11 'So You Think You Can Dance' Auditions & Performances That'll Make Your Jaw Drop

It's that time of year again. School's out, the weather's getting warmer, and a new American Idol has just been crowned. Naturally, that means it's time for FOX to wow us with our other favorite reality competition, So You Think You Can Dance , which kicks off Season 11 on Wednesday night.

You know the drill by now. Every week, couples perform a randomly-assigned dance routine (some of the most awe-inspiring, joyful, heartrending, and fierce routines you'll ever see) until the Top 20 gets dwindled down to just one who will be crowned "America's Favorite Dancer." But the most magical time of the competition is right in the beginning when SYTYCD mainstays Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, plus a whole cast of guest judges, travel across the country looking for America's most amazing dancers during the audition round. This is when we get our first glimpse of the superb dancers who will go on to vie for the top prize. But even if the dancers don't get out of the Las Vegas round or even make it past the audition, we still get to see some incredible routines from genres we may have never seen before. We also feel the happiness and excitement of the contestants who finally get to share their talent and passion with the world. Ahhh, it's a beautiful thing indeed.

To get you in the mood for another season of auditions filled with poise, personality, and popping, we've rounded up the 11 best auditions from seasons past that deserve a special seat on your Hot Tamale Train.

Cole Horibe

yukuhana on YouTube

This Season 9 finalist's audition was one part contemporary dance, one part martial arts, and totally awesome. Horibe truly embodied his character of a Shaolin warrior to give one of the most unique performances in SYTYCD history. By the end, we weren't sure if we should applaud or hide for fear of getting our asses kicked.

Donyelle Jones

watchSYCYTD on YouTube

This audition is short, but it sure is sweet. Season 2's third place finalist had such fierce hairography going on in this audition that she instantly won over the judges to make it to the Vegas round and also won over our hearts.

Hampton Williams

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During his Season 9 audition, Williams introduced us to "Exorcist Style," a type of dance he created where he interprets the audience's fear and pain with his movements so that they feel relieved from them. Williams floated across the stage during his emotional performance, which earned him a standing ovation and brought Murphy to tears.

Melanie Moore

Myke Baldwin on YouTube

From the moment Moore took that SYTYCD stage, it was clear big things were going to come from this little lady. Judging by her simultaneously strong and gentle audition, it's no surprise Moore would go on to become the Season 8 winner.

Brandon Bryant

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The Season 5 runner-up's audition was nothing short of epic. Bryant packed every move with power, flying across the stage. He also gets the award for the most perfect audition song, "O Fortuna" from the opera Carmina Burana, which could even turn watching paint dry into the most exciting activity ever.

Anya Garnis & Pasha Kovalev

AJ Hersi on YouTube

These Season 3 finalists first burned the floor during the audition round with this smoking hot ballroom routine to end all ballroom routines. It's almost criminal how these two never ended up dancing together during the competition.

Robert Muraine

YouTube

There have been many popping routines on SYTYCD throughout the years, but none quite as memorable as Muraine's Season 4 audition. He contorted his body every which way and did it all with a sense of humor. To this day, we still wonder, "How'd he do that?"

Leroy Martinez

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We fell in love with Martinez even before he danced a step. During his Season 9 audition, we learned that Martinez helps run an after-school program for underprivileged and at-risk youth to learn how to dance. Even without Martinez's inspiring back story, his infectious smile, knack for back flips, and utter happiness for being at the SYTYCD auditions was enough to have us root for him.

Gabi Rojas

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Rojas may have done a lot of high-flying acrobatics growing up in the circus, but during her Season 5 audition, she was a bit more grounded, wowing the judges with her slinky and quirky dance routine.

Bryan Gaynor

MichaelSmit1995 on YouTube

He may not have made it past the audition round, but Gaynor has been a fan favorite since he auditioned for SYTYCD in Season 3. His techno-rific robot routine to Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man" was one of the coolest performances ever on the show. Ain't no other like you, Gaynor.

Ida Saki

cabaret2006 on YouTube

Saki danced a stunning contemporary routine to the theme from Schindler's List during this Season 7 audition. She twisted and turned her body to match all of the emotional highs and lows of the music, leaving judge Tyce Diorio practically speechless, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX