It took a while to get here, but the top 10 dancers finally performed live for America’s vote on Monday night, August 6. They were paired off, and each of the five couples had to dance two routines, so everyone got to perform one dance in their signature style and one in their partners’. For ballroom dancer Cole Mills, that meant performing a contemporary routine with his partner Hannahlei Cabanilla. But you’d never guess that wasn’t his natural style.
Judge Nigel Lythgoe pointed out how rare it is for a ballroom dancer on “SYTYCD” to excel in the contemporary style. He even compared Mills to another dancer on a rival dance show, likening the young contestant to Emmy-winning “Dancing with the Stars” and “World of Dance” star Derek Hough.
That’s pretty high praise. Do you agree? Watch Mills’s performance with Cabanilla above, and read what the judges thought of their performance below.
Nigel Lythgoe: “Tyce Diorio did a wonderful job here, not only in some brilliant choreography, but in the whole concept of this apocalyptic routine where you had to learn to dance with each other and being two new dancers on this show, so it was a brilliant concept. Hannahlei, we somehow, every year, manage to find a little brilliant dancer that we call the warrior princess of that season, whether it was Amy Yakima, or Koine Iwasaki last year. You are that warrior princess. You were absolutely fantastic. Cole, I don’t know what it is, but we don’t get ballroom dancers who can do contemporary this well. We just don’t. With the possible exception of the brilliant Derek Hough, I haven’t seen that many ballroom dancers that perform as well as you did. It would have been very easy for the pair of you to be over-melodramatic, but you contained everything. It was a brilliant performance from the pair of you. Stunning, well done.”
Vanessa Hudgens: “I agree, it was just magical, truly magical. Hannahlei, my fellow Filipino girl, you make me proud. You’re just like a dream. Your lines are just so astonishing, so beautiful. The two of you had some beautiful connections together. Cole, you doing contemporary I really love because it’s really beautiful, it’s so pure and honest.”
Twitch: “I’m just going to keep the praises going. This was a beautiful thing to witness because in all truth, you’re supposed to be outside of your comfort zone, but what I was looking at was just a full piece of beautifulness — just so much beauty, and I applaud you. That was amazing.”
Mary Murphy: “Without a doubt, this was your ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ moment. It’s what dancers always wish for and hope they’re going to experience in their careers, and you guys just have that. Hannahlei, you are so beautiful up there. You have this little treasure that’s within you. It’s going to serve you well on this show, and it’s going to serve you well in your life. And Cole, you just gave us a chemistry lesson. You guys have it. Everybody else is going to have to catch it.”
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