So You Think You Can Dance: Lessons Learned From the Top 20 Announcement Episode

So You Think You Can Dance unveiled its Season 10 Top 20 on Tuesday night — giving each of ’em three opportunities to dance (relatively pressure-free!) before the public starts voting next week.

And while no one went boom-boom-kaplow with a poorly timed faceplant, there were certainly winners and losers in the mix by the time Cat Deeley finished her enthusiastic oohing and ahhing, and Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman had weighed in.

Check out my snappy judgments of the Season 10 crew below, then hit the comments and weigh in on your early season faves, your potential dark horses and those who’ve already been hyped past the point of no return. And for all my reality TV recaps all summer long, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Eli says:


  2. wordsmith says:

    I don’t think it’s too early to christen Amy the ‘Beast’ of season 10. She’s crazy talented and commanding on stage (yet also has that ‘bubbling over with pure sunshine’ quality during critiques so that you don’t resent her for it).
    Also: those abs. I mean, come on.

  3. Lauren says:

    This was a really smart way to do the recap. Thanks for the pictures to refresh my memory! It can be hard to keep all the performances separate when there’s this many dancers in the competition.

  4. Midori says:

    Put me down as a guy who loves Nico, he is like dancing Peter Pan, fun and out going and can move through the air like nothing.

    Him and Fik are my favorites. I haven’t decided who is my favorite girl yet, the girls’ dance… not great. The guys’ sand dance was stunning!

  5. wordsmith says:

    I can see why some would prefer Alan to Paul, but credit where credit is due: when they both did that figure skater axle move, Alan did a turn and a half, but Paul did a full 720. Little dude is lightning quick.

  6. PFitzDC says:

    Agree on almost every point! I really loved the Mia number, the tappers and the Top 10 guys’ number (altho I think the Top 10 guys field is relatively weak). The ballroom number really left me, cold, tho. Your comment re: Aaron’s clipped quote is probably right on, although I think that Carlos did himself no favors–great dancer, but he gave me the creeps every time he opened his mouth. Go, Alexis, Mariah, Amy, Hayley and the Jasmines!

    • Temperance says:

      I wasn’t quite as fond of Mia’s number the first time around, but when I watched the number again, I was much more impressed. It’s a keeper, and Mailse was the best of the three – incredible.

  7. GTS says:

    I do think Nigel wants another ‘Melanie vs. Sasha’ rivalry. Up until a winner was crowned, I wasn’t sure who would win. They also got some great duets together (literally so amazing it got them awarded Lady GaGa’s shoe). I’m not sure if it will be between Jasmine and Amy, because I think it’s difficult to pick the standouts for the whole season so soon. Maybe it will really be between two boys.

  8. wordsmith says:

    I actually disagree with the “Year of the Guys” prediction. I think that this will be yet another year when the girls will dominate. The guys’ group number was stronger, but the ladies stole pretty much all the others, and I’m going on record right now predicting that won’t change in the weeks to come.

    • KevyB says:

      I agree totally. I saw a lot of the disparity in the guys in the Top 20 number. BluPrint and Jade are just awful at anything but animation and I fear for whomever ends up as Jade’s partner regardless of what Queen Mia said. Tapping is another style of dance that doesn’t make you good at any other style, though I thought Aaron looked good and strong (though I’m still figuring out where he stands with me personality-wise). Ballroom is about the same, especially when it comes to performance as they always seem to have a problem getting into a character that doesn’t involve smiling cheesily. FikShun is talented but so far he’s coming off as completely full of himself, which is never popular with voters. The contemporary guys are the most talented, as usual, but I don’t see them necessarily connecting with voters either, though Carlos might. Though I think Adam and Nigel made sure to point out that they weren’t all perfect early on, as many voters seem to punish the contemporary dancers for being so well-trained and will therefore vote for someone who is untrained and gets better as the show goes on. A lot of who breaks out certainly depends on who they get paired with. Eliana, who deservedly won last year, wasn’t a breakout until she got to dance with somebody other than Cyrus. But on the girls’ side we have Jasmine M, Amy, the ballroom girls, Mariah and Hayley, who all are already looking like contenders. But, really, what does Year of the Guys mean when there is a winner from each gender?

  9. Chablis says:

    Not a fan of Carlos…

  10. Lorena says:

    my top girls are Alexis, Jenna and Amy, my top boys are Fik-Shun and Aaron, damn i can not even take my eyes from him in the top ten boys routine

  11. erin says:

    I think the girls are stronger this year than the guys, but maybe it’s just me? My favorites thus far are Mariah, Jenna, Mckayla and Amy. For the guys, I’m a fan of Alan, Fik’Shun and Jade. The ballroom crew is really strong and I think that the tappers are unfortunately going to be gone quick because they didn’t get nearly the Vegas week coverage as some of the other top 20 folks.

  12. Drew says:

    i thought the girls’ number was pretty weak. if they wanted a mod inspired dance, they should have chosen a way better song for it.

  13. I never put much stock into these pre-top 20 dances. Inevitably some of the lesser known dancers will rise and some of the favorable dancers will fall. Plus you never know what might happen once these kids are thrown with their partners.

  14. Autumn says:

    I don’t like Jade at all. I wouldn’t have picked someone who can’t partner. It seems rather absurd that they let him through but not the really good ballroom guy who made one mistake when they had no sleep and honestly the competition could have really used some stronger ballroom guys. Overall, I don’t really have any favorites yet. I think I am going to have to wait and see next week.

  15. Mary Meadows says:

    Aaron is a great tapper, a truly handsome man, and I hope he does well. Broke my heart that he thought it was something about him the judges didn’t like.

  16. The editing is driving me nuts. These choreographers *know* how to stage a dance; just film it, dammit.

    • canadian ninja says:

      Holy hell – YES! I feel like the show needs to put a cap on the number of cuts per routine. Right now they are around 25-30. Needs to be like 5.

      fave so far- Mariah-Alexis-Amy-Curtis-Hayley

    • Ty says:

      This is one post I HAD to reply to! I am constantly frustrated by the camera work! They are “dancing” and need to let the dancers do what they do and we get to see it. Sometime, they actually spend more time on the judges reactions than they do on the dance! I want them to stand still and let us see. After all, aren’t WE the ones judging in the end (supposedly)?

  17. Aeol says:

    I’m all about Amy Yakima!! It’s been a loooong time since I’ve felt such positive energy for a female contemporary dancer on this show. I believe she deserves every bit of praise. She has a such a great vibe without the cheesy “aw shucks me?!” of some of the past female contemp dancers. Not really into most of the guys yet – I like both Bluprint and Jade but really felt like better dancers probably got the cut to indulge in the popularity of animation. Poor Jasmine of Cyrus-ex fame is likely to get completely overshadowed by her personal life, I think she made top 20 as a publicity gimmick and I don’t think it’s fair to her, the show or the public! As for Malece, as she’s one of the only dancers we were given a chance to see in Vegas, she’s going to fall victim to Ryan-esque backlash. And while ballroom dancer Jenna was very impressive, none of the ballroom dancers seem to have the maturity and sex appeal of ballroomers from the past. We shall see what this year brings!

    • Miss Otis Regrets... says:

      First, Amy is a Jazz dancer, not contemp. Second, Jasmine is amazing. I was drawn to her in the group rounds. To imply she’s damaging the entire show is way beyond the pale.

      • SororSalsa says:

        Exactly! Jasmine is an amazing dancer, and could’ve made it without the whole “former Ms. Cyrus” drama. I’m sure Nigel was salivating at the thought of pairing her with Cyrus in an animation All-Star routine (I would bet anything that there were no plans to make Cyrus an All-Star until Jasmine auditioned), but she is a great dancer in her own right.

  18. fiona says:

    I definitely will want to wait and see for the competition to happen before I make my judgements. Which route by the way are they taking this year? one male and one female dancer wins? or one person overall wins?

  19. Babybop says:

    Mariah stunned me. She is awesome! Votes for her and Amy as my top girls. They killed it!

  20. Lana says:

    I’m curious too? Will there be a male and female winner again? I hope so. I haven’t picked a favorite yet, but I’m liking the whole group pretty much though I was pretty bummed about Aaron till he got back in the top 20. Of course I am partial to tappers anyways. Which reminds me, Jessie is a dancer in the Broadway show Newsies as I saw him at the Tony awards dancing away, that was soo cool. I love it when I recognize my dancers on different shows and I always have to tell everyone that they are from SYTYCD. In fact I love that Dancing with the stars has Whitney, Lindsey, Chelsea, Dimitry and Lacey though I don’t see Lacey as often as I want to as she was my favorite.

  21. gabby says:

    LOVE Nico! He’s probably in my top five favorites this season, I loved the all guys dance! That was amazing, Also loved the group dance and the Stay dance. The ballroom was nice too. I think it’s going to be a good season!

  22. CJ says:

    Only two blonde girls? Who is Uncle Nigel going to make inappropriate comments about?

  23. TamIAm says:

    What happened to Jennie Begley?! I didn’t see her get eliminated and after Adm Shankman practically had an orgasm over her audition, I expected to see her at least a few more times.

    • Miss Otis Regrets... says:

      I just remember her tearful cut, but I remember there were some other great female auditioners that disappeared completely in Vegas.

  24. CCee says:

    What brand are her shoes? Anyone? They are sooo cute.

  25. megs says:

    I thought this episode was phenomenal! I literally scream-cheered several times throughout(when they brought Nico and Tucker in together, making us think that only one would make it and then telling them they both did? my neighbors could have easily thought I was being murdered or something).
    ALL of the pieces were great, but the boys sand routine absolutely blew my mind. So genius!!
    I think my early faves are Tucker and Mariah. I also like Jenna a lot- I feel like she’s a more likable version of Lacey(season 3).
    Random observations. Amy looks so much like Katie Holmes.
    Nico officially has the nickname “baby Travis” in my house.
    Tucker cut his hair![thank God]

  26. Melissa says:

    I was really impressed with how good Mariah was when she danced the girls routine and the top 20 routine. I think she might be a bit of a dark horse this season although I don’t seem to be alone in liking her :)

  27. Aprilcot says:

    Girls: Mariah (so glad she’s back!), Alexis, & Jenna
    Guys: Aaron, Fik-Shun – most of the guys are leaving me kind of cold

    Michael, I’m so glad I’m not the only one still hurting from the premature ouster of Nick in S8. Here’s hoping the tappers go the distance this year!

    • elr says:

      Your favorites are mine also, exactly. Overall the guys are a little weaker than the girls, but I think the pairing up will tell the real story of who is good and who is mediocre. And tell me if I’m wrong but, didn’t Fik Shun do some animation for his audition? Why are they not billing him as an Animator?

      • sororsalsa says:

        I thought Fik Shun did a lot of animation as well, but I think that they are billing him as hip hop (just as some contemporary dancers are billed as “Jazz”) to avoid a glut of any one category. After Vegas week, I get the feeling that Fik Shun will be a bit more versatile than Jade or BluPrint so that might be why they separated him from the other 2.

  28. Aprilcot says:

    Girls: Mariah (so glad she came back!), Alexis, Jenna
    Guys: Aaron, Fik-Shun

    Michael, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s still hurting from Nick’s premature ouster in S8! I’m fans of both Jade and BluPrint because they’re both so brilliant at what they do, I only hope they adapt to other styles well. Most of the guys are leaving me a bit cold this year. Definitely not on the Makenzie and Malece train…WAY overhyped. I think Amy is pretty incredible but I can’t tell yet if she’s going to get on my nerves or not.

  29. Nicole says:

    I’m so happy with the new cast. I feel like this is the first time in a while when the winner is really up in the air. I loved Melanie, Eliana and Cheon from their first auditions until the end. This year I have somewhere around 6-8 favorites at this point. I’m excited to see the new pairs and I hope they really challenge people outside their style this season!

  30. Recaps of SYTYCD should have polls to ask about our favorite dances! :) Please.

  31. Mona says:

    Agree with so many of the comments already posted. Absolutely thought Nick in season 8 left way too early and was pleasantly surprised to see him dance on the live tour.
    Jade impresses me more than BluePrint, in both his dancing and his personality. My concern with untrained dancers line Jade, BluePrint and Fik Shun is that it seems unfair to their partners. Eliana was amazing and couldn’t be happier that she and Chehon won last season, but I worried for her every time she danced with Cyrus, who was amazing at his style and very likeable,. Not only did I feel like routines were watered down for Cyrus’ benefit, robbing Eliana of the chance to really show what she could do, I felt she not only had to dance, she also had to compensate for what Cyrus could not do. We first got to see Eliana shine in all her technical and artistic beauty when she was paired with Alex Wong.
    I feel badly for the three season 10 girls who may suffer the same fate with Jade, BluePrint and FikShun, and may not survive long enough to get the chance to dance with all stars.
    On another note, loved Mariah last season and was so thrilled to see her make it this season. she did not disappoint. Agree also that it’s unfair if Jasmine was picked because she is Cyrus’ ex, also unfair if Blue Print was picked because of his Cyrus connection. Unfair to them and to everyone that lost a spot in the top 20.
    Jasmine is very striking in her dance and could have made it with out the Cyrus reference. Blue Print is not the strongest animator I’ve seen, not even the strongest one I remember from auditions, couple that with the fact that Nigel seems concerned about him in other styles and you really do have to wonder if he is only there for the Cyrus connection.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Mona, I agree with a good many comments you’ve made. I, too, was thrilled that both Eliana and Chehon won. I figured that Eliana would, although it did seem like Tiffany was making a run for it. I was surprised, but happy for Chehon — that Cyrus had made it as far as he did with limited dance skills (but tons of personality) irked me.

      I also worried for Eliana when she was paired with him, not just because she couldn’t shine, but because I was truly concerned that she could/would get hurt. However, in those two dances with Alex “freakin'” Wong, she made up for the several weeks with Cyrus. Also, I recently ran across an article of an interview that she gave shortly after winning, and she was so kind and gracious about Cyrus (she spoke of what she learned about herself as a teacher), that it’s hard to maintain the anger that I felt last season.

      But, it’s a new season, and there’s so much talent in this group! FikShun seems to have the charm that Cyrus has. Hopefully, he can adapt to other styles better than Cyrus did. I hope that Jasmine can overcome her “Cyrus past” because she’s fabulous and deserves to be viewed as the beautiful young dancer that she is, not Cyrus’s “ex.”

  32. Lannie says:

    No real favorites for me yet since I don’t think we’ve seen enough. I hope Nigel doesn’t try to hide the fact that Mariah has had considerable training in jazz/contemporary. There are plenty of vids on youtube of her in competitions. I try my best not to resent it when Nigel pulls the “omg, HOW are you able to do this WITH NO TRAINING!!” card, but it’s tough to do so when I know better.

    I’m glad Aaron made the cut. He brings a different stage presence than the others and he did seem appreciate of the opportunity. I didn’t take his “not right for the show” as disrespectful of the show itself. It was probably a paraphrase of what they’d just told him…”We love you, but you are not right for the show just yet…please come again.” I thought his statement was positive and accepting of his lot in the world of sytycd. I hope he does as well as I suspect he can.

    The sand was awesome, but worried me for their safety. This show seems to take such risks with these dancers. I’m hoping it won’t be on the tour. These boys do not need to be inhaling clouds of sand for 8 weeks in a row.

    My biggest wish is for some new choreographers and new all stars. My only complaint is seeing the same faces season after season. Love Twitch, Allison, Kathryn,, but I often feel like I’m watching a rerun. Bring back some of the other wonderful dancers whom we have never seen again or only had a single visit from.

  33. Seamus says:

    I’m happy that they’ve truly diversified the cast this season. I’ve always been a little peeved that they’ve only had a couple, if any, ballroom dancers per episode. As well, I’m glad Aaron’s on here because not all of us want to see teenagers dancing. When it comes to dance, it seems that the younger women are way more able to pull of maturity than the younger men. Just my observation. I’m all about that Jenna girl. Wow! I also agree about the downplaying of dancers actual training. I haven’t been this excited about a season in a couple of years. I suspect that they decided to choose a girl and a guy again this year because there’s definitely a disadvantage if you are a girl in these competition shows where a vast majority of the voting public is young women. What’s been interesting after watching the top 20 revealed is thinking about who is going to be paired with whom. I think Aaron and Jasmine are going to be one. Fikshun and Malece another. It’s going to be a great summer.

  34. moonshine says:

    what happened to Anthony Savoy?? Anyone know?