Adam Rose/FOX

"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.


Hannahlei Cabanilla

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.

Magda Fialek

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 Madison

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 Castillo

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.

Brianna Penrose

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 Hough

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 Sosa

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.

Sydney Moss

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.

Emily Carr

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.

Jensen Arnold

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!

Latest Posts


Because you know you've always wondered... (Getty Images)

Sounding Off: Here's What Your Favorite Musicians Think of Dance Routines Set to Their Songs

In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Including this incredibly powerful piece by Travis Wall for "So You Think You Can Dance" (Adam Rose/FOX)

Here Are the 2020 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Choreography

Our favorite season? Awards season, of course! Congratulations to the six choreographers who received Emmy nominations for their fabulous television work. This year, the Emmys thought outside the usual "So You Think You Can Dance" and "World of Dance" box, and we're delighted to see some of our fave choreographers getting recognition.

Here are all the works up for Emmys this year:

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search