SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: “Why Y’all Gotta Do This, Man?”

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With the initial auditions complete, contestants headed to the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Academy in Los Angeles. Having impressed judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens, it was time for the dancers to do something even more difficult: Prove to the SYTYCD all-stars that they were worthy. “Academy Week #1” featured solos from all 100 dancers who had made it this far, followed by a hip hop round choreographed by NappyTabs. Check out our recap to find out which favorites and new faces were shown, as well as whether or not we’ll be seeing them again this season.

The format.

For “Academy Week #1,” dancers hoping to make this season’s top 10 were first asked to show the all-stars their solo work (or, in the case of ballroom couples, their work with their partners). If they advanced to the next segment of the competition, their next task would be perfecting a NappyTabs hip hop routine. After every surviving dancer showed just how well they were able to execute the choreography, the all-stars would make a decision.

That decision could go three ways: a cut, a chance to advance to more choreography rounds, or a direct selection to an all-star’s team. If more than one all-star wanted to snatch up a given dancer for his or her team, that dancer would then have to choose which team to join.

But, of course, none of this could happen until after SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE spent 84 years on its opening number. Was that thing for real? Sometimes, what’s great in theory — showcasing the top 100 dancers in a massive group number, with dancers broken into style-specific groups — is just a bit too much in practice.

The solo rounds.

With decades taken off of the dancers’ lives, nowhere near all of them could be showcased on this week’s episode of SYTYCD. Logan Hernandez, however, was talented enough to be one of very few dancers to have their performances shown in full on season 14’s first Academy episode.

Logan was a dancer who, according to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE host Cat Deely, “unleashed his own brand of contemporary in New York.” Logan easily wowed the all-stars with his flawlessly fluid marrying of contemporary and some breaking tricks. He even earned himself a standing ovation from the entire all-star panel, but he didn’t find out if that was enough until after the other nine dancers in his group did their thing.

Spoiler alert: Logan easily made it through to hip hop.

Jensen Arnold and Tristan Sosa’s piece was the next full dance. Nothing says, “hey, remember how this girl is the younger sister of a previous contestant” like showing Jensen’s performance in full after only providing lighting-fast clips of at least three other early favorites. In case anyone cared about those dancers, rather than just Lindsay Arnold’s little sister, they happened to be Chaz Wolcott (Nigel will cry with the rest of us if he loses this awesome tapper), Robert Green, and Matthew Deloch (that guy who hated dance so much he cried about it but still has unfairly beautiful pirouettes).

Kristina and Vasily, whose original audition Nigel dubbed “50 Shades of Dance,” were the only other ballroom couple highlighted. Their first lift was amazing, and everything about this latest performance was gorgeous.

So, basically, the dancers should never have been compared to one of the worst-written garbage fires of all time. But that’s none of my business.

Lex Ishimoto was also given a few more well-deserved moments of fame from SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, and then it was time to give Ryan Bailey yet another chance to confuse everyone on the planet. For the second time, Ryan had zero connection to his music. To be fair, there’s no telling whether or not Ryan’s selection was randomly swapped out again. At some point, though, “I improvised a lot of it, so I couldn’t really tell how it went” just isn’t good enough.

Case in point: Melanie Moore once “figured out” a solo just moments before competing on the SYTYCD stage, and nobody would’ve been able to tell if she hadn’t admitted it. With Ryan Bailey’s perplexing mix of jerky movements and lyrical music, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t quite have that type of ability. Stick to rehearsed choreography, Ryan. Maybe the all-stars won’t send you packing next time.

Last-chance dancer Romainson Romain was also eliminated in the solo round, as was Tristan Sosa. But Jensen, Lex, Logan and a about 70 other dancers were good enough to make it to hip hop.

Let’s not “get bucc with some hip hop.”

While the dancers may have been excited to advance to the next round, Napoleon D’umo warned that hip hop wasn’t going to be all fun and games. “It can also be the end of you.” Contestants had an hour to work through some NappyTabs choreography with their chosen partners before showing the all-stars just how well they were (or, in some cases, weren’t) able to pick it up.

Insert a few seconds of each hip hop group, spiced up with a touch of “oh, hey, these two dancers paired up,” here.

And then it was time to learn just what fate had in store for less than a handful of the dancers.

Kevin Davis, Jr. 

Allison Holker, Cyrus Spencer, Jasmine Harper, Comfort Fedoke, and Fik-Shun Stegall all wanted Kevin on their teams. After much deliberation and some wise words from the all-stars, Kevin finally came to his decision. He wanted to make a smart choice, so he joined Allison’s team in hopes that she’d be able to help him step outside of his style. 

She totally will.

Dassy Lee. 

This dancer moved to America just for a chance to be on SYTYCD; and so far, she’s living the dream. Both Cyrus and Fik-Shun wanted to work with Dassy. After taking an adorable moment to bust a move right there at the mic, she picked Team Fik-Shun.

From now on, doing some perky improv will be the only acceptable way to delay making a decision. Be like Dassy. Dance it out.

Logan Hernandez. 

Anyone feel like somebody at SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE really wants viewers to get to know this guy? Full solo. Fully played out team selection. Hm. Either it’s a spoiler in disguise, or the producers are just setting everyone up for some epic heartbreak later on. 

Whichever. Google tells me this guy is from STARS, birthplace of Ricky Ubeda’s magic toes, so I’ll take as much of him as I can get.

Robert, Allison, and Jenna all tried to keep Logan. Robert tried to appeal to the dancer by saying he thought he could change lives, but that was only after comparing Logan to an alien. Allison took a much more successful approach: practically begging. The same could be said for Jenna, but she just didn’t have the same level of energy.

Team Allison it is.

Darius Hickman. 

Before revealing Darius’ fate, Cat Deeley steered SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE viewers on a detour down memory lane. This dancer’s backstory is utterly heartbreaking; and as Nigel Lythgoe said when Darius first appeared on SYTYCD, it was time for him to finally have something good in his life.

Unfortunately, though, it was more bad news for Darius. The all-stars felt it was “an excellent experience” watching him dance, but something was missing.

Kill me now.

Darius, a class act and someone far too used to disappointment, put as positive of a spin on the news as possible: “It sucks, but it’s really just going to push me to be better. Be the best I can be.”

Ok, so I’m going to have to reiterate my request for a major company to pick up the phone and make Darius an offer. Right now. Please.

Several dancers joined Darius. 

Those eliminated included Sade Austin, Chelsea Hough, and Jason Kidd.

While the contestants who were sent home definitely had the roughest time, luck wasn’t exactly on Robert Roldan’s side either. But his loss his fellow all-stars’ gain. 

No matter how many offers he made, Robert just couldn’t seem to get anyone to join his team. In a rather interesting move, contemporary dancer Kaylee “Impavido” Mills took Cyrus’ offer over Robert’s. Lex Ishimoto (also a contemporary dancer) would rather spend some time with tapper Gaby Diaz than with an all-star known for the same style.

And Mark Villaver was lured to Team Comfort. Comfort had warned Mark not to write her off as just a one-trick pony: “Don’t get it twisted. Just because I’m hip hop doesn’t mean I don’t do other styles.” (Her original SYTYCD record says otherwise.)

But maybe logic had the worst day of all. 

After ballroom dancer Kiki failed just as hard at NappyTabs’ choreography as he had at speaking for himself during his audition, his fate seemed pretty obvious. Surely, he’d be cut.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE history dictates a bloodbath at The Academy (or Vegas Week if you’ve been here forever like I have). Excellent dancers (see also: Darius Hickman) just aren’t good enough to move forward, and stumbling through choreography is almost always a sure way out. The best a dancer who makes a major mistake can hope for is to be passed to the next choreography round for some redemption. 

Or, you know, Jenna Johnson can just be like, “hey, you’re great so I don’t care that you sucked at this style. Join my team! All you have to do is promise not to give up.”

That may or may not be grossly paraphrased, so here are some direct quotes: “Today’s hip hop round was a hot mess.” “The hottest, yeah.”

Ok then.

And with that, “Academy Week #1” ended.

If we could please stop ending these things on a low note, that would be fabulous.

Make sure to catch the next episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE next Monday, July 24, at 8/7c on FOX to see the next round of cuts and straight-to-team selections.

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  • percysowner

    Yeah, with Darius I assumed that his solo wasn’t blow them out of the water good and the hip hop choreography made them feel that he wouldn’t pick up choreography well enough, so he got the (undeserved) pass. Taking Kiki made zero sense to me.

  • Shana Lieberman

    Agreed. I’m sure they had some kind of reasoning (likely that which you gave) for dumping Darius, but without seeing what happened, it’s beyond disappointing. Especially with Kiki’s straight-to-team verdict. Sooooo weird.