"SYTYCD" Season 12 Recap: The Top 20 Perform

July 13, 2015

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Last night’s “So You Think You Can Dance” featured a lot of firsts: The first live episode of the season, the first time we noticed some true frontrunners and the first time the judges’ comments really made us nod our heads in agreement.

Our two favorite ballet boys, Darion and Jim (Screenshot via Fox)

It was hard to narrow down all the action in those two hours to just a couple of highlights, but we did it anyway! Behold, our top 5 “SYTYCD” moments from last night:

1. The opening routine
was a high-energy, complex Team Street vs. Team Stage number. It was a perfect showcase of both teams as they went at each other in a sort of playground kids dance-off. But after all the showing off, each Team Stage dancer paired up with a Team Street dancer for a lovely final duet.

2. JJ’s performance in her Team Street routine
with the equally charismatic Neptune and Megz was definitely a standout of the night. They’re three very different dancers, but the sheer joy that dancing brings JJ was oozing through the TV screen. While it wasn’t the sharpest or best performance of the night, she’s definitely got the spark. I also love Neptune’s description of his name, which he said was meant to bring peace and love to all the dancers (in Roman religion, Neptune is the God of the Sea, so he said his name is helping to spread a pure love for dance). It’s nice to see an acknowledgment that even though the show is a competition, it’s also an amazing chance to just dance for millions of viewers every week.

3. Jim and Darion’s breathtaking ballet 
routine for Team Stage was another win for ballet in 2015. They are both phenomenal technicians, with insane arches, extensions and PRESENCE. We literally couldn’t look away during their performance as they pirouetted, développéd and leaped their way into our hearts. Seriously. Not to mention, it’s a bunhead’s dream to see ballet getting so much mainstream recognition.

Edson and Kate’s routine
for Team Stage was something this show needed. They are both gorgeous contemporary dancers, but as we watched the choreography and the mismatched facials and emotions they were meant to be conveying, we couldn’t help but think what the judges inevitably ended up saying. Nigel made sure to reassure them that they were incredibly capable dancers, but in the end, he voiced his concerns that “SYTYCD” had created a style of very empty lyrical choreography, with so much “reaching and emotion that amounts to nothing.” Paula agreed, begging them to try to evolve as dancers, and repeating the saying we all hear so much: Presence can’t be taught, and dancers must dig deep in order to unlock it.

5. The final Team Stage and Team Street routines 
were very important—not because they were jaw-dropping pieces of choreography, but because they highlighted the true distinction between these teams: collaboration. Warren Carlyle’s Broadway-inspired piece for Team Stage was fun and lively, but even though the dancers were dancing as a whole, it still seemed a bit disjointed. Then Team Street took the stage, performing another show-stopping NappyTabs routine, and showed audiences what it meant to dance as one. The energy was out of control, the lights were flashing, legs were kicking high and facials were ON. The routine received a standing ovation from the judges and the audience and may have sparked something in Team Stage for next week. We shall see!

SYTYCD Team Street performing a routine by NappyTabs.

Who will return after this grueling episode? Let us know what you thought about last night in the comments, and check back here next week for our recap of the 10 year anniversary special, featuring some of “SYTYCD”‘s fan favorite routines and performers!