SYTYCD: Top 20 Revealed (Season 8 Episode 5)

Gone are Cat’s scarves and jeans and out come her high heels and fancy short dresses. That’s because it is time for the Live shows!

31 dancers have made it through Vegas week and not we will find out who has made it into our Top 20. This time the show has opted out of the “deliver the news at home” route and will be calling the dancers up on stage to hear the news. The dancers will then perform their first live show so that we can see everyone perform in their genres. (Does anyone else feel like they’ve forced everything into a shorter span of time than usual?)

Tonight’s judges are: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy (whose hair has gotten blonder), Tyce Diorio, Robin Antin (get her out of here!), and Lil C.

Cat prompts Nigel to explain the new format (Top 20 in usual pairings and then all stars once we reach the Top 10). Now to learn our results:

First up, Ricky Jamie. Have we met him before? I’m not impressed with his hip hop clip, but the rest seems pretty solid and sure enough, no bad news here.

Miranda Melesky also makes it through (we don’t even get to see her tryouts) along with Melanie Moore (who was never in doubt).

Abigail Ruse (who reminds me of that girl who got kicked off right away last year) and Kaitlyn Edgar do not make it through.

18 spots left 9 more going home (pretty good odds really).

The Mallory Sisters are, no surprise, brought up together. Nigel says they judges were “knocked out” by the pair and it is time to split them up. Only one of them is making it through and that person is: Sasha. Natalia seems genuinely happy for her sister.

Our first four (Ricky, Miranda, Melanie, and Sasha) to make it through perform a Stacey Tookey routine to “In This Shirt” by the Irrepressibles. This routine is one of the reasons I love Stacey Tookey.
Nigel: It’s thrilling to see such wonderful technique. Bodes for an exciting series.
Tyce: Great choreography, great dancers, great passion coming together in one place.

Only 7 hip hop dancers are left in the final 31 dancers.

Chris Scott has made it through to the Top 20, along with Wadi Jones, Thad Gaduang, Robert “Woo Man” Taylor Jr(ugh). Lil O and Professor Lock do not make it.

Our hip hoppers (Chris, Wadi, Thad, and Woo Man) perform to “Everyday (Coolin’) by Swiss Beats ft Eve choreographed by Dave Scott routine. I am less impressed by this routine and it only makes me miss Tabitha and Napoleon. It also makes me miss America’s Best Dance crew because nearly everyone of those crews pulls off performances more impressive and exciting than this one. (Maybe they should consider incorporating some sort of theme/challenge sometimes to push the creativity?)
Lil C: You wanna formulate an impeccable recipe for hip hop (surprisingly all English for once).
Robin: So unique and individual, exciting and sexy.

Only 2 ballroom dancers have made it this far. Will either of them make it through? How would they perform with only one? Ivetta Lukoshuta (who is as old as you can ever be and try out) and overly cocky Leonard. Leonard does not make it through. Mary gets teary eyed when talking to Ivetta because sometimes she is asked to deliver bad news, but not today. Ivetta is through.

Ivetta is paired with Pasha for a Jason Gilkinson routine to “Ven A Bailar (On the Floor)” by Jennifer Lopez. Not surprisingly, she is extremely good. She is ranked as one of the best ballroom dancers in the world so there is no surprise to this. This may actually be one of the best ballrooms I’ve seen in a long time (by which I mean I actually found myself liking it). The real question, did she perform better with him than Anya usually does? The judges give a standing ovation for this one.
Mary: There’s a party going on now. (We get a muted screaming Mary here.)
Nigel: I don’t think I’ve been as excited since Pasha and Anya danced. Who can live up to her standard among the guys?

To recap, 11 spots are left in the Top 20 and 5 more dancers will going home.

Now for the jazz dancers. Clarice Ordaz and Bridget Crause are just a couple of the ridiculous amount of jazz dancers. Clarice makes it through (not surprising) but not Bridget. Tai Kwan is also sent packing. Gunshot victim Marko Jamar does go through. Jordan Cassanova and her competition Missy are pitted against each other. Jordan is a young one but the judges have put her through now anyway. Missy is concerned because they are both “sexy” dancers but not to worry because she is in the Top 20 as well.

Our four jazzers (Missy, Jordan, Clarice, and Marko) get a Sonya Tayeh routine (!!!) to “Vanguardian” by Steed Lord. This routine shows everything that I love about Sonyah (who is an oddly upbeat person considered how she dresses and her hairstyle, which I’m beginning to think is really just because of how much hair she has). Another standing O.
Tyce: (who can’t seem to sit) OUTSTANDING! A force to be reckoned with.
Robin: This number was so hot. Sexy. (Get your mind out of the gutter Robin, there are other things in life.)

Jess Labratto is Broadway, Nick Young is a tapper. This is one of those moments where we pretend they are the same genre for the sake of performances. (Love when Nigel arrogantly tells that Jess he has an arrogant personality.) Nigel says they are worried about his non-Broadway skills and his arrogant personality, but he has made it through anyway. Nick is through too because he has a spark.

Broadway Tap (Nick and Jes) choreographed by Christopher Scott to “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” by Nina Simone. Jess is so tiny compared to Nick, it’s kind of funny. How will he be doing lifts? I’m liking Nick more (I totally see what Nigel means about the arrogant face even though I don’t think it’s arrogance, that’s just his face). Nick gives Cat a rose.
Nigel: Fabulous.(Four girls can tap too this year so we may actually get some tap routines.)
Tyce: Dancers can be stars.

Kaitlyn Lawson has been told she’s Nigel’s favorite more than once throughout this competition. She’s through easily. Ashley Rich is too. Mitchell Kelly has been solid through Vegas and also makes it. Ryan Ramirez and Alexa Anderson are “battling it out” for the final female spot while Alexander Fost and Jeremiah Hughes contend for the final male spot. Alexander goes through and Jeremiah is gone. Alexa and Ryan are up last. Alexa had a hard time with hip hop. Ryan had her injuries. Alexa is not in the Top 20 and Ryan is!

For the final genre performance (Mitchel, Kaitlyn, Ashley, Alexander, and Ryan) is to Travis Wall’s routine to “Moth Wings” by Passion Pit. Travis Wall, why are you so fantastic? This is one of his lighter, funner routines, but no less excellent.
Robin: So beautiful and fluid (no sex this time?)
Mary: Holy smokes! It was like a beautiful fall breeze.

But wait, there’s more! Three more routines in fact. A Top 20 routine as well as a Top 10 guys and a Top 10 girls.

Our Top 10 guys (Woo Man, Mitchell, Alexander, Nick, Jess, Marko, Ricky, Chris, Wadi, and Taad) dance a hip hop routine choreographed by the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers’ Christopher Scott. The song is “Velocity” by Nathan Lanier and it could easily fit into the LXD’s online dance series. Lil C is part of LXD so he starts.
Lil C: Looked like an episode straight out of the series.
Nigel: It was like a Matrix. Extremely entertaining. Guys, make sure to be unique and brilliant because the girls are beasts this year.
(Funny that Nigel should talk about how the voters don’t favor guys after Lauren Froderman spent so much of the last season as the only girl standing.)

Our Top 10 girls (Sasha, Kaitlyn, Ashley, Ryan, Jordan, Missy, Miranda, Melanie, Clarice, and Ivetta) get a Sonyah Tayeh routine about making Geishas creepy. You can’t make this up. Sonyah says she thinks this is the strongest set of girls yet. “Pop Drop & Roll” by Chonique Sneed and Lisette Nustamante. This is one of Sonyah’s more entertaining but crazy routines that make you wonder just what goes on inside her head. I particularly love the little mini steps that simulate wearing the restrictive gowns.
Mary: We’re not worthy! We’re going to have to make some room on the hot tamale train.
Nigel: They’re beasts!
Lil C: When it comes to Sonyah, S is for synergy, O is for obstacles, N is for Never, Y is for yes, A is for abstract. How long do you think he worked on that? (Sonyah actually looks bashfully embarrassed by this which is so cute.)

Nigel advises our dancers to stand out. (Votes can come online too now. 50 votes online.)

Now for the final Top 20 routine with all of our dancers. “Little Bird” by Annie Lennox is choreographed by Tyce. It looks like a Sonyah routine. There is a little too much smiling going on from the girls (but I suppose they are just so excited right now) but otherwise this routine is excellently bizarre and intricate. There’s flying and intermingling and tricks and other crazy hijinks.

Random note about the contestants: among the guys there is a good deal of ethnic diversity (white is actually not the majority), but for the girls there is very little diversity. Nearly all are white.

What do you think America? Is this the best season of dancers yet? (Isn’t every season? Does that diminish that dancers who have come before? Is it time to have a proper all star season?) I found myself a little less attached overall to who would make it through because by the time we got down to the remaining 31 so many of the ones I wanted to go through were gone. It all felt a little rushed and we only really got to know a handful of them (Sasha, Wadi, Ryan, Jordan). Either way, this season should yield some exciting routines, especially now that Mia is out of the judges’ chair and can go back to choreographing.

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