So You Think You Can Dance

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I figure it's going to underwhelm the judges, but Nigel says he likes where hip-hop's going. Because it's softening, see. A little less inner-city and a little more Up With People, right? Mary says the exact same thing, more or less. She calls it cotton candy hip-hop. Keep in mind she means this as a good thing. "It wasn't quite there," says Dan, pointing out the lack of funk. I'm thinking he actually hates it but was a little reluctant to slam it so explicitly. "Not bad but not great," is his assessment.

Next up: Susie, who I think is what, 13 years old? Must be older than that, because she's a high school teacher, and she hopes to inspire her students. She will prove that it is possible to keep your eyes open despite trowel-applied eye shadow. Marquis is her partner, and he had family issues with dance as he was growing up, which could mean his mom yanked him out of dance in hopes it would make him not gay. But now she's proud of him.

They're dancing a Hunter Johnson-choreographed waltz to "Dark Waltz" by Hayley Westenra. Out of the gate, to my untrained eye, they look a little less fluid than they'll need to be by the end of the season, but it's the first week of performances, and they seem to settle down by song's end, at least until Marquis struggles with a lift, and they finish behind the song.

Nigel points out the difficult choreography, particularly the lift. He says he knew they missed up the lift, but he's not sure the audience did, which is awfully insulting of a dance-show audience. And I posit that if I could tell, then everyone else watching picked up on it. But overall he's positive about their performances, particularly Susie's lines. Mary refers to the dance's degree of difficulty as well, since the movements are slow, and necessarily controlled, but the pulled it off. She says she was "blown away." Dan felt like he was watching an "almost-perfect ending to a love story," adding that it was sexy, romantic and smooth.

Kourtni graduated from high school when she was 16 so she could pursue her dance training. Matt came from an athletic family whose dad signed him up for dance lessons. The gigantic duo (who are 5'9" and 6'3", respectively) do a jazz routine from Mandy Moore. Mandy says the challenge with tall dancers is executing the moves properly, because it'll look really sloppy if they mess up.

They're dancing to "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell. They're in leather, and Matt's holding a crystal. Do you want that crystal, Kourtni? Do you? I'll dance you for it! They play off each other's bodies nicely, and the synchronized moves are pulled off well. And as you might expect from black-clad dancers performing this version of the song, with its early-'80s AIDS resonance, Matt is grinning from ear-to-ear.

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So You Think You Can Dance

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