"SYTYCD" Season 16 Recap: Meet Your Main Men

August 5, 2019

We almost don’t dare to say it, but after last night’s final, final, final Season 16 audition round, it appears to be true: Next week, IT’S TIME FOR THE LIVE SHOWS!

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. First, we (as in Nigel, Mary, Dominic, and Laurieann) had to whittle down the top guys. Remember last week, when the Top 10 women became the Top 5? Last night, the “So You Think You Can Dance” judges made the same round of cuts for the remaining 10 men. Each remaining dude was paired with an All-Star and a choreographer to perform a routine outside his comfort zone. Here’s what went down, and who made the final cut.

Bailey Munoz, Contemporary with All-Star Lauren

It’s always a treat getting to see b-boys take on contemporary choreography, and Bailey really went all-in and full-out here. (Not that he let us forget he was a b-boy at heart—that side aerial into the handstand walk!) His performance was so sweet that it rendered Laurieann speechless. Nigel called Bailey’s progression shocking (in a good way), Mary praised Bailey for laying his soul out on the dance floor, and Dominic said it was the best contemporary performance from a b-boy he’s ever seen. CASUAL!

Ezra Sosa, Hip Hop with All-Star Comfort

Last week, Ezra’s sister Stephanie solidified her spot in the Top 10—but Ezra reminded us all that while he might be following in his sister’s footsteps, he doesn’t intend to live in her shadow. Going from ballroom to hip hop can be a tricky transition, but if Ezra felt out of his element in this Luther Brown routine, he did his best to disguise it alongside Comfort. He was definitely a bit pulled up, a bit focused on the steps, but ultimately confident and, as Laurieann said, “stinky.” (That’s a compliment, BTW.)

Vlad Kvartin, Contemporary with All-Star Melanie

OK, real talk: Vlad didn’t totally crush Academy week. But if you’re going to stage a comeback, do it like Vlad just did: with a little help from the Moores. Paired with former winner Melanie and dancing contemporary choreography by award-winning Mandy, Vlad was set up for success last night. Admittedly, it was hard not to focus on Melanie, with her flawless-as-ever technique and star quality. But Vlad delivered a sweet, emotional performance, nailing moments of ease and moments of power. The judges were into it, though Nigel didn’t totally buy into the connection between Vlad and Melanie.

Aleksandr Ostanin, Cha Cha with All-Star Lindsay

Tapper Aleksandr really wanted a spot in the Top 10—so much so that he took Nigel’s suggestion to heart and, gasp, shaved his signature facial hair! Aleksandr was a bit of a wild card at the Academy, eventually earning a surprising standing ovation for his contemporary performance. How’d he fare doing the cha cha? Not stellar, but not bad—not bad at all. Nigel said it didn’t feel super comfortable and Mary wasn’t all-in, but Dominic thought it was great, and Laurieann was also a fan.

Benjamin Castro, Ballroom with All-Star Koine

(A quick PSA before we talk about the actual competitor: Koine is an All-Star now. We repeat: KOINE IS AN ALL-STAR NOW. HOORAY!) Benjamin has made his mark so far by being super charismatic, and oh boy was that on full display during this routine. It might not have been the smoothest or most technical performance, but it was fun. And in addition to being utterly charming, Benjamin is an excellent, strong partner—everything this show has historically loved. Mary said he “put the seasoning on Season 16.” (LOL, Mary. Never change.) Nigel said it was “too forceful” at times, but solid overall.

Bryan “Clocks” Volozanin, Jazz with All-Star Jasmine

Clocks has been a favorite for several seasons now, and it seems safe to say that everyone wants to see this guy advance to the Top 10. But Spencer Liff’s choreography didn’t make it easy for him. There were lots of little, intricate moves for him to master, and a few technical elements that proved challenging. It wasn’t the most remarkable performance, but the judges were mostly into it. Dominic empathized with Clocks’ struggles, saying “the leaps were so bad,” and flashing back to his own less-than-stellar technical moments on the show many moons ago.

Brandon Talbott, Ballroom with All-Star Lindsay

Choreographers Emma and Sasha tried to convince contemporary ballet babe Brandon to embrace an alter ego for this performance. So how did “Brando” fare at ballroom? Well, he definitely kept the energy level at an 11! Brandon—sorry, “Brando”—also proved his partnering prowess, easily guiding Lindsay through lift after lift, including a fun take on a double cartwheel at the end. Nigel didn’t buy the chemistry, Dominic missed the spark, Mary liked the body rolls, and Laurieann said “it will only get better from here.” Not the most encouraging feedback, but OK.

Nathan Cherry, Contemporary with All-Star Melanie

OK, first, can we get Talia Favia on the short list for next year’s Emmy nominations? Because that needs to happen. As for this specific performance: Hip-hopper Nathan was everything. No further commentary. Just a big ol’ WOW. Dominic admitted he hadn’t been a big believer in Nathan up until this point, but he’s officially #TeamNathan now. Laurieann said it was very well done, Nigel called it incredible and said Nathan is officially on his radar, and Mary called it intriguing. So we all agree: LOVE.

Gino Cosculluela, Jazz with All-Star Lauren

Gino has been a judge favorite since Day 1. (He’s also, reminder, the one who once kissed Maddie Ziegler on “Dance Moms.” NEVER FORGET.) This performance showed why everyone loves him: He’s just that good. This routine was hot, steamy, sexy, technical, high-energy, controlled, mature—the total package. Laurieann said she wanted “more,” which, IDK, Laurieann, maybe let’s let him have this one. Nigel called him the best technical dancer this year, but also said he still wanted more. GUYS, HE JUST CRUSHED IT. LET HIM LIVE.

Eddie Hoyt, Hip Hop with All-Star Comfort

Tapper Eddie, who won the hearts of many fans in seasons past, has gotten a ton of screen time this season. He’s wanted this for a long time, and last night, in his treadmill-themed routine by Randi and Hef, he lived. it. up. It was joyful, it was fun, it was quirky; it was sometimes silly, and sometimes good and low. Dominic said it was one of the best tap-to-hip-hop transitions he’s seen on the show. Laurieann said Eddie was “the sauce in the pocket.” Mary said something about bottling that sauce and selling it. Everyone seemed very happy about this performance—Eddie included.

The Top 5 Guys

At long, long, long, very long last, here are the five men rounding out the Top 10:

  1. Ezra
  2. Gino
  3. Benjamin
  4. Eddie
  5. Bailey
Catch you back here next week, after we finally get to see these standouts, and their female compatriots, perform LIVE!