‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: ‘Academy Part 2’ cut the competition to the top 20 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Last week 83 dancers entered the Academy on “So You Think You Can Dance” after impressing the judges with their auditions. The training was tough, and so were the cuts, but that was nothing compared to “Academy Part 2,” during which the judges narrowed the competition down to the top 10 men and the top 10 women. Find out who stayed and who had to go in our live blog below with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

In “Academy Part 1” the 83 hopefuls were put through a gauntlet of choreography: hip-hop with newly minted Emmy nominee Luther Brown, ballroom with “Dancing with the Stars” supercouple Sasha Farber and Emma Slater, and then contemporary with Talia Favia. After a crash course in those styles, the performers had to deliver the goods in front of Mary Murphy, Laurieann Gibson, Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval and an especially withering Nigel Lythgoe. Not everyone performed clean routines after such little preparation, but this round was as much about staying cool under pressure: forgetting the steps is bad, but freezing and giving up on the performance is worse. You learn a lot about a dancer from how they react to their own mistakes.

Tonight the remaining dancers learned a group number from Emmy winner Mandy Moore, after which there were 20 dancers remaining but there’s one more cut to go before 10 contestants (5 men and 5 women) are sent to the live shows to compete for America’s votes. So what did you think of the performances and the judges’ cuts this time? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:00pm — Mandy Moore is “looking for these dancers to push” tonight because if they can’t make it here they won’t make it in the live shows.

9:01pm — 23 dancers are gone since last week’s episode, and Talia Favia’s contemporary round is still underway. Jarrod Paulson and Luke Romanzi are dancing in their own style. But Luke had issues in previous rounds, so the pressure is on him especially. The judges have a tough time deciding on this pair. Jarrod couldn’t seem to find himself on the stage, so D-Trix gives him the bad news that he’s out, and he had to break the bad news to his girlfriend Madison Jordan. And then there’s Luke, who also didn’t do quite enough to go through to the next round. Ouch — tough way to start the show.

9:06pm — Madison has to perform right after her boyfriend got the boot. Juliet also performed in this group, and she’s the first to get comments from the judges: she’s out, she just didn’t have the technique. Haley is next: she didn’t have an authentic emotional connection to the music, so she’s out too. Damn, are they going to keep anyone? That leaves Madison alone on the stage as her boyfriend waits anxiously backstage.

9:12pm — After a commercial break to build the suspense, the judges look disappointed, but they may be faking her out … Yep, Mary Murphy is crying over how good she was. She’s moving forward, and Jarrod tells her he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, so I guess she kinda won twice.

9:15pm — There are 43 dancers left going into the group dance with Mandy Moore. So they still need to cut more than half of the field. And Mandy is going to do something unique: she’s incorporating the moves from their previous Academy dances into one group number. She wants to push them right to the edge because “that’s when the best comes out.”

9:17pm — Just like that, Mandy’s lesson is complete, and the dancers have another 45 minutes to work together with each other to practice their work in groups. The tension is getting to Eddie Hoyt especially as all the dancers’ personalities clash — though it doesn’t really look like there’s a whole lot of drama in that room. I can relate to Eddie, though, group projects were always my least favorite projects at school.

9:22pm — Okay, it’s time for the group performances — 43 fresh faced young hoofers … before half of them go into the wood chipper. Nigel warns them to draw attention to themselves for the right reasons and not for “screwing up.” Good pep talk, Nigel!

9:25pm — From this layman’s perspective, that was a pretty good group routine. I didn’t see anything glaringly terrible at all. The judges gave a standing ovation, D-Trix was crying, and yet the judges have to make some decisions. They can’t keep everybody.

9:29pm — Time to cull the herd. Sophie gets huge praise from Laurieann after another fake-out where she started to sound kind of grim. Mariah and Melanie are also moving on to the final solos before the top 20 are finally decided.

9:32pm — Contemporary group is next to learn their fates, starting with Ezra Sosa — Mary thinks he has come into his own. He’s going through to the next round, and so are all the other contemporary dancers. Hip-hop dancer Desi Saenz, unfortunately, is going home, though Laurieanne gives her encouraging parting words, though. Nine other dancers get the axe too. But Eddie and Madison are in too.

9:36pm — And then there were 33. They’ll perform one last solo for the judges to determine the top 20. Contemporary dancer Gino Cosculluela is the first to take the stage again by himself, an elegant, emotional routine that the judges responded well to. Laurieanne seemed especially impressed, but he’ll have to wait and see if it was enough.

9:42pm — Hip-hop dancer Sumi Oshima is up next. D-Trix seems overwhelmed with emotion and “incredible technique.” I like the sound of that. A montage of additional performances includes Madison and the Sosa siblings before giving us Eddie Hoyt’s full solo. It’s a unique, smooth tap routine with surprising swagger. It’s like hip-hop tap — tap-hop. I dig it. But Eddie didn’t think it was his best work. He was disappointed in himself because his shoe came undone midway through the routine.

9:50pm — The last dancer is hip-hopper Bailey Munoz, who has a lot emotionally riding on this performance, but when the music starts you wouldn’t think he has a care in the world. He’s got great moves, unique and intricate.

9:54pm — Anna gets the first spot for the girls. So are Sophie, Ashley, Sophie, Nazz. No surprise, Madison is in the top 20 too, as are Melany, Sumi and Stephanie.

9:59pm — Bailey is the first man to learn his fate: he’s made it to the top 20 because he “killed it, according to Laurieann. Benjamin, Ezra, Nathan, and Gino make it through too, along with Vlad, Aleksandr, Benjamin. With one spot to go, Eddie narrowly advances to the top 20 despite his terrible choice of footwear.

10:00pm — One more cut to go: in the next two weeks the top 20 will be paired with “SYTYCD” all-stars in a style outside of their specialty, which will cut the show down to the top 10 who will advance to the live shows.

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