When So You Think You Can Dance Canada host Leah Miller saw show winner Nico Archambault audition for the program in Montreal, an inkling surfaced within her that said, “He could win this.”

“He was a real standout,” she said. But after viewing many auditions for the show’s second season — including dancers in genres absent last year — Miller maintains the quality is so high, it’s anybody’s game.

The televised dance competition’s second season kicks off with a two-night premiere, airing over four hours tonight and tomorrow on CTV. The launch will showcase auditions held in Toronto, Vancouver and Saint John, N.B., earlier this year, before heading to Montreal and Edmonton next week.

High quality means there’s no time to show “bad talent,” said Miller, which she marks as the leading difference between the show’s Canadian and American editions.

“We don’t really have people who show up that just want to be on TV,” she said. “The people that come, even if they aren’t as talented or technically trained, really believe they’re good and they’re passionate about it. Some of them are from small towns that don’t have dance studios and they learned how to dance from watching videos and YouTube.”

Regardless of the background of the dancers who advance, however, returning judge Tré Armstrong said she won’t hesitate to bluntly speak her mind to contestants during weekly episodes.

“Sometimes you’ve got to take it in a harsh way, where you take all the fluff out and just tell it how it is,” she said. “I’ll always be caring, but at the same time, people only learn from being told the truth.”

Her motto this season is, “If you don’t grow, you may not go.” But aside from maturation as dancers, she said the new round of rug-cutters must learn to deal with cameras following their every lock step and walk, and drop their guards early on.

“You can’t wait for this growth epiphany to necessarily hit you in the top eight week because you may only get to the top 16,” she said, “You have to let go and be yourself full-out. It sounds redundant, but that is what can win the show.”

But judging by the success of some first season finalists — Miles Faber landed a co-starring role in an MTV film, Natalli Reznik was to backup dance for Michael Jackson’s tour before his death and Tamina Pollack-Paris danced with Lady Gaga at June’s MuchMusic Video Awards — dancers need not come in first to flourish.

Said Miller, “Anybody who’s going to be in the top 20 has to get ready for their life to change a little bit, but in a good way.”

On the street
• Leah Miller, judge Tré Armstrong, guest judge and choreographer Blake McGrath and Season 1 dancers Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, Lara Smythe and Jesse Catibog hit the streets at 299 Queen St. W., for four hours today. Six dancers will perform and stars of the show will be available from noon to 2 p.m. to meet fans.

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