SYTYCD Season 9: Top 20 Perform

Posted: July 15, 2012 in So You Think You Can Dance, TV

It’s officially summer now that SYTYCD has returned, and I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. This show never ceases to surprise me. Just when you then the show is on the brink of being about everything else rather than just dancing, a routine come along that takes your breath away, or makes you jump out of your seat, or makes you cry, and honestly nothing else matters. SYTYCD just gives me warm fuzzies.

But enough of that, it’s time to get down to our Top 20 and do what we love doing best. Grade their performances! Yes, I like to pretend I know anything about dancing and judge these young dancers one how well I think they did. (You know you like doing it too….) So let’s get started!

Who:  The Top 20
Choreographer:  Christopher Scott
Song: “Architect of the Mind” by Kerry Muzzey
Performance: Very Mad Men-esque, very intense. With a piece like this I feel bad for the kids who were put in the back because the ones in the front were majorly highlighted. Daerien, Eliana, and Cyrus were the definite stand-outs for me. Did you see Daerian’s pirouettes? Beautiful! And whenever those camera’s got in really close to the dancers I couldn’t help but think…wow those girls are wearing a lot of make-up. It was kind of distracting. Especially with the crazy hair thing going on with Alexa. I mean, I know they need to wear all that for the stage, but make-up ladies, think about what the camera does as well. Sheesh! But onto the dancing. I love that intricate finger work they did near the end. It was really cool. I just wish if they highlighted certain dancers like Daerian and Matthew, they should have highlighted everyone. Grade: B

The mini intros are pretty standard, but there were a few stand-outs for me. Chehon’s slow pirouette, whatever the hell Daerian did, oh by gosh that side flip was awesome, and Will…oh will, everytime he’s on camera I just can’t help but smile. He’s so goofy! Why is he only 19? But there’s no time to think about that it’s time to start the routines.

Routine #1

Who:  Whitney and Chehon (love his accent)
Dancing Style: Samba
Choreographer:  Louis Van Amstel
Rehearsal:  Wow, Whitney got lucky didn’t she? She got her own style actually. Chehon has to let go of his ballet background and learn how to shake his hips. And yeah, it’s adorable to watch him try. I love when he tries to catch her he goes into the solis.
Song: “Jump” by The Club Guys and Lucinana
Performance: Whitney was definitely made for ballroom dancing, though I’m convinced most of her ballroom superpowers lies in her ability to toss her hair convincingly. He legs are just crazy. She is very Chelsie Hightower-esque. Chehon held his own, though the composed ballet dancer in him was very evident. He was able to bring some of his own personality to it and hey, he’s pretty to look at so I don’t care. Grade: B
Nigel: Whitney is star. She’s a firecracker. (Which one is she Nigel?!) Chehon needs to relax more and have fun.
Mary:  I love it when Mary uses ballroom terms. It makes me feel like she knows what she’s talking about…until she talks about the Hot Tamale Train. Chehon is dynamic, and Whitney is fabulous in her own style.
Kenny:  Hotter than Marilyn Monroe (That’s high praise, and sorry girl, but not true. Go Marilyn). Chehon needs to surrender.


Routine #2

Who:  Tiffany (the second she pointed out her baby hands, all I could think about was this) and George
Dancing Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Rehearsal:  It’s about love that’s so strong it takes their breath away. Man, Tiffany has sick abs! These dancers got lucky dancing their own genre. They better live up to the pressure.
Song: “Turning Page” by Sleeping At Last
Performance: The piece flows nicely, almost like a painting and Sonya’s choreography creates beautiful lines with the dancers’ body. That move where George twists Tiffany up his body is really quite stunning. They struggled in places, slipping and re-adjusting here and there, and I didn’t feel their chemistry was very strong. I didn’t feel their loving heat radiate off of them. But they are both beautiful dancers and have a lot of room to grow. Grade: B-
Mary:  They both surrendered to the choreography. She calls George one of the best dancers in the competition (um awkward, Tiffany is right there Mary!)
Kenny:  He compliments Sonya. They were breathtaking.
Nigel: The piece was romantic. They dance to the end of their fingertips.


Routine #3
Who:  Janaya (she looks like that girl from Bunheads) and Brandon
Dancing Style: Lyrical Hip Hop
Choreographer:  Tabitha and Napoleon
Rehearsal:  It’s about a guy who’s an alcoholic and his girl who wants him to pick her. Right from the top Napoleon puts a lot of pressure on the whole things saying “this could be a piece that could touch a lot of lives.” Why not let us decide that for ourselves, then telling us?
Song: “Take Care” by Drake featuring Rihanna.
Performance: Brandon is great. He’s so dynamic. But I feel like as a whole they could be hitting it harder and they don’t have any chemistry at all. I also don’t think Janaya sells the story in her face. Not till the end when they have their acting moment. As a whole they both needed a bit more passion. I felt like the routine wanted to be a lot more than it actually was. There was too much pressure on it. Grade: C
Kenny:  He believed the story they were telling with their bodies.
Nigel: He thinks the way Nappy Tabs choreographed the routine worked in their favor. Janaya needs to get down more.
Mary:  She loves how deep Brandon went into character. Janaya needs to commit to the character more. She needs to get grittier.


Routine #4
Who:   Alexa (Boy does she love Red) and Daniel (Oh my Aussie. I could listen to him talk forever)
Dancing Style: Jazz
Choreographer:  Sean Cheesman
Rehearsal:  The piece is fast paced and here’s a lot of intricate movement. There’s also a lot of ass and crotch going into people’s faces. Can you say “ass” on SYTYCD? Daniel just did.
Song: “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer
Performance: I wish they were wearing different outfits, and I wish Alexa’s hair was pulled back. Those two things were major distractions. Though they “pulled it off” I feel like the piece was so intricate that they were thinking about the steps rather than dancing it. The structure was a cool idea, but I almost feel like they got tangled up in it. However Alexa did this cool flip thing inside it that was pretty awesome. Grade: B-
Nigel: The choreography was demanding and intricate and no stop, there was no time to connect with them. This is true, but not their fault, Nigel. The duo needs to be more honest in the routine.
Mary: Daniel is serious a lot, so it was nice to see him smiling and enjoying himself.
Kenny:  He appreciated the exercise, but he didn’t feel like they were invested in their performance.


Routine #5
Who:   Amber and Nick
Dancing Style: Viennese Waltz
Choreographer:  Jason Gilkison
Rehearsal:  Jason immediately puts a lot of pressure on Nick because it’s in his own genre and Nick feels it. Amber immediately gets high praise, but Jason is super tough on him. You never see this side of the choreographers, really. I feel bad for the kid.
Song: “Nights in White Stain” by Tina Arena
Performance: I’m amazed that Nick started spinning Amber a good 30 seconds before the music actually started. How was he not busy? Despite a rough rehearsal, Nick did a lovely job.  I feel like the package put that pressure on him so much my eyes immediately went to him to make sure he pulled it off. Which he did, but it also made me forget about Amber. The couple had some sweet moments together, like when Nick scooped her up and wrapped his arms around her. And wow moments like when he spun her around quickly as she kicked her legs up. There was something missing though, and I think it was chemistry…They almost had it…almost. Grade: B-
Mary: It was dreamy. Amber pulled it off and Nick was phenomenal.
Kenny:  It was fluid, flowy and lovely. HE was mesmerized by the steadicam operator flowing with their choreography.
Nigel: Compares Jason Gilkison to Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms. Love that he got called out. Nick gets an anxious look on his face sometimes and pulls his face. He admits it’s hard to vote for them with a flowy soft routine like this. Um, Nigel, this is your show, you can get rid of routines like this can’t you? No one has ever won by doing a Viennese waltz.


Routine #6
Who:   Amelia and Will (goofball)
Dancing Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer:  Nappy Tabs
Rehearsal:  Amelia is a house cat, Will is a cat daddy. Will is such a goofball he can’t stop laughing. Nappy Tabs hopes he can take the routine seriously.
Song: “The Lovecats” by The Cure
Performance: These two have such great chemistry and immersed themselves in their characters completely. I bought it. They both have such strong personalities. Amelia became her character while Will brought some of his light and happiness to the routine. It’s not quite hip hop, but it looked like so much fun and Will did this cool move where he threw one of her legs over his neck and lifted her up. It was pretty sweet. Grade: A
Kenny:  “Amelia if we had a kitty like you we’d play with you all day long. And Will you did a great job of playing with her.” (How you know the judges really like the routine? They praise the dancers before the choreographers.)
Nigel: “Ameilia is quirky and crazy, Will’s just plain crazy.” (Love it. You can tell they really like the dude.)
Mary:  It was purrrrfect.


Routine #7
Who:  Janelle and Daerian
Dancing Style: African Jazz
Choreographer:  Sean Cheesman
Rehearsal:  Janelle has to be very bendy, and she’s apparently a klutz. The routine looks like it hurts.
Song: “Jungle” by Hilight Tribe
Performance: There’s a lot of tricks. A lot of jumping around. It’s extremely high energy. Janelle is Gumby and Daerian is a flip extraordinaire. He does this move where he is thisclose to smacking her head in the ground. Frankly it’s kind of scary. Love that cat teases her when it’s over. Grade: B
Nigel: Janelle has been through so much already. The routine was nonstop. Daerian’s pirouettes in the intro piece was beautiful.
Mary: Daerian is a powerhouse.
Kenny:  It was powerful. Like two flames dancing across the stage.


Routine #8
Who:   Eliana and Cyrus
Dancing Style: Broadway
Choreographer:  Tyce DiOrio
Rehearsal:  It’s a scene from hairspray. Cyrus has never done choreography.
Song: “Run and Tell That” from Hairspray
Performance: Eliana has so much energy. She’s so technical and really good. I hope Cyrus doesn’t hold her back. She was definitely doing most of the work there. But Cyrus held his own and a bit of his cool personality came out at the end there. Grade: B+
Mary:  They brought joy, love, and life to the routine. Cyrus has an extraordinary heart. Eliana gets down.
Kenny:  He felt like he was watching Broadway.
Nigel: He’s not a great dancer yet, but he gives himself 100% to the dance. It didn’t show off Eliana’s ability. She is the benchmark for all the other girls in the competition. (Wow that’s high praise.)


Routine #9
Who:  Audrey and Matthew
Dancing Style: Contemporary
Choreographer:  Travis Wall
Rehearsal: Travis Wall + Titanic. Whoa. These dancers sure got the golden ticket with Travis. Though Travis is saying he’s doing his own take on the story, that chair looks awfully familiar. And who do you think REALLY drew that picture of Audrey? All I have to say is…please, please I hope he didn’t choreography the song to “My Heart Will Go On,” because that would just be too too much.
Song: “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers
Performance: Talk about the golden ticket. These dancers have such great chemistry. The feeling I get when I watch this routine is I think the feeling Sonya was trying to portray in her routine earlier. Just undying love. That is thanks in part to the choreography. Travis used every climatic moment in that song to his benefit and the benefit of the dancers. Audrey’s legs are crazy. Matthew bent them and twisted them in so many ways that doesn’t seem humanly possible. And I loved the subtle moments in there was well, like the point and bend of a leg, or a kick with both legs. I’m not sure I’m 100% sold on Audrey’s facial expressions, but Matthew knocked it out of the park. He fully supported her and I don’t know if another guy could have pulled off the look and feel of this routine as well as he did. Grade: A-
Kenny:  Exquisitely choreographed, beautifully danced. (That’s all he has to say, he’s speechless)
Nigel: He enjoyed the routine more than any other routine of the night. The crescendos of the music fit the dynamic of the dancing. Superb technique.
Mary:  Breathtaking. Matthew showed great emotional vulnerability. Audrey is beautiful.

Routine #10
Who:   Lindsey and Cole
Dancing Style: Paso Doble
Choreographer:  Jason Gilkison
Rehearsal:  Lindsey is poison fighting against Cole. Hey look she got her own style too. Well, it’s ballroom. One thing I notice. Lindsey’s legs look really red in rehearsal. Poor girl.
Song: “Unstoppable” by E.S. Posthumus
Performance: Okay first of all, Lindsey’s dress is CRAZY. Second of all, what a way to start the routine with her wrapped around him and he swings her around. The song is intense and I feel like Lindsey could have been more intense. Cole was feeling it. He looked the part and even if he didn’t really know what he was doing he sold it. Lindsey is an incredible dancer, but I feel like she could have hit it harder. Even that part where she was beating his chest was a bit lackluster. The music and Cole helped her a lot. Grade: B+
Kenny:  Mesmerizing and Electrifying.
Mary:  She’s excited. Beautiful Paso Doble.
Nigel: Best Paso Doble he’s seen any boy do on the show. Incredible character. Lindsey could have been easily overlooked, but Cole was only that good because of her. (Meaning, Cole out danced her.)


Random thoughts

  • I love Cat dancing with the dancers at the beginning of the show. She’s so cute! However, she also looks particularly orange this episode. Anyone else think that?
  • Love Cat’s supportive hug to Nick when Mary gave him a good compliment.
  • Cat’s dancing/singing, “You just did Broadway” to Cyrus.
  • The judges need to stop pulling for certain contestants, it makes me not like them!
  • Tyce loves to be in the center of attention huh?


  • “The cutest thing happened just before you started. Sonya went come on babies. Then all the way thorough she was like yeah! She makes the loudest noises.” – Cat
  • “I cannot believe that out of everybody we gave Janelle that routine to do. The clumsiest person in the room.” – Cat
  • “I never thought I’d be dancing a scene from hairspray. I’m a robot.” – Cyrus

My Top 3 Routines

  • Amelia and Will’s Hip Hop
  • Audrey and Matthew’s Contemporary
  • Janelle and Daerian

Top Boy And Girl I’m currently Rooting For

  • Eliana – because she’s superb. She’s such a fantastic dancer.
  • Will – I just love his personality. He brightens up the room when he dances. I can’t wait to see more.


Who are your favorites? What were your favorite routines? Are you excited for this season?




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