‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: Who survives the ‘Vegas Callbacks’?

Vegas week is never a vacation, and there seems to be a rule at this point that at least one person has to be taken to the hospital. Still, it gives us couch potatoes a chance to see some really exceptional dancing (and occasionally some really crappy dancing) and watch our judges cry. That seems to be quite the trend for season ten, because as many times as I’ve seen the judges cry on this show, I think I’ve seen weeping more in these first few weeks than I have on entire seasons. I’m wondering if they’re all sleep deprived or on some kind of low-protein diet. 

Our judges are Adam Shankman, tWitch, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe, plus two new faces. For the first two rounds, we get singer-dancer Jason Derulo, and for the last we get “New Girl” star Hannah Simone. The job of adding to the tear quota will be going to Simone.

A lot of familiar faces make it through, but a lot of them are cut, and really, it starts to get pretty confusing. I’m just going to focus on the people who stood out (though that reason often has to do with how the show chooses to edit). I’m sure every one of these lovely dancers has a unique and compelling story, but hey, no reason to get attached to anyone just yet anyway.

All of the dancers have to audition before they get a key to a hotel room. This is the first step in wearing down all these bright, happy people. If they make it through, they’ll be invited to tackle a factory job or wash clothing on rocks! Kidding. 

Malece Miller

Remember her? She is just as cute as before, and she nails all of her landings in her room key audition. She’s thrilled to get a hotel room! In fact, she does fabulously well throughout Vegas Week — at least, until she’s paired with ballroom dancer Armen Way for a Sonya Tayek routine. Armen, who apparently would rather be texting, drops Malece on her damn head. Poor Malece spends the night in the hospital, but manages to show up the next day to perform with Armen. I’d be a little leery about that, but Malece is nothing if not dedicated. 

Nigel, having learned of the head-dropping incident, looks like he wants to kill Armen with his bare hands. No one seems particularly fond of him, really, except Mary. She tears up as she tries to get it through Armen’s thick skull that he can’t go around causing head injuries, even though he is a great ballroom dancer. Still, both Malece and Armen go through to the very end. But it’s only Malece who makes the final cut — even though Armen gets through all of the actual dancing, it’s the short interviews at the end which give Nigel and the gang an excuse to kick him to the curb. He grumbles about the judges making the wrong decision, which makes me think he never did get Mary’s point.

Donovan Gibbs

We get a very truncated version of his particular sob story, which is about his family having to decide between keeping their house and car or keeping their dance studio, and guess which one wins? Dance studio! Donovan had to pass up prom and parties and all the good things in life for dance. And… he is cut. He’s devastated, not only because he feels that all his sacrifice was for naught, but also because he’s worried what his dad will say. I hope his dad apologizes for picking the dance studio over the house and the car. 

After the first day, 53 contestants get the boot. On day two, the dancers get a NappyTabs routine and, later in the day, start rehearsing a jazz number with Sonya Tayek. 

Du-Shaunt “Fik-Tion” Stegall

The kid from Vegas cannot be stopped, really. The judges, who are very careful  not to give feedback during the individual auditions, give the kid a standing O. The judges love him, but more importantly, he does mostly great work throughout the week (group dance, not so much, though). He makes it through, and I’m thinking he’s top 20, easy. 

ShanShan Qiao Rothlisberger

I loved the Mongolian Bowl dance, didn’t you? She manages to make it through a NappyTabs routine, which is amazing, but she gets cut after jazz. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m a little sad. She had such a presence and such grace. 

77 dancers are still in it on day two. 

On day 3, Nigel announces to everyone he and the other judges are already disappointed in them. Even though Sonya was supposed to send everyone through to audition, she decided they needed to stay up all night rehearsing as they kind of sucked. What I find so interesting is that the judges and choreographers keep telling the dancers to stay up practicing all night when, seriously, they’d probably do a better job after a nap. 

Jade Zuberi

Jade is an animator, but couples dancing is not his forte. So, when he gets paired with much taller Sydney Miller for the Sonya routine, Sydney actually raises her hand and asks Sonya if she can dance with someone else, as Jade is dragging her down. I’m half expecting Sonya to storm across the stage and break Sydney’s neck. She is seriously pissed. 

Sydney, who is clearly too young for this, storms off to her room and leaves Jade to rehearse on his own. But the next morning, Sydney realizes she’s been an asshat on national television, and they muddle through the dance. The judges decide to make Jade dance for his life, but Sydney is going through to the next round… with reservations. The judges clearly don’t like her much, and she admits she’s thinking about quitting. Of course, Jade survives (this will be a theme for him). 

Sydney doesn’t quit, but she’s sent packing in the next round anyway. Jade has to dance for his life again later, then AGAIN at the very end (he has to have a dance-off with Bluprint). Even though both animators are told there’s only one slot, surprise! There are TWO! This whole Vegas week seems to be focused on torturing Jade. 

68 dancers are left for the next challenge — the group dance! Another sleepless night with lots of squabbling! I can’t get over how exhausted these people must be. 

The first group dance has a Boston Marathon bombing theme, which sounds horrible, but it’s a beautiful dance about hope and strength and it’s just really well done. Hannah and Adam cry (I’m thinking next year we’ll see a Kleenex sponsorship). The whole group (ballroom dancing brothers Alan and Gene, plus two female contemporary dancers and ballroom dancer Jenna Johnson) goes through. 

The second group is Fact with A Little Fik-Shun, which implies they had fun with the routine even though it was a complete mess. Fik-Shun goes through, but two others are cut. 

The third group looks like a mess in rehearsal thanks to bitchy ballroom dancer Maria, but it turns out to be pretty brilliant and everyone makes it through. 

Montage of happy dancing! Group dancing turned out pretty well. Go figure! Even Armen redeems himself, which is saying something. 

And then there’s the final group. It’s an absolutely craptastic dance that feels like something out of high school summer camp, and two more dancers are cut. 

54 dancers survive to take on the contemporary dance with Stacey Tookey. 

Jennifer Jones

Remember her? She had an eating disorder and looks like Jennifer Beals? So cute. And so cut. Her partner Misha also gets the boot, and keeps trying to assure Jennifer she didn’t make it because of him, but I don’t think she cares. 

The bitchy ballroom dancer Maria, also cut. And Curtis the tap dancer Wayne Brady fell in love with? He finishes his routine and just sobs when the judges call on him. Nigel speaks to him sternly… and then tells him he’s through. I know, creating suspense, happy surprise, whatever, but it’s getting old. Now I feel like half of the eliminated dancers hesitate before leaving the stage, because they’re hoping they’re going to be one of the lucky ones being tricked. This is just all kinds of ick. 

Finally, 33 dancers are left to walk the green mile. And to celebrate, what does everyone do? Go straight to bed? No! They have a dance party! 

What do you think of the 33 dancers remaining? Do you think the 10th season will be a standout?