‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: ‘Academy Part 1’ started the journey to the top 10 of season 16 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

After five weeks of auditions on “So You Think You Can Dance,” the best performers made their way to the Academy rounds where the judges narrow the field down even further. So who handled the pressure, and who were crushed under the weight of it in “Academy Part 1”? Find out below in our live blog with all the developments as they happen.

The Academy is where the rubber really meets the road in this competition. The dancers auditioned for the judges in their signature styles over the last few weeks, but winning “SYTYCD” means mastering a lot more than one style. You’ve got to be a jack of all trades. Can krumpers learn contemporary? Can the tappers also tango? Can they go from breaking to Broadway to ballroom and back again? Can they dance as well in groups as they do by themselves? There’s a lot to learn during the Academy and not a lot of time to do it, so this is a golden opportunity for the most elite dancers can shine the brightest.

This round will determine who moves on to the live shows, but the cuts are always grueling. After a couple of Academy weeks the show will be down to its top 10 women and top 10 men, but then the judges will mercilessly cut the field in half again, sending through only 10 dancers total (5 men and 5 women) to compete for audience votes during the live rounds. So who survived this gauntlet? Did you agree with the judges’ decisions? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:00pm — “It was the most incredible round of auditions the show has ever seen,” says Cat Deeley about the last five weeks of shows. There were 79 dancers who made it through to this round, but there’s only room for 10 in the live shows. “Welcome to the Academy!”

9:02pm — There will be four rounds of choreography: hip-hop with Luther Brown, ballroom with “Dancing with the Stars” pros Emma Slater and Sasha Farber, contemporary with Talia Favia, and the group round with Emmy winner extraordinaire Mandy Moore.

9:04pm — Hip-hop with Luther Brown is first. Luther is looking for “precision, energy and star quality.” And he jumps right into the steps without a moment’s hesitation. He’s bringing “hard-hitting” moves, but is also trying to showcase the dancers’ personalities. And there are people in the back talking while Luther’s class is in session, and he’s not having it whatsoever.

9:06pm — The first dancers to perform after the 90-minute are the only three hip-hop ladies to advance from the auditions: Anna screwed up her steps, and got a tongue-lashing from the judges, so they want to see the whole routine again. Luckily it went a lot better for all of them the second time around.

9:08pm — Next up are Brandon Ron, Michael Sales and Samuel Sweetser. And another huge error right at the start of the routine. Michael and Samuel are already cut from the competition.

9:10pmVictoria Neukom, Seamus Moriarty and Lauren Luteran also got the axe after their hip-hop performances. Already off to a really rough start when it comes to the dancers learning choreography. And for hip-hop dancers to struggle with the hip-hop choreography is even worse.

9:14pmJay Jackson, Benjamin Castro, and Sophie Pittman are among the dancers wowing the judges, even outside of their own disciplines. Others are getting ripped to shreds by Nigel Lythgoe, but some of them are getting another chance anyway.

9:16pmHoward Johnson, plus twins Trent Edwards and Colton Edwards are next up. It’s kinda rough for Trent. Colton and Howard are safe, but the judges want to see Trent do his contemporary solo again to be reminded of how great he was before. They cut him off before he’s even done with that. He’s still off his game, so Trent gets the boot. His brother Colton is safe, though, which makes it even tougher.

9:23pm — There are 69 dancers left going into the ballroom round. Let’s hope it goes smoother than hip-hop did. But they’re doing cha cha, which is a pretty demanding way to jump into ballroom. Some of these kids look scared. Emma is worried about their students’ timing, and the partnering is going to be tough with such limited prep time.

9:26pmGino Coscuella and Ashley Sanchez are among the first up to show off their ballroom skills. Nigel thought during the auditions that Gino was a shoo-in for the top 10. Desi had a rough time with the choreography, but she didn’t give up, and the judges are letting her through. And Gino is still the judges’ pet.

9:32pmMaia Bliudnikas and Frank “Ghost” Crisp Jr. are in the next group, so is tapper Eddie Hoyt, who made the judges cry during the auditions. He’s partnered with Anna Lindstruth. And rounding out this group are Lukas Bartunek and Mariah Russell. The judges are a little nonplussed by some of those performances. Ghost struggled somewhat, but the judges let him through. Mariah is in too, and so are Anna and Lukas, but Maia is out; they think she needs more work and came off as “childish.” As for Eddie … it was not his best work, but Mary Murphy thought it was better than last year. The keep him in suspense, but he’s sticking around!

9:37pmJalen Sands is out. So is Bridget Derville-Teer. And poor Colton Edwards got the axe too, so he’ll be joining his twin brother on the trip home.

9:42pm — One last group for the ballroom round. Gianna is out even though she had a strong start during her routine; her partner showed her up, but she still thinks the show was the best experience she’s ever had. Madison held her own even though she was partnered with a ballroom specialist, so she’s moving on. Smac had problems, and the judges love her personality, so they ask her to reprise her solo. They love her “humor and level of performance,” but they’re not sure her actually dancing is up to snuff.

9:50pm — So what’s Smac’s fate? … Alas, Nigel thinks her limited dance capability knocks her out of the competition. Even she understands that her dance skills weren’t at the level of her competitors’. I hope we see her again in the future when she has stronger technique to match her star quality and stage presence

9:52pm — There are 54 dancers left after ballroom, and Talia Favia is pushing them to the edge. There are a number of contemporary specialists still in the running, so it’s going to be tough.

9:54pmJay Jackson is in the first contemporary group. He’s nervous about having to face so many other dancers who know this style. Benjamin has wowed the judges throughout this Academy round, and he’s only now in his own style. They loved his emotional urgency, so he’s in. Samuel is going through too. As for Jay … he’s eliminated. The judges say they’d like to see him again, but he reminds them that he;s 30, so this is his last chance to compete on the show. Poor guy, ousted in the Academy two years running.

9:57pm — Time for a couple of hip-hop dancers to tackle contemporary: Bailey and John John. And they get a standing ovation from the judges. Bailey is honored to represent b-boys with his Filipino brother John John. No surprise that they’re both moving through to the next round.

10:00pm — That’s it for tonight’s jam-packed, fast-paced show. Things aren’t slowing down next week, though. It’s time for the group performance choreographed by Mandy Moore. No rest for the weary, but we’ve already seen some promising performers who might be forces to be reckoned with when we get to the top 10. Who do you think has what it takes to win the whole show? Comment below.

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