“So You Think You Can Dance” held its third week of live shows on Monday night, August 20. Jazz dancer Chelsea Hough and tapper Evan DeBenedetto were the first two competitors eliminated by America’s votes, which narrowed down the competition to the Top 8. How did they do in the latest live show, and how many survived the elimination to advance to next week’s show? Scroll down to find out in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
The four women who came into tonight’s show were Jensen Arnold, Hannahlei Cabanilla, Genessy Castillo and Magda Fialek. The four men still in the running were Jay Jay Dixonbey, Darius Hickman, Cole Mills and Slavik Pustovoytov. And if our fluctuating odds are any indication this season is still wide open. Going into the live shows DeBenedetto was one of the dancers are readers were most rooting for, but then he was eliminated. And after the first live show Mills was our users’ slight favorite to win the season, but then the judges criticized him for his stepping routine and America’s votes landed him in the bottom four.
Going into the Top 8 our users were split eight ways, so there’s no one we can rule out of possibly taking this season’s title, but the new front-runner is Slavik. He’s the only hip-hop dancer who made the top 10, and on top of that he’s a freestyler who was inexperienced with choreography before appearing on this show. But he has proven surprisingly adept at a variety of dance styles, including contemporary and Broadway. But as we’ve seen already this season, this week’s favorite could become next week’s elimination. The field is so evenly matched that no one can afford the slightest misstep.
Find out what happened below, starting at 8:00pm (all times listed are Eastern). And make sure to watch our interviews with Emmy-nominated choreographers Christopher Scott, Travis Wall and Mandy Moore at the bottom of this post.
8:00 p.m. – Tonight’s show opened with a group performance to an instrumental version of Kanye West‘s “Runaway” choreographed by Christopher Scott. The exquisite routine featured the male dancers constrained in “chains” while their female counterparts dance around them, released them and then exited the stage leaving only Slavik still imprisoned.
8:05 p.m. – The first pair of the night is Jensen and Jay Jay with Sean Cheesman for the second time this season. Their goal tonight was to be sensual and seductive since it was an issue that had come up before with the judges. Dancing in the jazz style to “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by Jessie J I expected more sensuality, but unfortunately it all came off a bit too clunky for me. At one point, Jay Jay even dangerously danced his way off the stage (eek!). In addition to that, Cat Deeley pointed out that their performance was different in dress rehearsal to which Jensen admitted that they disrobed one another out of order, but still managed to work through the routine. Despite all that, the judges were fairly complimentary though most of the praise was tossed to Jensen instead of Jay Jay.
8:12 p.m. – Dancing in his own style to “Jailhouse Rock,” Cole kicked off the first live solo segments of the season with an uptempo ballroom number, one of the hardest disciplines to solo to in my opinion!
8:17 p.m. – Genessy and Slavik were choreographed by Mandy Moore this week with a plan to get “over the radar” as opposed to being under the radar (as Slavik put it). For Mandy the rehearsal stage was focusing on getting Slavik to point his feet because the pair already had enough natural chemistry. The Leela James song “Fall for You” set the tone for their dance that just oozed romance. For a hip hop dancer, Slavik managed to beautifully meet Genessy as an equal partner in a contemporary piece that is her own style. Vanessa Hudgens noticed that Slavik’s pointed toes were there and Mary Murphy was flatly surprised that they see themselves as underrated when she considers them one of the best dancing couples in series history!
8:23 p.m. – For Hannahlei‘s solo she took on “River” with an intensity that we had yet to see from her and rarely see in a contemporary piece.
8:29 p.m. – At rehearsals with hip hop choreographers Phoenix & Pharside, Magda and Darius were rebounding from Magda’s placement in the bottom four last week and focused on pulling the aggressive side out of Darius. In Disto‘s “Killa,” I have to say that Darius did bring the toughness asked of him, but Magda’s energy while good didn’t exactly match his and she even seemed a bit behind him on some counts. For tWitch, the execution of the routine was just not there from Magda, but reminded her that she has a solo and another routine to come back from this performance. Mary, on the other hand, acknowledged that Magda was way out of her element and is proud of how hard she tried and saw her determination. Darius got great notices all around though!
8:35 p.m. – In his solo to “Clear Air,” Jay Jay showed off a lot of powerful moves, but in a routine that didn’t flow very well and lacked the same vision that ones before him did.
8:40 p.m. – Slavik‘s solo to “Separate” was another solid showing for him, a clear example of his personality and talent at popping.
8:41 p.m. – Hannahlei and Cole were also spiraling from Cole’s place in the bottom four last week, but in the hands of Travis Wall they felt safe. The problem is they were set to do the first broadway routine that Travis has ever choreographed for the show so it was a learning exercise all around. The pair danced to a live version of Judy Garland‘s “Get Happy” in a much more comedic way than I would have guessed for a Travis routine. The studio audience was ecstatic about the performance, temporarily silencing Mary who once she got a word in was equally excited about it. Nigel Lythoe, the judge that knows most about broadway, loved it as well, telling them both that they were magnificent and qualifying that Cole did not overdo it.
8:48 p.m. – Magda lit up the stage with her solo to “Marchina” in a fringe jumpsuit that made every move shine. Again, I think ballroom solos are tough, but Magda displayed her skills well.
8:53 p.m. – The first couple to dance their second duet of the night was Genessy and Slavik, who was taking on jazz for the first time with Ray Leeper. The routine was to “House Work” and might have been Slavik’s roughest performance to date because it was actually so close to his own style that he interpreted it as rigid as he would a popping dance, but Genessy was much smoother with it. The judges loved it though, all of them getting to their feet at the end for a brief ovation. Again, the panel focused on their chemistry, making it clear that they all have thrown their chips in for both of these dancers who in their eyes can do no wrong.
8:59 p.m. – Jaci Royal returns this week to choreograph Magda and Darius in a contemporary routine that uses a rope as a prop to depict the push and pull of a relationship. “Undertow” spoke personally to Magda’s real world experiences and, to be honest, her connection to the song showed. Her emotiveness shined through the entire piece and Darius was there every step of the way. Aside from a slight awkward moment untangling the rope, they both managed a very difficult prop very well including what looked like some very difficult spins. tWitch was on board with their ability to trust in one another and dive into a routine with that level of commitment. Mary told Magda she had many beautiful moments and applauded Darius’ ability to remain connected even with the prop between them. Nigel did detract from the rest of the panel, asking the choreographers to take the dancers into account when designing dances because from his point of view not much was asked of Darius and he would have preferred to see him dancing.
9:06 p.m. – In Jensen‘s solo to “Ain’t Your Mama” she showed how sexy a ballroom solo can be and maintained a high level of energy throughout.
9:12 p.m. – Jensen and Jay Jay were joined by choreographers Hef & Randi for a hip hop piece that also required the use of props. The dance to “Cookin'” was appropriately themed and included multiple tricks with frying pans that started the whole routine off awkwardly. Once the pans were put down the pair was able to find the groove in the song and though it wasn’t the best routine I’ve ever seen, they at least looked like they had fun with it! The judges loved the energy of the dance and tWitch pointed out that it allowed each of them to show off their individuality which he says is an important part of hip hop. Mary called them both stars and Nigel, strangely (considering what he just said about the prior duet), was much more into this use of props (I hated it!) than he was the rope.
9:18 p.m. – Dancing to “Strange Fruit,” Darius told a story with his solo rather than focusing on a ton of skills, which if I know Nigel’s taste may come up later tonight if Darius slips into the bottom.
9:22 p.m. – In their second duet, Hannahlei and Cole got the cha cha by Sasha Farber and Emma Slater. During rehearsals Cole saw an opportunity to prove in his own style that he does not belong in the bottom. “Sing It Back” was in a lower tempo than we’re used to for cha Chas, but that only allowed them to connect deeply and strive for perfection. At the close of the dance the panel was in a sustained ovation for the first time of the night and resident ballroom expert Mary was amazed at one of the most astounding dip tricks that she’s ever seen (it literally had Hannahlei’s head diving toward the stage floor before escaping between Cole’s legs) and thinks they both danced better than ever.
9:28 p.m. – In the final solo of the night, Genessy also told a story with “”Yours,” but managed to weave in enough technique to produce the perfect contemporary solo piece.
9:33 p.m. – Before the results came through, the top four girls came to the stage for a group performance to “Wanderlust” as choreographed by Talia Favia. They began the performance masked and even with momentarily silences in the music managed to keep their synchronicity throughout. For me, Hannaahlei and Magda stood out, showing their emotion and intensity best. Vanessa singled out Hannahlei and Jensen as the most emotive of the bunch while Nigel complimented Magda for keeping up with the other girls who were all much better versed in contemporary dancing.
9:38 p.m. – After the girls danced, Cat announced their results: both Jensen and Hannahlei were safe, leaving Magda in the bottom four again along with Genessy for her first time.
9:44 p.m. – Prior to hearing their own set of results, the top four guys joined forces for a performance to “Juice” from Luther Brown. Donning their best neon Dick Tracy get-ups, the guys found a groove together, but I’d say Cole had a rough time keeping up with the vibe of the rest (Slavik was an expected star here). The judges were so moved by the routine that they began their own sway to the beat before giving unanimous praise to all four. Vanessa particularly enjoyed Jay Jay and Darius while Mary joined her in acclaim for Jay Jay and Nigel joined in the praise for Darius.
9:49 p.m. – In their results, Cat announced that: Jay Jay and Slavik were safe, leaving Cole in the bottom once more with Darius.
9:54 p.m. – After deliberating, Nigel broke the bad news: he reminded everyone that Cole had a great night and told Magda he doesn’t understand why she’s in the bottom again. He loved the solo by Darius (I was wrong!) and complimented Genessy for how much support she’s provided her partner. With all that said, he made it clear that the disparity in votes between the bottom two and the next step up was too significant to ignore and with that in mind the two eliminated had to be Cole and Magda.
9:57 p.m. – As explained earlier in the show, next week the all stars will return to the stage for duets with the top six dancers. Which dancers still in the competition are your favorites and who do you think will win? Sound off in the comments and then update your weekly predictions accordingly!
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