After an absolute whirlwind tour of the auditions and Vegas (seriously, y'all, this season just started!), we have already whittled things down to eleven dancers, and the competitions starts for real next week. Before we get there, though, we're getting a Meet the Dancers episode, like we did last season.
And like last season, this one starts with a group routine choreographed by Wade and Amanda Robson. And while I can't say it's as fantastic as last season's kickoff number, it's pretty impressive. It's a garden-party-themed jazz affair (fake grass lawn and everything), set to David Bowie's "Fame," and the marriage of the song to the dancers' bougie style is sublime. We start with the 12 all-stars, then the Top 11 emerge from behind a hedge. Lots of choreography with the various props -- teacups, croquet mallets. With 23 people on the stage, it's hard to pick standouts, but I did notice that Robert and Billy were given central placement, which makes me think Wade sees something in them. I wasn't really looking at Jakob Karr until Wade put him front and center in last season's group number. Just a hunch, but Robert might be a dark horse. Anyway, it's a great start to the season. And when it's done, Cat comes striding out, dressed like a fringe-y pastel rainbow.
After some administrative house-cleaning (we're in HD! There's a new director lady! Mia Michaels is back and a permanent judge with Nigel and Adam!), Cat reminds us that the contestants will be dancing in their own styles tonight. Which, if you remember last season, means group dances galore! First up are Lauren Froderman and Kent Boyd. Lauren's the blonde cheerleader girl whom you all probably hate already, but whatever, jerks, I love her. And Kent is the absolute best and made Lil' C cry and gave me five and one-half nervous breakdowns last night alone. They're joined by Mark Kanemura (season 4) and Kathryn McCormick (season 6) in a contemporary routine by Travis Wall. Mark is, of course, fresh off of his world-premiere Lady Gaga video, where he was dressed in nothing but man-spanx and a pageboy haircut. Anyway, it's more excellence from Travis, with lots of the dancers throwing themselves around. Lauren and Kent move so gracefully, though you can tell Mark and Kathryn are more experienced and better at the character work. Still, a good starting-off point.
So Travis is sitting at the judges' table to give his two cents on the routine -- is this going to happen all season or just for tonight? It makes the usual fawning over choreographers seem even more goopy, but whatevs. Cat can't resist hobnobbing with Kent, because if you had the chance to get Kent talking about things, wouldn't you? (In case you were curious, he wants a girlfriend just like his mom ... or Beyonce!) Anyway, Adam's the only judge to chime in, and he's already jumping up and screaming for them. Modulate, Adam! Afterwards, Cat has to call for separate applause for Mark/Kathryn and then Lauren/Kent, and it occurs to me that Cat's going to have to be really rigorous all season about focusing the home voters on the contestants and not the all-stars.