"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: And Then There Were 8
Before we get into this week's recap, let's all show some love for Travis Wall, who had a day yesterday. Just hours before "So You Think You Can Dance" was set to air, Wall was at Disneyland (with friend and "Modern Family" star and aspiring Shaping Sound member Jesse Tyler Ferguson, NBD), where he found himself at a bit of a standstill—literally. "Not gonna be able to make 'So You Think' tonight...because I'm stuck on Indiana Jones," Wall shared on Instagram yesterday afternoon.
But hooray! He eventually did get off the stalled ride, and was in the audience alongside Mandy Moore. We're glad you made it, Travis!
On to the show:
This week, the Top 9 performed solos and duets with their All Stars. You know the drill. As always, we'll skip the solos and get right to the good stuff. (Though the solos were, like last week, so good.) Here's how it all went down.
The opening number
This hip-hoppy-Afro-jazzy Luther Brown piece was...nice. It wasn't our favorite opening number, TBH, but anytime we get to see all these dancers onstage together is a good day. Standouts included Comfort, Lex, Jenna, and Gaby—so, Lex, basically—though it was admittedly hard to recognize some of the dancers under the flashy costumes and giant headpieces.
Logan & Allison
Choreographers: Emma Slater & Sasha Farber
This World War II-themed piece (in a sort of happy way, not a Pearl Harbor way) was so much fun. It's obviously ridiculous that Logan landed in the bottom three last week. That back flip! That kiss into the backward roll into the handstand! Look, we know Logan is fantastic. Maybe the audience wants to see him establish more of a connection with the camera, the judges, or Allison. Like many a virtuoso before him (Danny Tidwell, Jakob Karr, even Travis Wall), Logan has the technical chops to win this entire competition. He just needs viewers to fall in love—and pick up the phone.
The judges said: Mary said Logan had it all, and that it was boppy and fun and kicky (though, she said, the triple-step was a little too skippy). Nigel said he doesn't want to see Logan in the bottom three again, and that as long as he keeps dancing like he just did, he'll be safe. And Vanessa said it was "so so good" and that Logan was "such a rockstar up there." (Vanessa is the most joyful "SYTYCD" judge ever, right?)
Koine & Marko
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Oooooh, Koine got down as a pageant girl gone rogue, and it was good. The concept was cool on its own, but Koine's delivery took it to another level. She had the angsty thing down pat, and the stylized, lyrical hip-hop movement totally suited her. (Sorry, Marko. We love ya, but we didn't even look at you once during that routine, because Koine just smashed it.)
The judges said: Standing ovation! Nigel called Koine a "feral wild animal," and thanked Dave Scott for the choreo. Vanessa said it was amazing and incredible, and she liked that Koine got a little grimy. And Mary said these two, as always, have amazing chemistry, and she liked that Koine "got gangster on us."
Dassy & Fik-Shun
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
This routine was sexy, and these two were really fun to watch. You have to be such a superstar performer to stand out alongside Fik-Shun, but Dassy pulled it out (and in high-heeled, thigh-high boots, no less). These two always look like they're having a blast. Dassy never made this piece look like it was about the steps—she kept the focus on the performance.
The judges said: Vanessa said Dassy was sexy and that it was "so much fun," but she wanted more "rawwwwwr." Mary said there was quite a bit of "rawwwwwr," and said they definitely brought the funk. She also praised Dassy for her confidence, and said Fik-Shun's best decision ever was picking Dassy as a partner. And Nigel said it wasn't just sexy, it was "slightly naughty," and that he "won't sleep tonight." (Ew.)
Mark & Comfort
Choreographer: Talia Favia
Can we give it up for Talia Favia, please? This piece was beautiful, different, and emotional. There were moments of strength—like when Mark and Comfort basically played airplane—and moments of silence, like those paused hinges in perfect unison. The partnering was fantastic, and it was great seeing these two relaxing their groove a bit.
The judges said: Mary praised the rawness, realness, and passion of the performance. Nigel said Mark is willing to do anything and everything that's asked of him, and that he gives it his whole heart. And Vanessa agreed with everything they said. (But Nigel, again, a plea: Please spend less time praising the All Stars. We know you love them. We do too! We get it! But let's keep the focus on the contestants.)
The All-Star Group Routine
Travis! Not only did he heroically make it off the Indiana Jones ride (we don't know how it actually happened, but we like to imagine him leaping and turning his way outta Disneyland backed by a fully choreographed entourage), but he also choreographed this hauntingly beautiful piece for all 10 All Stars (welcome back, Jasmine!). When Marko dove over all the All Stars? Yeah. These dancers are magic. Also magic: the way they were suddenly in different outfits at the end. How?! Tell us your secrets, Travis!
Lex & Gaby
Choreographer: Warren Carlyle
While it's tempting to say this "isn't Lex's style," it kind of is: The well-rounded dude starred in and toured with Broadway's Billy Elliot back in the day. But this choreography was a little faster and a lot more energetic than what a pre-teen Lex did as Billy. (Though Lex sweetly told Gaby that this choreography reminded him of why he started dancing in the first place: "for the pure fun of it." Aw!) Lex was so smooth, and even though the piece was, indeed, quick, he didn't miss a beat, nailing that speedy triple pirouette into a massive battement. And the final tour en l'air? Awesome.
The judges said: Standing ovation! Nigel said he went to see Hello Dolly! this weekend. OK, Nigel! Vanessa said it was "so good" and "amazing." And Mary said they danced their patooties off, and that it was "one great moment after another after another," and then she welcomed them on board the Hot Tamale Train. Naturally.
Sydney & Paul
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Luther Brown
This routine was colorful and quirky, but it was also kind of forgettable. It wasn't quite hard-hitting enough, it wasn't quite groovy enough, and it just wasn't quite enough enough to stand out in this very competitive season. Was it enough for Sydney to prove her staying power after landing in the bottom last week? We weren't sure.
The judges said: Vanessa said, "Wow! Here you are with some hip hop, doin' ya thing! I like it!" She wanted more of a stank face, though, and said it could've been dirtier. Mary said words like "sick, frozen, lit, disgusting," and then said the ballroom duo did a "respectable job" tackling hip hop. And Nigel said it needed more stank, which is hard to do when you're "cute" and "beautiful."
The Top 9 Group Routine
Chris Baldock's high-energy routine was colorful and super fun, and Lex, Kaylee, Kiki, and Taylor (that développé!) definitely made the most of their screen time.
Kaylee & Cyrus
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Kaylee is amazing, and she's just not getting the fanfare we think she deserves. This piece was slick and stylized, with plenty of jazz hands thrown in. All those sharp, precise movements? Kaylee nailed 'em. And no one dropped a hat, which is always an applause-worthy feat when working with (and throwing around) tricky props.
The judges said: Mary loved watching them, but admitted parts of it looked labored. Nigel thought the quirky style worked for Kaylee, and he appreciated the Gwen Verdon-like moments. And Vanessa liked the control and tension.
Taylor & Robert
Choreographer: Jean Marc Genereux
These two! They are on it, no matter what style they get. Their chemistry is incredible, and Taylor just shines and sparkles in that spotlight. We loved this sultry samba, but...
The judges said: Nigel didn't feel a flirtatious spark between them. (What?!) Vanessa said it was very impressive, but she wanted more fire and anger. And Mary said it's not easy being at the top, and that this piece wasn't super technical. Agree to disagree, judges.
Kiki & Jenna
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
While Kiki is admittedly not the most flexible nor the most balletic—and the rehearsal footage indicated this piece could've been a disaster—he pulled it off. He connected with Jenna and tossed her around like it was NBD. There were times he looked a little too ballroom-y, and it would've been nice to see him let go a bit more, but Keeks, man, you did it. (Can we call you Keeks, BTW? We're gonna call you Keeks.)
The judges said: Travis Wall, Indiana Jones Ride Survivor, gave it a standing ovation. And so did the judges! Vanessa giggled and said it was amazing, then praised the couple's tangible chemistry. Mary cried, which made Jenna snuggle up to The Keekster (can we call you The Keekster?), and it was so cute. Nigel said he refuses to stop telling Jenna she's fabulous, and admitted he was still in shock from Kiki's incredible hip-hop performance last week.
After all those highs, Cat reminded us that this is, after all, a competition—which meant someone was getting sent home.
After last week's votes, the bottom three were Dassy, Sydney, and Mark.
The judges immediately saved Mark, and decided to send home...
(But don't worry: You'll see her and the rest of the Top 10 on tour!)
Next week we do it all over again. In the meantime, let us know who you're voting for!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.
If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.
Almost a month out, Puerto Rico continues to suffer the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Many of the island's residents still lack power, clean water, and safe housing. Ballet classes? For Puerto Rican dance students, they must feel like an impossible luxury.
But a dance studio in Florida is working to allow a group of young Puerto Ricans to continue their training. And it needs your help.
Yes, I am a dancer, and yes, I am fat.
There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as the reactions I've received when I've told people I dance. They can range from disbelief to confusion to shock. To many people, it's somehow incomprehensible that a plus-size person like myself could grace a stage. While the body-positive movement has been trucking along at full force over the past few years, it hasn't made much progress in the dance community yet. In fact, the words "body positivity" and "dance" are almost never used together in the same sentence.
Despite that fact, dance is what helped me learn to love my larger frame. In honor of National Body Confidence Day, I wanted to talk about my first time in a studio, and about the tremendous progress I've made since.
If you've ever seen a Janelle Ginestra class video, you know how lit her combos are. What you don't see in those clips is how devoted Ginestra is to her students. We went behind the scenes at one of her sold-out IMMA SPACE classes to see Ginestra in her element, mentoring some of L.A.'s most talented dancers. It was an inspiration feedback loop.
All photos by Joe Toreno.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?