Season nine of "So You Think You Can Dance" just got hot ... real hot. The Salt Lake City auditions not only brought forth some stupendous dancers but also scored the first tickets on judge Mary Murphy's infamous hot-tamale train.
Ballroom was the predominantly featured dance style Wednesday night, although we saw glimpses of everything from crumping to burlesque jazz to (you guessed it) alien space dance. In the audition episodes thus far, the men have managed to stand out just a little more than the women. Well, Salt Lake City just tipped the scale in favor of the ladies, leaving judge Nigel Lythgoe and guest judge Adam Shankman drooling.
Here's our "tamales" rundown from last night's show.
Kicking off the show in high gear was Witney Carson. Not only did her sensual cha-cha tango receive praise for its technique, she made slaves out of the judges. "I am a slave for you," Shankman proclaimed, while Lythgoe commented on her "smoking-hot face" and compared her to season 3 ballroom favorite Anya Barnis. But the greatest compliment may have been in the form of a simple, shrill scream from Mary Murphy declaring her the season's first ticket holder on the hot-tamale train.
Carson wasn't the only dancer awarded a golden ticket. Deanna Tomasetta was dubbed "special," giddy but super-fierce crumper Mariah Spears was called "tremendous," and burlesque jazz dancer Rachel Applehans was applauded for her confidence.
No reality competition series is complete without its share of oddballs, and the Salt Lake City auditions found its odd tamale in Lynn Gravatt. A former aerospace engineer, Gravatt gave it all up to pursue her passion for dance. Alien space dance, to be exact. Claiming "something" comes through her to make her move, Gravatt performed enthusiastically for the judges. Of course, they didn't put her through, but Gravatt had achieved her goal of showing the world you can be anything you want to be.
Odd things do come in green packages. Gene Lonardo sure did. The real shocker of the night, Lonardo decided to paint himself green and perform the life story of a male praying mantis. Yes, you read correctly. What seemed like a disaster waiting to happen actually turned out to be the surprise of the night. "You're so brilliant," Shankman told the unbelievably agile dancer, whom the judges felt would be a treat for contemporary choreographer Sonya Tayeh.
There were a few sad stories interspersed throughout the show, including that of Dareian Kujawa, who was kicked out of his home and disowned for his pursuit of dance. Leroy Martinez, a heavier-set dancer, had overcome a rough childhood and was now giving back through an after-school dance program. Although both put forth commendable efforts, projecting true spirit, neither was granted a golden ticket. Martinez did receive a standing ovation from the judges and the crowd.
Contestant Adrien Lee had a different story. After being cut at the last stage in season seven of "SYTYCD," Lee was disheartened, as was Murphy, who had the tough job of delivering the bad news. After taking a year off, he decided to try again and won yet another ticket and another chance to make his dreams come true in Las Vegas.
Salt Lake City was the final audition city before the big cuts in Vegas, and it definitely featured some of the sexiest dancers of the lot. Whether any will actually make it to the top 20 remains to be seen, but next week we will be one step closer to finding out as "So You Think You Can Dance" moves on to Sin City.
Who was your favorite dancer on "So You Think You Can Dance"? Let us know in the comments.