“So You Think You Can Dance” announced its top 20 dancers at the end of “Academy Week” last week, and the 10 men and 10 women who made the cut were overjoyed to be on their way to the live shows … except they weren’t going to the live shows yet. The judges blindsided them by announcing yet another round of cuts that would reduce the top 20 down to the top 10. So the remaining women performed one last time in episode seven on July 23 for a spot in the live shows. So which five advanced, and which five were Thanos-snapped out of existence?
The 10 women who made it this far were Genessy Castillo, Magda Fialek, Jensen Arnold, Stephanie Sosa, Dayna Madison, Sydney Moss, Brianna Penrose, Chelsea Hough, Emily Carr and Hannahlei Cabanilla. For their final challenge to qualify for the live shows, each of them were paired with a “SYTYCD” all-star for a routine in a style that wasn’t their specialty.
Hannahlei was up first. She’s a contemporary dancer, but the judges tasked her with a salsa for which she was paired with all-star Jonathan Platero. But that was no sweat for the 18-year-old, whom judge Mary Murphy said was “on fire” and “mind-blowing.”
Magda was up next, and after Hannahlei’s standout performance she had a lot to live up to. The ballroom specialist was given a contemporary routine, for which she was paired with all-star Robert Roldan and given choreography by Mandy Moore. The resulting performance brought Vanessa Hudgens to tears — a good sign. Murphy thought her performance was “honest,” and Nigel Lythgoe thought she should be “very, very proud” of herself.
Contemporary dancer Dayna was the third to perform. She teamed up with all-star Paul Karmiryan for a cha-cha, but Murphy thought there were places where she looked “uncomfortable.” Murphy and Lythgoe both thought she could have had better chemistry with her partner, though they all admired most of her fancy footwork.
Another contemporary specialist, Genessy, followed that up with a hip-hop routine with all-star Fik-Shun. That’s about as far from contemporary as you can get, but their routine elicited a “Wow” from Lythgoe, and Hudgens thought she was “amazing.”
Brianna also had her work cut out for her going from her tap specialty to a contemporary routine with all-star partner Brandon Bryant. Murphy appreciated her “passion” despite a couple of “labored” tricks. Alas, Lythgoe found it “heavy” and “uncomfortable on some of the transitions.” That was the mostly sharply negative critique of the night, so that didn’t bode well for her.
Chelsea was up next, going from her usual jazz style to salsa, also with Jonathan Platero, and she did an “amazing job” according to Murphy. And Lythgoe said, “Those hips don’t lie.” She was “born” to salsa.
That was another tough act to follow, but Stephanie gave it her all. The ballroom dancer performed a contemporary routine with all-star Lex Ishimoto (who just won season 14 last year). Lythgoe liked it, but admitted he was somewhat underwhelmed, and Murphy wanted to see more “liquid” movement. From those tepid critiques she seemed like another performer on the bubble.
Contemporary dancer Sydney took the stage with Paul Karmiryan for another cha cha. Unfortunately she needed to have “more fire” and be more “grounded,” according to Murphy. Lythgoe sensed she wasn’t really feeling the music. Even the usually effusive Hudgens thought it was a little “monotone.” It wasn’t looking good for her based on that routine.
Eight down, two to go. Contemporary dancer Emily took the stage with Fik-Shun for a hip-hop routine that was “well done” as far as Murphy was concerned, but Lythgoe thought she was missing some “strength” on a couple of moves. Certainly not a disaster for her, but it didn’t sound like she was a lock for the live shows.
Ballroom dancer Jensen closed out the show with Brandon Bryant for a jazz number. “You have matured so brilliantly,” Lythgoe told her. He thought it was “sensational.” And Murphy thought she had the “most assured” performance of the day. That sure sounded like a lock for the top five to me.
The time came for the judges to make the final cut. Brianna was the first to step forward and the first to hear the bad news: better luck next time for the tapper. Sydney was called forward next, and she too was sent packing.
Things went better for Hannahlei: Lythgoe told her she would need to really bring out her vibrant personality on the dance floor because she’ll need it to earn viewer votes during the live shows — she’s in! They brought Jensen forward for her verdict next, and there was no real suspense there: she made it to the live shows too.
Emily looked nervous when it was her turn to receive her verdict from the judges, especially after the two women before her had been announced as finalists. Unfortunately, after a couple of disappointing performances, she was sent home from the show.
Magda was next, and she got a spot in the finals, despite Lythgoe toying with her by insisting that they wouldn’t be able to take all three female ballroom dancers to the live shows. And despite flying under the radar during Academy Week, Genessy impressed the judges enough in the end to earn a spot in the finals.
Four spots down, just one left for the final three dancers. Stephanie was told she missed the cut, but just barely. Eliminating her was the hardest decision the judges had to make.
It came down to a head-to-head between Chelsea and Dayna for the last spot in the live shows. And the final result … Chelsea’s in the top five, but Dayna’s going home.
So there are your top five: Chelsea Hough, Jensen Arnold, Genessy Castillo, Magda Fialek, and Hannahlei Cabanilla.
We’ll see those talented ladies again when the live shows start, but not before we find out next week which five men will join them. Which female finalist are you rooting for? Vote in our poll below.