"SYTYCD" Season 16 Recap: Meet Your Top 20

July 22, 2019

Last night, “So You Think You Can Dance” gave us The Academy, Part II—which concluded with the judges choosing their Top 10 guys and Top 10 girls. But before that reveal, we got a little more contemporary, a whole lotta Mandy Moore, some solos, and, as always plenty of drama.

“The Academy scares the h— out of these dancers,” Nigel admitted. “And it should.” Never one to mince words, that Nigel. Here’s how it all went.

Contemporary, Part II

Last week’s episode ended with dancers going all-in on Talia Favia’s contemporary choreography. And this week picked right back up with the rest of that emotional, edgy goodness from Queen Favia.

First we saw adorable dating duo (but not, like, competitive duo) Jarrod Tyler Paulson and Madison Jordan, with Jarrod up first. Considering contemporary is his jam, this should’ve been easy, right? But after his performance, the judges agreed that Jarrod didn’t seem to know the choreography, calling it “not the best” and “shaky.” So it was a no for Jarrod, who had to exit stage right and explain to Madison what happened. Sad!

But then it was Madison’s turn, and girlfriend slayed. She brought Mary Murphy to tears, culminating in her screaming, “Shoot, sister, you killed it!” (How do I make that my alarm sound every morning? I would love to wake up to an enthusiastic affirmation from the Conductor of the Hot Tamale Train.) Madison was, obviously, moving on, and Jarrod said he knew she’d continue to dominate. Same, Jarrod. Same.

Next, contemporary ballerina Kaeli Ware continued her bid for “SYT” stardom—but sadly, and surprisingly, this was where her journey ended. After sailing though the hip-hop round and not-quite-crushing the ballroom, Kaeli got to perform in her element. But Dominic wanted Kaile to be “a little more in the pocket,” and called the performance inauthentic. Hard disagree (sorry, Dom). We love you, Kaeli! Come back soon.

By the end of the contemporary round, 43 dancers remained.

The Group Routine

Raise your jazz hands if you live for Mandy Moore’s group routine during Academy week every year! 🖐🖐🖐🖐Moore, assisted by All-Star Robert Roldan, explained that she’d be taking the three combinations the dancers just learned and cutting, pasting, and “staging the heck out of” them, thereby making one big, bold group routine, set to a new song. Cool!

The dancers were given 45 minutes to practice the final choreography in small groups. Just when it seemed like everyone was about to crack under the pressure, we got a “cue music” from Nigel.

And the result…was good! Did anyone else’s eyes go right to Madison Jordan at the beginning—and then stay there for a while? Toward the end, were you mesmerized by hip-hopper Sumi Oshima, who had that glorious, super smiley solo moment? Dominic cried! And then we cried! It was such a joyful, happy, delightful routine.

Which led to more cuts, of course. We still have a little whiplash.

The Solos

Each dancer remaining after the group round was told to get ready to perform a solo. There was more than one reference to “dancing for your life.” There was dramatic music. There were so many pirouettes, so many leaps, so many tricks. (Alternate show title: “So You Think You Can Side Aerial”? Just something to think about.)

We were treated to a rapid-fire series of solo clips, including a beautiful bit from standout Gino Cosculluela, a brilliant hip-hop performance from Sumi Oshima, a somewhat shaky tap solo by fan favorite Eddie Hoyt, and a high-energy closer by Bailey Munoz.

Finally: Here’s Your Top 20!

The judges deliberated, and here’s the long-awaited list:

The Girls

Ashley Sanchez

Anna Linstruth

Sofia Ghavami

Nazz Sldryan

Madison Jordan

Melany Mercedes

Stephanie Sosa

Sumi Oshima

Mariah Russell

Sophie Pittman

The Guys

Bailey Munoz

Brandon Talbott

Benjamin Castro

Ezra Sosa

Vlad Kvartin

Nathan Cherry

Aleksandr Ostanin

Gino Cosculluela

Bryan “Clocks” Volozanin

Eddie Hoyt

But that’s not all. Next week, it’s “the final cut—from a Top 20 to a Top 10. Let’s goooooo!