So You Think You Can Dance 2011: Series 2, episode 2 review

So You Think You Can Dance returned this evening, with it’s last audition based episode of the second series.

Next week we’re off to choreography camp, where the judging panel Nigel Lythgoe, Arlene Phillips, Sisco Gomez and Louise Redknapp will choose their final contestants. Read to for a run down on which potential finalists were featured on this evening’s show.


Charlie Wheeler – Contortion and breakdance.

18 year old Charlie Wheeler is the first act to perform on tonight’s So You Think You Can Dance. The flexible Southampton guy specialises in contortion and breakdance, and gives Cat Deeley an example of some of his moves before going before the judges.

Charlie’s audition piece is phenomenal – acrobatic, energetic and even dangerous in places. Well, I almost broke a hip just watching him. If there’s a minor grumble, it’s that the dance part of the routine is minimal to say the least. Sisco touches on this in his comments when he says that Charlie’s strengths are in his “contortion and the tricks”. It’s a valid point, and you’ve got to wonder how Charlie would fare in a more traditional style of dance – which he will be expected to do as part of the competition.

For the moment though, the judges are simply in awe of his talent, and Nigel Lythgoe hands Charlie a Golden Ticket, putting him straight through to the dance boot camp. I loved how Nigel insisted on doing a handshake under his knee when he met Charlie – it had a real Monty Python feel to it.

Judges’ comments

Nigel Lythgoe: You are so unique, young man. I mean it’s ridiculous what you’re doing. It’s exciting to watch. It’s taken your breath away, hasn’t it?

Arlene Phillips: It has. Right now I think what you do is kind of special. And seeing somebody who looks like a little bouncing bright bubbly kid do it, it adds like the cherry and the cream on the top of the cake.

Louise Redknapp: It was extremely intriguing. There were parts where I couldn’t watch you and parts where I didn’t want to take my eyes off you. And actually, now and again you did a little dance move that actually worked.

Sisco Gomez: I think it was clear to me that you needed to go back to some classes. Your forte is definitely the contortion and the tricks. But saying that, I think that’s why you’ve come here. If you carry on the way you are mate, you’re gonna be a legend in the circus world, definitely. You are unique, you have a unique character, you bring a personality to your solo. I’m excited about you.

Bethany Rose Harrison – 20 – Devon

Hottie alert! 20 year old dancer Bethany Rose Harrison was an auditionee from last year who was on call in case any of the finalists dropped out. Sadly, she didn’t get her shot, but she turns up at the So You Think You Can Dance auditions hungry for success.

Initially, it looks like being a really dull audition. Bethany flounces around to a Keane piano ballad for the first half. But just when it looks like Nigel’s getting bored with the performance, there’s a gutteral growl of distorted guitar and Warrant’s Cherry Pie (awesome rock track, readers) begins playing. And that’s when the performance gets really exciting.

Bethany looks hot in all-black, teasing a comment from Arlene about her being a panther. And after getting short but enthusiastic comments from the judges, she’s given a golden ticket – the second of the episode so far – and sent through to boot camp.

Judges’ comments

Nigel Lythgoe: Bethany, that worked for me. Thank you very much.

Arlene Phillips: Bethany, the kitten didn’t turn into a cat, the kitten turned into a panther!

Louise Redknapp: Yeah Bethany, it’s good to have you back.

Sisco Gomez: You got your look down, you have your talent down. That was fantastic.

Mary Swift – 54 – London

An ageism battle breaks out between So You Think You Can Dance judges Nigel Lythgoe and Sisco Gomez tonight. The pair clash over the oldest dancer to apply for the show, Londoner Mary Swift. Mary is 54 years old and just wants to be told that she’s a good dancer.

However, Nigel asks her if she believes she can handle the pace of the show. Sisco takes exception to age being made an issue, but Nigel insists he’s being realistic. Sisco snipes:

I thought you said that age wasn’t nothing but a number…

To which Lythgoe hits back

I know…maybe you don’t, but I know how tough this programme is. So let’s get serious. I’m not here to play around. I’m here to find the best dancers we can for this programme.

And suddenly the whole argument is a moot point as Mary turns out to be…shocker!…a terrible dancer. She listlessly bops around the stage to Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. She’s not the Susan Boyle of dance, let’s put it that way. Lythgoe storms off the judging desk. He’s in a spectacularly foul mood today, whether it’s down to the silly dancing or Sisco’s arrogance I’m not sure.

Louise Redknapp gives Mary some feedback: “Mary, I think you can most probably see from the reaction of Nigel going that it wasn’t working. But it’s great you like to dance and it’s an enjoyment you get. I think to bring it on stage today was a waste of time if I’m honest.”

Sisco makes the huge error of apologising to Mary on Nigel’s behalf. BIG MISTAKE! Nigel explodes at Sisco for doing this, then goes on to elaborate how showcasing novelty

I cannot sit here and watch the lady be silly. It makes a mockery of the whole programme. We lose the integrity of the people who work so hard to get through this process.

You’ve got to hand it to Nigel Lythgoe – he differentiates his show from the Simon Cowell Circuses by insisting that they focus on serious talent, but manages to squeeze in some funny auditions while making that point. Clever Nigel!

Ryan Jenkins

Ryan Jenkins poses us with a terrible dilemma. He’s a phenomenal dancer. And I don’t say that lightly. He auditions with a contemporary routine which is beautiful to behold. Even if you don’t know much about the technicalities of dance, if it conveys emotion to you, then it’s a good thing. And Ryan’s routine does exactly that.

However, I take massive exception to his backstory. We hear about his brother dying of cancer. But that was ten years ago. And his mother passed away a few years back as well. He tells Cat Deeley that he wants to “show people out there that if I can do it, with all the family problems I’ve had, that I’ve battled through, that they can do it as well.”

Sorry, but I find this tremendously insulting. My father died of cancer two years ago, but am I tapping out telly reviews in his honour, to show other relatives of cancer victims that they too can blog? Don’t be stupid. I do it because it’s my job. Just like dancing is Ryan’s job. I obviously don’t mean to be unsympathetic about his loss, but when the story ends in “also, my dad has grey hair and can’t visit me as much as he’d like to”, the whole thing seems like a mercenary sympathy story. Or maybe I’m playing the hard-boiled cynic too much?

Judges’ comments

Nigel Lythgoe: You have magnificent lines. You are a brilliant dancer. You bring everything to the table. You bring your emotions and you bring great technique. I’m looking forward to seeing you do a happy dance. Certainly the best we’ve seen today.

Arlene Phillips: I have one thing for Ryan and that is…[presents Golden Ticket]

Ben Woods

I much prefer bodypopper Ben Woods’ story – he’s bored living in Morcambe, so he taught himself bodypopping after seeing it on YouTube. And what’s even more fascinating about him, he practises at night so that he can use his shadow to see and perfect his moves.

And something else – he got fired because he took time off work to audition for So You Think You Can Dance.

What can we say? Amazing moves. Ben’s got an uncanny knack for pushing his body around like it was an everyday thing. Well, maybe it is…for him. These are some of the smoothest popping moves I’ve seen on TV in a long time, and it’s especially good that he’s self-taught.

However, being self-taught may pose a problem for Ben. Because of this, and because of the type of dance he specialises in, the judges don’t give him a golden ticket to Choreography Camp. He’s given a callback, and Nigel Lythgoe warns him that he may find being choreographed a bit of a culture shock. It’s genuinely hard to tell whether he’ll be able to adapt to different forms of dance when he’s learned all by himself.

Judges’ comments

Arlene Phillips: I feel like I’m watching the male version of Flashdance. There you are, you’ve been in your factory, you’ve come out, you’ve danced. You are sweet, you are charming, I think every young teenager will fall in love with you. What else can I say, you’re adorable.

Louise Redknapp: You know what Ben, sometimes you meet people in life that you just want to see do well, and for me, you’re one of them. All I want you to do for me is to stop imagining yourself dancing on a street on a dark night, and imagine yourself on a stage with bright lights and thousands of people watching you.

Callback Update

Ben returns for callbacks, but it’s clear that he doesn’t have the basic skills to succeed. He lumbers around behind his dance partner and just looks uncomfortable and uncoordinated throughout the whole thing. Sadly, he’s sent home, but with an offer of free masterclasses with Sisco whenever he’s in town. Were they hinting that he might get a dance scholarship like the one they handed out last year?

James Pullem and Jon-Jo Inkpen – Colchester

Comedy double-act JJ and James give the camera crew a load of nonsense about being Morris dancing champions before their audition. The duo – who hail from Colchester – gave a brilliantly entertaining routine that was fun to watch and had a funky backing track.

Unfortunately, right at the last move, James had a slight stumble, which took the shine off the routine a bit. However, there’s an ensuing argument between the judges about who to put through. Sisco clearly favours JJ, who was noticeably more technically skilled. He takes James to task for sloppy pirouettes, but Arlene disagrees with him.

JJ’s place at callbacks is assured, but James receives votes only from Arlene and Louise. While that’s enough to get him through to callbacks, it’s not really a vote of confidence. Both guys go through to callbacks.

Judges’ comments

Sisco Gomez: JJ, you left James behind mate. You were crawling and hanging on and I just wished I could have gone (pushes James offstage) and just seen you dance. I felt like it’s obvious that you’re ready for this competition and James, you’re not. James, about the pirouettes, you did them with a mean old hunchback. It was like the hunchback of Notre Dame. JJ, I’m excited about you. James, I like you but you need more time.

Louise Redknapp: It’s a yes, JJ. It’s a yes, James.

Nigel Lythgoe: It doesn’t matter what I say now, but just for the books I would have said yes for JJ. And James, I do agree with Sisco. I think you need that extra bit of time. But it doesn’t matter, because you’re both going through.

Callbacks update

Both JJ and James win their golden tickets, but not before Arlene plays with James for his poor timing in his first routine. Both guys are through to Choreography Camp.

Sophie Cook

Sisco Gomez may be the defender of old ladies on So You Think You Can Dance, but if you’re a girl with a funky mullet and leopard print MC Hammer pants, he will tear you apart! You have been warned!

Sophie Cook takes to the stage with her striking haircut, and instantly Sisco mutters a bitchy remark. Even Nigel Lythgoe gets in on the action, remarking “It’s like a blonde Davy Crockett hat…”

By Sophie’s own admission, she’s doing a contemporary fusion routine. Or whatever comes out. It’s hard to concentrate on the routine with the camera flicking back to Sisco pouting every few seconds. But then, Sophie’s hair and those trousers are quite distracting. And not in a good way. Nigel comments that the trousers make her legs look even shorter.

After a serious amount of bickering, the judges unanimously agree to bring Sophie back to callbacks. Does she have time for a haircut before the next dance?

Judges’ comments

Sisco Gomez: I’m gonna be real. You need a new look. That mullet’s not gonna work. You’ve got technique there. I enjoyed your performance, but the look is a big distraction and I only say it because the way you present yourself is so important. It’s dated, it doesn’t do you any favours. And whether Louise agrees or not, I work with these artists, I’ve been a dancer, I choreograph for them. And if you were to audition for me, you’d be a distraction and you would not get the job.

Louise Redknapp: But Sisco, she might not like how you look today. It’s personal opinion. She doesn’t look bad. Sophie, I really enjoyed your dancing anyway. Well done.

Nigel Lythgoe: I’m so pleased they got around to your dancing Sophie. I’m a yes to callbacks.

Callbacks update

Sophie changes her look by wearing more conventional attire and tying back her hair, which earns praise from Sisco. She performs once with Fernando Rivera, but the judges are still unsure. They ask her to perform one more time before giving her a golden ticket to progress.

Scott Rayson

Nutter alert! 48 year old Scott Rayson is another ‘older’ contestant who – unsurprisingly – turns out to be a novelty act. You can tell this when he says he was dancing before he was born. He’s also got an ironic look in his eye and claims he doesn’t do standard workouts, he goes to the gym for 4 hours at a time.

Oh dear.

That’s not to mention the comedy lightning effects they add to his hands and the martial arts inspired moves he does. He hits the stage in an all-white costume and dances with a towel he describes as “a cooling system”. After an embarrassing routine, the judges give their comments before sending Scott home.

Judges’ comments

Sisco Gomez: I just don’t know what to say. It was just so bizarre. There was just no structure. I mean, you were living, but God knows what you were doing.

Arlene Phillips: I thought it was a little unusual.

Nigel Lythgoe: Enjoy yourself, it was a social thing. But for a competitive dance competition, it’s just not there yet.

Fernando Rivero

Bubbly Spanish gymnast Fernando Rivero stuns the So You Think You Can Dance judges with a heavily acrobatic routine to Beyonce’s Halo.

The 18 year old mixes a little bit of bodypopping into his routine, but it’s his strength and gymnastic ability that causes the judges’ jaws to hit the ground. However, the problem that the panel does have is that his routine lacks…well, dancing. I can see where they’re coming from, I suppose.

In a day where no golden tickets were awarded, Fernando’s best hope is to make it through to callbacks. Louise and Nigel are adamant that he’s not ready for the competition, but Arlene and Sisco support him and send him through to the next stage.

Judges’ comments

Louise Redknapp: I’m going to start on the positive. You’re adorable. But there was only one or two dance moves I really saw in there. There was lots of grabbing, but it didn’t actually dance anywhere else in the routine for me. And I was desperate, because you’re adorable, but there wasn’t enough dancing in there for me. Sorry.

Nigel Lythgoe: I’ll jump straight in then and say I agree with Louise. I wanted to see much more. You’re a world champion, representing the world championships. I loved your tumbling, but I don’t think you’re ready for this programme yet.

Arlene Phillips: Nigel, he had rhythm, he had feeling, he had charm.

Sisco Gomez: I don’t agree with Nigel when he said you’re not ready for this season. I think you are. You’re a breath of fresh air. You are raw talent. I think you can definitely do it. I’d like you to prove Nigel wrong.

Callback update

Fernando is paired with Sophie Cook – the mulleted dancer from earlier in the episode – and his performance at callbacks impresses the judges enough to earn a golden ticket to the next stage.