“SYTYCD” Season 9: The Top 14 Perform (aka Mia Michaels Madness)

Mia's new group routine for the Top 14, featuring rope-swinging and lots of red roses, was a bit, uh, "50 Shades of Gray"-esque. (Thanks for planting that idea in our heads, Nigel.) Photo courtesy FOX.

Ah, “So You Think You Can Dance”! How we’ve missed you! We’ve had two long, lonely weeks with only a smattering of Olympic rhythmic gymnasts to satisfy our dance-y television competition needs. Doesn’t it seem like ages and ages ago that we crowned the Top 14?

But hey, way to come back with a BANG, guys: After being MIA, the show went all-Mia (nyuk nyuk!) last night, with an episode paying tribute to the glory that is Mia Michaels. (I made sure to have my box of tissues handy.)

In theory, tribute shows like this are kind of a great idea. Not only are we guaranteed an awesome two hours of dance—no dud pieces to worry about here!—but they also level the playing field for the contestants. If every dancer is doing choreography that we already know is great (and sometimes Emmy-winning!), that means no unlucky dancer is handicapped by weird/unflattering choreo. And since these are some of the best pieces by one of the show’s best choreographers, we can hope they’re bringing out the best in the dancers, too.

That said, the dancers last night were also dealing with the specters of the ones who came before. As Nigel said, it’s hard to disassociate these routines from their original casts, especially since Mia tends to choreograph for specific people—she tailors her dances to her dancers. And that’s a lot of pressure. In the end, the tribute show was a bit of a double-edged sword for our Top 14.

It’s almost unfair to pick out five highlights from a show that was, essentially, already a selection of highlights. But I’ll do my darndest:

1. Cyrus and Eliana doing “The Door Routine.” (Sidenote: Cyrus is roommates with Bryan Gaynor?? My mind was just blown. Moving on.) While the awkward lip close-ups from their rehearsal footage didn’t bode well for this pair, once onstage, they had some serious chemistry. And Cyrus’ little popping additions to that body roll backwards? Awesome.

2. George and Tiffany doing “Hometown Glory.” I. Love. These. Two. After their performance last night, they’re my hands-down favorites to make it to the very end this season. Katee and Josh who??

3. Janelle and Dareian doing “The Bed Routine.” Here’s the thing about the new “SYTYCD” format: Before the show even begins, the judges know who might be going home. And that drives me CRAZY. Because while I’m sure they’re trying to be objective, I think their prior knowledge of the bottom six colors their judging. This routine was a prime example: While I thought it was pretty fantastic, frankly—talk about intensity!—the judges focused narrowly on Dareian’s feet (really? was this a foot-centric piece?) and Janelle’s “distracting” hairography (which was part of the choreography!). And hey, guess what? Both Janelle and Dareian were in the bottom six. Ugh.

4. Witney and Chehon doing “The Bench Routine.” Oh man, do I ever love this piece, and I’m guessing everyone who was weaned on “SYTYCD” (so, all of you?) agrees with me. Witney and Chehon totally kicked butt, more than stacking up to the memory of Travis and Heidi. And The Ballet Boyz loooooove Chehon! All is right with the world.

5. Lindsay and Cole doing “The Addiction Piece.” (Sidenote #2: OF COURSE Cole is friends with Mark Kanemura! Everything makes so much more sense now.) Cole definitely put his own spin on this role: While Kupono was a seducer, Cole was more abstract, a strangely magnetic robot. I didn’t feel the dance as keenly as I did the first time around, but I think that’s just because I knew what to expect this time.

The “So You Think you Can Whaaat?!” Moment of the Night: I’m sorry, time out: Guest judges The Ballet Boyz have never seen these iconic Mia pieces before? They’re “unfamiliar” with Mia’s work? I…but…really? Is there no YouTube in London? Yes, OK, it was interesting to have two judges on the panel who were totally new to these works (and yes, OK, their Nigel-produced show, “A Chance to Dance,” premieres tomorrow), but come on, guys!

In the end, despite all that awesomeness, four—four!—somebodies had to go, and those somebodies were Amelia, Janelle, Dareian and Matthew (*sob!*). We’ll miss you guys, but hey, if you’ve gotta go, at least go out on a Mia high. Snaps to everyone.

Congrats to the Top 10! Who do you think will be paired with which All Star? Let us know in the comments—and be sure to tune in next week, same time, same place, for our recap!

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