"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: Meet Your Top 4!
Oh what a night. We knew this was coming. We knew there would be a double elimination this week so we could move forward with a Top 4. But ugh, it still hurt. Yeah yeah, they'll all be on the tour, but saying goodbye now, when all these dancers are so good and so deserving—it's just a big ol' bummer. But before we get to the elimination x 2, here's how the night played out.
Actually, one more thing: Cat Deeley noted right from the start that we'd be getting a Top 4 based on last week's votes with no help from the judges. So going into the live performance, the Top 4 had already been decided! But still, the Top 6 dancers had to knock out an opening number, a solo, an All-Star-paired duet, and a routine with a fellow contestant. It felt a little torturous, no? None of it mattered! Is all fair in love and reality TV dance competitions? Not really, tbh. Anyway...
The Opening Number
This visually stunning number—with half the dancers in all black and the other half clad in white—was like something out of a professional dance production. (Cirque du Soleil, perhaps, minus the high-flying aerialists?) The dancers moved between giant white cubes—at one point it looked like they were moving on one of those people movers at the airport—and the lighting added an extra element of awesome. (We predicted within the first 16 counts that this routine was choreographed by Chris Scott. We were right!)
Lex & Gaby
Choreographer: Sasha Farber
Lex has never been in the bottom three! Obviously. Guess where he has been, though? On Broadway. In Shaping Sound. Doing casual professional things like that. But this is a sexy number ("I want Lex to just devour me," Gaby said during rehearsals), and Lex admitted he's not sexy. (Uh, beg to differ.) At first glance, this piece looked more African Jazz than Samba, and to be honest, it wasn't all that sexy. But it was good. Lex's diving front flip over Gaby was unreal, and so was his high ponytail. So while Lex didn't necessarily devour Gaby per her request, he did flip over her (literally) twice, and he "played her butt bongos," so...there's that.
The judges said: Mary said "holy foosballs," which is...new. And she liked Lex's commitment to playing aforementioned butt bongos. Nigel wants Lex to take ballroom lessons, and he liked the energy. And Vanessa said naw, Lex, you don't need classes, you're mind-blowing.
Koine & Mark
Choreographers: Mandy Korpinen and Elizabeth Petrin
Koine and Marko are ex-lovers dancing in a giant closet (so clearly they don't live in New York City, where closets are hard to come by). Look, contemporary on this show is almost always a sure thing. Add an awesome, well-used prop—a hanger, which, yes, they both hung from and twirled around on in the loveliest way—and this piece may as well be Koine's ticket to the finale. But oh wait, it's not necessarily, because the Top 4 has already been decided, so what is the point of all this emotional dancing? Ugh. Good performance, tho.
The judges said: Standing ovation! The crowd goes wild! Nigel loved the creative choreography. He also called Koine "Kione," which, yet again, is not her name. Why is this so hard for everyone, week after week? Poor Koine. Vanessa (who pronounced Koine correctly, so brava) loved all the incredible moments and lifts (same), and praised Koine's forearms and her small but mighty stature. And Mary (who also said Koine correctly, so double yay) said it was one of her favorite routines of the season.
Kiki & Jenna
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
If an All Star could win this competition (this time around), it would be Jenna. But this is about Kiki, and at some point in this competition, he earned the nickname "Daddy Kiki." How did this happen? Anyway. There's no story for this routine—Ray Leeper just gave Daddy and Jenna lots of sass (and fringe!). "Proud Mary" is one of the greatest songs ever, and these two werked it. (Jenna really is the master of the high ponytail, isn't she?) Again, since these routines don't really matter, it was nice to just see these two have a total lift-filled blast onstage—though that's what they've been doing since Week 1, right? It had shimmies, fan kicks, and a big ol' kiss at the end.
The judges said: Vanessa said it was a blast and that they killed it, but she also said Kiki's leap during the rehearsal footage was bad. Mary said Kiki has deserved every accolade he's been bestowed, and granted him a ticket on board the Hot Tamale Train. And Nigel liked the lines, the sharpness, and the kissing.
Kaylee & Cyrus
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Phillip Chbeeb
More props! Former contestant Phillip Chbeeb gave these two a giant metal contraption to dance in, on top of, in between, and around. It was nice to see these two just dancing—no crazy costumes or concepts. Just good dancing, aggressive lifts, intricate partner work, and a whole lot of chemistry (plus a really big set piece).
The judges said: Mary liked the creativity and the lifts, but said it wasn't her favorite. Nigel loved it and said it was one of the best routines he's seen from Kaylee "Impavido" and Cyrus. And Vanessa agreed with Nigel.
Taylor & Robert
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographers: Keone & Mari Madrid (!!!)
In true Keone & Mari fashion, this piece is heavy on the choreography, and there's a lot of movement packed into every eight count. Yes, it's supposed to look simple, but it's anything but. It was super sharp, very precise, incredibly intricate—and really, really good.
The judges said: Standing O! Nigel loved the choreography (same!) and said Robert and Taylor nailed it. Vanessa said it was one of the best routines Taylor has done, and she loved the primal, animalistic vibes. Mary liked how different, articulate, and strong it was.
Logan & Allison
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Allison loves Logan so much, and it's the cutest pairing ever. In this routine, there's a rose, a stem, and a bunch of pretty red petals. And, shockingly, this was the first time these two got to do a contemporary piece together! (How is that possible?) So Logan, smart dude, seized the opportunity to shine in his style. He was so committed to the choreography, not just during all those pirouettes and that paused handstand on top of Allison, but also during the quieter, more still moments.
The judges said: Standing ovation. Duh. Vanessa called it the sexiest contemporary routine she had ever seen, and said Logan always blows her away. Mary praised Logan's ability to do so many different types of turns and said he's turned out to be a fabulous partner. (Cue Allison jumping in and straight gushing over Logan. So cute.) And Nigel said he wanted to feel more emotion and vulnerability from Logan, noting that many people watching this show don't care about pointed feet and lots of turns—they just want to feel it.
Koine & Lex
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez
YES DISCO. YES LIFTS. YES "SPARKLE FEET." (And yes, "sparkle feet" is a real term Doriana Sanchez used during rehearsals, and also one we will be using for the rest of our lives.) The piece opened with wicked fast turns by Lex right into a drop split, followed by a giant lift, so that's where they're at for this one. There were so many lifts that they did, at a few points, get a little clunky and chaotic. And it may not have been super clean (there was one lift in particular that was...a little rough), but it was fast and furious.
The judges said: Mary acknowledged how tough the choreography was, and counted at least six lifts. She also said Koine made it look like a walk in the park, which was nice, because she looked a little shaken up by the end. Nigel said Doriana's choreography is scary for these dancers because it's nonstop, but he said they both did it brilliantly. And he said Koine is the best performer this season! (Lex is fighting off an injury, noooooo!) Vanessa said they're both amazing performers who give it their all, adapt to every style, and are outstanding.
PAUSE FOR RESULTS! What?! Did not see this coming!
The first dancer to make it into the Top 4: Lex! And Koine is told she will have to wait until the end to find out her fate. Well this is torture.
Taylor & Logan
Choreographer: Mark Kanemura
Obviously Mark gave them a lil' Lady Gaga choreography, and it was just lovely. Taylor and Logan looked like they were waiting all season to get to dance together, and this was it! They were free and fun, and they got to rip their shirts open! This felt like watching the seniors performing for the final time at a Nationals closing gala—they've done the work, they've spent years at the barre, and now it's just time to let loose and have a little fun. (The cut to a tear-filled Mark in the audience at the end gave us chills. Anyone else?)
The judges said: Nigel said this was everything he had been asking for from Logan and Taylor—that freedom of emotion. Vanessa agreed, and said it was moving and captivating and beautiful. (She also wants glitter all over her body, which...same.) And Mary said it was an absolute, uninhibited, joyous celebration of dance.
The next dancer heading to the finale: Taylor! Which meant Logan was left to chill in suspense for a few more minutes.
Kaylee & Kiki
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
The personality in this routine! And of course Kiki stripped off his shirt within the first 30 seconds. This wasn't the most technical or intricate Bollywood routines the show has seen, but it was playful and felt celebratory—almost like it was perhaps the final hurrah for these two? TBD...
The judges said: Vanessa said it took both dancers out of their comfort zones (ya think? no one comes onto this show as a master of all things Bollywood), and said she felt the most joy in Kaylee's dancing that she's felt all season. Mary said it was a whole new side of Kaylee, and that her eyes were lit up. And Nigel said the high-energy choreography was just "cruel," but that these two showed they could do it.
And the final results...
Kaylee and Logan became the last two dancers to be cut this season, which means the dancers heading to the finale are Lex, Taylor, Kiki, and Koine. (Kiki over Logan: agree or disagree? Let us know.)
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?