So You Think You Can Dance: Top 20 Performance Show, Live Thoughts
The So You Think You Can Dance performance episodes begin tonight, which is welcome news to all fans of the show.  The auditions are all fine and good, more of a narrative necessity than anything, but they're nothing compared to the true meat of the season.  American Idol gets a whole lot more juice out of their auditions, and for good reason.  Singing has a lot more subjective qualities than dancing, and we can all pretend to know who is a good singer and who isn't.  Dancing is a lesser known expertise.  Anyway, what follows are my live thoughts from tonight's episode. 

We meet the top 20, and they all do their little solo thing as they're introduced.  Cat Deeley introduces us to tonight's judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Dan Karaty.

We get a montage of the auditions this season to a song, that may or may not be famous, but, regardless, it sounds like a Dirty Dancing soundtrack reject.

It's crazy how we didn't see one bit of a number of these dancers. 

The first two couples will perform after the break.  They are:

Jaimie/Hok and Anya/Danny.  All righty.

Jaimie Goodwin is an 18 year old lady who I don't remember seeing all through auditions.  She's a contemporary dancer, so it'll be interesting to see what she does with Hok.  Her mom died two years ago.

Hok Kinishi is a familiar face to fans, who probably would've made it to the top 20 last year, but he didn't have a work visa.

They dance a hip/hop routine from Shane Sparks.

Pretty cool.  It's your standard Sparks routine.  Hok obviously dominated it, but Jaimie wasn't great, but she jumped right in, and did way better than a lot of girls who try to do hip/hop without any previous training.

Nigel jokingly calls out Shane Sparks, saying that the material held Hok back.  Shane yells at Nigel from the audience while laughing.  Good stuff.

Anya Garnis, the sexy Latin ballroom from New York, is someone who I hope is able to do other styles of dance well enough to compete in this competition.

Danny Tidwell is the adopted brother of Travis Wall.  He's a classical/contemporary dancer.

Tony Meredith, ye of indeterminate age, teaches the couple a jive routine.  Anya bosses Danny around a little.  Good for her.

They dance their routine to Avril Lavigne's “Girlfriend”, marking the first and last time a couple dance jive to an Avril Lavigne song.  It's a bit off-putting.

Anyway, they kicked the routine's ass.  Extremely good.

Mary Murphy is in mid-season form.  Someone check her cup of coca-cola.  The judges all love the routine.  Nigel applauds Anya's “bum shuffle”.  Well, then.

Lacey Schwimmer calls herself a professional krumper.  Ha.

She's obviously the brother of last year's winner, Benji, so hopefully she'll be as good.

Kameron Bink, a red-haired mohawk dude, who comes across as an arrogant dude, is a contemporary/hip-hop dancer.

The two get to learn a contemporary routine from Mia Michaels.  This dance will be interesting and odd.  Lacey had a hard time with learning the routine.

The routine is quite sensual.  You can't explain these type of routines.  At one point, Lacey takes a running start and leaps into Kameron's shoulder.

The judges go ape-shit over it (well, actually, just Mary, who rambles on and screeches a helluva lot, to the point where I stopped listening).  Nigel manages to take a dig at the ending of the Sopranos.

Sabra and Dominic are up after the break to perform some disco, which never ends up well.

Sabra Johnson is a 19 year old contemporary dancer who they found in New York.  She was born in the Netherlands, moved to Germany and then to Utah.  Interesting route there.  Are there any bigger opposites than the Netherlands and Utah?  Las Vegas and North Korea, maybe?

Dominic Sandoval, aka D-Trix, is going to try to perform better than a number of previous B-Boys.

They, as I said, perform the disco.  Dom is wearing a sweet disco outfit.  It's okay, I'm never a huge fan of the disco, but they do some super acrobatic stuff, especially D-Trix, who had a moment of his crazy B-Boy stuff.

Nigel and Mary give the couple big props, and they probably deserve them, especially considering that this was the first time Dom has ever worked with a partner.

Ashlee Langus, a cute Texan, has the accent and is someone we haven't really seen much of until now.   Her partner, Ricky Palomino, is a very talented dancer, but as weird as weird can be.  Creepy, actually, which makes me not a big fan.

The two will be performing the Argentine Tango. This is a tough, fast dance.  Either Ashlee's really tall, or Ricky is very short.  Oh, she's wearing heels.  That might have something to do with it.

It seemed slow for a tango.  Ashlee's got a ton of leg.  Dan didn't like their chemistry.  The judges don't like their lack of chemistry. Ricky makes a weird comment.

Sara Von Gillern is a dancer for the Denver Nuggets Mod Squad, a hip-hop group.  You've got to like the lady hip-hop dancers.

Jesus Solario, the guy with the vineyard, says he started dancing after seeing a Janet Jackson video.  Umm, dude, you might not want to say that out loud.  Jesus seems like a nice dude.

Wade Robson teaches them a pop/jazz routine.  They use newspapers as props. Weird routine, but kind of cool.  They didn't do any partnering stuff, and they were a little off at times, but both seemed pretty solid.  Sarah, I thought, was better than Jesus.

The judges give them all a bunch of props, especially Sarah.  They also applaud Wade for his unique routine.

Jessi Peralta, the oil girl, wants to dance so she can quit her office job.

Pasha is Anya's dance partner, and he may have made the top 20 only because of Anya, and not on his own accord.  We will see.  

The two will be dancing the Smooth Waltz, which is a European royalty type dance.  They do the routine to Norah Jones “Come Away with Me”.  It's a very slow routine, sexy despite it's plodding nature, and the two have an easy chemistry.  Maybe easier than some of the other routines, but performed expertly.

Jessi looks incredible, by the way.

The judges absolutely love the routine.

Faina Savich, the 21 year old native Russian, whose brother Stanislav made it to the top 20 last year, is up next. 

Cedric Gardiner is another one of the people we've seen nothing of before.  He calls himself a freestyle dancer, but he's really a hip/hop dancer.

The couple get a hip/hop routine from Shane Sparks.  The routine is going too fast for Faina, who's having a lot of trouble learning the routine.

Faina does her best with the routine, but is still sloppy in a lot of places.

Dan didn't think there was any chemistry, but loved what Cedric brought to the table.  They all talk about the lack of partner chemistry.  I would agree.

Lauren Gottlieb, the 18 year old from Arizona, is up next.  She talks about her parents and their support.

Neil Haskell is a young dude who worked through some injuries in Vegas.

Lauren and will be dancing the Salsa.  It's a very Miami looking dance.  Lauren is very good, doing a lot of stuff on the floor (gliding and being swung and whatnot).  Neil wasn't too memorable.  Dan calls him out for not being into the hot Lauren.  He calls Lauren hot a number of times.  Everyone is taking it out on Neil and giving Lauren a lot of props.

Shauna Noland, another 18 year old, is a blond SoCal girl, someone we didn't see much of in the auditions episodes.  She dances contemporary.

Jimmy Aguello is a dude who almost made the top 20 last year, is back and is yet another person we haven't seen much of.

They get to learn a Tyce DiOrio Broadway routine.  They dance to a song from The Wiz.  It's a silly, happy little routine, and I can't find anything wrong with it on the performance end.  They seemed to have solid chemistry.  The judges all love it, thought it was fun and energetic.  Except for Nigel, who didn't like Shauna.

This was an extremely good first performance episode.  The quality of the dancing is way up from last year's top 20, isn't it.  What did you all think?

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer