“So You Think You Can Dance” kicked off season 12 with a new twist: Team Stage vs. Team Street. I initially wasn’t sure what I thought about this new twist, and I’m still not. Historically, having more stage dancers who are more adaptable, along with some street dancers who could shock everyone with their versatility, was a winning formula.
The show has certainly never had six female hip-hop dancers in the top 20 before, so it is a breakout year for women on Team Street. But while many dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance” have gone on to have great careers, the only female hip-hop artist I see working on a regular basis is Comfort Fedoke from season four.
While I think the new formula is interesting, I will miss seeing street dancers and stage dancers mix it up with each other (usually both benefit from working with someone with different skills). This new form of “Upstairs vs. Downstairs,” in my eyes, gives an immediate edge to Team Street – America loves to cheer for the underdog. But my guess is that as the season progresses, it will simply come down to the same factor that has decided every contest: which dancer America loves most.
Here are my early predictions for who those dancers will be on Team Stage. To see how I size up Team Street, click here.
10. Alexia Meyer
It was a tough call placing her at the bottom. She actually has good stage presence, but felt the weakest to me in a group performance that wasn’t one of the more well-received routines of the night. This could land her in the bottom three. I’m not sure if the judges will let her go or not, but she is definitely in trouble.
9. Derek Piquette
Derek is a good dancer, but his issue is that he is quite forgettable. There is nothing that stands out about his dancing or personality, but I think his talent will prompt the judges to save him.
8. Moises Parra
Moises excelled in his solos throughout the auditions and actually had to dance for his life at one point to stay in the competition. He has personality and got decent airtime during the audition rounds, which could help him win votes, but I’m not convinced the judges won’t drop him if the opportunity is there.
7. Kate Harpootlian
Kate didn’t receive much airtime in the audition rounds, and I don’t think her performance was strong enough to build a fan base on that alone. I need to see more from her, but based on her performance on Monday night, she is in the bottom half for me.
6. Edson Juarez
Kate’s partner in a routine that wasn’t well-received had the advantage of being more memorable than she was. He could rebound in the future as he seems to have more personality than the other men on Team Stage.
5. Darion Flores
When I saw clips of Darion in the auditions, he stood out to me as the early favorite – without question the strongest, most powerful dancer in the competition. What I realized during the live performance was that his personality didn’t stand out, and he was slightly overshadowed by his partner (Jim Nowakowski, see below). As long as the judges have control of who stays and who goes, Darion will be safe, which is why I have him in the top five. We will see if he can win over viewers as weeks go by.
4. Gaby Diaz
Gaby is the lone tap dancer on the show, which gives her an edge as someone who is unique. She was also the stand-out performer in a contemporary performance and received major kudos from both the judging panel and choreographers. I think she is a favorite of the judges and one to look out for.
3. Hailee Payne
Hailee is one of the most striking dancers to look at. Even when all 10 stage dancers were on stage my eyes would wander in her direction. Judge Nigel Lythgoe said she looked like a young Madonna – I was thinking Sharon Stone. I think audiences will like her; she knows how to perform.
2. Marissa Milele
According to choreographers in clips show during the first live show, Marissa doesn’t seem to be the most graceful dancer. What does work in Marissa’s favor is her presence on stage. In her group performance with Hailee and Alexia, she was the one who stood out the most to me. She is a strong dancer and beautiful girl who I can see making it all the way to the finale.
1. Jim Nowakowski
The judges haven’t done a good job of hiding the fact that he is likely their favorite dancer in the competition. The professional ballerina wowed in the auditions and has gotten nothing but the highest praise from judges and choreographers. He lacks some personality, but is still likable, which could be enough in a season that includes some over-the-top personalities that have already gotten on my nerves. If Jim doesn’t reach the finale it will be a huge upset.
Do you already think you know who will win?
In our “So You Think You Can Dance” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions each week:
Which STAGE dancer will be eliminated?
Which STREET dancer will be eliminated?
Which STAGE dancer will be in the bottom but safe?
Which STREET dancer will be in the bottom but safe?
Who will win ‘So You Think You Can Dance’?
At the end of each week, the eligible user with the highest prediction accuracy and most points will win a $100 Amazon gift certificate, so it’s beneficial to keep coming back often and making/updating your predictions.
Which dancers do you like (and dislike) the most? Are you on Team Stage or Team Street after the first night of live competition? Sound off in the comments section below, and join the discussion in Gold Derby’s reality TV forum.