Dance News

“SYTYCD” Season 9: Meet the Top 20

After a grueling Vegas Week filled with tears, lectures and heartache, the final group of dancers (an insanely talented bunch!) headed to Hollywood to walk the famed Green Mile and learn whether they would snag a spot in the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 9 Top 20. Like always, the announcements were brimming with drama and suspense. And the judges were up to all of their old tricks: The pitting-best-friends-against-each-other trick (but, surprise! They took them both!), the you-really-weren't-good-enough-but-we'll-take you-anyway trick and, of course, the no-explanation (Kaitlynn Edgar, whaaat?!) dismissal.

So without further ado, meet your Season 9 Top 20!

Alexa Anderson, 19, Contemporary

Amber Jackson, 21, Contemporary

Amelia Lowe, 18, Contemporary

Audrey Case, 18, Jazz

Brandon Mitchell, 27, Stepping

Cheyon Wespi-Tschopp, 23, Ballet

Cole Horibe, 26, Martial Arts Fusion

Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, 22, Animation

Daniel Baker, 24, Ballet

Dareian "Dare" Kujawa, 20, Contemporary

Eliana Girard, 21, Contemporary Ballet & aerialist

George Lawrence II, 19, Contemporary

Janaya French, 20, Lyrical Contemporary

Janelle Issis, 24, Belly Dancing

Lindsay Arnold, 18, Latin Ballroom

Matthew Kazmierczak, 21, Contemporary

Nick Bloxsom-Carter, 20, Ballroom

Tiffany Maher, 19, Jazz

Will Thomas, 19, Contemporary

Witney Carson, 18, Latin Ballroom

Now onto the best part of the night—the performances. Here are our Top 5 moments:

5. Eliana, Daniel and Cheyon's contemporary ballet piece. We couldn't have been happier to have a contemporary ballet number kicking off the season. Complexions Contemporary Ballet artistic directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson choreographed an edgy, technical piece and the boys absolutely killed. While Eliana definitely gave a valiant effort, she had a few technical issues. But we have to give her credit, we can't imagine dancing in pointe shoes on that stage. [Side note: We swear Eliana and Lauren Gottlieb could be twins. They look so similar.]

4. Travis Wall's Top 10 girls routine. While we absolutely adore Travis, this wasn't our favorite piece he's ever done (the idea felt a bit unoriginal). That said, the performance was jaw-dropping. The girls were technically flawless and their precision and timing was perfect. Each girl was 100 percent full-out and dancing for her life. It. Was. Awesome.

3. Sonya Tayeh's Top 10 boys routine. We can't say we were as impressed with the boys as a whole as we were with the girls, but holy cow, Sonya—you rocked our world last night! The male-male partnering and strong masculine choreography were stunning. It was a bit underrehearsed and those maternity pants (as Nigel called them) were heinous, but that didn't stop us from loving the choreography.

2. Mia Michaels' Top 20 routine. Oh Mia, we've missed you! She more than made up for her absence last season with this brilliant routine. We can't wait for more.

1. Tiffany and Audrey's Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine. These two tiny powerhouses stole the show! We were nervous when we learned Janelle was sick and would be sitting out, but after watching Tiffany and Audrey perform, we never would have guessed it was choreographed as a trio. They were technical and captivating and gave the best performance of the night. We want to see more from these two.

The "So You Think You Can Whaaaat??" moment of the night: Zooey Deschanel. The "New Girl" star joined Nigel and Mary on the judges' panel and it was just painful. Poor Cat kept trying to feed her lines and help her out, but it never got any better. We're all for guest judges—we just ask they have a teeny tiny bit of dance experience?

Now it's your turn. What did you think of the show? Do you have any early favorites? Tell  us in the comment section below!

Be sure to tune in next time on Wednesday, July 11!

 

Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Taja Riley

Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers

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A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.

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