Adam Rose/FOX

It's the second episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 14, and tbh, so far we're yawning more than we're yay-ing. We want to see more performances and hear less talking—and we're dying for more Cat Deeley.

During Los Angeles Auditions Part II, there were some highs (ballroom babe Jensen's outfit), some lows (uh, triple-jointing), and plenty of shrieks and screams from one Mary Murphy. (Noticeably absent, however, were Hot Tamale Train tickets, of which Mary distributed zero throughout the hour-long episode.)

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Cat Deeley, we love you, we really do. But when you open the show by telling us that "So You Think You Can Dance" will be taking a two-week "summer vacation" and that means we have to send not one but two dancers home tonight? Well, you break our hearts a little.

Fortunately, though, the two hours of showtime leading up to the double elimination were fun, entertaining, and packed with good stuff. This week, the remaining contestants performed two duets: one with their All-Star, and one with another contestant (yay!). These moments, in particular, had us laughing, crying, and dancing in front of our TVs.

1. Phoenix and Pharside's opening number

The opening number is almost always a highlight because we get to see all the remaining contestants and All-Stars performing together. This Nutcracker-themed hip-hop routine with a kind of dark twist featured Fik-Shun as a jester, Tate and Kathryn as eerie ballerinas, a handful of creepy clowns, and Jordan as a teddy bear. Cat said, "No one likes a freaky clown," but in this case? We were into it.

(Photo via FOX)

2. Tahani and Comfort's lyrical hip-hop routine

Nappytabs doing what Nappytabs does best: emotional hip hop! This narrative piece was about abandonment: Tahani's dad/Comfort's husband has walked out on them, and they're coping with a wall between them. (Really. A literal wall, not just an emotional one.) It was pretty emotional—particularly when Judge Maddie Z. said she could relate, making us all wonder if Mr. Ziegler was watching!—and prompted Nigel to declare Tahani one of his favorites in the competition. Crushed it.

(Photo via FOX)

3. J.T. and Robert's jazz duet

These two just keep the hits coming, week after week. But this week, instead of the emotional contemporary duets they've become known for, J.T. and Robert get some Mandy Moore jazz choreography! And it was, of course, so much fun. It was nice seeing J.T. outside his contemporary bubble, though style doesn't seem to matter: These two are so good together. They were totally in sync the entire time—every turn, every spot, every move was on point. Paula couldn't wipe the grin off her face, and neither could we.

(Photo via FOX)

4. Tate and Kathryn's contemporary masterpiece

"Wait, which one is the kid and which one is the adult? Is the girl in pink the younger one?" my husband asked me in the middle of this routine. And while normally I'd shush him for talking mid-"SYT," he has a point. Tate is literal leaps and bounds above the rest of the competition, and she executed this Travis Wall number flawlessly. The choreography was intense, challenging, and intricate, and the performance was perfection. When the two reconvened for their post-performance talk with the judges, Kathryn was crying. (It's OK, Kathryn. So were we.) Tate is on another level. Kathryn is on another level. Travis is on another level. Love, love, love.

(Photo via FOX)

5. Kida and Ruby's contemporary routine

Another Mandy Moore stunner! The pre-performance rehearsal package footage was all about Kida being uncomfortable and out of his comfort zone. But really? He seemed so smooth and so comfortable onstage, and we felt so proud. Kida has proven himself as the show's go-to hip-hopper, but now his versatility and growth are really shining through. Sure, he may not have the technique of, say, Tate, but he was a strong partner for Ruby, and he connected with her well. The piece earned a standing ovation from the judges, bringing tears to Kida's eyes. And ours. Obviously.

(Photo via FOX)

Other highlights: Emma and Gaby's OMGsofast tap routine, Jordan and Sasha's emotional duet (that shoulder balance!), the Tyce Diorio-choreographed All-Star routine that made us wish for a winter wonderland, Kida and Fik-Shun's unbeelievable routine by superstar Misha Gabriel and Maddie Ziegler's voluminous ponytail.

(Photo via FOX)

But, as Cat said, the double elimination was looming, and ultimately Jake and Jordan were sent home.

(Photo via FOX)

And then there were six...

(Photo via FOX)

See you in two weeks!

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Get ready for Cat Deeley’s fierce fashion, Lil' C’s fictional vocabulary, Mary Murphy’s high-pitched holler and, of course, some insanely talented dancers! That’s right, "So You Think You Can Dance" is back for a new season tonight. And Season 9—with a brand new one-night-only format—will certainly be an exciting one. DS chatted with our favorite judge and yours, Nigel Lythgoe, about what we can expect.

Dance Spirit: How do you feel about this season being aired one night per week instead of two?

Nigel Lythgoe: Putting the results in the same show as the performances means we’ve got to be very strong in our thoughts. We’ll have to take into account the routine from the week before, what America thinks and then the routine this week, which America can’t vote on. The judges will be more important than ever this year.

DS: And what about crowning two winners?

NL: It’s a major change, but it’s something we should have done years ago to be honest with you.

DS: What’s your favorite part of the season each year—the auditions, the top 20, the tour?

NL: Well if you ask me towards the end of the series, I would say the end of the series, because we just get so tired at that point. But at the beginning, I love the audition process. I’m inspired by it to be frank with you. Not all the kids that I think are fantastic get through, but seeing so many dancers put their hearts on their sleeves and have the guts to audition makes me very proud.

DS: What’s your least favorite part?

NL: You’re not going to believe me, but rejecting people.  This is a professional competition, so we’re looking for the very best. Sometimes when we tell people they’re not good enough, you can see that their hearts are broken. Even with the bad ones, I want to say, “Keep dancing!”

DS: How was the turnout at auditions this year?

NL: Very strong. The turnout was equal to other seasons, but the standard of dance goes up each year. People get used to what we’re looking for, so they train themselves. The contemporary kids are doing a lot more hip hop. And, by the looks of it, the hip hop kids are even taking a few ballroom lessons.

DS: There have been rumors that "SYTYCD" is on its way out, but what do you see for the future of the show? Will this new format stick around for a while?

NL: Well I’m certainly hoping so. I would like to think that FOX will continue to think of us as part of its schedule, but that depends on viewers. At the end of the day, it’s a business. If we lose viewers, they’re going to drop the program. It isn’t up to me or to the format, it’s all about whether people watch. Just as a dancer accepts rejection if they’re not what a choreographer is looking for, this is something that I accept as a part of this business.

If it were up to us, "SYTYCD" would be here to stay. We can’t wait to find out who will be crowned America’s favorite dancers, and put them on the cover of our October issue! For the first episode of the season, tune in tonight at 8/7c on FOX.

Now that we have a Top 10, it's time to start daydreaming about what the rest of Season 13 of "So You Think You Can Dance" has in store—for the contestants, the choreographers and, of course, the audience.

Since the show's format is new this season (Kids! All-Stars! The Academy!), we're guessing there will be plenty of curve-balls thrown our way until we pick a winner. So Nigel, if you're reading this, here's what we want to see this season...

1. A duet featuring J.T. and tWitch.

We know, tWitch isn't sweet J.T.'s mentor. But imagine how good that would be. Their smiles. Their charisma. Their moves. It would possibly be too cute to handle, but we're willing to find out.

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2. Ellen DeGeneres as a guest judge. 

We know Ellen loves dancing, "So You Think You Can Dance" and super talented kids. Seems only natural that she'd jump on the panel alongside Maddie Z, right?

3. A duet between Tate and Travis. 

We expect that Travis Wall will choreograph some contemporary stuff for Tate at some point this season, but any chance we can see the two of them perform together?

4. Maddie performing with the Top 10. 

We want to see tons of performances this season: the Top 10 all dancing together, the Top 10 with the All-Stars, a giant ballroom routine (starring Ruby and Daniela, of course), a big hip-hop performance (Tabitha and Napoleon, you got this?) and some seriously fun classic jazz stuff. But if we could have all the dancers perform alongside Maddie Ziegler, that'd be great, too. We're dying for some non-"Dance Moms" Maddie.

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5. The small-screen debut of Cat Deeley's new baby boy. 

Give the people what they want, Cat! Show us the new little man in your life. (The "SYT" hostess with the most-est gave birth earlier this year, and we're dying to see his little face at some point this season. Bonus points if Cat holds him up on the stage, presenting him to the audience Lion King-style.)

What about you? Got anything you're dying to see this season? Let us know!

Want more Dance Spirit?

The Season 11 finale of “So You Think You Can Dance” had it all: Amazing performances, musical guests, guest dancers and guest judges, and plenty of cute Cat Deeley hijinks to last until #SYTYCDSeason12. Oh, and we got the RESULTS! But before we get to the big reveal (hint: Chace Crawford's twin!), let’s talk about the rest of the show. Here are the Top 5 moments of last night’s spectacular episode:

The Top 20 in Warren Carlyle's "Doctor Jazz" 
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

5. The opening group number. The evening started on a high note with Warren Carlyle’s choreography to “Doctor Jazz" from Jelly’s Last Jam. It was so great to see all the Top 20 dancers again (I’m still #TeamMarcquet)! And despite the vast amount of unison, the piece smartly showcased the Top 4 dancers without relegating the other 16 to the back of the corps, waving roses back and forth (I’m also still #TeamJodySawyer).

Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott's "Sweet Disposition"
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

4. Everything by Sonya Tayeh. The judges and the Top 4 dancers were asked to request encores of their favorite routines from the season, and three of them were from #TeamTayeh: Guest judge Jessica Dewan-Tatum chose Tayeh's “You Need” with Tanisha and Rudy; Zack selected to perform "Europe, After the Rain," the powerful duet with Amy Yakima; and Ricky brought back "Vow," his duet with Jessica. And as if that weren't enough, the group number, “Sweet Disposition,” co-choreographed by Tayeh and Christopher Scott, really brought down the house. Set in a bustling train station, the piece combined Scott’s ingenious use of storytelling with Sonya’s impeccable eye for composition. Plus, we got to see the Top 10 dancers—and a few favorite All-Stars.

Les Twins being Les Twins
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

3. Les Twins’ guest performance. These two. What can we say? We've been in love with Les Twins for a long time, and we’re so happy they could take a quick break from killing it onstage with Beyoncé to appear on the show. Their duet was humorous, joyous and probably a little overheated—they were wearing so many layers!

Valerie and Zack in Anthony Morigerato's tap routine "Sing"
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

2. #Teamtap’s epic transformations. Zack and Valerie may not have been crowned America’s favorites, but they earned a special place in our hearts for so daringly stepping out of their comfort zones and championing other disciplines. All the Top 4 dancers matured over the course of the season. (Jessica really developed and finessed her lines, as shown in tonight’s soulful rendition of Travis Wall’s “Like Real People Do” from earlier this season.) But Valerie and Zack didn’t come into the competition with super-strong contemporary or hip-hop technique. So I’d like to take a moment to applaud their tenacity and their accomplishments on the “SYTYCD” stage.

OK, here it is! Drum roll, please...

Ricky Ubeda!
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

1. Ricky Ubeda’s moment of glory. From Dance Spirit Future Star winner to America’s Favorite Dancer, 18-year-old Ricky Ubeda has grown into one heck of an amazing artist. We’re so thrilled to celebrate his work and his spirit on the cover of our December issue, and we can’t wait to see what awesome things he’ll do next—that is, after dancing on Broadway in On the Town! Yay, Ricky!

Of course, we’re sad to see Season 11 come to a close. Yet taking a cue from Nigel Lythgoe’s on-screen and cross-network plug for #DWTS, we’re happy dance won’t be gone from TV too long—the ballroom competition starts September 15 on ABC! In the meantime, let us know what you thought of tonight’s episode. And stay tuned for Dance Spirit’s December issue. With Ricky on the cover, it’s going to be an issue you don't want to miss. 

Those could totally be dancer legs! (photo courtesy Fox)

You guys, sometimes I forget that Cat Deeley isn't a dancer.

I mean, she looks like she could be one, right? And she hangs out with dancers all the time on "So You Think You Can Dance." (Apparently she's friends with them off-camera, too—her Fourth of July barbecues for the "SYTYCD" family are the stuff of legend).

For those reasons, and because of her general delightfulness, I figured you'd all be excited to hear this not-officially-dance news: Cat has signed on to co-star in a Hulu "supernatural comedy series" called "Deadbeat"!

What is a supernatural comedy series, you ask? That's kind of unclear. But apparently Cat will play Camomile White, a celebrity medium who "has a public persona as America’s Supernatural Sweetheart but behind the scenes is a manipulative, aggressive businesswoman." Sounds spicy.

Congrats to Cat on her big acting role! The series is currently in production in NYC—we'll let you know when we hear about a premiere date (and/or if we run into her on the street, which...fingers crossed).

Last night we said goodbye to tappers Alexis and Curtis. (Adam Rose/FOX)

What. A. Week! Yesterday was a really long day for me, so I was super-tired when I sat down to watch “So You Think You Can Dance.” Naturally, I thought I’d keep zoning out into sleepyland, but this turned out not to be the case—at all. The show’s producers kept switching things up left and right and I was totally loving it. I may have even made some crazy faces and hopped up and down on the couch a little bit. (Yes, I’m that kind of TV watcher.) But enough about me, let’s get to the Top 5 Moments that rocked my Tuesday-night world!

 

1. Here’s hoping this wasn’t the last time they show the contestants as little kids. All outrageous doses of cuteness aside, it was really cool to see how far the dancers have come since their very first performances. And how else are we going to get the inside scoop on their most embarrassing stories? My favorites: Aaron as the evil stepmother in Cinderella! Amy’s crazy-curly ponytail, leopard-print jazz pants and waaaaaaaaaay out-there facial expressions. Malece peeing her pants from nerves right before she went onstage. This package gets a perfect 10 for entertainment value. Hey, FOX: Keep fun stuff like this coming!

2. Forget National Dance Day for just a minute—this was definitely Sonya Tayeh Week! Her choreographic hand print was all over this episode, from collaborating on the awesome opening number with Dmitry Chaplin to making an exciting piece for (full disclosure: my all-time favorites) Makenzie and Paul. Plus, Nigel gave her a shout-out for her recent Emmy nomination (congrats, Sonya!), and she even got a little goofy in rehearsals. I don’t know about you, but I never thought I’d see the ultra avant-garde Ms. Tayeh jumping around and sing-songing “I love dance!” Gotta love reality TV for giving us these fabulously random moments.

We love you, Anna! (Adam Rose/FOX)

3. Anna Kendrick made for a really interesting first-time guest judge. Okay, so she’s not really a dance expert. But she owned up to this right from the beginning, admitting that she “doesn’t always get ballroom on this show.” Still, her weird, hilarious, yet somehow insightful commentary makes up for any deficiency in the dance department. It’s like Anna says what all of us are secretly thinking, but makes it come out funnier than we ever could. Case in point: “I mean, it’s like boring how good you guys are.” And to Cat: “You’re great. You’re so tall and pretty.” What’s more, she seems really sweet and humble! Anna took a moment to acknowledge the amazing camera operators, and ended with a really heartfelt comment about how dance deserves more exposure in the mass media. Love her.

4. Poor Curtis! I hadn’t really paid much attention to him before this episode, but suddenly I had no choice. Basically everything that can go wrong for a “SYTYCD” contestant happened to him—all in one week! First, Cat announced that because he’d hurt his shoulder in rehearsals, his doctors told him not to perform this week. Then, he ended up in danger of elimination. Finally, he was eliminated along with fellow tapper Alexis without even getting to dance for his life (for obvious reasons). I really felt for the guy, and I’m sure you all did, too. Luckily, it seems like Curtis is a positive person who’s going to move on to great things. He and Alexis were all smiles after their elimination, laughing at a video montage of their best moments on the show and joking about buying each other new tap shoes. Curtis even said that he loved every minute of his experience this season. What an amazingly good sport, right?

5. Not to end on another serious moment, but hooray for dances with a social conscience! Bonnie Story made a huge splash with her first piece for “SYTYCD” by taking inspiration from the timely issue of bullying. To get her group of dancers in the right frame of mind, she had a close friend share with them how he’d been tormented by bullies. Boy, did it work. The contestants threw themselves into the steps with abandon and intention, alternately falling to the ground and striking desperately at invisible opponents. Story described her piece as an exploration of how people see the issue of bullying in their communities, but insist on “looking the other way.” I certainly won’t be looking the other way the next time Story’s work appears on the show. Intelligent choreography about real-life issues? That’s some good stuff.

What score would you give Anna Kendrick as a guest judge? Do you think Curtis should’ve been eliminated while he was injured and unable to dance? Let us know in the comments section!

And don’t forget to enter our “SYTYCD” finale sweepstakes contest—you could win a trip to the Season 10 finale!

I love the first week of competition on "So You Think You Can Dance." It's that wonderful time when nobody's injured, everyone's amped up and, since there are no eliminations, we can pretend all the dancers are going to stay around forever and ever.

In that spirit—and because last night's show was pretty fun—I'm going to keep things 100 percent positive in this recap. (OK, fine—we'll say 95%. This is new for me! I'm trying!) Here are my top five happy* highlights from the episode.

1. The opening number rocked my socks. Tabitha and Napoleon always kick butt, but this kick-butt routine was unusually butt-kicky. Let's break it down, shall we? Nappytabs gave us:

-a montage filmed in a single extended shot...

-...featuring all of the dancers—and judges (Nigel can animate, sort of!), and choreographers (ahhhh Travis' giant feather shrug!)...

-...playing in the costume room and popping in and out of backstage doorways before arriving on the actual stage...

-...to rock out to, of all things, "Puttin' on the Ritz."

The finished product felt like one of those classic "Saturday Night Live" "let's go behind the scenes" openers. It was totally charming. Plus, BABY LONDON WAS IN THE HOUSE! Shocker of the century: Mini-Nappytabs is adorable.

2. The costume department was on fire. Malece and Jade's glamorous Gatsby-esque ensembles? Tucker and Jenna's cute 1940s getups (complete with the verrrry tricky to pull off vest-and-suspender combo)? Makenzie's ruffly, kicky 1950s dress? It was like a whirlwind tour of fashion in the 20th century. And I'm not even going to talk about the multiple pairs of animal-print hammer pants that appeared over the course of the evening. Multiple pairs.

3. Brittany and BluPrint made beautiful Afro-Jazz music together. Brittany's Latin ballroom training and BluPrint's animator skills meshed surprisingly well. They both have that laser-sharp attack thing down pat, which worked perfectly in Sean Cheesman's hard-hitting Afro-Jazz routine. This number also gave us the gift of Cat Deeley's Afro-Jazz impression, which was awesomely hoe-down-y. (But Nigel, please: Let's not ever make comments about how BluPrint "didn't grow up in a jungle" again. *facepalm*)

4. Wayne Brady gave Jesse Tyler Ferguson a run for his money as the best "SYTYCD" guest judge of all time. Wayne's awesomeness really came to a head after Aaron and Jasmine Harper's Sonya Tayeh routine. On Jasmine: "If Lil' C was here, he'd say, 'You are a little chocolate Amazonian fool and imbued of all the strength that you draw upon of the divergent forces which make you an entity to be reckoned with!' " Brilliant. That said, Wayne occasionally drifted into dirty-old-man territory. For example—when talking to a topless Fik-Shun about partnering Amy in an intense Sonya Tayeh duet: "Fik-Shun, whenever I want people to see my serious side, I take my clothes off and dance with a white girl, too." Ugh, don't go there, Wayne! Nigel's already got that territory more than covered!

5. But let's talk about Fik-Shun and Amy in that sick Sonya piece. The powerful choreography felt like a return to form for Sonya, who's seemed a bit off her game in recent seasons. (I guess it's hard not to look like you're going downhill after creating the masterpiece that is "The Garden.") The number's premise—that Fik-Shun represented all of Amy's unresolved issues—was reminiscent of Mia Michael's famous "Gravity" routine, and the concept proved to be just as fruitful for Sonya. Amy is both a natural Sonya muse and possibly the best dancer in the competition, which definitely didn't hurt. And there was something appealingly restrained about the way both she and Fik-Shun approached this number. It's not that they weren't dancing full-out; they just didn't fall into the over-emoting trap that seems to plague most dancers in Sonyaland. Also, the performance gave Cat her first chills of the season, and she sang a song about it, so, plus a million bonus points.

And there you have it! After all that, who do you think is heading home? Let us know in the comments—and we'll see you here next week, same time, same place, for our recap of the first elimination episode (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN)!

*Because I'm working very hard to remain positive, I'm not going to say anything about Nigel and Adam Shankman's "So You Think You Can Prance" video. I'm just going to link to it. There you go.

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