Slavik Pustovoytov entered the “So You Think You Can Dance” live shows as an underdog. He was the only hip-hop dancer who made the Top 10, and his freestyle background meant that learning choreography in any style was a brand new experience for him. So the judges have been pleasantly surprised by how well he has adapted to a variety of styles he was unfamiliar with before now. But on the night when the Top 6 performed for just four spots in the finale, the pressure seemed to get to him, and he got some of his harshest critiques of the season.
His first duet was a hip-hop routine with “SYTYCD” all-star Jaja Vankova that was choreographed by another all-star, Comfort Fedoke. You might think that a hip-hop routine would be as close to his comfort zone as he could get, but the judges weren’t impressed. Twitch thought it lacked the “complete devotion” Pustovoytov had brought to his previous performances and that Vankova carried the whole routine. Nigel Lythgoe criticized his posture. Mary Murphy thought the performance “let him down.” Even the usually generous Vanessa Hudgens pointed out that she could sense him thinking through the routine instead of really feeling it.
Pustovoytov looked like a deer in headlights as he was listening to the judges’ remarks. And it didn’t get better even when he reunited with his usual partner Genessy Castillo for a sexy salsa routine (watch above). Their chemistry has helped carry them through the season, but once again Pustovoytov was a punching bag while Castillo got all the praise.
The poor guy looked defeated after the second round of criticism. So it seemed like a shocking turnaround when it was revealed at the end of the night that he had made the final four and would be dancing for the season 15 title in the finale. But that wasn’t a big surprise since these results were based on America’s votes from last week, when he was still a judges’ darling.
However, it was surprising that Pustovoytov was the only male competitor who made it to the finale. Both Jay Jay Dixonbey and Darius Hickman were eliminated, leaving Pustovoytov in the top four with Castillo, Hannahlei Cabanilla and Jensen Arnold. It may have been a relief in the moment, but he may go into next week’s show with the most pressure on his shoulders: he’ll need to prove to the judges that he truly belongs in the final four.
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