After a long “Academy Week” on “So You Think You Can Dance” that included a number of group routines in various styles, the contestants who made it all the way through the gauntlet still had to impress the judges with one last solo routine. Hip-hop dancer Dustin Payne rose to the occasion. Watch his liquid-smooth moves above.
“Academy Week” started with 70 contestants who impressed judges Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe and Vanessa Hudgens during the initial auditions that took place in New York City and Los Angeles. Those talented hopefuls then worked their way through a grueling regimen that started in the July 9 episode of “SYTYCD” with hip-hop dance (Payne’s forte) with choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo. Then came ballroom training with Jean-Marc Genereux.
We saw the rest on July 16. In “Academy Week 2” the exhausted competitors were schooled in contemporary dance by Travis Wall before a final group extravaganza: a jazz routine choreographed by Mandy Moore. All along the way the judges whittled down the 70 dancers to the 27 who performed their final solos, and Payne passed every test.
After Payne’s solo, he was unsurprisingly named as one of the Top 20 advancing to the next round along with nine other men: Jay Jay Dixonbey, Cole Mils, Justin Pham, Slavik Pustovoytov, Peyton Albrecht, Evan DeBenedetto, Kyle Bennett Jr., Darius Hickman and Allen Genkin.
But it’s not over yet. Before the live shows the dancers have to pass yet another test: the remaining competitors will be paired with “SYTYCD” all-stars for duets that will determine which 10 of the Top 20 will be finalists. No rest for the weary, but Payne might be smooth enough to glide right through anyway.