"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: From 8 to 6
We've officially reached the point in this competition where the finalists are just doing so. much. dancing. Last night, each contestant performed two duets, a solo, and a group routine. Even just typing that sentence made us tired. After all that choreography, the Top 8 became the Top 6. Here's what happened (minus recaps of the solos, because they were all delightful):
The Opening Routine
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Song: "Runaway" by Nathan Lanier
This was AWESOME. With the male contestants stationed on individual platforms, the lady contestants were free to command the stage. But give it up for the dudes, who mastered some seriously intricate, demanding Chris Scott choreography while all tied up.
Jensen & Jay Jay
Style: Smooth jazz
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Song: "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by Jessie J
Last week, Nigel called these two the strongest team on the show this year. Casual praise. This week, the power duo got to portray a sultry, Mr. & Mrs. Smith-esque couple. In the past, Nigel has called Jensen too sexy, so despite this routine's seductive nature, Jensen's goal was to keep it subtle. Apparently the performance included some wardrobe malfunctions—but nothing we noticed until Jensen pointed it out in the post-routine interview. Nigel called Jensen "the poster child for 'So You Think You Can Dance,'" Vanessa loved their personalities, tWitch said there's nothing this couple can't do, and Mary appreciated that they kept it PG.
Genessy & Slavik
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Song: "Fall For You" by Leela James
That moment when you decide to tell someone "I love you"—that, Mandy Moore says, is what this routine was about. Genessy and Slavik have had the chemistry factor on lock since day 1; the challenge with this routine, Mandy said, was getting Slavik to point his toes. Unsurprisingly, the performance was lovely, with both dancers pretty much nailing the whole "I'm so vulnerable right now" vibe. Genessy, a contemporary dancer, was clearly comfortable with the choreography. Was Slavik? Maybe he's not the most technical contemporary dancer, but guy's got heart, soul, and a whole lotta love. Vanessa called their connection pure and said she loved it, tWitch noted their commitment level, Mary gave it a "holy smokes" and said there's love in the air, and Nigel appreciated Slavik's toe-pointing efforts.
Magda & Darius
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Phoenix & Pharside
Song: "Killa" by Disto
Magda was in the bottom four last week, which seemed crazy. So this week, Darius said, "We have to kill it." And boy, did they make that clear onstage: They hit this routine hard. Darius seemed to roll with the choreography really well, but while Magda started super strong, her energy started to fade big-time about halfway through. tWitch said Magda's execution was lacking a bit. Mary praised Magda for fighting for every step on that stage, and applauded her effort and determination. Nigel said Magda has crushed everything so far, from contemporary to Bollywood, but that this didn't work for him. Vanessa said, "Whoomp, Dar-i-us!" (To the tune of "Whoomp, there it is." Obviously.)
Hannahlei & Cole
Choreographer: Travis Wall (yes, you read that right!)
Song: "Get Happy (Live)" by Judy Garland
For years, Travis has been the show's contemporary golden boy. So why not let him try something new by dishing out a Broadway routine? (Actually, if you know Travis Wall, you know he's merely returning to his roots: He got his start on Broadway!) This little number was sweet, happy, and adorable—you really can't go wrong with massive fan kicks underneath a big ol' umbrella—and Hannahlei and Cole had a lot of fun with it while managing to pull off all its technical challenges. (Since this was, after all, still a Travis Wall piece, there were plenty of tricky elements in the mix, including leaps, turns, jumps, and lifts.) The audience went nuts for it. Mary said it made her happy, Nigel agreed, Vanessa called Hannahlei "literal sunshine," and tWitch said it was one of Cole's most honest performances.
Genessy & Slavik
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Song: "House Work" by Jax Jones
Those tuxedos and white gloves! This piece felt like a hip-hop-meets-jazz hybrid, and it may have been the first time Slavik stole some attention from Genessy, who generally commands the stage no matter who else is on it. The choreography was fun and upbeat, and it earned the night's first standing O from the judges. Nigel thought it was fabulous, Vanessa wanted in on the routine and said her heart literally exploded inside her body (side note: we hope not literally), and tWitch reminded Slavik to stay excited but not so excited he gets ahead of the music.
Magda & Darius
Choreographer: Jaci Royal
Song: "Undertow" by Ane Brun
Power and praise, as always, to Jaci Royal, for choreographing something so intricate and emotional that everyone was in tears before it even started. The concept: Magda and Darius were bound together by a rope throughout the routine, in a way that was reminiscent of that haunting "Gravity" piece Mia Michaels made for Kayla and Kupono back in Season 5. Vanessa said something about rope burn, tWitch acknowledged the trust and commitment between the pair, Mary called Magda "liquid grace," and Nigel thought the concept overwhelmed the content (burn). And then Nigel and Mary argued, which was fun!
Jensen & Jay Jay
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Hef & Randi
Song: "Cookin" by Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and French Montana
Bakeware! Aprons! Poultry! We'd just heard Nigel say he didn't want big concepts to control the choreography, so it was a little nerve-racking to see Jensen and Jay Jay surrounded by pots and cooking spray and a whole raw chicken (!). But they ditched the accoutrements after just a few seconds, and then this routine was all choreography. Despite burning whatever it was they were "cooking," these two seemed to be having a blast from start to over-done finish. (Also, give it up for Hef—formerly known as Hefa—Tuita and Randi Kemper, making their "SYT" choreographic debut!) tWitch loved the personality and special sauce (cooking reference!), Mary said, "Sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me," (#RIPAretha), and Nigel said Jay Jay brought the juice and said someone should do a reality show about Jensen's family, aka "a family with talent" (sick burn to those Kardashians, amirite?).
Hannahlei & Cole
Style: Cha cha
Choreographer: Sasha Farber & Emma Slater
Song: "Sing It Back" by Moloko
"This song isn't about being gentle and caring," the choreographers explained during rehearsals. "It's about lust, not love." Onstage, that translated to tricktastic, hot 'n' steamy choreo—and shirtless Cole, hooray! This one got a unanimous standing O from the judges. Mary loved the tricks, said it was the best Cole ever danced, and gave us that famous, deafening Mary Murphy scream. Nigel said Hannahlei did a good job with her hips and that Cole performed brilliantly. Vanessa said it was the sexiest cha cha she'd ever seen in her life. tWitch said it made him want to go to the gym "immediately" (SAME).
Group Routine: The Top 4 Girls
Choreographer: Talia Favia
Song: "Wanderlust" by Empara Mi
These four girls could definitely run the world. And this routine was beautiful and powerful. Magda, Hannahlei, Jensen, and Genessy threw themselves across the stage and into every count of the choreography. Nigel was into all the surprises throughout the routine, Vanessa loved the emotion and presence (particularly from Hannahlei and Jensen), tWitch reminded us to vote (and said we can't complain about the results if we don't vote!), and Mary said all four of these women are wonderful.
Group Routine: The Top 4 Guys
Choreographer: Luther Brown
Song: "Juice" by Yo Gotti
This was WAY too much fun. Each of these men is so strong and comes equipped with loads of personality, but Jay Jay and Slavik definitely commanded the stage—despite all four dudes being dressed identically in The Mask-style black suits and neon-yellow jackets and hats. The judges gave the routine a well-deserved standing ovation. "Y'all brought it," Vanessa gushed, and she said Darius and Jay Jay, in particular, did it for her. tWitch, again, reminded us all to #rockthevote. Mary said each guy got a moment to shine. And Nigel said Darius stood out for him.
Then it was final results time: Cole and Magda were sent home, which means Hannahlei, Jensen, Genessy, Jay Jay, Slavik, and Darius are the show's Top 6. Remember to vote, vote, vote to determine the final four! (And don't miss next week's show, either: Rumor has it Mia Michaels is making her triumphant return as a choreographer.)