"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: We Have a Top 4!
After just three live shows and just as many brisk eliminations, we have our Season 15 Top 4! And we'll get to that. But first, here's what went down during the two hours that the Top 6—Hannahlei, Genessy, Jensen, Jay Jay, Darius, and Slavik—performed together last night.
Namely: The All Stars returned to the "So You Think You Can Dance" stage! Each All Star made it to the Top 4 of his or her respective season, and returned to this show to usher the newest Top 4 into theirs.
The Opening Routine
Choreographer: Mia Michaels!
Song: "Spring 1" by Max Richter
Mamma Mia! We've missed having Mia's choreography on the "SYT" stage every week. But this lovely opening routine was worth the wait. It was happy and joyful, sweet and serene, and deceptively difficult and high-energy. (All that bouncing! All that jumping!) The dancers were clad in all-white, lace-detailed outfits (bless those puffy shoulders!), and the girls got the added bonus of some colorful floral headpieces. Mia, you're a legend, and this was a super smiley way to start the show.
Jensen & Kiki
Style: Cha Cha
Choreographer: Jenna Johnson
Song: "Bailar" by Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo
Jenna Johnson made her "SYT" choreography debut—and for Jensen and her former partner, Kiki, no less! And Jensen, despite a runny nose, absolutely crushed. this. It's always fun seeing how the current crop of contestants can hold their own alongside dancers who have been through the "SYT" ringer before, and Jensen didn't just match Kiki's energy, technique, and showmanship, she dominated the stage. (Anyone else catch that little wink during a mid-routine pause? Loved it.) It was clear Jensen was a pro going into this competition, and she's delivered every single week. She's a total package dancer—so it's not surprising that fellow ballroom queen Mary Murphy approved and gave Jensen a standing ovation. And, yes, an ear-piercing scream granting permission on board the Hot Tamale Train. Nigel said Jensen has gotten better every week (agreed), Vanessa liked that Jensen was telling Kiki what to do and said "it was hot," and tWitch called it crazy.
Genessy & Lex
Choreographer: Mandy & Elizabeth
Song: "Be Brave" by My Brightest Diamond
Masks! Layers! "The idea of what perfect is." Genessy admitted during rehearsals that she's struggled with being the perfect dancer, and with being the dancer everyone thinks she is and should be. As Genessy and Lex danced—almost constantly intertwined, interacting, and connected—they peeled the masks away from their faces. And the concept was great, but so was Genessy, with her long, powerful legs and that intense performance quality she's shown every week. Nigel told Genessy that she's exceeded their expectations of her, and called the performance beautiful. Vanessa appreciated Genessy's intensity, tWitch said the mask forced Genessy to feel—that's a good thing—and Mary said Genessy has shown her true self every week, "and that is just beautiful."
Slavik & Jaja
Style: Hip Hop
Song: "Beggin & Pleadin" by Brandy
Love some character-driven hip hop! This performance had angst, attitude, and Slavik at his grooviest. (Did anyone else get total Titanic-era Leonardo DiCaprio vibes from Slavik during this routine?) Slavik has proved he can do the high-energy, hard-hitting hip hop, but this performance, even with all its personality, was a little softer, a little slower, a little more mysterious. Plus, there was a door, and everyone knows the best "SYT" routines have doors. Vanessa praised Slavik's Elvis-y swagger, while tWitch noted that this type of grounded hip hop was outside Slavik's element and that it needed more devotion and commitment. Mary noted that Slavik's journey on this competition has been impressive, and Nigel made divorce jokes.
Hannahlei & Marko
Choreographer: Robert Roldan
Song: "Welcome Home" by Joy Williams
Hometown lovers, reunited! (That's what the piece is about. That's not Hannahlei and Marko IRL.) This was delightful. Hannahlei has been a bit underrated throughout this competition. Yes, the judges praise her, but can we get some more hype for this girl? Every single routine she performs is amazing. She's committed and full-out, technically sound and then some. Marko was probably great in this piece, too, but our eyes were glued to Hannahlei. tWitch called Hannahlei one of the hardest-working dancers this season, Mary noted Hannahlei's class and joy, Nigel said he forgets Hannahlei is small (she's teeny tiny!) because she dances so wonderfully big, and Vanessa called the performance flawless.
Jay Jay & Lauren Froderman
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Song: "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars
Mandy told Jay Jay and Lauren during rehearsals that she wants to bring jazz back into peoples' hearts. And if anyone can do it, it's Mandy—but it's also, clearly, Jay Jay. This routine was fun, happy, and swaggy and included something Mandy called "Ultimate Leap Frog" (Jay Jay jumping over 5'2" Lauren and nailing a perfect center split en route). In a world of heavy contemporary routines (nothing wrong with those!) and furiously fast ballroom performances (nothing wrong there, either!), this was like a breath of fresh, funky air. Mary called it "out of this world" and called Jay Jay a star. Then Nigel said it was all brilliant, and he dared Jay Jay to play Ultimate Leap Frog with six-foot-something Cat Deeley—which he did, and she fell, and it was awkward and terrifying and adorable and rendered Vanessa speechless.
Darius & Taylor
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: "It Takes A Lot To Know A Man" by Damien Rice
Talk about hitting the choreographer jackpot on this episode! Way to go, "SYT!" This was very dream team-y, and the story was a personal one: Travis talked about coming out, Darius talked about bullying, and we cried before they even hit the stage. The gender-role-reversed routine—with Darius in a dress and lipstick, and Taylor, sans makeup, in a T-shirt and pants—truly gave Darius the chance to shine (well done, Travis). There were moments when Taylor was completely still, giving Darius a chance to go all-out on his own. By the end, Darius, too, was in a T-shirt and pants, but still rocking the makeup and reapplying that lipstick. A standing O from the judges, and unanimous praise for the choreography, the performance, and Darius. (Oh, and Nigel called Darius his favorite dancer this season. NBD. And Vanessa said she was "shook.")
Jensen & Jay Jay
Choreographer: Tiana Nonosina Liufau
Song: "Lugahiva" by Te Valka
Hello, new-to-"SYTYCD" style! Hello, hips! It would be easy to look at this routine and think, "fun luau routine!" But no. No no no. This was so much more than that. There were giant feather headdresses and huge hula-style skirts. There was a whole lotta hip shaking. But there were also carefully choreographed, culturally accurate themes and moves, and Jay Jay and Jensen, unsurprisingly, developed a solid grasp on them in a short amount of time. Vanessa loved it, tWitch felt his inner Tahitian warrior coming out, Mary said Jay Jay and Jensen set the stage on fire, and Nigel talked about the time he did Pilates, which we would really love to see.
Genessy & Slavik
Choreographer: Jonathan & Oksana
Song: "Machika" by J Valvin, Jeon & Anitta
Intricate arms, intricate feet, "and of course, tricks," Jonathan explained during rehearsals. What he should have said? "Serious, death-defying tricks." The routine started with a lift, transitioned into some fast and sexy spin-heavy moves, included a few more tricks, and chased them with a few more spins. It was a lot. It was no joke. And, admittedly, it was neither Genessy nor Slavik's best. They were hustling out there, but it felt a little slow, a little heavy, a little challenging. If this were the first week of competition, this would've been a solid performance. But on the cusp of locking down the Top 4, this fell a little flat. (Hey, they can't all be the best routines ever.) tWitch wasn't fully convinced by Slavik's performance, and Mary agreed, but said Genessy was fire. Nigel noted this as Slavik's weak spot, and Vanessa "agreed with everything they've been saying."
Hannahlei & Darius
Style: Argentine Tango
Choreographer: Leonardo & Miriam
Oh, the Argentine Tango. There was a time on "SYTYCD," in the very early seasons, when this style was known as the kiss of death—or rather, elimination. Almost no one could master it. It almost guaranteed contestants an elimination, or at least some very critical feedback. But Hannahlei and Darius, masters of everything, defied the grim odds. It was passionate, sexy, sultry, and wonderful—and the judges agreed unanimously.
Who wants results?
After the biggest vote of the season (!!!), Jensen is safe.
The Top 3 Guys
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Song: "Violence Broken" by No Mono
They floated (kind of) atop cinder blocks, they moved in perfect unison, and they were smoother than Jif peanut butter (you know, the really smooth kind). Jay Jay, Darius, and Slavik were collectively excellent during this performance, but it was Jay Jay that captivated us the most. (Yes, no, maybe? Where were your eyes glued? Let us know!) Nigel was pleased, Vanessa was proud of everyone, tWitch told Chris Scott he's "like an architect, bro," and Mary said it was simple and innovative and that it worked.
More results? OK! Slavik is safe!
The Top 3 Women
Choreographer: Luther Brown
Song: "Bump" by Trish
THESE. WOMEN. The hair! (Er, wigs.) The black catsuits. The choreography. This routine was at times fun and bouncy, and then, an eight count later, smooth and sultry. And each dancer got a chance to shake it and shine at center stage. Lots of fun! Vanessa wanted in on the fembot fun, tWitch, based on that routine, has high hopes for the future, Mary loved the girl power, and Nigel said it really worked for him.
More results! Hannahlei is safe!
And then, after a quick commercial, break...
Jay Jay and Darius were sent home, which meant Genessy will join Jensen, Slavik, and Hannahlei in the Top 4. It's an unprecedented move: three women and just one male in the Top 4! Who run the world? No question.