On the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance 2016, the SYTYCD all-stars picked this season’s top 10 dancers. After last week’s episode left each all-star with a team of four dancers, the SYTYCD kids learned hip hop choreography from Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo (Nappytabs), then faced a grueling contemporary round with Travis Wall before finding out who would be in the top 10. So, you think you can make the top 10? These dancers did, but despite varying levels of talent, 30 out of 40 kids won’t be continuing on in the competition.
Check out our recap to see who made which all-star’s team and what we thought about it.
Warning: Brutal honesty ahead. Buckle up. Nothing says “the last episode before the So You Think You Can Dance 2016 live performances” like a typically god-awful introductory sequence, followed by a shot of midget dancers excitedly running into a very well-lit studio. Day three of Academy week started with a hip hop round, courtesy of Nappytabs, while Maddie Ziegler chilled on the sidelines as a way of “preparing for her role as judge.”
Seriously, go back to Dance Moms, kiddo. You’re playing cheerleader/prop, while all of these kids actually learn something about dance from award-winning choreographers and the SYTYCD all-stars. As horrific as everything about Dance Moms always has been and always will be, at least Maddie was given ample opportunity to, you know, dance? Remember what that looked like?
Before the So You Think You Can Dance kids showed their all-stars what they’d learned from Tabitha and Napoleon, Dougie Baldeo told viewers all about how “Nappytabs are really good,” as if that was some sort of surprise or something. I already need a palate cleanser, so here we go. Because Napptabs are really good, and we already knew that years ago.
Much better. Anyway. Tabitha and Napoleon were really impressed with the contestants, to the point where Tabitha D’umo herself had this to say:
Next generation. Best generation.
The SYTYCD producers must be so proud of that line.
Ok. Dancing…for five seconds. In the hip hop round, dancers competed in mixed pairs, just like we saw during the first couple of days at the So You Think You Can Dance Academy. First up, Robert Roldan’s team paired up with Comfort Fedoke’s.
Joziah German and Tahani Anderson were the first dancers shown. During their performance, in which Tahani stole the show but Joziah wasn’t half bad himself, the SYTYCD all-stars screamed more than Mary Murphy ever did. Ok, guys. Chill. That was good but not hot tamale good. Or maybe they were just cheering extra hard because they realized this was the duet that would actually get shown in full before dancers like Gavin Morales and Sage Rosen were completely glossed over.
Regardless of what caused the massive amount of cheering from the all-stars, I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more strength from Joziah, and after a weekend of watching elite level gymnastics on NBC in preparation for the Olympics, I could’ve done without the bad form on that back tuck.
The next pair to be featured was J.T. Church and Phoenix Lil’Mini, also from Team Robert and Team Comfort respectively. J.T. just didn’t have the quality of movement that hip hop demands, but he was cute or whatever, I guess. So You Think You Can Cute. Trademark that. His lack of competence in the style was particularly glaring when dancing next to someone who had already been a guest performer on the SYTYCD stage, but even Phoenix wasn’t at her absolute best.
Robert cut Gavin Morales after the hip hop round. I didn’t even have to see more than the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it showing of his performance to be upset by this. Comfort, on the other hand, was unsure who to cut between Phoenix and Logan. So, she had them dance for their lives.
Assuming we actually saw a good representation of what went down — which is a terrible assumption, considering the way the choreography rounds were rushed — this was the only “dance for your life” situation during So You Think You Can Dance Academy week. I long for the good ol’ days when there was a lot of this sort of thing during Vegas week, and we even saw more than five seconds of dancing at a time.
SYTYCD all-star Sasha Mallory gave Logan a standing ovation after her solo, but Comfort ultimately chose to keep Phoenix. Comfort also gave some of the best advice of the night…but nobody else at SYTYCD seemed to be giving it, much less following it:
Let the dance speak for itself.
Real talk: I was not a fan of Comfort Fedoke when she was a contestant, but I’ve utterly adored her as a So You Think You Can Dance all-star, and after tonight’s shenanigans, she is officially my favorite mentor. Comfort knows what’s up. That’s all I’m saying here.
Lightning cuts. Before moving on to the next round and Travis Wall’s contemporary choreography, the all-stars cut several more dancers, bringing the grand total down from 40 to 30. I have little to no comment on the choices, considering so little was shown.
Joshua Allen sent Merrick Hanna home, and Jenna Johnson said goodbye to Lev. Other than that, there was something said about Dougie Baldeo’s “private spot” being saved by his pants when he danced with Brightyn Brems. I’m…so glad we spent time learning that.
Contemporary with Travis Wall. Travis made it a point to say that he wasn’t treating the So You Think You Can Dance 2016 contestants any differently than he would any other dancers, even though they were kids. His session even started with improv because Travis Wall is an artist, ok?
Glory, amen. Bless us all with your greatness, sir.
Side note: Maddie was “super excited” to see the SYTYCD kids in the contemporary round because it’s the best (I miss the little tapping Maddie days), and Travis is, like, her absolute fave. So sorry to Ryan Heffington, who choreographed those Sia videos that took Maddie Ziegler from Abby Lee Miller’s competition-grimacing darling to an actual success.
Somewhere in the 90 minutes of learning the contemporary choreography, the So You Think You Can Dance next generation also received advice from their team leaders (a.k.a. the all-stars). Robert Roldan wanted his dancers to “dance from the heart,” while Kathryn McCormick wanted her kiddos to leave it all out there on the stage and be proud of themselves.
For whatever reason, rather than having pairs of dancers from opposing teams take the stage, the contemporary round featured each all-star’s remaining three dancers showing off what they’d learned from Travis together.
Only the Flash is fast enough to get anything out of these performances. Once again rushing through the actual dancing, SYTYCD showed Team Kathryn’s remaining three dancers’ (Tate McRae, Avery Gay, and Quinn) performance before essentially slopping through everyone else’s.
As great as all three of those dancers were, I was less than happy with their whole, “oh, hey! See how high we can get our legs” bit for the improv at the beginning of the piece, as well as what I’m pretty sure was some slightly off timing. Come on, girls. You can do better than that. The So You Think You Can Dance all-stars were all impressed with the trio, though, and said they had no idea how Kathryn was going to make a choice.
Given the way SYTYCD detailed Quinn’s journey before Team Kathryn even took the stage, though, I was pretty sure she was going to be eliminated. And she was. Gotta love it when a show spoils itself five minutes before the thing happens.
Team Sasha and Team Robert were shown only at Flash-like speeds, so I have no idea what happened with the dancing. But Robert cut Sage Rosen over “the littlest, littlest things” and “holding back.”
…are you kidding me?
Team Tap was up next, and Gaby Diaz let us all know that she cared more about maturity than doing all of the steps or height and extension. God forbid we want all of the above displayed when Travis Wall choreographs a contemporary piece for someone. Regardless, Emma Hellenkamp was impressive as always, as was fellow tapper Ryan. But they’d both better not get too good in the style because Gaby doesn’t want a contemporary dancer on her team.
Jenna was very emotional during her team’s performance — meanwhile, I would’ve been crying over the mess I saw happening on stage, myself — and eventually cut Dougie Baldeo. Paul Karmiryan’s team, despite being made up of mostly ballroom dancers, was pretty good for the nanosecond that it was shown. I wonder what he and his dancers did to upset the SYTYCD editing team.
Decisions, decisions. After the contemporary round, more dancers went home, and we were down to a top 20. But So You Think You Can Dance 2016 is all about the top 10, so it was time for the all-stars to interview their dancers and have them perform solos one last time. Were the interviews shown? Sure, sure. What about the solos? Nah, those are unimportant.
I’ve always cared about what Avery Gay likes best about SYTYCD more than her pointe work. Totally.
Before seeing the So You Think You Can Dance 2016 top 10 revealed, Nigel Lythgoe gave the all-stars some advice, which Robert Roldan wound up taking to heart — moreso than anyone else:
It’s not just about dancing. It’s about entertaining.
So we’ve seen. Pro tip? Good dancing is entertaining enough for people who actually care to watch a television show about dance.
Kathryn McCormick had to make, quite possibly, the most impossible decision of the night. Should she keep Avery Gay for the SYTYCD live rounds? What about Tate McRae? No, really. Someone could have beaten me to death with a pointe shoe, and it would’ve been less painful than watching Kathryn let one of these dancers go. Kathryn chose Tate for the So You Think You Can Dance top 10, which was a good choice. Avery also would’ve been a good choice. Really, there was no way to correctly choose between these two ladies. None.
Sasha Mallory chose Jordan Wandick over Bostyn Brown, which wasn’t the most surprising thing after SYTCYD did a big feature on Jordan in last week’s episode but didn’t really focus much on Bostyn at all. Fik-shun chose Kida, who absolutely deserved to be in the top 10 after he wowed everyone in not only his own style but the contemporary round, as well…And then Maddie Ziegler gave Kida a big huge because omgyay. Prop!Maddie strikes again.
Maddie had another chance to play SYTYCD cheerleader after Jenna Johnson selected Jake Monreal to be one of this season’s top 10 dancers. Even though Joshua had moved her to tears during the contemporary round and had danced with big girls before (not a good way to refer to the ladies, kid), Jake had shocked her with his flexibility and pointed toes in the final round. Versatile dancers? We still want those? Awesome.
More choices…and a lot of sobbing. Up next, Joshua Allen and Robert Roldan both had the chance to cry it out before their final dancers were named. Joshua went with Sheaden Gabriel, while Robert proved that SYTYCD is not at all about the dancing these days. I’d like to believe that it once was, but I’m starting to seriously question my beliefs.
If you’ll recall, J.T. Church had a dazzlingly cute, yet technically rough, audition in Chicago and then…completely forgot Warren Carlyle’s Broadway number during Academy week. So, obviously, Robert thought he was So You Think You Can Dance top 10 material.
Robert Roldan, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do. I’m going to forgive you because you can dance like this…
…but I seriously believe that you’ve taken leave of your senses. I need you and J.T. to prove me wrong.
Quick pause for a National Dance Day promo…complete with a mention of Maddie Ziegler’s sister, Mack. Z. I guess she gets to be set dressing, too?
The second hardest choice, plus some final selections. If Kathryn McCormick had the toughest decision to make, Paul Karmiryan was right behind her. At this point, Sophia Lucia and Ruby Castro were the last two dancers standing on Team Paul…and I just…how? Paul called Sophia “a beast. A technical genius,” which didn’t even begin to explain it, but Ruby is no slouch, either. As stated during during the SYTYCD 2016 New York auditions, Ruby is a champion latin ballroom dancer.
Ruby made it to the top 10, which I’m guessing was at least partially based on a need for ballroom on the series (even without an expert at the judges’ table), and I’m behind this decision…But I really wish it wasn’t at the expense of Sophia Lucia.
Gaby “don’t want no contemporary dancers” Diaz chose Emma Hellenkamp as her dancer. I approve, especially since Emma’s favorite part of So You Think You Can Dance Academy week was sleeping. Jonathan Platero’s final dancer was Daniela Avanzini, which meant sending Camila Schwarz home. And that left Comfort Fedoke to make the final decision, just like last week.
I think my personality will get me far, but my dancing needs to match my personality.
Someone should let Tahani Anderson pick Robert Roldan’s team for him next time because she understands that this is So You Think You Can Dance, not So You Think You Can Cute.
Comfort wished she could combine Tahani and Phoenix into one dancer (same); but since she couldn’t, she wanted Tahani to exhibit more of the “rawness” that she’d seen in Phoenix. Because Comfort felt that she could bring that rawness out of Tahani, that’s who she chose as the tenth of this year’s top 10 dancers. Perhaps the constant focus on Tahani in promos should have been a major spoiler alert.
There you have it: your SYTYCD 2016 top 10 has been announced, for better or worse. Join us in two weeks for more So You Think You Can Dance on FOX, as the live performances will finally be underway.1 of 1