"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: The Top 7 Become the Top 6
While most of us spent the weekend saying sayonara to summer, the remaining "SYTYCD" contestants were working hard. Because for this week's live show, each member of the Top 7 performed SO MANY TIMES: a solo, a duet with an All Star, and a mini group routine—plus the opening number. Phew! Next week, there's a double elimination coming our way (with no help from the judges). But here's how last night played out.
The Opening Number
Fringe! Sequins! Big ol' wigs! Dapper white dress shirts and matching pants! Choreographed by Broadway boss Warren Carlyle, this routine had a little something for everyone. The choreography transitioned from hip hop to jazz to tap to ballroom to swing dancing, with a cabaret-style finale. There were lots of tricks and a bunch of big smiles—exactly what you want before things start to get emotional (which they did, for the next two hours).
Lex & Gaby
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Luther Brown
Lex is here to turn up. Between his stank face, Gaby's insane wig, Kendrick Lamar's kickin' soundtrack, and those magic carpet-looking jackets, this was super fun (and reminiscent of the time tWitch and Alex Wong killed that "Outta Your Mind" hip-hop routine back in 2011). At this point, everyone knows that Lex is fantastic. He does have personality, he can do every trick in the book, and he's already a working professional dancer (hi, Shaping Sound). At this point it's just a matter of giving him memorable routines that'll get people to pick up their phones and vote.
The judges said: Standing ovation! Mary praised Luther Brown for taking it to "a whole 'nother level" and said #LexNation destroyed it. Nigel loved it, too. And a Moana-channeling Vanessa said Lex can do it all.
Logan & Allison
Style: African jazz
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
As "warriors in a hidden tribe in the jungle," Logan and Allison "need to be in Olympic marathon shape," Cheesman says of this routine. Sounds easy and chill enough, right? Nah. This piece was no. joke. There were acrobatics, lifts, a bridge-like prop, and some seriously impressive turns in second by Logan. Even though Allison is always amazing, Logan and his long legs were the focus this time around. But mostly, OMG, that looked so exhausting.
The judges said: Nigel said Logan hits the ball out of the park every week (a nod to Logan's story about quitting baseball in favor of dance). Vanessa said "wow!" A lot. And giggled. And Mary said it felt like a crazy rollercoaster ride, then granted Logan access to the Hot Tamale Train.
Kaylee & Cyrus
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
This piece was about "the couple that has been through real disaster." It was dark and dirty—literally, like Kaylee and Cyrus were covered in grime. It wasn't a conventionally pretty contemporary piece, which was a nice change, especially for these two. There were hip-hop elements worked in throughout, plus loads of lifts and partner work. These two clearly adore each other and are a great team, which is lovely, but they aren't always the smoothest when it comes to lifts that should look easy.
The judges said: Vanessa loved it and said it showcased Kaylee's strength and ferocity. Mary told Kaylee she looked so dynamic and powerful out there. Nigel said it was the best routine Kaylee and Cyrus have ever done together. (Aww!) The best part, though, was the cut to Kaylee's parents in the audience. Have you ever seen a prouder papa or a more emotional mom? Too cute.
Kiki & Jenna
Choreographer: Warren Carlyle
"Dancing with props is a nightmare," Carlyle says—and then proceeded to give these two a whopping 10 canes to work with. But Kiki and Jenna were up to the challenge. The canes just kept getting tossed onstage by some mysterious force (or, you know, a "SYTYCD" prop coordinator), and Kiki and Jenna grabbed each one #flawlessly. The turns at the end were so fast, the red suits were so hot, and Cat Deeley (who rushed the stage the minute it was over) was so much more excited than anyone about it all.
The judges said: Standing ovation! Mary said the routine gave her "high anxiety," and that it took her out of her comfort zone for the first time all season. And that shriek? It meant she loved it. Nigel did, too, and said Kiki has become a brilliant all-around dancer. (Most Improved for sure.) Vanessa held her breath the entire time, said it was terrifying, and concluded that Kiki is a joy to watch. Agreed.
Koine & Marko
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Marko is a geek, Koine is a beauty—and together, they're a cute couple with a whole lotta fancy footwork. Honestly, it's crazy Koine has ever been in the Bottom 3. Not only is she super talented and versatile, but she also has incredible stage presence. She made those lifts look like a breeze (shoutout to Marko for his work on those, too—namely at the halfway point when she flipped him). The competition is super stiff this season, but Koine definitely deserves to be in there.
The judges said: Nigel acknowledged how scary some of those lifts can be, and said they crushed them. Vanessa praised Koine for her versatility (see? that's what we said!), and Mary said it was "just amazing."
Taylor & Robert
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
This was #flawless. We really don't have much additional commentary for it. Love these two together, love that yellow dress, and love the sincerity in their emotions.
The judges said: Vanessa said it was completely stunning and so gorgeous and "never frigid." Mary got very emotional and batted away tears and said it was astounding and ethereal. Then Nigel swooped in and said the simplicity of the music made the routine extra beautiful, but now he wants Taylor to dig even deeper—her technique is already superb, so it's time to find the extra special things.
Mark & Comfort
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Misha Gabriel
"No more love stories," Misha Gabriel said: He got Mark and Comfort fighting ninja-style! Did they pull it off? Well, they definitely got a workout in, that's for sure. This routine was super athletic and we were tired just watching it (on the couch, in pajamas, obviously). But if Mark and Comfort were tired, they didn't let it show, more power to them.
The judges said: Mary loved the concept and said it was clean, synchronized, and hard-hitting. Nigel said it made him smile, and praised Mark for always bringing so much personality to his routines. And Vanessa said she doesn't know if there's anything she loves more than a ninja. (Um, what about Troy Bolton, Vanessa? Did you love him more than a ninja?)
Group Routine #1: Kaylee, Logan, & Lex
Choreographers: Dwight Rhoden & Desmond Richardson
YES, Dwight and Desmond! It's always a treat having this dynamic duo on the show. They served up another prop-y routine — but instead of canes or bridges, they used simple wooden stools. Unsurprisingly, this piece was incredible. Between Lex and Logan's gorgeous classical training and Kaylee's powerful presence, this was a winning routine. Plus, it was just nice to mix things up a bit with a small group number. (Kaylee, we love ya, but can we request a dance-off between Logan and Lex, please?)
The judges said: Nigel said he loves Kaylee because she's unique, and that she stood out brilliantly next to Logan and Lex. He praised Logan's lines and strength and said Lex just amazes him (shout-out to the triple tour en l'air he did in his solo earlier in the night). Vanessa said it made her heart explode and was stunning and stupendous. And Mary said it was out of this world.
Group Routine #2: Mark, Kiki, Taylor, & Koine
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Cheesman created a piece about people from all different races coming together, and can't we all use more of that kind of idea right now? It was a beautiful and powerful way to end the show—both the dancing and Maya Angelou's message. (Bonus points for all the tricky lifts.)
The judges said: Standing ovation! Vanessa said it was out of control and brilliant. Mary thanked Cheesman and the dancers. And Nigel said diversity is so important.
So after all that—and, more precisely, after last week's votes—the dancers in the bottom three were Kaylee, Mark, and Kiki. (The audience's audible gasps after hearing Mark's name, and the even louder gasps upon hearing Kiki's, were equal parts LOL-inducing and super sad.)
And the dancer taking the Top 7 to a Top 6 is:
Whaaat?! Were you shocked? We were shocked. Kaylee was definitely shocked. But that's how America voted, so consider this your reminder to vote vote vote for the dancer you want to see in the finale! Next week, the Top 6 face a double elimination, which will be very sad, but will ultimately introduce the Top 4 headed for the finale. Wahhhhh, but also yay! We are feeling so many feelings!
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.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!