‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: ‘Academy Week 2’ revealed the top 20 dancers of season 15 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

After six weeks of tryouts on “So You Think You Can Dance,” it was the moment of truth on Monday night, July 16. We learned which 10 women and 10 men officially advanced to the Top 20. So who made the cut, and who got cut? Find out below by following along with our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments.

Seventy performers who impressed the judges during the auditions were brought back for July 9’s “Academy Week 1,” and put through their paces. Last week they learned hip-hop choreography from Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo (aka Nappytabs). And then they tackled ballroom with a cha-cha taught to them by Jean-Marc Genereux. At the end 29 dancers were eliminated, narrowing down those 70 hopefuls to 41. It was an especially rough road for some, like Zoe Zimmerman, who wasn’t sent home by the judges, but rather had to withdraw after injuring her ankle.

Those remaining 41 dancers couldn’t rest on their laurels, though. In “Academy Week 2” on July 16 they moved on to contemporary choreography with Emmy winner Travis Wall and jazz dance with fellow Emmy winner Mandy Moore. More than half of them were gone by episode’s end as the judges picked the cream of the crop.

What were your favorite performances from “Academy Week”? Did the judges choose the right competitors to move on to the next round? And who are you rooting for the most as we close in on the live shows? Follow along with our blog below starting at 8:00pm Eastern for all of the night’s biggest surprises, triumphs, and disappointments. (All times listed are Eastern.)

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8:02 p.m. – We’re getting Day 2 of Academy Week started right off the bat with the introduction of Travis Wall who will choreograph the 41 dancers in a contemporary piece. He says the challenge is to see how fast they can pick things up and to test the limits of their bodies. He also calls the routine one of his hardest  ever.

8:03 p.m. – Among the first group performing after the 90 minute rehearsal is two male ballroom dancers, Allen Genkin and Cole Mills. Both guys outperformed the third ballroom dancer in their group, but Cole was told by Travis that his dancing is “absolutely beautiful.” Allen disappointed Nigel, but he did enough to impress the panel in the other disciplines that they’re putting him through to the next round.

8:08 p.m. – The next group given a spotlight included Tessa Dalke who was a hit in her solo, but struggled during the hip hop round. She was joined by Sydney Moss and Hannahlei Cabanilla. In their critique, Sydney stood out, surprising Nigel, and Hannahlei drew all of the judges’ eyes to her. Tessa, on the other hand, continued to struggle with picking up choreography so the judges see her path as headed downhill since her great solo. But despite that harsh judgment, Tessa squeaks by and moves on with Sydney and Hannahlei to the next round.

8:14 p.m.David Greenberg and tappers Eddie Hoyt and Evan DeBenedetto were in the next group to perform. As a tapper, Evan rose to the occasion beyond the judges’ expectations, faring far better than tappers from past seasons. Eddie’s huge personality scored points for the judges, but in the end it wasn’t enough and so he and David, who also underwhelmed, were both let go.

8:16 p.m. – The last line to dance for the judges was Bridget Derville-Teer, Emily Carr and Genessy Castillo, all contemporary dancers. Of the three, Emily was Nigel’s favorite and Travis told her that her spot in the top 10 is “hers to lose.” Genessy, however, lost it and the panel noticed that she wasn’t putting everything into it, but still advanced her to the next stage. For Bridget the news wasn’t as good–Travis said she lacks control and though she’s technically good it doesn’t come together and so she was let go.

8:24 p.m. – At the end of the contemporary round, 33 dancers were still in the competition and all moved on to the jazz round with Mandy Moore in a massive group number with all of them together after smaller segments divided by discipline. Mandy says the round is important because it allows the dancers to see how the different styles work together, but because there are so many of them at once it can be an intense training session.

8:27 p.m. – After learning the group portion, each discipline divided into smaller groups to choreograph and learn their segments. In those rounds, Evan the tapper picked up the routine quickly and easily and Chelsea Hough was an early standout among the jazz group. Jay Jackson, also in the jazz segment, realized that he had much less formal training than everyone else, but continued to push himself. There was friction in the group of six ballroom dancers after a couple of them got bossy about the choreo, but it all seemed to be the result of the stress that not all six of them were likely to make the top 20.

8:33 p.m. – For critiques of the performance, the judges address them in groups based on discipline. Of the six ballroom dancers Nicole Clonch is dismissed for not keeping up and mixing in the larger group atmosphere. Cole and Allen, the only two male ballroom dancers are told that only one of them is likely to make the top 20, but both still advance for now. To the other three girls, both Nigel and Mary disclose that they think this is one of the best groups of ballroom dancers that they’ve ever had at this stage of the competition.

8:38 p.m. – In the contemporary group, Tessa is addressed by the judges once again. They’re still frustrated by her lackluster showing, but she tearfully says that she feels good about what she’s been doing. Unfortunately the judges don’t see what they initially saw anymore and send her home, asking her to return to the show in a future season. The judges also said goodbye to Jay, who leaves proud of how far he made it and having proved Nigel wrong that he was a performer and not a dancer. Okuuuurrrrrr!

8:44 p.m. – After the jazz stage it’s Day 4 and only 27 dancers remain to show a final solo performance that will help determine who the judges place in the top 20 for the live shows. First to dance is contemporary artist Jay Jay Dixonbey. His strengths are his power, the height he gets on his leaps and his drive.

8:48 p.m. – We also saw an up-close of Allen’s ballroom solo, a routine that oozed personality, but may have thrown the judges off a little when he ripped off his shirt in the middle of the performance. Nigel even called it a “desperate” performance.

8:53 p.m.Dustin Payne, a hip hop artist, is the last solo we see and it blows the judges’ minds with its storytelling effortless lyricism. Jay Jay is the first dancer to hear his results and it’s… good news! He is in the top 20! And the first girl to join him is Genessy Castillo.

8:56 p.m. – Also making it through for the girls is: Magda Falek, Jensen Arnold, Stephanie Sosa, Dayna Madison, Sydney Moss, Brianna Penrose, Chelsea Hough, Emily Carr and Hannahlei Cabanilla!

8:58 p.m. – On the guys side, the judges sent through: Cole Mils, Justin Pham, Slavik Pustovoytov, Peyton Albrecht, Dustin Payne, Evan DeBenedetto, Kyle Bennett, Jr. and Darius Hickman. That left one spot open for the guys, with only Allen Genkin left to hear his results. After a disappointing final solo, the judges make it clear that it’s because of the work he did all week that he makes the top 20 not because of his performance that day.

8:59 p.m. – In a last twist, Nigel breaks it to the top 20 that only TEN of them will actually be advancing to the live shows. What?! Next week, each of the 20 will be paired with an all star and a SYTYCD choreographer to perform a duet outside of their style for the judges. That means Academy Week continues next week with only 5 girls and 5 guys doing what it takes to make the live shows. Wowza! That’s going to be a tough cut for the dancers and the judges!

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