"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: The One Before the Finale
Koine. Kiki. Lex. Taylor. Welcome to the fight to the finale!
On last night's show—the last one before the last one—the Top 4 performed roughly one million times, including an opening number, a group routine, a solo, an All Star duet (a favorite from earlier in the season), and a routine paired with a fellow contestant. And best of all: No one went home! (Yet.) Here's a rundown of all the good stuff.
The Opening Number
This art deco-meets-club dance routine got the show started with a let's-not-take-ourselves-too-seriously-tonight vibe, which was perfect. The Top 4 dancers were joined by the All Stars for the Nappytabs hip-hop piece, which got the whole live audience—light saber-wielding judges included—involved. It was fun, funky, and everything we love about Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo.
The Top 4 Group Routine
Choreographers: Travis Wall and Christopher Scott
Holy choreographic dream team, Batman! For this piece, the four dancers portrayed the four elements—Kiki as fire (accompanied by actual fire), Lex as water, Koine as earth, and Taylor as wind—and the concept made for a brilliant, beautiful piece. That Emmy you just won, Travis? We bet you and C-Scott are gonna nab another one for this piece.
Kiki and Taylor
Style: Cha cha
Choreographer: Anya Garnis
Kiki (in a shirt unbuttoned down to his belt, naturally) was on a mission to pull out Taylor's hidden sexy side—and it mostly worked. Kiki was totally in his element, and while Taylor wasn't in hers, she threw her ponytail around enough to convince the world she, too, can be do ballroom justice.
The judges said: Mary praised Taylor's comfort with the style and called her a hot tamale. Nigel commended Kiki for commanding the stage and being a generous partner, and said Taylor's confidence and leg action were great. And Vanessa said it was hot.
Koine and Lex
Choreographer: Al Blackstone
Lex loves pizza, and this routine was all about pizza! It was also about love. (And pizza is love, right?) Really, who can't relate to falling in love with the pizza delivery man when he arrives at your door? Between Lex's triple tours, Koine's lovely legs, and both dancers' awesome personalities, this piece was one we'd happily watch over and over. (#TBT to the first few weeks of the show when people tried to claim Lex didn't have enough personality. HAHAHA no.)
The judges said: Standing ovation! Nigel loved all the LOL-worthy moments—and pronounced Koine's name correctly, hooray! Vanessa laughed really hard and liked when they were in unison. And Mary said it had everything in it, and also said Koine the proper way. Wins all around!
Kiki and Jenna
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Kiki didn't even plan to audition for "So You Think You Can Dance," but now he's become beloved Daddy Kiki. (Sorry, still not totally on board with that nickname...) Rather than choosing to revisit a ballroom piece, Kiki opted for the contemporary routine that really put him on the map—and it was just as emotional and gorgeous as the first time.
The judges said: Vanessa blubbered. Mary blubbered. Jenna blubbered! Everyone was an emotional wreck. Vanessa said it was even better the second time around. ("Who woulda thunk it?!") Mary said Kiki's progress has been a beautiful thing. And Nigel praised Kiki and Jenna's chemistry (agreed).
Koine and Marko
Style: African Jazz
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
The giant headdress returns! Like the routine before it, this one may have been even better the second time around. Before taking the stage, Koine explained her own personal journey throughout the competition—how she went from being who she thought the show wanted her to be to figuring out who she really is.
The judges said: Mary said Koine keeps getting better and better, and that she wants to watch this routine over and over and over. Nigel appreciated Koine's diversity, going from "pizza girl" to "creepy crawly" girl. And Vanessa thought it was phenomenal and amazing. Duh.
Koine and Taylor
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Hello, girl power! This piece was fast, technical, and ran the risk of "looking like poo" if they didn't pull it off, Mandy warned. Koine and Taylor are totally different dancers, but since this a competition, it's hard not to compare them. And in this piece, Taylor's turns may have been a bit better, but Koine's stage presence felt more natural.
The judges said: Nigel said Mary and Vanessa will perform this piece next week on the finale (doubtful), and that it was fantastic and not poo-like at all. Vanessa said it was "literally the ultimate female empowerment routine I've ever seen." And Mary liked that it had "sophistication up the wazoo."
Kiki and Lex
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Luther Brown
When Kiki attempted hip hop during Academy week, he didn't fare so well. But it's been a few weeks since then, and last night Kiki and Lex were ready to get down with Luther Brown—and a whole lotta vinyl. Did anyone else feel like this routine was so short? Why did it end so fast?!
The judges said: "That was the ultimate bromance routine," Vanessa said. "Give it up for the bromances out there, cuz that was it." OK. Mary made the boys giddy when she predicted one of them could be rolling in the cash (aka winning) very soon. And Nigel praised Lex's ability to stay humble amidst all the constant praise—and cued a video flashback of Kiki's aforementioned hip-hop flop. Poor guy.
Taylor and Robert
Choreographer: Travis Wall
These two. This choreography. This performance. This was the piece that solidified Taylor and Robert as the early couple to beat, and seeing it again reinforced why they've maintained that status. (Did you cry? We cried.)
The judges said: Mary said this routine changed everything for her, and that it turned Taylor into a whole different artist. Then she cried. Nigel said it was better this time around because Taylor and Robert have grown together, and that Taylor's legs and quiet elegance evoke Cyd Charisse. NBD. And Vanessa said a woman's intuition knows best (aka no worries about putting college on hold for a bit, Taylor).
Lex and Gaby
Choreographer: Anthony Morigerato
Surprised by Lex's choice? So were we! But all those drop splits (and the big ol' back flip) made us remember why this piece was so great the first time around.
The judges said: Nigel loved it and, again, called them Fred and Ginger. Vanessa had the hiccups. And Mary said Lex's secret weapon is tap.
Kiki and Koine
Choreographer: Travis Wall
"This is a time lapse of a relationship," Travis explained: Everything starts out feeling fresh, but then it begins to disintegrate. Oof. Emotions! This one was heavy, but it was also beautiful. (And oooooh Joni Mitchell—yes, that was the heartbreaking song from Love Actually.) We would critique this piece, but it's hard to type through tears. Sorry.
The judges said: Standing ovation, obviously. Vanessa said it broke her heart and really affected her. (Zac Efron! Are you watching?!) Mary said both dancers peaked with that routine. And Nigel said Koine is a great dancer and actress, and asked Kiki if contemporary will help his ballroom performances. (This felt...strange?) But then he went on to say Kiki has helped the show by being brilliant.
Lex and Taylor
Choreographer: MIA MICHAELS
MAMA MIA RETURNS TO THE "SYTYCD" STAGE! To choreograph a piece for Lex and Taylor! OMG. "I want it to be about the type of love that takes your breath away sometimes," Mia explained to the duo. And OH MY GOD LEX AND TAYLOR ARE DATING!!!!!!!! AND THEY ARE IN LOVE. BAHHHHHH!!!!!!! This is the greatest thing ever. "SYTYCD" romances are the best. And this piece. This piece. They got to kiss so much. They got to glide across the stage together. They got to melt into each others' arms. Talk about #relationshipgoals. Cannot. Wipe. Smile. From. Face.
The judges said: Standing ovation! Giddy! Mary confessed to feeling "all kinds of strange emotions," both for Mia and the lovebirds. Nigel loved the "dive kiss" and said it was "just beautiful." And Vanessa said, "Ugh! Yes!" and said it inspired some kissing moves she wants to work on with her boyfriend. (#TBT to when her boyfriend was Zac Efron.)
OK fans, did you vote? Did you super vote? Let us know who you voted for, who you think will win—and who will grace the cover of Dance Spirit!
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?