Over-dramatic instrumental music and mountain vistas lead into the So You Think You Can Dance season 9 Salt Lake City auditions. Because those things have a lot to do with dancing… But I can forgive the over-the-top drama. I can forgive anything in an audition that features a dad with orangutan moves, Strictly Ballroom references and choreography inspired by aliens and bugs.

For Salt Lake City, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined by Adam Shankman, a man who has more fun than any one person should be allowed.

Which Women Are Going to Vegas?

Witney Carson: Ballroom dancing still exists! Witney, a cute little blonde with braces, brought some heretofore scarce Latin ballroom to the So You Think You Can Dance auditions. Her performance was assisted by a lot of talent and an all-but-invisible partner. With a standing ovation, some hot-tamale screeching from Mary Murphy and shocking language from Adam Shankman, Witney Carson was a shoe-in for Vegas.

Dee Tomasetta: The lone girl in a giant Italian family (complete with tables full of food and strong accents), Dee performed a slow, expressive modern dance. The moves performed were actually reminiscent of a handkerchief being waved about by a proper lady about to succumb to the vapors.

Lindsay Arnold: Lindsay was presented as merely the oldest in a large family of blonde dancers. Her Latin dancing was visibly infused with other styles to produce a dynamic and energetic performance. This second hot tamale of the night went straight to Vegas for her routine.

Mariah Spears: A little blonde krumper? You don’t see that every day. You definitely don’t see it done so well — full of spins, flips and jerky movements that seemed impossible. The nearly speechless judges sent Mariah to choreography, where she earned her ticket to Vegas the hard way.

Rachel Applehans: She claimed to be a wallflower. The underwear did not agree. The dance was an odd combination of what you’d expect in a strip club and standard jazz dance. Even with the overt sexiness, the skill and performance were both impressive. And anyone who can take all speech away from the judges is impressive. It took a trip to choreography, but Rachel was indeed Vegas-bound.

SYTYCD-SaltLakeVegas.jpgWhich Men Are Going to Vegas?

Gene Lonardo: Every once in awhile, crazy and brilliant meet in one glittery, body-painted place. Even though he was performing “The Life-Cycle of the Male Praying Mantis” (complete with post-coital beheading), Gene Lonardo was an incredible dancer. Great technique and flexibility actually made the bug-life theme work. Sonya Tayeh is salivating right now.

Dareian Kujawa: Having committed himself to dancing to overcome the trauma of homelessness, Dareian produced major results. His modern dance was the kind that involved leaps, poses and incredible muscles — the guy literally threw himself all over the stage. Apparently, Dareian’s feet were bad, but enthusiasm for all else led the judges to presenting a Vegas ticket.

Adrian Lee: A former almost-ran from SYTYCD season 7, Adrian didn’t even tell his family he was auditioning again. But his dancing was totally enough to make it to Vegas, even if his choreography was utterly yucky.

Also Going to Vegas?

Hey! It’s the barely-clothed man! And the shrieking pixie-cut girl! And some ballroom dancer I totally don’t remember! They’re all going to Las Vegas.

SYTYCD-SaltLakeOdd.jpgWho’s NOT Going to Vegas?

Lynn Gravatt: Just when you thought they had weeded out all the lunatics, Lynn Gravatt showed up. This former aerospace engineer (an actual rocket scientist!) performed an Alien Space Dance, powered by energy from the Pleiades and inspired by spirit guides Devil Da Flame, Divine Da Flame and Rainbow Lite Bright (who picks out Lynn’s outfits). The dance wasn’t too terrible, but an obvious lack of training and an even more obvious bit of nuttiness earned “No” votes from the judges.

Murphy Yang: Apparently, not all SYTYCD sob stories get a happy ending. Murphy’s family moved to California without him, and So You Think You Can Dance will move to Las Vegas without this soft-shoeing breaker. The judges liked the dance OK, but choreography proved to be too much.

Whitney Hallam and Johnny Ahn: He wanted to be a “player” (= getting more dates by acting like a jerk), she had bleached hair. So, yeah… After a shocking and amazing beginning, the dancing actually seemed pretty basic. The steps were good, but there was exactly zero chemistry between the partners. Both lost it in choreography.

Leroy Martinez: You’ve got to hand it to a dancer who can still have confidence after all of the judges sighed sadly at his appearance. This heavyset man combined some actually impressive hip-hop moves and crazy tricks with one of the best performances of the auditions — for a second I actually saw Oliver Hardy dancing on that stage. Unfortunately, Leroy’s only rewards were a failed trip to choreography and a lot of condescending expressions of awe.

SYTYCD-SaltLakeBigGuy.jpgAnd that’s it for the audition rounds! Of all the dancers who showed up on the various stages, 181 will move on to Las Vegas to compete next week. Which will make it even further? Check back here to find out!

Who was your favorite dancer of the night? Who was the biggest surprise? Which dancers will succeed in Las Vegas? Leave your comments below!

(Images courtesy of FOX)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.