It was the first episode of the much anticipated Australian edition of So You Think You Can Dance. It was time to forget the fantastic, and entertaining US series and watch this with an open mind.
Some issues that were raised in this first episode were:
1. Does the host Natalie Bassingwaite own a bra?;
2. The judges Bonnie Lythgoe, Jason Coleman, and Matt Lee improved as the show progressed, was it first audition nerves for them?;
3. Why do all hip hop dancers have nick names?
4. How many hats does Matt Lee own and why does he wear them? ;and
5. Is a pole really an appropriate accessory to audition with ?
The first city to be hit by the SYTYCD road train was Perth. Auditionees had to be between 18-35, and only 20 will be chosen to be in the finals.
Bonnie Lythgoe was looking for "different, amazing, and talented."
Johnathan Coleman was looking for "star quality", and
Matt Lee wanted "versatility".
The dancers now had 90 seconds to strut their stuff in front of the judges with the possibility to getting a ticket straight to Sydney (the equivalent of a ticket to Las Vegas), a second chance in the choreography round, or just a straight out NO.
First up were Brendon Humphries 35, aand Jemma Armstrong 19 who together did a ballroom/contemporary dance with lots of writhing, the judges loved it " engaging, sexy, fabulous" and they were on the wayto Sydney.
Nicole 'Lamb' a long time dancer of 15 to 20 years auditioned in a hip hop style and then half way through switched to contemporary. So she definately ticked Matt Lee's versatility box and got her ticket to Sydney. Nicole was cute with personality so I will be surprised if we don't see more of her.
Angel a model auditioned because she wanted to show them that models can dance, well actually I think just to self promote. But she did provide some unintended comic relief. She sauntered in wearing 10 inch gold stilettos and as the music started sashaying like she was on a catwalk. She then kicked the shoes off and did some uncoordinated back flips. Unsurprisingly she got the big thumbs down. But this won't be the last we see of her as I am sure we will see her at the Perth auditions for Australia's Next Top Model.
Stephanie Telick a 20 year old from Perth whose ambition is to dance at the Moulin Rouge was put straight through to Sydney. Bonnie Lythgoe obviously does not think much of the famous Parisian dance hall as she turned up her nose and said "you are better then Moulin Rouge".
Next up was a first for any SYTYCD series, Sermsah an indigenous Australia did some traditional aboriginal dancing. Bonnie was particularly impressed as she had never seen this type of dancing before. He was a great mover, and was put through straight to Sydney, however it will be interesting to see how he handles more structured choreagraphy. Sermsah was covered in white makeup, and when he hugged Natalie Bassingwaite I thought a costume change coming up, however she walked away unblemished.
Kelly did a slightly burlesque (that is being polite) routine, by using a man prop and dancing to the throbbing Nine Inch Nails song 'I want to **** you like an animal'. It was over the top raunch, lots of leg spreading and floor writhing, but she could kind of dance.
Jason Coleman gave her the scolding "that song should not be put in a public forum" before saying no to her. But she was given a life line by the two other judges and sent to choreography. However after the evening session she still had no ticket to Sydney.
Edward "Edit" was a b-boy who did an ok hip hop routine, however he was still having to prove himself in the evening session, after dancing to Matt Lee's choreography he did manage to snaffle a ticket.
Next up was Brisbane where two thirds of the auditioners were girls. I noticed a big improvement in the judges once they hit Brisbane, they were a bit snappier with their pontifications, clearly first day nerves were over.
First up was Camilla Jamavich (sic) who auditioned in Doc Martin like sneakers, her contemporary style was liked by the judges however they were a bit concerned about her stamina. However they still gave her a ticket to the top 100.
Then hip hop dance trio 365 crew auditioned, and they were entertaining. The judges then got into a discussion about who was better. One lucky member got straight through, with the other two having to battle it out in the choreography session. Lucky for them they will all get to hang in Sydney.
Next up Anthony Ikin auditioned, his brother Ben Ikin was a successful footballer and now Channel 9 rugby league commentator. I was a bit worried about what he was going to be like after we were told he was a five time aerobics champion, was it going to be like a Jane Fonda workout, but Anthony turned out to be one of the highlights of the first episode. His dancing was sublime, and I will be surprised if he does not make it to the top 20.
If he does make it to the final shows will Channel 9 let brother Ben attend the show which is shown on a rival network. Considering 9 they did not let Bert Newton go and see his wife Patti dance on Dancing With the Stars it would appear unlikely.
Ben & Liam looked like joke dancers in bright coloured lycra. However they were ok, with Liam getting a second chance in the evening, however the judges ended his journey there.
Emma a former Australian Ballet School student auditioned, and she was good, however cracked under a grilling from the judges when asked about her priorities, and where dance was on that list. Bonnie Lythgoe questioned her motivation when asking "which was more important, boyfriends, beaches or ballet" after an unsure answer, she started sobbing and the judges thought she was just too fragile to be put through to handle the weekly criticism.
Next was 19 year old Jack Chambers whose ambition is to dance on Broadway. He wowed the judges with his routine. He reminded me of the season 2 winner of SYTYCD the delightful Benji Schwimmer, however dare I say it Jack also has sex appeal! Again I will be surprised if he doesn't top 20.
Sexy brazilain Gianne came on and salsa'd around the stage it was good enough to get her through to the choreography round where she won her ticket to Sydney.
Last for Day 1 in Brisbane was Malena, a salsa dancer without a partner, they are apparently to hard to find. After a woeful solo audition where the judges were more concerned about her skirt riding up she was sent packing. As Bonnie said " This is what I don't want to see on this show". In a post audition interview she whined but Britany Spears wears skirts and she has nothing on underneath. Yes Malena, but Britany is famous and moderately talented and you are not.
Day 2 in Brisbane started of with Carl an 18 year old who had been dancing fulltime for a year. He tackled a classic Nureyev piece. The judges criticised that it is hard to emulate the great Rudolph however he was given a chance to prove himself later on where he was then given the much wanted top 100 ticket.
The heart string story of the day was 29 year old Bessie from El Salvador who escaped during the civil war, however some of her family was left behind. The judges were very moved by her story, Bonnie even shed a tear. She was not trained but her hip hop routine was good enough to get through to the choreography in the evening.
Caleb a 15 year old had come down from Innisvale, North Queensland to audition clearly he did not read the rules clearly as he needed to be 18 to get on the show. This isn't Idol honey. However the judges did let him dance for them, and he was fantastic. He just has to hope the show goes for 3 seasons so he can get his crack at it as he would be a certainty to make it through to the finals.
Last was Gabriel Cumberford a 19 year old uni student who had fallen off the rails in the prior years with drugs and street life. His weird kind of animalistic routine was baffling, probably not helped by describing himself as a monkey.
Jason Coleman gave him a no, but the other 2 gave him a go in the evening round. He did not handle the rejection well and was punching the walls outside and crying as he wanted to get straight through to Sydney. Unfortunately for him the evening session still did not give him the much wanted ticket.
The first episode was over and yes it was enjoyable, and shows potential. Natalie Bassingwaite was gorgeous and bubbly, though her limited air time was spent hugging contestants. The judges are still forming their persona's and finding their TV feet. Bonnie seems lovely, but I hope Jason Coleman gets a bit edgier. But the good news is it does appear Australia does have some dancing talented that should keep us riveted for the the next 3 months and once the judges get to know each other better it should be a cracking show.