm told, play). Cat wonders if the dancers in the "dirty south" can "clean up." Oooh! A Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion! Cat would rock that, too.

The usual crowd of enthusiastic extroverts freaks out for the cameras outside the venue, while a couple locals teach Cat how to do something called a "stanky leg." Looks like stomping out a cigarette with attitude! Joining Nigel and Mary tonight is Lil' C. YAY! I know he's got opinions divided on him out there, but I find him loquacious and vivacious and all-around wonderful. Also: bucc, bucc, bucc. There.

Nigel once again tries to stoke local pride by reminding the auditioners they're "representing Atlantaaaaa!!" Like, these are about 60% contemporary dancers. I'm pretty sure they're not repping anything but Celine Dion. First up: Billy Bell, 19, who is cute and pale and could pass for 12. He talks to Cat about how he started off in hip-hop classes and was terrible, but kept at it and learned a billion different styles. Basically, this is a kid who's been in every kind of dance class you can imagine since he was six. He'll be repping contemporary in his audition, and here's the thing, with me: My favorite dancers are the contemporary dancers, by and large, but I never know what to make of them until they start pairing up. Their solos rarely stand out (Jeanine had a couple last season, Matt Dorame in Season 4, Travis Wall, that's about it). But Billy's audition here kind of blew me away. So many different kinds of precise, agile movement packed into what, 45 seconds? It didn't feel like a bunch of random motions, either, but kind of a coordinated "Here's what I can do." Reminded me of Travis a bit, not to set too high a bar for him or anything. Nigel has some nitpicks about his technique, among them a "swayed back" (I...don't know dancing terms), and wonders whether, given Billy's extensive schooling, he's just ignoring his training or forgetting it. Billy sweetly chalks it up to nerves and letting "bad habits" creep back in. They go right to the verdict, which is too bad because Mary in particular looked pretty moved by the whole routine. All three judges pull the "no to choreography" fake out before bestowing the ticket to Vegas. I'll be keeping an eye on this kid.

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So You Think You Can Dance

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