"SYTYCD" Season 9: The Top 6 Perform

Before I get into last night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," can I just say that I am so excited to see Chehon, Cyrus, Eliana and Tiffany  rock it out in the finale next week? Seriously—I haven't been this psyched about a "SYTYCD" finale since Danny Tidwell melted my cold little heart in Season 3.

I'll admit that, going into yesterday's episode, I had my favorites (*cough ELIANA cough cough*). But all of the Top 6 dancers were so talented that really, this showdown could have gone in any direction. And what a showdown it was! Without further ado, here are my top five Top 6 moments:

1) Girls Partnered Boys a Lot, and It Was Awesome. Tiffany and Benji's cartwheels? Melanie lifting Cole, over and over again? This trend is great, people, and way underused. Keep it up.

2) Christina Applegate Is My Favorite Judge. Ever.  Eliana and tWitch's hip hop routine was, frankly, not that great (for the record, I don’t think the “SYTYCD” format is Chris Scott’s forte). Christina's response? “Eliana, would Jay-Z hire you to be next to him in the video? Maybe not. But who cares? 'Cause you could—what do they say on '[American] Idol'? You could sing the phone book? What would be the dancing equivalent of singing the phone book? You could do 'YMCA' in front of me for hours and I’d be happy.” Yup. And then, after watching Witney’s lyrical jazz piece with Marko: “Witney, we know you’re not just a ballroom dancer. No ballroom dancer does a double attitude turn like that. You’re a dancer dancer.” YUP. Finally, on Cyrus and Comfort's "dubstep" routine: “That was carved out for you [Cyrus] like the David was...carved out for David. And I want to play a game where I throw pens through your ears.” Me too, Christina. Me too.

3) Chehon and Kathryn's Tyce Diorio Routine Was Surprisingly Poignant. I'm not usually the biggest fan of Tyce's choreo, which tends to veer quickly and inevitably into cheesy territory. But then Chehon had a personal connection to the piece's idea of living out of a suitcase...and suddenly everyone, myself included, was crying. The work actually reminded me of Oltremare, a theatrically powerful piece about American immigrants that Mauro Bigonzetti made for New York City Ballet.

4) Everyone On "SYTYCD" Has a Beautiful Family. For real, though: Tiffany has a gorgeous sister who's basically her twin? Allison Holker brought her adorable daughter Weslie to the taping? Cole's mom is kind of a hottie? I love everything and everyone involved in this show.

5) Eliana and Cole's Mia Michaels Routine Was Amazing. In my mind, at least, the odds were against this piece. "I was inspired by rams and how they fight," explained Mia, which doesn't bode well for anything, ever. Plus, it was set to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, which, generally speaking, we should probably just leave not-so-danceable masterpieces alone. But somehow Mia worked her magic, as she always does. And I cried. Again.

 

The So You Think You Can What? Moment of the Night: Christina Applegate and Benji Schwimmer take dance classes together? On a regular basis?! [HEAD EXPLODES]

(Runner-up SYTYCW moment: Can we re-do the intro, please? I love everyone from Season 5, but it's time to get some newer "SYTYCD" faces in there.)

Aaanyway. In the end, though I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Cole and (especially) Witney, I think America made the right choice. Tune in next week, same time, same place, for our recap of the big finale episode! Who do you think will win it all—and end up on the December cover of Dance Spirit?

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Click here to vote for Emma.

There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "

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