'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: The Return of the Dancing Baby

sytycd-season-9.jpgIt's back! Our show is back! Cat Deeley and Mary Murphy are back! I'm probably not going to waste a precious exclamation point on Nigel Lythgoe, but you know what? I'm kinda happy to see the old guy there too. Lotsa big changes this season. We're down to one episode a week but up to two winners. One boy and one girl will be crowned champions at season's end, and in between then and now, look for some of the most packed two hours in all of television: pairs AND solos AND groups AND results AND guest judges, and all the while having to find time for Cat to throw in her little chirpy moments of bliss. Recapping-wise, this could be my Most Challenging Season Yet. I can't wait.

We're starting off with auditions in two cities this week, New York and Dallas, and it seems like there was a decision to sacrifice quantity for quality, or at least increased screen time for the dancers who get the spotlight this week. Also, as has been the case with this show in recent seasons, a bare minimum of nightmare/joke auditions.

New York

After a bliss-inducing montage that made me smile so goddamn much, Cat tells us we're hitting New York, from "bright lights of Broadway to the gritty Brooklyn streets." Love you, Cat, but we're in Fort Greene. Maybe dial down the "gritty" talk. The judges here at BAM are Nigel, Mary and Tyce Diorio, and while I wouldn't exactly be rolling out the red carpet for Tyce anyway, I was really expecting to get Debbie Allen tonight, so I'm extra pissed.

THE BEST

Philly boy and street entertainer Shafeek Westbrook, 22, likes to flip a lot in his dancing. He auditions to a classical piece just to shake things up. He kind of rushes through some of his moves, but there's an elegance to him that's intriguing. He reminds me of Legacy a bit. The judges are really pleased with his artistry, and while he was already going to make it through anyway, the story he tells about how his routine told the story of losing his friend on 9/11, how the dancing was his soul crawling out from under the rubble, really seals it for him. Vegas.