‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: ‘Top 20 Perform’

So tonight the top 20 dancers will be hoofing it for our amusement and, really, the approval of the judges. As we learned last week, the judges started planting the seeds in our minds early (actually, I think we can agree prematurely) about who should win (Anna is the beast) and who shouldn’t. Not cool judges, not cool.

Hopefully tonight will shake things up a bit, as I hate to think that voters will follow direction so easily or that no dancer will defy expectations. Of course, that also means someone who isn’t very good (Cyrus) can make it a lot further than logic would suggest thanks to a compelling smile and an engaging backstory. Fingers crossed for great dancing, period.

The hamsters are dancing to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Okay, that’s fresh and new… not at all. Still, it’s nice to see the opening dance taken off the main stage and filmed in what seems to be a continuous shot — plus hey, there’s Mary and Nigel! And Tabatha of NappyTabs! Apparently Herb Alpert was in there, but I didn’t notice. But seriously, they would have told me to look for him in the beginning. I don’t think I’ve seen the guy on television for, like, ever. 

Yay, Wayne Brady is back at the judges’ table! I am so glad to see him — though most of the guest judges are pretty phenomenal on this show, he’s just fun. Maybe sometime we can see him and Adam Shankman in a judge-off. You know they’d dance together, just for the hell of it. 

We’re going to get to know everyone a little better in 10 seconds. This is getting old, “SYTYCD.” I know this is supposed to be cute, but it doesn’t help me differentiate the dancers at all. 


She’s 19, an only child, and sleeps with her eyes open. There’s other stuff, but it goes by pretty fast. 


He’s 24, a black belt, likes to swing and loves Judy Garland.  

The Dance: They’ll be doing a Jason Gilkinson jive. Eeek. There are lots of lifts and tricks, and this is moving very, very fast. He’s having problems lifting her, and the movements lack snap. It’s all a little muddy and unfortunately loose. It doesn’t look like jive, but more like flapping around on a dance floor. Hell, this looks like rehearsal. 

The Judges: Mary thought it moved at supersonic speed. She also thought it was full of life but it lacked technique. She’s being nice. Wayne thought it was entertaining, but he thought it looked frantic. He said they didn’t seem to be having fun. But he thinks Carlos is physically gifted and Mariah is awesome. Nigel thinks Mariah had a Debbie Harry from Blondie look about her. Still, he thought it was lacking in the style, but if the public is voting on energy and performance, they’re safe. 

The Verdict: I’m not so sure they’ll survive this week, which breaks my heart. I love Mariah, but now I question whether she can work outside her style. 

Jasmine M.

She’s 19, has a cat and a cat tattoo, but she’s not a crazy cat lady. Really?


He’s 19, his favorite color is blue, he’s Russian and he crashed his car into his house. Want to hear more about that!

The Dance: They perform a Travis Wall contemporary, and it’s truly beautiful. Gene is a strong partner (which we should expect), but really, they mesh beautifully. Jasmine is dancing her heart out — and did I mention they’re blindfolded for part of this? I can’t believe this is week one. 

The Judges: Wayne thought it was beautiful from the get-go. He was never worried about them, which is amazing given that they had blindfolds. Nigel thinks they’re a couple who has never danced together before, plus they’re blindfolded — he thinks they danced it very well indeed. He got the full emotion from Nicole but not Alan. Mary fell in love with them. 

The Verdict: There is just no way are they going home this week. This was so skillful and so well done. I’m a fan, truth.


She’s 19, she’s dyed her hair every color of the rainbow, she hates feet, and she’s obsessed with enchiladas. I think it’s interesting she finished before the timer runs out.


He’s 21, Soul is his nickname, he loves cats and bubbles but fears clowns and spiders. 

The Dance: They do a Travis Wall jazz routine, and he casts Malece perfectly as an ice princess in the vein of Daisy from “The Great Gatsby,” and this is very beautiful — but Malece seems so aloof I can’t decide if she’s in character or just can’t emote. 

The Judges: Nigel said he thought it was danced very poorly in the dress rehearsal, but this version was absolutely fantastic. He thinks Malece was striking. Jade partnered her with strength and he was behind her and supporting her. Wayne thinks they were both great. Jade has to step up the details, though. Mary enjoyed it. She thinks Jade isn’t shy about everything and leaves it all on the floor. And Malece got in touch with her internal diva. 

The Verdict: I like both of these dancers, but I wasn’t as wowed by this as the judges clearly were. Maybe because it was so crappy in rehearsal they were excited to see so much improvement. 


She’s 19 and has a frog in her throat, so spends her 10 seconds gasping and snorting. Yay!


He’s 23, has 3 adopted siblings, wants to fly, and when he was a kid he wanted to be a merman. Um, okay. 

The Dance: They perform a Tasty Oreo routine Broadway routine as Team Tuna! I know that’s their names mashed together, but that just begs for jokes. Anyway, she’s as good as she usually is, and he is also as good as we expect him to be. Tucker also blasts through some almost gymnastic moves. These two are fierce. 

The Judges: Mary thought it was fun and playful. She felt so good watching the number! She thinks they both looked like Broadway stars. Wayne thought Tucker was amazing. He was reminded of Donald O’Connor, and he thought Jenna was a combination of Cyd Charisse and Gwen Verdon. Nigel thought it was a fun routine and he thinks they’re a power couple. Cat kisses Tucker, since Jenna kinds covered him in lipstick already. 


She’s 19, deaf in one ear, and she can hang six spoons off of her face. I likes this Brittany!


He’s 20, loves roller coasters, wished he could teleport and he can whistle like a bird but not a human

The Dance: They work with Sean Cheesman on an Afro-jazz routine, and though I was initially worried about Blu-Print, he brings it. Holy bananas, does he bring it. Brittany is also fierce. I think Blu-Print finally realized if he gets too wrapped up in the dancing and forgets to connect with the audience, his days are numbered. 

The Judges: Wayne is cackling. Then, everyone is cackling. Wayne thinks Blu-Print is carrying on the fine tradition of tWitch. He did a great job. Brittany was so strong and he didn’t expect her to have the motherland in her. Nigel thought Brittany seemed at home, but it was one of the best routines he’s seen a non-trained dancer do. It’s not his ethnicity! He didn’t grow up in a jungle! Nigel thinks it was absolutely amazing. Mary thought it was on the hot tamale train. She stands up to applaud them. 

The Verdict: I think they’ll stay out of the bottom four. It wasn’t the best dance of the night thus far, but it was too solid for them to be sent packing.

Plug break! We see video of Adam and Nigel dancing to “Blurred Lines.” Why is this, you ask? It’s one of the routines for National Dance Day on July 27, of course! Oh, yay. There’s a video from Funny or Die, “So You Think You Can Prance,” which is what you’d expect — a parody of that ridiculous prancing video plus Nigel and Adam prancing. Le sigh. 


She’s 18, She’s from Forida, she’s obsessed with Justin Bieber, and she goes mudding and fishing. Yikes.


He’s 18, bilingual, Columbian and loves Selena Gomez. How cute! He and Alexis are meant to be together — they have compatible crushes, sort of! 

The Dance: It’s a Christopher Scott hip hop routine, and even with Cyrus and Marko helping out, this is a total mess. Alexis has slightly more swag than Nico, which is to say she isn’t so dorky it makes my eyes hurt. This is so, so bad. 

The Judges: Nigel thinks they’re great dancers but the format caught them out. They didn’t get down or dirty. It didn’t work for him. Mary seconds that — but the people love them! Still, it was pleasant-hop. Their hands were curved, not flat. They didn’t sit in the pockets. Wayne thirds them.

The Verdict: Either they’re going home or Mariah and Carlos are. This was awful. 


She’s 18, loves vampires and has weird arms.


He’s 21, has a baby face, a sweet tooth, and can wiggle his ears

The Dance: They’re doing a Viennese waltz by Jason Gilkinson, and Makenzie feels like a truck driver stomping around during the rehearsal. Amazingly, she isn’t anything like a truck driver when performing on stage. This is balletic and graceful and just adorable, really. 

The Judges: Mary thought it was beautiful and romantic. For their first time out, well done. Wayne thought they should be on top of a wedding cake. Nigel thought it was very “Roman Holiday.” He thought it was beautiful. 

Verdict: They’re safe, and it doesn’t hurt that Makenzie has enough personality to make up for the admittedly boring Paul. 

Jasmine H. 

Okay, I missed this one (ten seconds, dammit, and it’s over!) but we know she’s Cyrus’ ex, and that’s reason enough to root for her.


He’s 25 and has a thing about onions, I think.

The Dance: They’ll be doing a Sonya Tayeh dance, and woof. Jasmine is a beautiful dancer — and Aaron is a surprise. He wasn’t lying about wanting to learn and master every kind of dance, because he’s certainly not phoning this in. I had to think hard to remember his style — I think tap — because he really buries himself in this. Well done. 

The Judges: Wayne is going to sound like a creepy old man, but Jasmine is a little chocolate Amazonian something or other! He’s doing his Lil C, so none of it makes sense, even to him. Then, he adds, “Boy I think I know your daddy, Aaron!” He’s a singer in Las Vegas, and Wayne thinks he dances like his father sings. Nigel thinks Aaron will be around a long time and Jasmine has long legs. Power couple!  Mary agrees. Her technique is incredible. And Aaron danced his heart out.

The Verdict: They really are a power couple — although this routine made Aaron’s size work for him. I’m not sure about future weeks. 


She’s 18, she’s from Kansas, she wants a hedgehog and has a sweet tooth.


He’s 19, likes the beach, likes animal documentaries, talks in his sleep and has a pet monkey but it’s a stuffed animal. Yeah, I think he should have stopped with “I have a pet monkey,” because that was totally cooler.

The Dance: They’re doing a seductive Chris Scott hip hop routine. Hayley doesn’t know how to look confident or sexy in rehearsal! But then, she’s all about the sexy during the performance. The hip hop seems to be a very small part of it — let’s just say this is more about the sexy than popping and locking — but it works. Maybe a more subtle routine would have saved Nico and Alexis. 

The Judges: Nigel hopes Alexis and Nico are watching, because this was what he wanted from them. They were both tremendous. The swag was great! Mary thinks they have so much stage presence. She thought Hayley was a vixen. Wayne feels like he’s seen Curtis grow up! And Hayley was amazing.

Verdict: This was solid, and I’m pretty sure we already know the bottom four.


She’s 19, Ukrainian, likes turquoise, and is scared of blood even though her dad’s a doctor. 


He’s 18, he’s been pooped on by a bird (really? TMI), has two dogs, and he smacks his lips a lot. Some of these 10 seconds are a little longer than necessary, really.

The Dance: They’re doing a Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine, and… the show CUTS TO COMMERCIAL IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. I’m sure this won’t happen on the West Coast feed (and maybe it just happened in the Midwest), but yeah, I missed 80 percent of what was apparently THE BEST DANCE OF THE NIGHT. 

The Judges: Amy and Fik-Shun get a standing O, Cat says they’re the first chills of the year, and I am soooo sad. Mary thinks Amy is dynamic and Fik-Shun is stunning. How does it feel to him to nail a dance style he never learned to do? He was 100 percent committed, and he wanted to show his serious side. Wayne says when he wants to show his serious side he takes off his clothes and dances with a white girl, too. I love that Wayne Brady! Anyway, he thought Fik-Shun was a contemporary dancer, because he didn’t see the rehearsal. Nigel proclaims Amy a beast again, and says he was stunned by Fik-Shun.  This was his favorite dance of the evening. And I guess I’ll just have to catch it West Coast time.

The Verdict: They’re golden — at least until next week, when the game resets and everyone starts from scratch.

The Week Overall: We know Nico, Alexis, Mariah and Carlos are the ones in trouble — but I’m keeping an eye on Malece next week as well as Paul. Though they both did well this week, they’re both coming across as a little flat in the personality department, and I’m not sure how far they’ll go if they don’t connect. But so far, this has been a lot of good dancing and very little bad — and I am more than excited about season ten.

What did you think of the dancing? Who are you voting for? Who do you think will go home?