"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: Meet Your Top 5 Girls (But Not the Guys—Yet)
At the start of last night's episode, we had a Top 20—the number we thought was the goal heading into the live shows. But as we found out last week, this season, the judges actually want a Top 10. So five girls and five guys still had to go.
And last night, we started with the girls. Each of the Top 10 ladies was paired with an All Star from a past season (Lex is back! YAY!) for a duet outside their preferred style. How'd they all fare? Let's break it down.
The 18-year-old from Anaheim Hills, CA, said the best moment of this experience so far was when Mary said she hasn't disappointed the judges this entire competition. And that trend continued with her salsa duet with All-Star Jonathan, choreographed by Oksana Platero. Jonathan was probably great, but honestly, we're not sure—we couldn't take our eyes off Hannahlei. She killed this routine, earning praise from Mary, Nigel, and Vanessa.
The ballroom babe, who was a standout throughout Academy Week, tackled a contemporary routine with All-Star Robert (swoon!) choreographed by Mandy Moore (double swoon!). One thing that sets Magda apart from many of her fellow competitors is her maturity: She always performs with poise and confidence. The duet left both Mary and Vanessa in tears, praising Magda's honest performance.
Dayna, a jazz dancer, fumbled a bit during the ballroom round at the Academy. (She credited her "fake it 'til you make it" approach for ultimately getting her through.) So, naturally, last night she was given a cha-cha with All-Star Paul, choreographed by Dmitry Chaplin. Dayna's big, happy smile is the stuff stolen scenes are made of. Though her technique was lacking in a few spots, the judges loved twatching her have the time of her life onstage, and appreciated her fearlessness.
Genessy is a powerhouse of a contemporary dancer. Who could possibly match her energy? That'd be All-Star Fik-Shun, of course, who was paired with her for a hip-hop routine. Genessy mentioned feeling insecure during Academy Week, but if she was feeling any lingering self-consciousness last night, it didn't show. She was living on that stage—not to be outdone by Nigel, who was living in his seat at the judges' table. Vanessa loved her fire and passion, and Mary was all about Genessy's attitude.
The triumphant tapper has stood out so far in the competition, and last night she faced a contemporary routine with All-Star Brandon. Her goal? To surprise the judges. Did she? For the most part. Brianna really threw herself into this performance, giving it so much physically and emotionally. But while the judges appreciated all the intensity, some of it looked a bit labored, Mary noted, and Nigel found it heavy and uncomfortable.
Chelsea and All-Star Jonathan were paired up for a salsa full of tricks, big kicks, and a whole lotta booty shaking. Chelsea nailed all the moves, including the difficult partnering and explosive jumps. Mary appreciated that Chelsea really soaked up the technique, Nigel said Chelsea's hips don't lie, and Vanessa saw Chelsea's mind go outside of itself—which is usually not a good thing, but we guess it is in this case?
Stephanie hit the jackpot last night: She got All-Star Lex as a partner for a contemporary routine choreographed by Mandy Moore. And boy, did she hold her own alongside the Season 14 winner, dancing with control and intense emotion. At the end of the performance, the judges seemed to let out a collective breath. Ultimately, though, Nigel wasn't totally wowed, and Vanessa agreed. Mary wanted more liquid movement.
Contemporary dancer Sydney was pushed well out of her comfort zone by her cha-cha with All-Star Paul, choreographed by Dmitry. It wasn't the strongest of the night. Mary wanted more—more fire, more grounding, more hips, more connection. Nigel wasn't convinced Sydney's body was feeling the Latin groove, and Vanessa called it monotone. Meh.
Considering Travis Wall said he couldn't wait to work with Emily as part of the Top 10, it was hard not to imagine Emily nabbing a top spot in the competition. But first, she took on a hip-hop routine with Fik-Shun, choreographed by Christopher Scott. It was yet another chance for Emily to prove she's a shoo-in, and she 100 percent did. The duo had a ton of energy, and the judges were into it.
Like Emily, Jensen seemed like a Top 10 lock. The Utah native came thisclose to making the live shows last year, and she's been even better this time around, with more maturity, better technique, and constant full-outness. In last night's jazz routine with Brandon, choreographed by Ray Leeper, Jensen danced like it was, possibly, the last time she'd ever see the "SYT" stage. Nigel praised her sensational performance, Vanessa said Jensen was pushed to a place she hadn't been before, and Mary called it the most assured performance of the day.
Our predictions for the Top 5 girls: Hannahlei, Jensen, Emily, Magda, and Genessy
The actual Top 5 girls: Hannahlei, Jensen, Magda, Genessy, and Chelsea
What do you think? Gotta say, we're shocked Emily was cut, but are excited to see what Chelsea can do in this competition.
Next week: Same thing, but with the guys!
At the tender age of 9, Destiny Wimpye moved cross-country with her mom so she could train at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. The leap of faith paid off: Destiny's spent summers training at the School of American Ballet, the Ailey School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet; performed for Michelle Obama at the White House; and danced beside Mariah Carey in a TV special for Disney. Now she's a full-time student at the Colburn Dance Academy under the direction of former New York City Ballet principals Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, and it seems fated that Destiny will one day dance her dream role, Dewdrop in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. "I'm a jumper and a turner," Destiny says, "so I think it fits me pretty well."
It's never too early to start thinking about your dream job. And summer intensives are an essential step down the road to achieving your dance dreams—whether you want to perform in music videos, ballet companies or Broadway shows.
With 19 programs across the U.S. (plus additional international programs) Joffrey Ballet School offers options for all types of dancers with all types of goals. Whatever you may be working toward this summer, there's a program that will help you get that much closer. We put together a guide to help you find the right one, based on your dream job:
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've been battling Achilles tendinitis for months—it never seems to get better. How can I deal with it? Could there be an issue with my technique that's causing the problem?
Ever since starting her professional career, Broadway dancer Amber Ardolino has cupped. Using the holistic wellness practice to improve performance and take care of her body, Ardolino cupped before it was cool—even beating the 2016 Rio Olympics' purple polka-dotted athletes to the punch. But Ardolino's only one dancer who has put this therapy to regular use. Dance Spirit asked Carrie Gaerte, PT, DPT, ATC, and performance rehab specialist with St. Vincent Sports Performance who works with Indianapolis' Dance Kaleidoscope; and Thomas Droge, Chinese-medicine doctor and founder of Pathfinder Institute in NYC, to explain the ins and outs of cupping therapy.
Amber Ardolino in "Hamilton" (courtesy Ardolino)
Let's be real: Auditions can be rough. No matter how prepared you are, a lot of variables go into every audition—which means even the best of us mess up sometimes! Here are 7 audition fails every dancer has experienced at one point or another.
What inspires you most as a dancer? What keeps you going on the days when the motivation just isn't there, and makes you feel like all the hard work, rejection and sacrifice is worth it for the pursuit of your dream? What makes you want to run into an empty studio and create something new?
Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over four decades of experience, often hangs posters with dance-related quotes on the walls of her studio, on everything from creativity to the hustle to the importance of teamwork. Sometimes the right words from dancers who have been there are just the push you need to spark your imagination and remind yourself why you love what you do.
In that spirit, here are 10 inspiring quotes from dancers on what their art form means to them, and why it's worth fighting through the hard parts:
Oh, baby I'm a wreck (wreck) after watching Kinjaz's new music video.
Set to Post Malone's "Sunflower," the lead single from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, the vid features the dance crew's ever-fabulous men—who appear to have Spidey senses, because seriously, how else do they stay down-to-the-fingertips in sync?—performing Vinh Nguyen's super-tight choreography, with an overlay of comic-book-esque graphics by editor Jonathan Shih.
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Colder weather is (finally) here, which means it's time for a good dance movie binge. But which iconic films should you put on? To narrow your search, we went ahead and ranked 30 of the greatest dance movies of all time.
Of course, we know a list like this is bound to be controversial—so if you disagree with our lineup, have at it in the comments!
Chloe Misseldine has every reason to be nervous as she and her partner run through the challenging wedding pas de deux from Don Quixote. Their performance is just days away and the two American Ballet Theatre Studio Company dancers have only had a week to prepare. Add to that the fact that ABT principal Gillian Murphy, one of the world's most famous ballerinas, is at the front of the studio taking notes.
If you haven't followed through on your New Year's resolution to practice more self-care, then Valentine's Day is the perfect time to start. Below, we rounded up the best ways to pamper, indulge, and heal everything from your muscles, to your skin, to your mind. Your body (and your dancing) will thank you.
It's no longer just Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the few pointe-clad male character parts, like in Cinderella or Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream. Some male dancers are starting to experiment with pointe shoes to strengthen their feet or expand their artistry. Michelle Dorrance even challenged the men in her cast at American Ballet Theatre to perform on pointe last season (although only Tyler Maloney ended up actually doing it onstage).
The one problem? Pointe shoes have traditionally only been designed for women. Until now.
Are you a college student curious about what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite magazine? You're in luck—because Dance Spirit is searching for an editorial intern for summer 2019!
We'll be accepting applications through March 1. Internships pay an hourly stipend and require a minimum two-day-a-week, onsite commitment in our NYC office from June to August. (We do not provide assistance securing housing.)
If you're interested, please send a cover letter, resumé and two writing samples to Margaret Fuhrer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put "Summer Internship Application" in the subject line. All attachments must be formatted as PDFs.
We will interview selected candidates in March in person or by phone, and let candidates know by mid-April if they have been chosen. Please note that we do not accept high school students, or any students under 18, and that we give preference to college juniors and seniors.
We can't wait to meet you!