If there is one thing that viewers can count on with "So You Think You Can Dance," it's that the show keeps coming up with changes, sometimes for the better and sometimes for better ratings.

The premiere of Season 11 featured several of the hundreds of dancers who stood in lines that stretched down the street, but some of the season's surprises were already divulged by executive producer Nigel Lythgoe online. As early as April, Nigel was pleading with the show's Twitter followers to support the show and boost the ratings since he feared that it "could possibly" be the final season. Sounds like Nigel wanted to take no chances that his baby would be ignored, and the Tweets started flowing.

Among the changes to Season 11, there will not be male and female winners but only one winner overall. In addition, the judges will not be able to use a save for a dancer after the field narrows to the Top 10, which will hopefully increase the viewer participation.

One more change is a "biggee" -- Justin Bieber is now involved with SYTYCD! No, no, he's not a judge. The Biebs and his choreographer, Nick DeMauro, are introducing a pre-taped competition between two dance crews each week, with Twitter followers voting on their favorite. The crew competition will only take place during the first four weeks (the auditions) of the show, and the crew that comes out on top will appear on the show's finale. I think it would be a nice touch for Justin Bieber to appear on that last show -- I wonder if Nigel can afford him. The crews this week were Poreotics from Los Angeles, a group that focused on popping and robotics, and Syncopated Ladies, a four-woman group from the East Coast that shined a spotlight on tap dancing with style. By the end of the night, the Ladies were well ahead in the voting.


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Some things don't change on the show. Nigel and ballroom dancer Mary Murphy of the high-pitched scream are the judges, along with weekly guest judges. This week, the show featured the auditions in New Orleans and Chicago, with actor/dancer/comedian Wayne Brady judging in the Big Easy and actress and former ballet dancer Jenna Elfman in Chicago. And as always, there were several touching stories, some interviews by host Cat Deeley, uplifting reasons for dancing and a few emotional breakdowns.

One thing that can be said of the two-hour program, there was never a dull moment, from the new credits showcasing dancers from previous season, to the continual flow of dancers. If you don't like a particular style of dance, stick around -- there will be a new style, like "chair dancing" and "Afro-Cuban fusion," coming along in a few minutes.

In their individual auditions, the dancers were rewarded with either a plane ticket straight to the next round in Los Angeles (no callbacks in Las Vegas this year) or a chance to impress the judges in choreography at the end of the day. Unfortunately, some dancers received neither but just a firm "keep working" as they were sent home.

Contestants line up at the ’So You Think You Can Dance’ Chicago auditions televised on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
Contestants line up at the 'So You Think You Can Dance' Chicago auditions televised on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (Chris Tomko/FOX)

Shelby Rase, 18, of Louisiana, danced well but had a little secret weapon -- her dad. When Nigel asked if anyone else in her family danced, Shelby said that her dad was the better of her two parents. When Nigel heard that her dad did a "Bottle Dance," he was immediately called down to demonstrate a dance that was obviously done at parties when participants were, uh, well-lubricated. The moves brought gasps and laughter from the judges, with Nigel and Mary presenting both Shelby and her father with tickets to L.A.

Utah's Tanisha Belnap, 19, is one of 12 siblings and detailed the long list of jobs she worked to pay for dance lessons. Nigel thought she was "tremendous" and praised her "batucadas," a dance step. Mary thought Tanisha had great technique and did a fantastic job, while Wayne Brady said he really liked her batucadas, getting the most out of the word. Of course, Tanisha was on her way to Los Angeles.

A pair of brothers, Shelby "Skip" and Shane Skipper, performed "New Orleans bounce dancing" but only Skip, who had auditioned in a previous year, moved on to choreography. Unfortunately, the couple dancing was beyond his depth and he went home with Shane.

Another of the dancers also touted the abilities of her dad, and soon Shelby's father was on stage demanding a "Dad Duel." Neither men were a danger to the hopefuls' chance at a spot on the show, but it was a funny, light moment that helped break the tension of those waiting to dance.

Before the show broke for the day, plane tickets were presented to both Megan Marcano, a 22-year-old from Texas, and Trevor Bryce, 18, of Orlando, Fla. Where Megan was light on her feet and presented what seemed like a Broadway show, Trevor performed a complicated contemporary routine that Nigel called "one of the greatest solo performances I've seen on 'So You Think You Can Dance.' "

The series premiere offered the unusual, such as Courtney Barnes who Mary described as "diva-licious" and who did a Wendy Williams impersonation -- and then taught the judges how to do the same.

One of my favorites was Caleb Brauner, 21, from Missouri, who had tried out last season but didn't make it out of choreography. A wonderful moment last year happened when Caleb danced with his father on stage, and he had to tell the judges that his dad had died since then. He then auditioned but was sent to choreography, and from there he was sent home in tears.

When the auditions shifted to Chicago, there was Caleb, who said, "You can't call yourself a dancer if you give up." He didn't, was sent to choreography and (hold on to your tissues) was given a ticket to Los Angeles.

For the Chicago auditions, Jenna Elfman was the judge. And Nick Garcia, doing Latin ballroom, brought out the first, but definitely not the last, ear-splitting scream from Mary. Both Nick and his best friend, Rudy Abreu, won over the judges with their auditions and both were given the treasured tickets. As the program has done most of time, the focus is on the positive and the dancers who make it to the next round.

Next week's show will show more of the Chicago auditions and then on to auditions in Los Angeles. What is confusing is that this is still the audition stage of things and not the next round, which will also be held in L.A. I guess the hotel rooms were too expensive in Vegas. See you next week -- keep dancing.