May 26th, 2011
05:41 PM ET
It's that time of year again. The sun is beating down, the days are getting longer and "American Idol" is over. Somewhere in the distance you can hear a woman screaming about the "hot tamale train."
That's right, Thursday night begins a brand new season of "So You Think You Can Dance." (And never fear, judge Mary Murphy is back!)
It all kicks off with the Atlanta auditions, which CNN got a sneak peek of back in February. Producers say that they were very impressed with the talent they saw there (we personally witnessed a few getting their tickets to Vegas, and the ensuing celebration). The two-hour premiere will then move on to Oakland, California.
Host Cat Deeley spoke to reporters recently about what we can expect in this eighth season, and mentioned that the dancers this year have raised the bar after last year's incredible performances from the likes of Alex Wong (who will likely not be returning to the competition, but will almost certainly pop up in some other way).
"We’ve seen some great people mix up all different styles and do it in a really unique and individual way and that to me is kind of the highlight every year," she said. "When somebody kind of takes your breath away and does something completely unique and individual, and creative too, and uses their imagination, that's something I always look forward to seeing."
We'll also see some brand new styles of dance that haven't been on the show before, including "turfing" in Oakland.
Producer Nigel Lythgoe tweeted that viewers should keep an eye on the hip-hop guys especially this season.
"[For] somebody who isn’t necessarily technically trained, it’s quite a big thing to turn around and go as a breaker where you’ve learned your moves from either watching YouTube or MTV or music videos or just even from your friends – to actually then turn around and go and put yourself in a samba class is quite a big deal," said Deeley. "Yet, they’ve done it, which I think shows just how dedicated they are and how much hard work they’re prepared to put into the show, and also into themselves, and I think that’s incredibly inspirational."
Speaking of hard work, the two words that dancers simultaneously love and fear - "Vegas Week" - begins on June 8.
"[The dancers] need to be ready for it and we need to know that they can do it, and we need to know that they can attempt the different styles, that they’re physically, emotionally and mentally capable and able of doing it," Deeley explained. "It’s always, always a tough week, but it’s really interesting. [There are] those who are able to take the challenge and ride through it and those people [for whom] it just becomes too overwhelming for them."
Which dancers are up to the challenge? The top 20 who make it through will be dancing - not with all-stars this time, but with each other - starting on June 15 episode (then look out for the all-stars to jump in when it's down to the top 10).
In the meantime, are you looking forward to this season? Share your comment below, and check back on Friday for my take on the premiere.
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