Reading back through my recap of Season 9's finale, I was evidently REALLY worried that we wouldn't see a Season 10. But here we are! And not a moment too soon. And after a really cheesy opening featuring the misdirection of a black guy running behind a lady with a purse, only to reveal that he's not a mugger but a dancer running to his audition, we are met by the glorious face of Cat Deeley. Not just Cat, either. There are testimonials from some of our faves -- Cyrus, Twitch, Allison (Twitch and Allison got engaged during the offseason, y'all!), Dominic, Witney, Will -- and some glimpses of the season ahead, including a very blonde Mary Murphy blurting out the f-word before one particular Hot Tamale Train induction. Also, guest judges Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Shankman, Wayne Brady, and Minnie Driver (!!). Holy crap.
After the credits, (the opening theme remains unchanged from the version featuring the Season 5 cast -- hey there Jeanine, Kayla, and Ade), we kick our auditions off in Los Angeles, with jidges Nigel, Mary, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Both of the boys are in bowties, which you know Cat found particularly delightful.
Malece Miller, a 19-year-old contemporary dancer from Salt Lake City (oh, those dancing Mormons!), has a TV-ready story about how her mom pulled their family out of homelessness by cleaning houses. Malece gets weepy just thinking about it. She also proves to be quite personable, joshing Nigel from the stage and faking deafness when she misses something he says. When she dances, her legs are a total dream, though the judges also focus on her fresh-faced look and how intriguingly it contrasts with her very serious dancing.
Paul Karmiryan (21, Glendale, CA) is a suuuuper cute Latin ballroom specialist who actually won the Armenian version of So You Think You Can Dance. I kind of like that. Adds a bit of Eurovision flair to these proceedings. On stage, he cannily flirts with Jesse and anyone else in the audience who might have taken notice of him (hey, Paul). With the dancing, he's maybe gotta work on the goofy smiling, but my prediction that Nigel would ding him for his more delicate tendencies, but if he did, we don't see it. In fact, he says Paul reminds him of Season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer, which is a huge compliment. Mary loves his movie-star looks and stage presence. I just love him and I hope he sticks around for a while.
Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall (18, Las Vegas, NV) is the closest thing we get in this season premiere to the style of Cyrus, the breakout star of last season. His style was called "animation," and while I often have trouble differentiating the micro-genres in street-dancing, Fik-Shun felt very similar. He's a ton of fun, almost silly in spots, but always on-point. He's smooth as hell and under very strict control. He even throws in a little Michael Jackson (which is pretty awkward on this show, in light of Wade Robson's recent revelations and Robson's emeritus position on the show). The judges let him continue on and on, seemingly just so they can keep watching him. Afterwards, he gets a huge ovation and immediate passage to Vegas.