May 25th, 2012
05:18 PM ET
The opening moments of Thursday night's ninth season premiere for "So You Think You Can Dance" cleverly took a shot at the glut of reality singing shows this past season – including executive producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe's own "American Idol," and Fox's own "X Factor"... and undoubtedly, ABC's "Duets" which premiered at the same time.
As you've undoubtedly figured out from my many blog posts on the subject, I find "SYTYCD" to be such an uplifting, exciting, surprising show, that it puts all other reality talent series to shame. So it was with open arms that I welcomed it back onto television (minus the results show this year, which may be for the best).
We saw a lot of great potential top 20 contenders in Brooklyn, New York and Dallas, Texas, but here are my five favorite:
1. Amelia Lowe
Take away her quirky (dare we call them "adorkable") 1920s obsession, and Amelia is still an extraordinary dancer. This time warper immediately drew comparisons from Nigel to "The Artist," right down to using black-and-white and title cards on the show. This season got off to an excellent start.
2. Hampton Williams
Hampton cleansed the judges' souls with this exorcism routine. It showed extraordinary skill, it was other-worldly, and heartbreaking at the same time (quite literally in fact). Mary Murphy was a basket case, and how often can you say that about a popper-locker routine? This audition is one for the ages, top 20 or not.
3. Jarrell Rochelle
Speaking of there not being a dry eye in the room, Jarrell's performance for his mother – whose eyesight is slowly taking leave of her – was one of the most touching auditions in the history of the show. I'm really trying not to get attached to any of these dancers, and taking these little moments for what they are this season. But it's going to be tough.
4. Daniel Baker
Nigel is very aware that this guy is going to get votes. He certainly got the vote of all the girls watching in that audience. Plus, he's got skill to spare.
5. Bree Hafen
Just when you thought they were showing this mother of two as another example of "Anyone can dance," where the judges would politely encourage her and thank her for coming out, Bree blew everyone away. She deserves a lot of credit for being able to keep up with practice, after all these years. I'm really pulling for her... doggone it, I told myself I wouldn't do that.
B-boy Toshihiko Nakazawa really impressed me, and I was heartbroken to see that he couldn't handle choreography. Go learn some other styles, Toshihiko, and we hope to see you next year... is what I hope he got out of this experience anyway.
Sam Shefler's courageous in auditioning – despite his nerves and mild autism – and the way he took in that standing ovation will definitely stay with me.
On the other hand, I understand why Von "Legend" Kipper was included on the show, but I don't have to like it. If you don't want to be on "So You Think You Can Dance," don't audition for "So You Think You Can Dance."
This was just the tip of the iceberg. I can't wait to see what the other cities have in store for us this season. Welcome back, "SYTYCD!"
Are you excited for the new season too? Any early favorites? Share your view on video.
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