Thursday night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" revealed this season's top 20 (and not a top 11, thankfully) in a different way, combining the "big reveal" episode with the "showcasing the styles of the top 20" episode into one, and I think it really worked.
This year's finalists were announced in groups based on their styles, so first up were some contemporary dancers, who performed a Stacey Tookey routine:
- Sasha Mallory: As I thought when they first auditioned, she made it through, and her sister Natalia did not. But I have a feeling Natalia will be back. Also, I was surprised that they announced this so early in the episode. Sasha has a good shot at winning, but not as good as Natalia might have had.
- Melanie Moore: Based on an informal Hanks household poll of one, she might have some fans out there. She's definitely someone you want to pull for. Splendid dancer.
- Miranda Maleski: Hasn't really made much of an impression yet.
- Ricky Jaime: Lots of potential here, but we shall see.
Then, the hip-hop guys were chosen (sadly, the girls didn't even make the top 31), and I'm overjoyed at who got through (better luck next time, "Professor," indubitably). I loved their routine from Dave Scott as well, even more than the "LXD" top 10 guys routine we saw later:
- Robert Taylor, Jr.: "Wooooooo," indeed! This guy is the one to beat. Hopefully the "Woooo" stuff won't wear thin. Can't wait to see him trying other styles!
- Wadi Jones: I've had my eye on this B-boy, and I hear a few "buccs" coming from Lil' C in his future.
- Tadd Gadduang: His audition blew me away, but he quite honestly got a little lost in the shuffle in my mind. Happy to rediscover him!
- Chris Koehl: Unfortunately, he is the most likely to make an early exit. It's great to see so many in the hip-hop style this year, but that means that likely, only two (or fewer) of them will make the top four.
Iveta Lukosiute was one of the two ballroom dancers in the top 31 to advance to the top 20. Seriously disappointing. But Iveta is the most exciting dancer in this style in quite a while. She had no trouble whatsoever stealing the spotlight from Pasha, and that's hard to do. I see her sticking around, but hard to say if she can go the distance.
Four jazz dancers were chosen and they performed a (can you guess?) Sonya Tahyeh routine. I have to say this routine, with three girls and one guy, was original, but also not as interesting as the top 10 girls routine she did later. Anyway, here's the breakdown on jazz:
- Jordan Casanova: A force of nature. There's a reason why they rushed to get her into the top 20, at age 18. She's got talent to spare.
- Marko Germar: So relieved to see that he made the top 20! And he has an interesting story to boot. We'll see how far he can make it.
- Missy Morelli: She pointed out that she is a lot like Jordan. But the audience doesn't know her as well as Jordan, so she has a tough road ahead.
- Clarice Ordaz: We were briefly introduced to her in Vegas. I wasn't blown away, but we'll see what happens next week.
The highlight of the show for me was the Broadway routine from Christopher Scott, which brilliantly matched new and old styles. I got goosebumps when Nigel Lythgoe said that we might have some actual tap-dancing routines, outside of the solos. I'm ecstatic that both of these guys made it:
- Jess LeProtto: Arrogant, schmarrogant. You know the most "arrogant" dancer of all, Danny Tidwell, made it to the top two. I agree he needs to work on his personality, and I think he made baby steps with this routine last night. One of my favorite auditions of the season, and I can't wait to see more from him.
- Nick Young: Ditto. I knew next to nothing about this tap-dancer, but his performance instantly won me over.
Finally, one last group of contemporary dancers performed an extraordinary routine (are there any other kind?) by Travis Wall:
- Caitlynn Lawson: When Nigel tells you that you're his favorite, you might as well pack your bags for Hollywood. I see the top 10 in her future, at least.
- Ashley Rich: Another of my favorite auditions. I hope she can break through the pack.
- Mitchell Kelly: Too early to get a read on him, I'm afraid.
- Alexander Fost: I was honestly surprised that he beat out Jeremiah for the top 20, but judging by the screaming girls in the audience (there is something "Twilight"-ish about him), he won't have much of a problem getting votes.
- Ryan Ramirez: It's been a year now that I've been pulling for her. If she hadn't made the top 20, you know that Nigel and crew would have heard it from the fans. She really stood out all night in the three routines she performed.
The show ended with a Tyce Diorio top 20 routine. As loyal readers know, he can be hit or miss for me, and this was a miss.
Last but certainly not least, congratulations to Abigail Ruz, whom CNN interviewed at the Atlanta auditions - she made it to the top 31. Perhaps we will see her in the top 20 next year.
Overall, I am very excited for this season and can't wait to get back to the non-all-stars format, at least for a while.
What about you? Are you impressed with the top 20 so far? Anyone you think was left out? Share your iReport or comment below.