‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Top 8 recap: Finalists are paired with each other for the first time

The top eight contestants and their all-star partners opened Monday’s live episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” with a gag-worthy group routine to RuPaul‘s “Call Me Mother” choreographed by Mark Kanemura, setting the bar high for a night that tested the competitors on a new level. This week each dancer performed two duets, one with their all-star partner and, for the first time, another with one of their peers. As always, host Cat Deeley was on hand alongside series judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens who by the end of the night were tasked with cutting one contestant from the competition.

Which dancers placed in the bottom three based on viewer votes from last week’s show and who did the judges ultimately eliminate in eighth place? Find out in our season 14, episode 11 recap below and let us know your own thoughts in the comments.

First to take the stage were Koine Iwasaki and her all-star partner Marko Germar, who took on a jazz number from Emmy nominated choreographer Mandy Moore. The couple was elated to hear that Mandy’s routine to “HandClap” had no story, allowing them to put all of their focus on the moves rather than character. That being said, the judges were still impressed by how easily Koine’s personality shines through when she dances. Koine and Marko’s lively routine was followed up by a hip hop number by Luther Brown with Taylor Sieve and all-star Robert Roldan to “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi B‘s hit single with a hard beat. Mary was most impressed with Taylor here, calling her sexiness and funkiness unexpected in the best way.

Lex Ishimoto was the next dancer up with his partner Gaby Diaz, also working with Mandy Moore this week. “Work Song” provided Lex the opportunity to perform in his own style, contemporary, for the first time this season, and Mandy’s decisions really let Lex’s strengths shine: his extensions, leaping, and balance were all on display. Kaylee Millis and Cyrus Spencer on the other hand were both thrown far outside of their comfort zone, tasked with a Val Chmerkovskiy cha-cha to Aretha Franklin‘s “Respect.” Despite her nerves taking on a ballroom routine, Kaylee exceeded the expectations of resident ballroom expert Mary.

Choreographer Spencer Liff created a “Criminal” Broadway piece for Mark Villaver and Comfort Fedoke that allowed them to put their chemistry and personalities in the spotlight. The judges had the same type of critique they’ve had for the couple all season — that they’re a perfect partnership and they light up the stage together, but it doesn’t seem to have blown anyone’s minds. But Kiki Nyemchek and Jenna Johnson‘s take on Travis Wall‘s jazz number to “Pop Hd” had the opposite reaction, earning surprise acclaim from Vanessa especially, who thinks that Jenna has been a great teacher for Kiki, who is coming out of his shell more each week.

All-star Fik-shun Stegall and Dassy Lee took on a contemporary number by Jaci Royal that required a lot of strength on Dassy’s part that pushed her to her limit. With their take on “Breathe,” the judges were most impressed by Dassy’s ability to rebound from a trip to the bottom three last week on a routine that required her to show a softer side of her abilities.

In the final contestant/all-star duet of the night, Logan Hernandez and Allison Holker were handed a lyrical hip-hop piece by Christopher Scott to “Say You Won’t Let Go.” It may have seemed like the judges’ reactions to the number were muted, but they were clearly touched by the vulnerability on display and remain firmly in support of Logan.

Following those first eight performances, the all-stars joined one another on stage for a Jaci Royal group routine to “Truth,” signaling their exit for the night to allow the eight finalists to duet with each other. The first pairing was Lex and Taylor with a classical jazz piece to “An American in Paris” by Spencer Liff. The judges thought they were a match made in heaven. Nigel called the routine one of the best dances in series history with nothing more than that to say. The second duet brought Koine and Kiki together for a salsa by Val Chmerkovskiy, and with Kiki working in his own style he was obviously strong, but the real surprise was Koine, who kept pace with him and owned the stage.

Logan and Kaylee were the third pair to take the stage together, lucking out with a Travis Wall contemporary work to “Shadows” that offered them both the comfort of working in their own style. Both dancers excelled, as expected, but the judges loved Kaylee, with Mary saying she went two-for-two on the night.

The last duet with Dassy and Mark gave choreographer Christopher Scott the chance to offer them both redemption from being in the bottom last week. The challenge of “Tilted” was the constant use of umbrellas as props, and though they handled it well the routine never quite landed with the judges falling back on “It was fun” as their go-to reaction.

Dassy and Mark were immediately joined by the other finalists for the announcement of this week’s bottom three. Dassy, named in the bottom for the second time, was joined by Kaylee and Koine both making their first appearance. After judges deliberated, Nigel, Mary, and Vanessa came to a unanimous decision to send both Koine and Kaylee to the next round, meaning Dassy was eliminated.

Next Monday “SYTYCD” will continue with the top seven dancers before your votes will once again reveal the bottom three, with one pair being eliminated. Who is your favorite dancer in the top seven and who do you think will be eliminated next week? Sound off in the comments below!

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