"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: Meet Your Top 5 Guys (Finally!)

Yesterday's episode was the all-important final step before the live TV episodes begin. Last Monday night, Vanessa, Mary, and Nigel cut half of the remaining ladies after seeing them perform a duet outside their style with a male All-Star. And last night, it was (finally!) the men's turn. Here's what went down.


Cole Mills

The ballroom dancer (and Harry Connick Jr. doppelgänger, just saying) was paired with Jaimie Goodwin for a gorgeous partnering-filled contemporary routine choreographed by Travis Wall. The judges basically awarded Cole the unofficial "Most Improved" award, with Nigel commenting, "There have been occasions when I thought you were a bit disingenuous. I did not feel that in this routine." Mary added that she's never seen a trajectory of improvement like the one he's had on the show thus far. Cole's reward? A spot in the Top 5!

Jay Jay Dixonbey

Cha-cha-Chelsie [Hightower] for Jay Jay! The contemporary dancer rose to the challenge of Elena Samodanova's explosively musical choreo, conquering it with his strong hits and body rolls for days. Vanessa gushed, "Your performance was so captivating. You're such a powerhouse! I love watching you dance." Nigel was less convinced, pointing out that Jay Jay consistently breaks the line of his arms. In the end, though, Jay Jay got a chance to prove himself to America with a slot in the Top 5.

Slavik Pustovoytov

Slavik, obviously an incredibly talented hip-hopper, faces a bit of an uphill climb in a competition like "SYTYCD." In his own words, "Choreography is still not my strong point." Luckily, Slavik ran with this week's assignment—in a big way. Paired with Allison Holker for a jazz number choreographed by Tyce Diorio, his intense presence made Mary squeal, "It was SO DARN BELIEVABLE! You're blowing my mind a little bit right now." Last night's eliminations took every performance from The Academy into account, but Slavik was able to tip the scales in his favor, netting a place in the Top 5.

Justin Pham

Justin, please join our pham any time! This contemporary pham-omenon (nope, still not sorry) was endearingly energetic and articulate throughout his hip-hop number with Comfort Fedoke, but the judges wanted him to bring more weight into his dancing. Sadly, Justin went home this week, with Nigel saying that "What we'd all like to see is for you to be a little more grounded."

Peyton Albrecht

Peyton struggled somewhat with contemporary—his own style—previously in The Academy, not meeting the judges' high expectations from the judges. But he had a chance to redeem himself last night in a cha-cha with Chelsie Hightower. As Nigel noted, "All the things I expected you to be good at you were perfect at," but Mary thought that the chemistry wasn't there, and that Peyton wasn't dancing his best overall. At the end of the night, Peyton went home with the suggestion to work on personality before auditioning next season.

Kyle Bennett Jr.

Kyle must've been feeling some serious déjà vu: Last year, he was cut right before the live shows started. Dancing Travis Wall choreo with past winner Lauren Froderman, Kyle drew mixed reactions from the panel. Mary said, "What you lack in training you give with your heart." (Wait, is that a compliment or—?) And after Kyle left the stage, Nigel cryptically said "He's on my list." WHAT LIST, NIGEL? In the end-of-ep eliminations, it was Slavik vs. Kyle—and Slavik's outstanding performance earned him the spot. But we're rooting for you in Season 16, Kyle!

Evan DeBenedetto

Another contestant who struggled in the ballroom round, Evan proved why he made it all the way to the Green Mile last season with his Brian Friedman-created contemporary routine alongside Allison Holker. Nigel acknowledged how he'd stepped up to the plate in a big way, and Mary "felt like I went through something with you. You gave it everything you could." What this tap dancer didn't realize until the end of the night is that he also gave himself a place in the Top 5!

Dustin Payne

This one broke our hearts—and Nigel's, too, surprising as that may sound. Though the animator turned in a stunning contemporary performance with Jaimie Goodwin, and Mary told him "You just went up another rung on the ladder for me," it wasn't quite enough. Though Dustin was encouraged to return next year, he was unclear on what went wrong: "I'm not sure what happened. I guess I'm just not what they're looking for at this particular time." Please come back next season, Dustin!

Allen Genkin

Tasked with Brian Friedman's piping-hot jazz choreography and paired with Lauren Froderman, Allen certainly had his moments last night, but it wasn't consistent enough for Mary, who noticed that "some of your dancing came from a really honest, organic place and some of it didn't." At the end of the night, Allen went home, with Nigel citing how Allen "started losing it around the jive," though he'd stunned during the first couple of days in the Academy.

Darius Hickman

Talk about a dramatic comeback! Both Darius and the judges noted that every solo he'd performed on the show was, well, sad. Last night, choreographer Luther Brown let another side of this contemporary dancer shine in a playfully comedic hip-hop routine with Comfort Fedoke. The effect on the judges was immediate: All three were literally dancing in their seats. Darius's breakthrough was (duh) rewarded with a spot in the Top 5.

Next week: The first live show of Season 15—and the first time the Top 10 get to dance with each other! Let the real games begin.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search