“So You Think You Can Dance” mini-cap: the 20 contestants are chosen

Here I am again, ice cream in hand, well in a bowl really, ready to see how they’re going to whittle two hundred dancers down to twenty finalists. It’ll be brutal but with a little rocky road, I’ll be fine. Grab your favorite ice cream (or brew, for you grown-ups) and settle in on this comfy couch with me.

After auditions in six cities, dancers arrive and arrive and arrive in Las Vegas. Cat Deeley is there again with her cute bullhorn (oh how I love a femme in charge) and even cuter shorts. It’s nice to see her dress down and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

They’re pulling out all the stops and putting six judges at a long table. It looks a little like the last supper only Jesus, er, Nigel Lythgoe, is on the end. Mary (Murphy) is there. (Wait, was she in that painting? She should have been.) The disciples are there too – Debbie Allen, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo plus the perfectly gorgeous intelligent sexy Mia Michaels.

Here’s how it works. Each day there’s a new choreography to learn and each day, dancers are cut and sent home. First, there’s a hip hop choreography taught by the D’umos. We see a blur of dancers jumping and popping and peering through the multitudes of other dancers to see the teachers. It’s not an ideal situation for learning a dance, especially if you’ve only got an hour. Jump! Slide! Pop! Do it again! Huh?

Lots of dancers are sent home including Claire Callaway, the dancer who had the injured foot in season two and skipped season three because she had a hard roll, er, bun in the oven.

For day two, dancers are told to wear something sexy and sassy. Fortunately, no one shows up all Shakira-like but there are some slinky dresses and heels. (Women should get extra points for dancing in heels. Or at least, free medical care.) Tyce Diorio is the teacher today and he’s showing them some Broadway. Do I see jazz hands? You bet, and lots of smiles and shoulder shrugs and fun. It’s Broadway, you expected crumping?

It’s a partner dance and for this show, that means male and female. However, there are more women than men so two women, Brittney and Erica, are paired. Can I say how hot this was? Both of them looked so confident and so smooth, in a Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers kind of way. Lythgoe commented that Brittney was better than some of the guys. (I guess she was masculine enough.) She’s sent through but unfortunately, her partner has to go home.

Murphy screams a lot, Murphy and Michaels fight (ooh, rewind that again), and there’s a montage of crying people going home including one very bitter woman blubbering about blondes and plastic surgery. Buck up.

Ninety four dancers are left and it’s only half way through the second day. Brutal. I send the cats to the kitchen for more ice cream.

Deeley continues to narrate the show. I adore her conversational tone and her accent. She had the mostly lovely way of saying “bonjour.” Ooh, do it again please.

Next, dancers learn the foxtrot from Jean Marc Genereaux. A lot of dancers can fake various genres but ballroom dance is a whole ‘nother animal. Two hip hop dancers, Joshua and Comfort, are paired because they’re friends from the Dallas auditions. It’s painful watching them try the graceful moves but they soldier through and while Murphy doesn’t scream, the judges appreciate their effort and send them through. (Good ‘cause I want to marry Comfort. We didn’t see much of her earlier but after getting a longer look I can see she’s a great breaker. If she gets a handle on the other genres she’s going to kick serious booty.) Both sob and Comfort thanks Jesus. I guess Lythgoe did have something to do with it.

Remember Paige “Everything Pink And Sparkly” from Salt Lake City? Her toothy grin gets her through to this round but turns to a sour pout at the prospect of a ballroom dance with a – gasp – breaker. I still feel sorry for her ‘cause her partner certainly didn’t do her any justice. The judges agree and give her another chance with a ballroom guy. Paige still doesn’t cut it and is sent home. Paige whines about her ugly, ugly ballroom hair – while violently yanking out the pins — and crys about how you should only tear up in your room alone and by the way, Jesus has a plan for her. Um, yeah, and he sent you home.

It’s the end of the day and Cat Deeley informs the remaining dancers that it’s not over yet. Instead of groaning, they try to be perky about it as they draw CDs from a hat. They are divided into groups and told to choreograph a routine and present it the next day. (What? The producers couldn’t pay the hotel bill for an additional night so they could do this all during the day?) Groups are meeting all over, working it out. Or not. Of course there’s drama. Most don’t get to bed until three or four.

There’s a commercial break. I decide to watch them because if I go into the kitchen for any more ice cream, I won’t fit into that new bellydance costume. I am captivated by the sexiest fruit commercial ever, all juicy oranges and a whispering female voice purring about juice. I am so playing this on my next date.

I flip back to the show. The sixty eight dancers who are left learn a Mia Michaels routine. The lack of sleep is slapping them upside the head and a few, including tap dancer Lizz Plot, are really feeling it. Even though Michaels said she did a great job, she’s sent home. Well dang. The other woman tap dancer, Bianca Revels, doesn’t make it either, getting cut a little later in the show. She sobs at the news. Where’s Deeley when you need her?

Jeremiah Hughes stomps off during the Michaels choreography. After a dressing down from Michaels, he’s cut. Don’t mess with my girlfriend.

Several dancers do a solo “dance for their life” to stay. Heck, they’re all gorgeous but the judges decide to keep a few and send the rest home.

It’s time for the final selections. Contestants wait backstage, biting their fingernails. Each one walks down a long hallway lit with several spots. They stand alone (hey, this isn’t American Idol, people, there’s no chair) on the stage while one of the judges delivers a speech about their “specialness” or lack there of. Sometimes they try to fake them out, the dancer’s lip starts to tremble and the tears form, but HA HA! They’re a finalist. And sometimes, you think it’s an acting job but no, it’s true, they’re going home. I hate this part.

In the end, there are twenty finalists, ten boys and ten girls. Some of my favorites get through, like Courtney Galiano, from the Charleston auditions. She has such a beautiful and lyrical style. Kourtni Lin makes it too. Another contemporary dancer, she’s the one who judges suggested she do Kill Bill:The Musicial. And Comfort … oh, Comfort. I can’t wait to see more of her. One of the dancers is a ballerina, I think it was Rayven. I’ll be interested to see what she can do. Yummy soccer player Kherington gets through too.

I’m disappointed that Kelli Baker (SLC audition, the one with the famous mom choreographer) didn’t make it through. Her emotive style was very moving but the judges didn’t agree. They want her to come back next year though.

At the end, it was down to two boys and two girls and only two slots. Drama! Anticipation! Katee and Natalie are friends who tried out in Milwaukee. Pitting two buddies against each other is so not fair. Katee was originally slated to go through but after saying she wasn’t sure she’d try out again if she lost, the judges weren’t certain she was committed enough to this year so they sent them off stage for more discussion. The two dancers return and after much hand wringing from the judges, their original decision holds and Natalie is sent home. They walk away, arm in arm, then embrace backstage. I’m dabbing at my eyes.

So, my lovelies, here are the final twenty: Joshua, Rayven, Jamie, Twitch, Marquis, Matt, Comfort, Courtney, Susie, Chelsie, Chris, Thayne, Mark, Jessica, Kourtni, Gev, Kherington, Katee, Chelsea and William.

Next week the finalists rev their engines. Michaels will be revving mine. Until then, sweet dreams and don’t call me. I’ll be busy.