"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: The Top 4 Perform

Which of these four will be named America's Favorite Dancer—and our December cover star?! (Adam Rose/FOX)

Genessy. Hannahlei. Jensen. Slavik.

In a week, one of those dancers will be crowned "America's Favorite Dancer" (and, in addition to a cool $250,000 prize and a spot in the upcoming live musical Rent, will also earn Dance Spirit's December cover). But first, let's recap what went down on the final jam-packed night of competition.

Genessy & Slavik

Style: Hip hop

Choreographer: Luther Brown

Song: "Poke It Out" by Playboi Carti

The only original couple to make it to the finale! And what better way to kick off the show than with a Luther Brown hip-hop duet—just like the way these two rang in the competition together a handful of weeks ago. This time, they were clad in day-glo neon sweatsuits, and they seemed significantly more relaxed than in that first week. There was a mid-routine kiss (!!!), a lot of hair tossing from Genessy, and enough confident charisma from Slavik to get him back in the judges' good graces. tWitch called it the perfect way to open the show (RIP tWitch's voice! Poor guy!), Mary called it wonderful, Nigel said it was terrific, and Vanessa said they "fully brought it."

Jensen & Hannahlei

Style: Heels

Choreographer: Brian Friedman

Song: "Dem Beats" by Todrick Hall ft. RuPaul

YES HEELS. YES BRIAN FRIEDMAN. And yes for the level of difficulty in this routine. (Seriously, it would've been tough in flats, let alone sky-high heels.) There were moments when both dancers seemed to feel comfortable in the choreography (hello, Hannahlei doing the worm), and others when it definitely seemed to require a little more focus. But ultimately, this routine was heavy on the girl power and sass, and that celebratory post-routine hug was the cutest ever. Vanessa loved the routine, particularly the hair whipping, tWitch appreciated the precision, Mary loved everything about it, and Nigel praised both women for being magnificent.

Genessy & Jonathan

Style: Samba

Choreographer: Elena Samodanova

Song: "Watch Out For This" by Major Lazer

Upon learning she'd be portraying a supermodel in this routine, Genessy felt hesitant. Pretty sure she can go ahead and take that feeling back, now. She did an awesome job with most of the fast footwork required of a Samba (alongside a bona fide pro, no less), and that attitude! From the minute she strutted out on the makeshift runway, Genessy commanded the spotlight—and she stayed in it until the final pose. This phenomenal routine earned the evening's first standing ovation from the judges. Mary called Genessy an "unleashed diva" (that's a good thing), Nigel said Genessy reminded him of Jennifer Lopez (NBD), and Vanessa said, "Girl, you were not playin' around." And tWitch reminded Genessy to never doubt herself, because that routine was amazing, and so is she.

Slavik & Melanie

Style: Contemporary

Choreographer: Travis Wall

Song: "Gun" by Mas Ysa

Slavik hit the jackpot with this routine—Travis, Melanie, and an emotionally-charged contemporary routine! Travis knows what works on this show: Keep the costuming and set simple, and let the dancers and the choreography shine. It works every time, and it worked for Slavik. It's hard not to watch Melanie Moore whenever she's onstage, but when we could tear our eyes away from the Season 8 winner, we saw Slavik most definitely holding his own. Nigel reminded Slavik that, win or lose, he deserved to be in this competition, and said he came through with flying colors in this performance. Vanessa called his performance raw and beautiful, tWitch loved the commitment, and Mary said Slavik makes us all feel something.

Hannahlei & Slavik

Style: African jazz

Choreographer: Sean Cheesman

Song: "When Rivers Cry" by Somi

"I really went all-out choreographing this piece," Cheesman explained during rehearsals. He was NOT exaggerating. There were about a billion complicated (and potentially concussion-causing) lifts. There were pirouettes at hyper-speed. There were développés into lifts into jumps. There was enough energy to power New York City during a blackout. Bravo to Hannahlei and Slavik for somehow keeping it all going from start to finish—and for making it through without any concussions. Nigel loved it, Vanessa said it was incredible, tWitch noted the teamwork required for such a physically demanding routine, and Mary enthusiastically said it was well done.

Jensen & Genessy

Style: Broadway

Choreographer: Travis Wall

Song: "Maybe This Time" by Liza Minnelli

This was "not your typical Broadway routine," Travis told these two dynamos during rehearsals. But it was fun, feisty, and full of character. It was exciting to see these two get to dance together. Their backgrounds may be totally different, but Travis gave them choreography that perfectly suited their personalities. The judges gave it the night's second standing ovation, with Vanessa calling it smart, tWitch saying it was Jensen's best performance of the season, Mary calling them both stars, and Nigel simply agreeing with the rest of the panel (and calling the choreography "genius").

Hannahlei & Fik-Shun

Style: Hip hop

Choreographers: Randi & Hef

Song: "Move Something" by DJ Quik & Problem

It took a few weeks, but Hannahlei finally got to make her hip-hop debut on the live show, and she. killed. it. (Not a surprise, but still fun to watch.) We'd gladly pay double for Fik-Shun and Hannahlei to be our movers in the future, because they actually made packing and stacking boxes look fun! This performance was uncomplicated and high-energy—though, was Hannahlei supposed to fall in the box at the end? The look on her face said maybe not, but kudos to her for being professional enough about it all that we couldn't decide. The judges gave it a standing ovation, which is always a good sign. tWitch said it was incredible, Mary called Hannahlei a special delivery, Nigel said there's nothing Hannahlei can't do brilliantly, and Vanessa said she's been a huge fan of Hannahlei since day one.

Jensen & Robert

Style: Contemporary

Choreographer: Mandy Moore

Song: "Can't Help Falling In Love" by Kina Grannis

Jensen has admitted she's not comfortable being vulnerable. Which, of course, Mandy Moore sees as an opportunity. And who better to be vulnerable with than Robert Roldan? With its simplicity and moments of stillness, this routine was the perfect way to let Jensen tap into her sensitive side. Those slow lifts, the sweet moment when Jensen and Robert joined hands, and the big explosive lifts all came together to make something lovely and memorable. Unsurprisingly, the judges were on their feet yet again. Mary, through tears, said all Jensen's hard work has paid off, Nigel said he fell in love with that performance, Vanessa reminded everyone that vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness, and tWitch told Jensen that all her rejections made it possible for her to get this far in the competition this time. Awwww.

Hannahlei & Genessy

Style: Contemporary

Choreographer: Talia Favia

Song: "Numbers" by Daughter

The idea behind this routine, Talia explained in rehearsals, was that Hannahlei and Genessy (who've been roommates throughout the competition!) have always been able to rely on each other, but now they're competitors. So, basically, it was art imitating life. And ohhhhh, that roommate chemistry! These two moved so well together, with fire and passion in their eyes. It was wonderfully intense, and earned yet another standing ovation from the judges Nigel said it was like watching synchronized swimming without the water, Vanessa said it was insaaaaaane, tWitch loved the warrior spirit, and Mary gave it a Hot Tamale Train-esque scream on behalf of tWitch and his weakening voice.

Jensen & Slavik

Style: Cha cha

Choreographer: Oksana Platero

Song: "Boom" by Tiesto

Jensen was in her element for this one; Slavik, less so—and yet, he owned it. (Jensen did, too, but, obviously.) Slavik's swagger, confidence, and charisma were on full display for this piece, which was a fun, energetic, and super-sparkly way to end the show. Mary said Latin dancing is Slavik's kryptonite, but that she saw some improvement and that he got the job done. Nigel said it looked like Slavik was dancing with an All Star, but praised Slavik for his outstanding progress throughout the competition. Vanessa called Slavik inspiring and Jensen a star, and tWitch thanked both performers for what they bring to the show.

OK, so who'd you vote for? Let us know who you think will take the "America's Favorite Dancer" title next week—and who we'll be putting on our December cover!

Dance News
Ballet Academy East student Stella MacDonald (Erin Baiano)

It's the rite of passage every young ballerina dreams of: getting her first pair of pointe shoes. But it's important to remember that a lot (and we mean a lot) of hard work and technique-honing leads up to this moment—not to mention getting the green light from your teacher. Dance Spirit turned to Jenna Lavin, former Miami City Ballet dancer and principal of the pre-professional division at Ballet Academy East in NYC, for three exercises meant to strengthen, train, and stabilize the muscles you'll be using once you're on pointe.

Keep Reading Show less
Rochelle Mendoza-Axle, Courtesy Stiskin

In today's dance world, versatility is key. It's not enough to be a master of one style—even when they specialize in one area, dancers are frequently asked to fuse multiple genres, or step out of their comfort zone for specific projects. With their wide variety of summer programs, Joffrey Ballet School aims to prepare dancers for the demands of a professional career. We asked five faculty members to share how they do this:

Keep Reading Show less
Sponsored by Joffrey Ballet School
Kendra Oyesanya, Marcus Mitchell, and Carlito Olivero (courtesy YouTube/Lionsgate)

Happy "Step Up: High Water" eve, y'all! Everyone's favorite internet dance show makes its triumphant Season 2 return tomorrow, March 20th, on YouTube. In anticipation of the premiere, we turned to Kendra Oyesanya (Poppy), Marcus Mitchell (Dondre), and Carlito Olivero (Davis) for the scoop on all things "Step Up"—from on-set shenanigans, to embarrassing stories, to scenes to watch out for this season (hint: Episode 2's dance battle, and the season finale's final number!).

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News
The cast of "Oklahoma!" during last year's run at St. Ann's Warehouse (Teddy Wolff, courtesy DKC/O&M)

You may think you know Oklahoma!, the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that made history when it first opened in 1943 and is best known for Agnes de Mille's groundbreaking dream ballet. But the latest Broadway iteration of the musical isn't your average trip to the frontier. Opening April 7, the revival features new choreography by Mark Morris alum John Heginbotham, and swaps the traditional windswept-prairie set and full orchestra for an intimate, minimalistic staging and a bluegrass band. Coming fresh off an acclaimed run at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, the daring, unconventional production is sure to turn heads when it begins previews on Broadway tonight. Dance Spirit caught up with Heginbotham to get all the details on the dancing, and what it was like choreographing his first Broadway show.

Keep Reading Show less
BLACKPINK has worked with A-list choreographers, including Kyle Hanagami and Parris Goebel.

K-pop is in the middle of a stateside takeover. South Korea's boy bands and girl groups can always be counted on to produce catchy, upbeat songs—and, most importantly for us dance fans, to feature colorful choreography prominently in their music videos. Over the past few years, the K-pop machine has been churning out a seemingly endless stream of talented groups with choreography worth watching on repeat, and some of them are starting to make names for themselves in the U.S. Check out our list of the dancetastic K-pop bands you need to know.

Keep Reading Show less
Briar Nolet did NOT come to play. (NBC)

Have you ever felt that the Duels round on NBC's "World of Dance" was a bit unfair? During the Duels, each act's success hinges not on how objectively good they are, but on how good they are relative to a single challenger. Which means that mediocre acts can move forward if they best slightly-more-mediocre opponents, while frontrunners who're given tougher matchups end up knocked out.

Newly-engaged goddess J.Lo and her team get that. Which is why, last night, "WOD" introduced a twist designed to make the Duels more just: a redemption round. Formerly, five acts were eliminated in each division during the Duels. But from here out, the two highest scorers of those five will go head-to-head to earn a wild card spot. And that made last night's Upper Division Duels significantly more exciting.

Who just dueled it? Who was redeemed? Who made Derek Hough scream like a teenage girl? Onward to the episode highlights!

Keep Reading Show less
Dance on TV
American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher (left) meeting with Bloch owner David Fox (right) in NYC. (Marius Bugge for Bloch)

For professional ballet dancers, the search for the perfect pointe shoe is a lifelong quest. Even the smallest adjustment in manufacturing can make the difference between a shoe that allows a ballerina to soar and a shoe that detracts from her dancing. So what goes into creating the perfect fit? A lot of hard work, patience, and masterful attention to detail. We got the inside scoop on how a Bloch pointe shoe is made from beginning to end, and went inside one of American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher's touch-up fittings with Bloch owner David Fox in NYC.

Keep Reading Show less
Martina Sandionigi as Giselle

We updated your favorite story-ballet tutus with modern details that'll please any 21st-century prima ballerina. Who needs a cavalier, anyway?

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Fashion
Dancers are total brainiacs.

Dancing impacts pretty much every aspect of our lives—including our brains. That's right: Dance makes us smart. Like, super smart. Here are seven ways being a dancer enhances your brainpower.

Keep Reading Show less
Just for Fun
Ballet Academy East student Stella MacDonald (Erin Baiano)

It's the rite of passage every young ballerina dreams of: getting her first pair of pointe shoes. But it's important to remember that a lot (and we mean a lot) of hard work and technique-honing leads up to this moment—not to mention getting the green light from your teacher. Dance Spirit turned to Jenna Lavin, former Miami City Ballet dancer and principal of the pre-professional division at Ballet Academy East in NYC, for three exercises meant to strengthen, train, and stabilize the muscles you'll be using once you're on pointe.

Keep Reading Show less
The ultimate dance mom: Debbie Allen with her daughter, Vivian Nixon (courtesy Nixon)

Dance moms: Where would we be without them? We all know how much support and help they give us—in addition to loads of love. Here are 10 reasons real-life dance moms are undeniably the best.

Keep Reading Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Samantha Little

It's the fall of 2018. As the Brigham Young University Cougarettes step onto the field at LaVell Edwards stadium in Provo, UT, a crowd of nearly 64 thousand erupts into cheers. The dancers take their places, and a feeling of anticipation hangs in the air: Their reputation precedes them.

The music—Ciara's banger "Level Up"—begins, and unbelievable precision ensues. Eighteen dancers attack the highly technical choreography, which nods at viral social-dance sensations and continuously builds in energy. The school's mascot, Cosmo the Cougar, joins the team on the field, and the audience goes wild. As the piece ends, the sound in the stadium is deafening. The 16-time national-title-winning group has proved once again why they're the standard for college dance team success—they're just that good.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Team
Paloma Garcia-Lee (center, in gold) and the cast of "Fosse/Verdon" (FX)

The extraordinary Paloma Garcia-Lee, who's danced in no fewer than five Broadway shows, can adapt to any choreographer's style. And before heading back to Broadway this spring in Moulin Rouge! (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh), she's tackling the work of one of the most iconic choreographers of all time: Bob Fosse.

Garcia-Lee plays Adrienne in the new FX limited series "Fosse/Verdon," premiering April 9, which follows the romantic and creative relationship of Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and his muse Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Steve Levenson, and Andy Blankenbuehler serve as executive producers, with Kail directing and Blankenbuehler choreographing.

With the exception of performing on The Tony Awards, "Fosse/Verdon" marks Garcia-Lee's TV debut. "I'm really setting my sights on more on-camera work," she says. "Getting the chance to flex my muscles as an actress in this different medium, but still have the dance part, is all really exciting." (She's got real acting chops, too: While a student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she actually quit dance briefly to study acting instead.)

Dance Spirit spoke to Garcia-Lee about "Fosse/Verdon"'s epic final callback, how she got cast, and the transition from stage to screen.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance on TV



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox