"SYTYCD" Season 16 Recap: The Promise of a Powerful Episode

June 17, 2019

In many teasers, FOX promised this would be a “powerful” episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” We have to admit that we didn’t take that super seriously. We assumed it just meant we’d get one or two emotional contemporary routines sandwiched between the b-boys and the LOL-worthy auditions.

But oh, man: The teasers weren’t exaggerating. This episode made us ugly cry—multiple times. Here are the tear-soaked highlights.

Bailey “Bailrok” Munoz, 18, Las Vegas, NV, B-Boy

Bailey was born two months premature, and as an itty bitty four-pound baby (smaller than a shoebox, as his parents described it), he spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. He stayed small—today, at 18, he’s only five feet tall—and grew up being teased about his height. That led to a lifetime of insecurities…until he found dance! We’re thrilled to report that Bailey packs a punch in those five feet. Holy spins! There was so much energy in his 60-second performance, earning him a big standing O. Laurieann said the footwork was fancy and clean, Dominic called Bailey the newest generation of b-boy with a bright future, Mary said the energy invigorated her, and Nigel said Bailey was immediately likable. It was a unanimous yes for The Academy. As Bailey said: “You’re never too little to dream big.”

Luke Romanzi, 18, Brooklyn, NY, Contemporary

Luke’s dad owns a bagel shop in Brooklyn, and Luke is poised to take over said bagel shop. But is that his dream? Nah, Dad: “I just want to dance.” Luke dreamed of attending Juilliard, but didn’t get in. Turns out Juilliard’s loss is the world’s gain, because Luke is talented. His performance featured slow and controlled developpés and an impossibly deep back-bending grand plié. We think we saw Dominic shed tears. Nigel loved Luke’s control and feet, but called his hands weak. Laurieann called him brilliant and phenomenal, but wanted to know what demons he’s fighting. Dominic said Juilliard messed up. And Mary said the control was great, but she wanted more passion and joy (even though that’s not what this routine was about). Yeses across the board. Maybe Juilliard didn’t want him, but The Academy does!

Jordynn, 20, and Elan, 24, Lurie, Coral Springs, FL, Salsa

Remember these two? They made it to The Academy last year, but a sticky spin situation led to them getting cut after the first round. This year, they’re back with a vengeance—and a whole lot of lifts, turns, and sparkles. The real shining moment came at the very end, when they wrapped up their routine by nailing the same spin that didn’t work out last season.Dominic said it was outstanding. Nigel called Jordynn a born entertainer, and said Elan almost kept up with her. Laurieann called it soulful, special, and original. And Mary said it was so much better than last year. Oh, and their granddad came onstage to boogie with them after they took their bow! Adorable. They’re both headed for The Academy.

Maria Babineau, 21, Ottawa, Canada, Hip Hop/Robotics

Maria is studying neuroscience and biology—and has never taken a dance class. But she’s seen “SYT,” and she finds it inspiring, so she figured she’d give the show a shot. For someone who has never officially studied dance, Maria was actually really entertaining (that moonwalk was particularly impressive!). Top 10-worthy? Maybe not. But her performance definitely upended the judges’ low expectations. Laurieann called it a glitch in the matrix, and a speechless Dominic asked if she was aware of what just happened. Mary said it was the biggest shock of Season 16, and Nigel became a human emoji—the one with the exploding head. It was a yes from Laurieann, a no from Dominic, an optimistic yes from Mary, and a no for Nigel. Since contestants need to hear “yes” three times to advance to The Academy, last night was the end of the “SYT” road for Maria. But keep dancing, friend!

Sophie Pittman, 18, Collierville, TN, Contemporary

More tears! Sophie is graduating high school and plans to move to L.A. to pursue her dance dreams—which means leaving her best friend, who also happens to be her little sister, *sob*. Sophie is stunning and definitely talented, and her contemporary routine had some some lovely moments. But ultimately, it fell a bit flat. Laurieann called Sophie’s technique effortless, but wanted one more level in the conversation. Dominic said the facility was there, but there was zero attachment to the piece itself. Mary said there’s a star inside Sophie, but she wanted more. And Nigel said there wasn’t enough technique. It’s a yes from Laurieann, a no from Dominic, a yes-I-want-more from Mary, and an opportunity-giving yes from Nigel. See you at The Academy, Sophie!

Frank “Ghost” Crisp, Jr., 27, Atlanta, GA, Hip Hop

Ghost started dancing for the NBA when he was 18, and then joined the Harlem Globetrotters—first as their mascot, and later as assistant director of tour operations. Impressive! So why is he auditioning for “SYT?” Because baby, he was born to entertain! His crowd-pleasing “hip-hop fusion” performance would easily have wowed the arena during a basketball game halftime show—and it wowed the judges’ panel, too. Dominic called him the definition of dance. Laurieann praised a job well done. Mary said Ghost will be remembered. And Nigel said not to call himself Ghost, because “You are the real thing, brother.” Academy!

Lauren Luteran, 19, Orlando, FL, Contemporary

Ending on (another) tearful note: Lauren has cystic fibrosis. There’s no cure for CF, and the average lifespan for patients is 30-something. Lauren is on a ton of meds, but she says it’s dance that really helps her. (CUE MUSIC, CUE SOBBING, CUE SOMEONE PASS THE TISSUES.) The silver lining of the story is that Lauren is a truly amazing dancer. Her technique is exceptional. Her legs and leaps were sky-high. And that slow-motion layout at the end? BOOM. Unsurprisingly, Lauren earned a standing ovation, tears from Dominic, and a straight shot to The Academy.