‘So You Think You Can Dance’ season 18 premiere recap: What went down during ‘Auditions: Day One’? [Live Blog]

After almost two years off the air “So You Think You Can Dance” returned for its 18th season on Monday night, March 4, on FOX. So what happened on the first night of competition? Scroll down for our “Auditions: Day One” live blog, updating throughout the episode.

Cat Deeley is back as host of the show, but there are major changes around her as the series revamps its format for this latest edition of the competition. For starters, we have a refreshed judging panel. “Dancing with the Stars” Mirror Ball champion Maksim Chmerkovskiy is coming onboard “SYTYCD” as a judge for the very first time, joining Emmy-nominated “DWTS” and “SYTYCD” alum Allison Holker and returning “SYTYCD” judge JoJo Siwa, who recently made “DWTS” history as the first celebrity to compete with a same-sex partner, Jenna Johnson; they ultimately finished second. During this year’s “SYTYCD” auditions rounds, series All-Star Comfort Fedoke will also help evaluate the talent.

This season will give contestants a taste of what a real career will be like. They will compete in challenges like dancing in a music video, performing at a football halftime show, and testing their skills alongside a Broadway star. We’ll also get a closer look at the dancers’ journeys throughout the competition with documentary-style storytelling elements that highlight their day-to-day experiences, relationships and personal journeys.

Over the course of its run, “SYTYCD” has won 17 Emmys, including Best Choreography trophies for Al Blackstone (2020), Mandy Moore (2018), Travis Wall (2015 and 2017), Mia Michaels (2007, 2010 and 2011), Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo (2011 and 2014), Tyce Diorio (2009) and Wade Robson (2007 and 2008). So it’s not just the contestants who have the potential to win big for their work on the show. The opportunities abound. Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:01pm — “This season is going to be unlike any other,” says Cat Deeley. They invited 100 dancers, but only 10 will survive. The dancers will live together and train together. So we’ll find out what happens when dancers stop being polite and start getting real.

9:10pm — Maks doesn’t just want to see ballroom. He wants to see ballroom elevated. Roman from Ukraine is a Latin ballroom dancer. He’s “not a traditional ballroom dancer,” though. Maks is skeptical that he’s dancing solo, though. He’s giving Latin ballroom with a little James Brown, a little Michael Jackson. I like it. But Maks thinks a solo cha cha is like a tap dance with no tap shoes. So Maks decides to dance with him for a minute before recruiting a ballroom partner from backstage. It’s kinda dynamite how good they are together without any prep together. The judges seem pleased now. He gets yeses from all three of the judges.

9:11pm — We get more of a sense of this season’s more personal direction in Maks bonding with Roman over their time in Ukraine and escaping Kyiv. Maks saw some dancers he was supposed to judge having to go to the front lines, so there’s extra pressure on Roman to represent the Ukrainian dance community.

9:17pm — Familiar face: Easton is auditioning again after trying out for “The Next Generation” 10 years ago when he was nine. Remarkable strength and control, picking up speed and attack and then slowing it down. The three judges give a standing ovation. He’s everything Allison was hoping to, he was “powerful and graceful.” Comfort thought it was “picturesque.” Maks thought it was an “incredible” performance. Yeses all around. I wonder what it’ll look like when they reject someone. It’s all positive vibes for the moment.

9:21pm — Justice Little is a hip-hop dancer. We see a snippet of his performance. Comfort thought it was an internal performance, Maks didn’t think he used the space well enough. Maks blames TikTok for dancers not knowing how to use larger physical space. He gets a no from the judges unfortunately.

9:27pm — Olivia is next. We’re getting more of her backstory, her family, her booking “Billy Elliot” as a kid. Something tells me she’s getting a yes. She has millions of followers on TikTok. Maks shakes his head. She’s doing “contemp.” Her dance is more emotional than the bubbly personality she portrays. The judges applaud. Allison thought it was “beautiful” how she floated and used the stage. Comfort was impressed by her split into grand plie. Maks was wrong to doubt her because of her TikTok background. She indeed gets yeses from all the judges.

9:32pm — Comfort wants to see more hip-hop. Maximus is next. He gives hip-hop, a backflip goes awry, muted applause. Maksim doesn’t think this routine was ready for prime time, didn’t show him at his best. Comfort believes in him, but it’s still a no from the judges.

9:35pm — O’Shea is a b-boy. So hip-hop will get another chance to shine. He passed out, ended up being diagnosed with arrhythmia and getting a pacemaker. Please make it to the end of this routine. Better than the hip-hop we’ve seen so far. Allison thought he was fun to watch and commands the room but needed more skill set. Maks wonders how he’d do in, say, a contemporary piece. Comfort also believes he could show them more. Allison is a reluctant yes. Maksim is a no. Comfort is the deciding vote, and she gives him a yes. But he’s going to need to deliver more in the choreography round.

9:43pm — Kyler Durrence is doing a contemporary dance routine. We don’t learn much about him, which so far has been a sign of nos. The judges applaud, but doesn’t seem enthusiastic. Allison thinks the movements are there, but she doesn’t buy the emotions. Maks thinks he’s incredible at what he does, so he’s a reluctant yes. Comfort also says no, though.

9:45pm — Kenzie performs next, but she needs to connect and slow down. The bar for contemporary has gotten really high, so you need more than just the moves.

9:46pm — Okay, another backstory dancer. She’s going to be a keeper. Dakayla’s mom died when she was seven. She was a gymnast, so Dakayla trained in gymnastics and combined it with dance. So this could be something unique. She’s got a lot of gymnastic skills and charisma, but I wish she’d connect the tumbling with the dancing more. Allison agrees with me that she has charisma and could step on any set right now. Maks was drawn in by her facial expression. Comfort calls it “a breath of fresh air.” Yeses all around, including a “Hell yeah” from Maks.

9:53pm — Maks wants to see more styles. So far it’s just been “contemp” with a little hip-hop thrown in. Next is Jin, who is doing bone-breaking, Chinese folk and waving. Well okay then. Her performance is bringing Comfort and Allison to tears. She’s really bringing an emotional intensity beyond just the sum of her movements. Comfort thought it was “liquid,” “had grace in it.” Jin tells the judges that she’s “obsessed with storytelling.” Allison could really feel that from her. Jin thanks Allison for carrying on Twitch‘s dance legacy. I’m still devastated by his death. Incomprehensible. No surprise at all, it’s a yes from all the judges.

9:59pm — Episode ends with a brief clip package of Twitch. I’m glad they addressed him and paid tribute to him. He represented dance so beautifully over the years.

10:000pm — So now that the first episode is in the books, I’m feeling strong “World of Dance” vibes from this new “SYTYCD” format. I’m not mad at that. I miss “World of Dance.” That show delivered from extraordinary performances from some extraordinary acts.

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