"SYTYCD" Season 16 Recap: The First Cut Is the Deepest

The Top 10 in Travis Wall's opening number (Adam Rose/FOX)

They say the first cut is the deepest, and surely "they" are people who have been watching "So You Think You Can Dance" for 16 seasons. Because while the cuts actually get a little more emotional as the season goes on—come on, we get attached!—the first round of cuts always feels particularly cruel. These dancers just worked so hard to make the Top 10 and bam. See ya.

Without spoiling too much too soon, here's what went down on the "SYT" stage last night.


The Opening Number

Oftentimes, the opening number kicks off the show in a peppy, upbeat, let's-do-this kinda way. Other times, Travis Wall choreographs a piece for the Top 10 about gun violence. Last night was the latter. Travis brought new and hits-too-close-to-home meaning to Harry Styles's "Sign of the Times," asking the dancers to deliver a show opener that was heavy and almost too literally explosive. The piece ended with all 10 dancers stripping off their shirts and turning their backs to reveal the letters spelling out the word ENOUGH.

If that wasn't grim enough, Cat reminded us all that at the end of this episode, two dancers are going home. (There will be a bottom four, she explained, and the judges will get to save two dancers and send the other two packing.)

Stephanie & Gino, Jive with Sasha and Emma

These two entered the "SYT" stage as bonafide ballroom pros. So surely the jive should be no sweat, right? Right. Gino kicked things off with a casual backflip, and then they joined forces and immediately started kick-hopping to the sweet oldies sounds. At one point, Stephanie did the heavy lifting, hoisting Gino up to her waist, and continuing to jive while holding him in the air. Go girl! These two are super strong performers, and they're well matched. The choreography got a little sloppy at parts, but come on—it was SO fast, you'd be hard pressed to find a couple who could nail it off the bat. The judges gave it a standing ovation, with Mary giving it a "ka-bam" and saying some other things that were honestly so high-pitched they were impossible to decipher. They seemed positive, though! Dominic called Gino a star (agreed) and said Steph was equally amazing. Laurieann "smelled greatness," and Nigel called Steph fantastic but gave Gino all the credit, likening him to Season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer.

And then, because this is a thing now, the results happened immediately: Gino was safe, but Stephanie was in danger. Well that's a bummer way to finish up a killer performance! Thanks for that, "SYT" fam!

Eddie & Sophie, Contemporary with Travis Wall

Sophie was a millennial party girl and Eddie was...struggling. Poor guy—at first. Rehearsal footage showed a few tough times in rehearsal, but Travis said it could be their redeeming moment, saving them from elimination. Sophie definitely got to shine here. As the bummed-out party girl (the routine was set to Billie Eilish's "When the Party's Over"), she was equal parts distraught and graceful, at ease and flying high. And Eddie! The tapper may not have felt super confident during the rehearsals, but he pulled it off! He was a strong partner, and the performance was lovely. Dominic praised the execution and emotion, Laurieann said they rocked it, Nigel called Sophie brilliant and Eddie marvelous, and Mary said this routine was what life is about. Everyone was very proud of Eddie!

The results: Eddie in danger, Sophie safe.

Anna & Benjamin, Hip Hop with Randi and Hef

Congratulations, Anna and Benjamin! You just won the lottery! At least in Randi and Hef's choreography. (And in those blinged-out costumes. Blinded by the sparkle!) It's a good thing the "SYT" spotlight is a big one, because this two both love it and command it. They were clearly having a lot of fun during this performance, managing to commit to the character of it all and still sticking those moves, like whatever those wild jumps were that Benjamin did—twice. Solid! And standing ovation-worthy, the judges agreed. Laurieann called it amazing, but said Anna could've been better. Nigel said it all sparkled, Mary said they knocked it out of the park, and Dominic loved the chemistry, commitment, and honesty.

The results: Benjamin safety dance, Anna danger zone.

Madison & Ezra, Jazz with Ray Leeper

Oh hello, 9 PM time slot! This routine was sexy! But classy sexy! Forget the fact that Ezra was rocking an unbuttoned-button-down and Madison was rocking a whole lotta lace and fishnets—the sexiness was all in the chemistry and the choreography. The lifts were smooth (and plentiful—so many lifts!), the turns were tight, and it was fun enough to get a standing ovation from the OGs. Nigel (OG #1) praised the chemistry and said Bob Fosse would've loved Madison, Mary (OG #2) said it was sexy and terrific, Dominic loved a certain super sexy party, and Laurieann said it was "boom kack," as one does.

The results: Ezra does danger, Madison stays safe.

Mariah & Bailey, Hip Hop with Luther Brown

LOVE. THESE. TWO. Last week, they kicked off the show by setting the bar high. This week, they gave everyone a reason to remember their names. Let's stop talking about how small they are, because they dance larger than any other contestants on this show. (Sorry, others.) Mariah in that wig! That personality! The energy was insane. This was just so fun, and these two are so good together, and phew, Mariah didn't fall off the four-wheeler at the end! Love love love. The judges unanimously loved it, too. Mary called it her favorite number of the night and dubbed Mariah and Bailey the couple to beat. Dominic called Mariah a star and said Bailey brought the soy sauce. (That's a good thing.) Laurieann said the hip-hop community would be so proud of these two. And Nigel agreed with Mary: These two are the couple to beat.

So if you did the math throughout the show, this was a no-brainer: safe x 2. Big duh. Boom kack. Hot tamale everything.

The Results

The bottom four: Eddie, Ezra, Stephanie, and Anna. Both Sosas in the bottom!

The verdict: Ezra and Anna live to dance another week, making Eddie and Stephanie the first two tearfully eliminated. See? The first cuts are the deepest—at least until next week.

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