"SYTYCD" Season 15 Recap: When 10 Become 8

The Top 10, sporting some EYEBROWS, in the opening number (Michael Becker/FOX)

And then there were eight. Just as we were starting to get attached to the Top 10, those pesky "So You Think You Can Dance" rules came into play and forced us (er, the judges) to slash two of the finalists from the competition. How rude! (But, Nigel announced ever-so-proudly, the entire Top 10 will be going on tour together once the season wraps.) Before the eliminations, each couple performed twice—and never in any dancer's own style. "So anything could happen," explained Cat Deeley, clad in a splashy, sequined floral minidress and a massive hair bow. And oh boy, a LOT of things did.

The Opening Routine

Choreographer: Luther Brown

Song: "Yummy" by Gwen Stefani ft. Pharrell

First, give it up for the throwback jam. Then, give it up for the "SYT" glam team and those super dramatic, painted-on eyebrows. Finally, give it up for Cole's ab reveal. (That was Cole, right? It would be helpful if, for just these first few episodes, the contestants wore name tags during the opening routine, don't you think? We're still getting to know each other!) This routine was fun, fabulous, quirky and clean.

Magda & Darius

Style: Bollywood

Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan

Song: "Badri Ki Dulhania" by Badrinath Ki Dulhania (soundtrack)

The good thing about delivering a killer performance during the first week of competition is that you get to set the bar for the entire group. The bad thing? You set it just as high for yourself. Magda and Darius shone last week, which meant they had to be even better this week. As the first couple out of the gates, they exploded onto the stage with a burst of energy and neon-splashed costumes. Their energy faded a bit as the performance went on (understandabl,e considering how intense Nakul's routines are every single time), but that kiss at the end? "Now that is how to do Bollywood," Cat remarked. Nigel said the routine was like "a Vegas buffet" and praised the couple's energy, while Vanessa loved "how joyous that was" and also Magda's hands. tWitch noted the celebratory feel, and Mary thanked the duo for getting the party started. In other words: rave reviews.

Chelsea & Evan

Style: Lyrical hip hop

Choreographer: Christopher Scott

Song: "Love on the Brain" by Rihanna

Not only did Chelsea have to master a tap routine last week, she also suffered a bit of an injury. So girl's got this game stacked against her a bit. But Chris Scott threw her and Evan a bone with this choreography, which was about a couple breaking up and moving out of their shared home. They were so emotional, so committed, and so into it, and the result was angsty and raw. Vanessa appreciated the emotion and the prop work, while tWitch said he still wanted more connection from the couple. Mary said it wasn't bad and that it was better than last week, but wanted it to be more Mr. & Mrs. Smith-esque, and Nigel said it was the most he'd seen Chelsea and Evan connect but that it still wasn't enough.

Hannahlei & Cole

Style: Stepping

Choreographer: Joe Brown

Song: "Pump It Up" by Joe Budden

Stepping on "SYTYCD!" Yes! Joe Brown's routine marked the first time a couple performed this style on the show—and Hannahlei, a former cheerleader, took to it naturally. The choreography was super-intricate—between the rhythmic stepping, the constant arm choreography, the clapping, and the occasional développé or side aerial—but the duo stuck with it. Were they perfectly in sync? Not the entire time. Did Hannahlei totally steal the show, with her extra-large personality packed into her itty-bitty body? Yes. tWitch acknowledged that the energy was there while the rhythm was lacking, particularly from Cole. Mary loved the style and said they did it justice, particularly Hannahlei. And Nigel told Cole to, "Keep working at it, bro."

Jensen & Jay Jay

Style: Contemporary

Choreographer: Jaci Royal

Song: "Lost Without You" by Freya Ridings

The plot here was that Jensen broke up with Jay Jay, but now she wants him back. Jay Jay called it "a doozy," and it was—a beautiful doozy. The intricate partner work was nonstop, and Jensen and Jay Jay matched each other nicely. Overall, it was a solid technical and emotional performance by two solid dancers. It was enough to get Mary choked up, and for her to declare it the best performance of the night so far. Nigel said he knew it was good because Mary and Vanessa were both crying, and praised Jensen for being a powerhouse and Jay Jay for being a strong partner. Vanessa said, "It was like, perfection," and tWitch wrapped things up with "nothing but praises."

Genessy & Slavik

Style: Jive

Choreographer: Sharna Burgess

Song: "Jump, Jive An' Wail" by The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Last week, these two quickly became the couple to beat. This week, the hip hoppers were tasked with jive's fast and fancy footwork—which, it turns out, was NBD for them. Their chemistry is, as we saw last week, undeniable, and they're all about show quality, but they have the chops to back it all up, too. That lift at the end? Crushed it—earning them another standing ovation from the judges! In the immortal words of Vanessa Hudgens: "Literally, oh my god, you guys, what?!"

Magda & Darius

Style: Smooth jazz

Choreographer: Mandy Moore

Song: "Fever" by Peggy Lee

Class, elegance, and style: that's what Mandy Moore was going for here, in a very La La Land way. And not only did it work, it werked. The oh-so-dapper outfits? That sizzling eye contact at the end? This chic but simple routine was downright steamy. Vanessa loved the control and personality, tWitch appreciated the effortless power of subtlety, Mary liked the "just perfect" shimmy at the end and the "hot sauce," and Nigel dug the elegance and sophistication.

Chelsea & Evan

Style: Contemporary

Choreographer: Travis Wall

Song: "Snowing" by Sonya Kitchell

A Travis Wall contemporary routine! With actual snow onstage! JACKPOT. The premise, Travis explained, would be simple, but the choreography? Not so much. Travis forced Chelsea and Evan way out of their comfort zones (as he does), trying to get them to that breakthrough moment. Did they find it? Well, it was definitely lovely. The emotion was there. The snow was very pretty. And the choreography was, as the world knows to expect from Travis Wall, stunning. tWitch said it was beautifully done and to keep chasing that connection, Mary said both dancers are super talented and that they found their chemistry together in this piece. Nigel loved their courage. Vanessa said it was gorgeous but that she didn't feel as much as she wanted to.

Hannahlei & Cole

Style: Disco

Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez

Song: "Last Dance" by Donna Summer

"I don't know anything about the seventies, but I know how to have a good time," Hannahlei said during rehearsal. Cole promised they'd collectively bring the razzle and the dazzle, and did they ever. The opening death drop spin, the splashy costumes, the sassy hip shaking, the big lifts, the beaming smiles, Hannahlei's larger-than-life (and larger than her entire body) hair: It was all fun, energetic, and high-flying. Mary gave it a breathless standing ovation, Nigel called it scintillating, Vanessa said they brought it to another level, and tWitch praised Cole's strength as a partner.

Jensen & Jay Jay

Style: African jazz

Choreographer: Sean Cheesman

Song: "Run" by Hybrid Core Music & Sound

"They are an African totem pole come to life," Cheesman explained. And that concept involved Jensen doing the lifting—so it's a good thing she recently picked up a boxing habit. Again, major kudos to the "SYT" glam team and the costume department, because this look was a lewk. And props to Cheesman for this insane choreography, which packed the intensity of a 45-minute SoulCycle class, a 60-minute Barry's Bootcamp class, and a 90-minute ballet class into a single two-minute routine. It was so awesomely wild, so heart-pumping, so much. The judges gave it a unanimous standing ovation, with Nigel in particular praising just how difficult the choreography was—and calling Jensen and Jay Jay the strongest couple on the show. Vanessa said it was "dumbfounding" and animalistic, and tWitch tried to convince viewers at home to recreate the routine at home to prove its difficulty, which, hard pass, but point made. Mary called it the best number of the night.

Genessy & Slavik

Style: Broadway

Choreographer: Al Blackstone

Song: "Someone to Watch Over Me" by Ella Fitzgerald

What a lovely way to end the evening! (Before the results, that is. Those are less lovely.) This piece was slow, sweet, and sentimental, and played perfectly to Genessy and Slavik's undeniable chemistry while also allowing them to slow down and luxuriate in moves as simple as walking across the stage or holding a flower. Vanessa sobbed ("You did Broadway, and you told a story!"), and Mary tearfully said she wanted to give them a Tony for their "tender" performance.

Then it was time for—gulp—the results.

The bottom four: Chelsea, Magda, Evan, and Cole

ELIMINATED: Chelsea & Evan

We'll miss those two! See you all next week for more great performances—and more tearful eliminations.

Dance News
Ballet Academy East student Stella MacDonald (Erin Baiano)

It's the rite of passage every young ballerina dreams of: getting her first pair of pointe shoes. But it's important to remember that a lot (and we mean a lot) of hard work and technique-honing leads up to this moment—not to mention getting the green light from your teacher. Dance Spirit turned to Jenna Lavin, former Miami City Ballet dancer and principal of the pre-professional division at Ballet Academy East in NYC, for three exercises meant to strengthen, train, and stabilize the muscles you'll be using once you're on pointe.

Keep Reading Show less
Rochelle Mendoza-Axle, Courtesy Stiskin

In today's dance world, versatility is key. It's not enough to be a master of one style—even when they specialize in one area, dancers are frequently asked to fuse multiple genres, or step out of their comfort zone for specific projects. With their wide variety of summer programs, Joffrey Ballet School aims to prepare dancers for the demands of a professional career. We asked five faculty members to share how they do this:

Keep Reading Show less
Sponsored by Joffrey Ballet School
Kendra Oyesanya, Marcus Mitchell, and Carlito Olivero (courtesy YouTube/Lionsgate)

Happy "Step Up: High Water" eve, y'all! Everyone's favorite internet dance show makes its triumphant Season 2 return tomorrow, March 20th, on YouTube. In anticipation of the premiere, we turned to Kendra Oyesanya (Poppy), Marcus Mitchell (Dondre), and Carlito Olivero (Davis) for the scoop on all things "Step Up"—from on-set shenanigans, to embarrassing stories, to scenes to watch out for this season (hint: Episode 2's dance battle, and the season finale's final number!).

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News
The cast of "Oklahoma!" during last year's run at St. Ann's Warehouse (Teddy Wolff, courtesy DKC/O&M)

You may think you know Oklahoma!, the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that made history when it first opened in 1943 and is best known for Agnes de Mille's groundbreaking dream ballet. But the latest Broadway iteration of the musical isn't your average trip to the frontier. Opening April 7, the revival features new choreography by Mark Morris alum John Heginbotham, and swaps the traditional windswept-prairie set and full orchestra for an intimate, minimalistic staging and a bluegrass band. Coming fresh off an acclaimed run at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, the daring, unconventional production is sure to turn heads when it begins previews on Broadway tonight. Dance Spirit caught up with Heginbotham to get all the details on the dancing, and what it was like choreographing his first Broadway show.

Keep Reading Show less
BLACKPINK has worked with A-list choreographers, including Kyle Hanagami and Parris Goebel.

K-pop is in the middle of a stateside takeover. South Korea's boy bands and girl groups can always be counted on to produce catchy, upbeat songs—and, most importantly for us dance fans, to feature colorful choreography prominently in their music videos. Over the past few years, the K-pop machine has been churning out a seemingly endless stream of talented groups with choreography worth watching on repeat, and some of them are starting to make names for themselves in the U.S. Check out our list of the dancetastic K-pop bands you need to know.

Keep Reading Show less
Briar Nolet did NOT come to play. (NBC)

Have you ever felt that the Duels round on NBC's "World of Dance" was a bit unfair? During the Duels, each act's success hinges not on how objectively good they are, but on how good they are relative to a single challenger. Which means that mediocre acts can move forward if they best slightly-more-mediocre opponents, while frontrunners who're given tougher matchups end up knocked out.

Newly-engaged goddess J.Lo and her team get that. Which is why, last night, "WOD" introduced a twist designed to make the Duels more just: a redemption round. Formerly, five acts were eliminated in each division during the Duels. But from here out, the two highest scorers of those five will go head-to-head to earn a wild card spot. And that made last night's Upper Division Duels significantly more exciting.

Who just dueled it? Who was redeemed? Who made Derek Hough scream like a teenage girl? Onward to the episode highlights!

Keep Reading Show less
Dance on TV
American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher (left) meeting with Bloch owner David Fox (right) in NYC. (Marius Bugge for Bloch)

For professional ballet dancers, the search for the perfect pointe shoe is a lifelong quest. Even the smallest adjustment in manufacturing can make the difference between a shoe that allows a ballerina to soar and a shoe that detracts from her dancing. So what goes into creating the perfect fit? A lot of hard work, patience, and masterful attention to detail. We got the inside scoop on how a Bloch pointe shoe is made from beginning to end, and went inside one of American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher's touch-up fittings with Bloch owner David Fox in NYC.

Keep Reading Show less
Martina Sandionigi as Giselle

We updated your favorite story-ballet tutus with modern details that'll please any 21st-century prima ballerina. Who needs a cavalier, anyway?

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Fashion
Dancers are total brainiacs.

Dancing impacts pretty much every aspect of our lives—including our brains. That's right: Dance makes us smart. Like, super smart. Here are seven ways being a dancer enhances your brainpower.

Keep Reading Show less
Just for Fun
Ballet Academy East student Stella MacDonald (Erin Baiano)

It's the rite of passage every young ballerina dreams of: getting her first pair of pointe shoes. But it's important to remember that a lot (and we mean a lot) of hard work and technique-honing leads up to this moment—not to mention getting the green light from your teacher. Dance Spirit turned to Jenna Lavin, former Miami City Ballet dancer and principal of the pre-professional division at Ballet Academy East in NYC, for three exercises meant to strengthen, train, and stabilize the muscles you'll be using once you're on pointe.

Keep Reading Show less
The ultimate dance mom: Debbie Allen with her daughter, Vivian Nixon (courtesy Nixon)

Dance moms: Where would we be without them? We all know how much support and help they give us—in addition to loads of love. Here are 10 reasons real-life dance moms are undeniably the best.

Keep Reading Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Samantha Little

It's the fall of 2018. As the Brigham Young University Cougarettes step onto the field at LaVell Edwards stadium in Provo, UT, a crowd of nearly 64 thousand erupts into cheers. The dancers take their places, and a feeling of anticipation hangs in the air: Their reputation precedes them.

The music—Ciara's banger "Level Up"—begins, and unbelievable precision ensues. Eighteen dancers attack the highly technical choreography, which nods at viral social-dance sensations and continuously builds in energy. The school's mascot, Cosmo the Cougar, joins the team on the field, and the audience goes wild. As the piece ends, the sound in the stadium is deafening. The 16-time national-title-winning group has proved once again why they're the standard for college dance team success—they're just that good.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Team
Paloma Garcia-Lee (center, in gold) and the cast of "Fosse/Verdon" (FX)

The extraordinary Paloma Garcia-Lee, who's danced in no fewer than five Broadway shows, can adapt to any choreographer's style. And before heading back to Broadway this spring in Moulin Rouge! (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh), she's tackling the work of one of the most iconic choreographers of all time: Bob Fosse.

Garcia-Lee plays Adrienne in the new FX limited series "Fosse/Verdon," premiering April 9, which follows the romantic and creative relationship of Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and his muse Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Steve Levenson, and Andy Blankenbuehler serve as executive producers, with Kail directing and Blankenbuehler choreographing.

With the exception of performing on The Tony Awards, "Fosse/Verdon" marks Garcia-Lee's TV debut. "I'm really setting my sights on more on-camera work," she says. "Getting the chance to flex my muscles as an actress in this different medium, but still have the dance part, is all really exciting." (She's got real acting chops, too: While a student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she actually quit dance briefly to study acting instead.)

Dance Spirit spoke to Garcia-Lee about "Fosse/Verdon"'s epic final callback, how she got cast, and the transition from stage to screen.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance on TV



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox