SYTYCD Top 6 Recap: It's Gonna Be a Bride, Sunshiney Day [Updated]

I’m not gonna lie to you: I went into tonight’s So You Think You Can Dance Top 6 performance episode with my mind made up.

Rudy and Tanisha got robbed last week. Valerie had no business being in the Top 6. For justice to prevail, the Season 11 crown could only end up in one spot: Atop Ricky’s artistically dazzling head.

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And then, just like that, a rowdy, randy wedding dance, a mind-bending Rorschach test and a brief blast of a favorite 1980 hit made me rethink everything — and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Indeed, despite Season 11 looking like it was going to wrap up in thuddingly suspense-free fashion, Valerie and Zack — the show’s resident tappers — brought last-minute, game-changing energy and commitment to the stage. And in the process, this pair of underdogs turned a coronation into a battle royale. In the words of Mary Murphy, “WOOOO-HOOOOO!!!!”

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With that said, let’s jump right to a breakdown of tonight’s performances (and eliminations):

Dance of the Night: Valerie and All-Star Twitch (Hip-Hop, WilldaBeast)
Valerie got so down into this routine that I couldn’t even roll my eyes at Mary for her use of the adjective “swaggerocious.” Those isolations of hers were positively mesmerizing, and her little moonwalk atop the banquet table made me “LOL” with glee. Admittedly, Valerie has not been my favorite this season, and yes, I’m genetically pre-programmed to love anything set to Usher’s “Yeah,” but with the finale in plain sight, the underdog tapper matched the amazing Twitch, dropped it lowwwww and raised her game in the process.

Runner-Up for Dance of the Night: Zack and All-Star Fik-Shun (Hip-Hop, Phillip Chbeeb)
Might we have a challenger to Travis Wall’s title of Most Accomplished Contestant-Turned-Choreographer? Based on this crazy-inventive number, which turned Zak and Fik-Shun’s bodies into winking ink blots, I’d respond with a definite, “Hell, yeah!” Animation and isolation may not be Zack’s forté, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from watching the energy of the piece travel through Fik-Shun’s body, into the bright-eyed tap dancer and back again. The synchronization and attention to detail were as sublime as Cat’s metallic sequined dress, and the undercurrent of humor was as welcome as the words “Debbie Allen, guest judge.” (Dare to dream, yes?) If Ricky stumbles next week, the crown could easily fall into Zack’s eager hands.

Worst of the Night: Jacque and Zack (Fox Trot, Jean Marc Généreux)
Thank you, thank you, thank you Christina Applegate, for pointing out how Jacque and Zack’s near-contstant state of “glee face” felt so “specific and timed” that it quashed any sense of truthfulness. Plus, the whole number plodded where it should’ve glided, no?

Most Overpraised: Casey and All-Star Makenzie (Contemporary, Stacey Tookey)
Casey has grown tremendously over the course of the season, but if Stacey hadn’t set up the routine with a length explanation about a couple who “might only have one day left,” would this frantic series of steps have really had much impact? Sure, there were a few dazzling moves in the mix (like that crazy leveraged backbend!), but Casey and Makenzie’s connection ultimately felt more studied than natural, more actorly than actual. And at this point in the season, that’s just not enough.

Most Underpraised: Jacque and All-Star Will (Contemporary, Sean Cheeseman)
No, the judges didn’t have much negative to say about Jacque’s performance, but they seemed to focus a lot of energy on Will, on the ball, even on Sean Cheesman. Which didn’t seem quite fair, considering the way Jacque painted some incredible pictures with her body — and captured the giddy innocence of young love in the process. If girlfriend had to go the way of her boyfriend Rudy, this was a triumphant final impression.

Triumph of Costumes Over Dancing: Jessica and All-Star Ade (Jazz, Ray Leeper)
I’m always stoked to see Ade on the SYTYCD stage, but this “clubbers in Tokyo” number was like a pot of water that takes an eternity to come to a boil. Sure, the “ponytail strut” was fab, as Christina noted, but didn’t Jenna and Mark do it better last year?

Biggest Imbalance: Valerie and Ricky (Broadway, Spencer Liff)
Was it just me, or did it seem like Valerie had nothing to do but sit on a swing for the opening 25 percent of the number? And even after that, she never got asked to match any of Ricky’s more complicated leaps or pirouettes. Ricky, as always, was sublime, but I still feel like most weeks, he’s been stuck with choreography that’s held him back from pure greatness. When will he be paired with Allison Holker or Melanie Moore or Eliana Girard?

Dance That Would’ve Been Perfect if the Contestant Had Lost His Goofy Grin: Ricky and Anya (Cha Cha, Jean Marc Généreux)
If Rick was serious about not relying on his cuteness and actually matching Anya’s smoldering sensuality, how come he spent half the dance an “Aw shucks, am I actually pulling this off?” smile? Granted, he was pulling it off — at least in terms of rapid-fire footwork and full-bodied fluidity — but attitude counts in ballroom, too. And despite the judges’ comments to the contrary, I’m not sure the Season 11 front-runner ever truly “controlled that beast.”

Routine I Need to Watch A Few More Times Before I’m Sure How to Feel: Jessica and Casey (Disco, Dorianna Sanchez)
This routine was so fast and furious, I half expected Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez to cameo, but some of the transitions into and out of the lifts felt a wee bit… stilted? I’ll go back and rewatch in the a.m., but my initial response wasn’t as joyous as I felt like it could’ve/should’ve been.

Best Solo: Valerie’s wicked fun tap to The Romantics’ “What I Like About You”
[Inert joyous emoticon of your choosing here, dear reader.]

And now, for the results…

Advancing to the Finale


What did you think of the Top 6? Take our poll below to vote for your favorite routines, then hit the comments with your thoughts on the performances and the eliminations!

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. David4 says:

    I’m really shocked Casey left. He was a favorite of mine, just has the energy or something.

    • Terry says:

      You could definitely pick his dad out of a lineup. Holy carbon copy batman! But I agree, he was one of my faves however I also really like Ricky, and Zack has had some pretty impressive moments on the show too, so I would have been sad no matter which guy was eliminated. Jacque on the other hand was long past due, imho.

  2. Em says:

    Ricky and Zack have been my two favorites this season. I hope one of them wins because the last time a guy won was in season six, before they started doing two winners.

  3. Mona Cattanach says:

    Wasn’t really surprised with the eliminations tonight. I’ve been a fan of Valerie, who was amazing in her hip hop with Twitch, from the get go, so was thrilled she stayed. Loved her solo too! I would have been fine if Jacque had taken the other spot. Jacque’s solo tonight was really effective. I thought she did a nice job of combining fun and technique.
    I just am not as wowed by Jessica as the judges. Kudos to Nigel tonight for having the backbone to point out problems with her jazz dance and the fact that she didn’t connect with him. I personally have not felt a connection with her all season and her solo tonight was simply not impressive.
    I think Jessica may have solved some of the mystery of her early in the season “disappearing partners”. All those lifts can not be easy period, but imagine trying to lift a partner who is afraid of lifts. That must be impossible to do smoothly. Maybe that fear explains why she often feels tentative to me in her routines. And just a thought, but wouldn’t that be a problem for a working contemporary or jazz dancer?
    As for the guys, so happy that Zack made it. He matched Fik Shun move for move in Phillip Cheeb’s great choreography. While Ricky is probably the more deserving dancer than Casey, I hated to see Casey go. He had truly grown this season into a dancer that I really enjoy watching. Casey had a nice solo this week, but Zack’s was tons of fun and Ricky finally stepped it up to the levels we saw from him early on.
    Next week should be interesting: contemporary technique vs versatile tapper personality and performance.
    Did I hear Kat wrong or did she just announce 3 all stars for next week? Is Aaron going to dance with Valerie and Zach? Surely they will each get their won solo with an all star. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see!

  4. Lana says:

    Zach and Valerie have been a favorites since the beginning of the show but I really didn’t expect them to make the finales reading Michael and the comments since it didn’t seem that anyone else thought they were good. I’m soo glad that the rest of America liked them and they will be in the finals, Yeah! I loved Valerie’s hip hop but I thought she did great in the Broadway number too. Ricky is great but I did not think he did the Cha-Cha as awesome as the judges did because of his expressions. He did not look sexy, like Anya did, even though he was making all the right dance steps, but that dance needs more than just the right steps. The judges can be so transparent sometimes. It has been really frustrating this year because I can’t vote and I wished they had kept the phone votes for those of us who don’t facebook. Michael, if you find out if they have canceled or renewed this show I would appreciate it if you would announce it in your recap. It will kill me if it doesn’t come back, but I still want to know.

  5. Selma. says:

    Are you kidding me? Valerie was pretty darn good, and she shocked me with the isolations but her number was NOTHING compared to Zack and Fik-Shun’s tonight. Seriously? Valerie better than Zack? Hell nah. Zack TRULY shocked me like he has every single week. And his solos have been brilliant. Valerie’s solos are a huge “meh”; it doesn’t feel like she’s dancing for her life or even putting thought into the choreo. Poor Jessica, baby girl, Leeper’s choreo and costume. Oh, by the way, Zackshun deserved a standing ovation. If you can give last week’s Mandy Moore routine a standing O, then where the hell was that for Zack? And not enough praise!

    Ricky, Jessica and Zack have proven all along why they deserve to be in the finale. Valerie, in my mind, DOES NOT deserve to be in the finale. Tanisha deserved that spot. Hands down. Or Carly. Carly for God’s sake. Valerie’s solos are weak. She was elevated by having Ricky as a partner. Her dance with Ade was horrible and her’s with Ryan. She did good with Twitch, better than I thought but it was NOT the dance of the night..

    • Ana says:

      Wow you are such a hater Selma. Weren’t you commenting the same thing at Entertainment weekly. Deal with it. Valerie made it and Tanisha and Carly didn’t. There is nothing you can do about it. Valerie deserves to be there. Glad Jacque left. She was past over due.

      • Joey says:

        There is absolutely no way that you can tell if Valerie didn’t have Ricky as her partner through the 1st weeks she would’ve even made Top 10. And Selma, I agree, Carly was by far the best girl this season (and the only one who couldve held her own against last season’s girls)

      • jlb says:

        sorry but Valerie isn’t good and shouldn’t be in the final.

    • Terry says:

      I didn’t like the ink blot routine. At. All.

    • carey says:

      I completely agree with you on Valerie. As a former dancer, I am completely stumped as to how she made it this far. Tanisha is a much, much better dancer as were many of the other girls. Valerie is an outstanding tap dancer and can hold her own, however again the fact that she made it this far is mind boggling.

    • str says:

      I also thought that Zach’s solo was far superior to Valerie’s. She is certainly a good dancer but to me, much more clunky than Zach. In fact, I encouraged my 8 year old tapper daughter to observe the difference in their solos!

  6. Brendan says:

    Kinda bummed (but not surprised) that Casey went home. It’s pretty clear that this season will be won by Ricky or Valerie since they have NEVER been in the bottom. Based on the season so far, Zack will be end in 4th, then Jessica in 3rd, with Valerie and Ricky left as the top two. As much as I would love to see Ricky win (he is superb and it is long overdue for a solo guy to win), I just can’t help but root for Valerie to become the first even tap winner! :)

  7. violetvaper says:

    Finally tappers make it into the finals!

    • PIMB says:

      The Tappers ruled. LOVED LOVED LOVED the wedding dance!!!!!!!!

    • PIMB says:

      C.A Tell me how you feel. PIMB- I feel really blessed. C.A. Shut up. Tell me how you really feel. PIMB I fell emotionally spent and I think I may have peed myself. C.A. Screw you. Tell me how you really feel. PIMB I feel like you are a stupid soundbite moron and I want to put you in a meat grinder and turn the handle. C.A> Well my job is done!

    • Jan says:

      Wasn’t Aaaron ( finalist last season) a tapper? I was so pleased when they said he’d be an All-Star next week.

    • dorsinzim says:

      Aaron made it to top 4 as a tapper

  8. Many partners shy away from the most wonderful
    gift of God to mankind- sex. My Christianity is still something I struggle with.
    But everyone handles difficult situations differently, and his timetable is
    probably much different than yours.

  9. keith d croninf a says:

    you know that ricky makes things seem effortless so stop commenting on his choreographers and their choreography. he is the most talented and spectacular dancer i’ve seen in 11 years. his solo was a work of art!!!!!!!!!

  10. I.R.E. says:

    Valerie looks 100% in her mint broadway dress and I laughed so hard when the tail part of her mint skirt got caught by that swing DURING the REHEARSAL than the PERFORMANCE.

  11. brad says:

    my favorite routines were jacque’s red balloon, valerie’s wedding, and zack’s rorschach (ror-zack?) test. i felt there was some *valerie sabotage!* though, as the poor girl finished all three of her routines before the first hour was even over! and for the third week in a row, i found it odd that zack and jessica both performed last amongst their fellow male and female competitors. the producers need to do a better job of being fair in how they stagger out the performances.

  12. juliebug04 says:

    Personally, I think the best dance of the night was Jacque and Will–it was light, fluid, and unique. I think second place was Zack and Fikshun–that Philip is something else. I always thought he was brilliant in his own style, and this inventive choreography proved that. I loved Valerie and tWitch too–of course, I pretty much like anything that tWitch does. I adore him. That being said, Valerie was pretty darn good in this one.

    While Ricky has always been my favorite dancer, and his solo was amazing, I wasn’t overly impressed by his Broadway number or his cha cha. The Broadway number more for the choreography–I loved the music, but it was just ‘meh’ for me. The cha cha–well I agree with Christina that it is dang near impossible to NOT watch Anya, and I watched that dance 3 times, and it was very hard to watch Ricky because my eyes naturally went to Anya. She truly is spectacular. I thought his footwork was pretty good, but the playful, flirtatious nature of the dance was not displayed as strongly by Ricky.

    *sigh* Poor Jessica…..I think that jazz piece would have been pretty cool because it had some great movements in it, but the costume department made an egregious error with those costumes. It looked like a lephrechan threw up a rainbow on them……YUCK. I have never seen ANYONE in a club dressed like THAT. They would have been laughed out of the place. And, her disco was so fast…good grief. I’m not sure if it was Jessica having a fear of lifts or just the speed required for those–you’re moving in and out of lifts very quickly and you are both sweaty and slippery….that’s a drop waiting to happen, and Casey is a TALL guy….that would be a long drop.

    I really was not surprised to see Casey go–unfortunately, the voters just weren’t catching on as he was in the bottom quite a bit. Was a little surprised to see Jacque go as I thought she did pretty well last week–better than Valerie’s samba, imho. I didn’t see the very end of the show yet, so I’m not sure who next week’s all stars will be…

    I think each of the final four have certain talents, certain strengths and weaknesses. It will depend what types of styles they get–can’t wait!

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      Ray Leeper said Jessica and Ade were in a club in Tokyo. I’m just going on what I have seen on tv and read, I’ve never been to a club in Tokyo, but I think the costumes were pretty spot on. I think it’s called harijuku fashion and it’s way out there. I agree it was a lot, but Ade wasn’t lost in all his neon, I think it’s the job of the dancer to shine through the costume.

      • juliebug04 says:

        I just think it was distracting. Those fugly leg warmers, those weird streamers and the left-over disco hair was a mess…. He had a shirt, pants and a hat–very brightly colored shirt, pants and hat, but only those three all the same. Ray’s pieces are usually hit or miss for me….this was a miss. A BIG miss.

        • juliebug04 says:

          sorry must have hit tab before enter….

          It might not have been such a miss if I could have seen her expressions a little more. It made me think of Tyce’s jazz piece when Valerie had those horrific eyelashes.

          Meant to add that, because his themes are usually a little ‘out there’ if the costumes are too out there, then it’s hard to watch I think.

        • Denise says:

          It was distracting! I could not take eyes off those legwarmers.

  13. PIMB says:

    SHUT UP CHRISTINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. mariat753 says:

    Apropos nothing, I really miss Adam Shankman as a judge.

  15. The Costume Department says:

    We got to have some fun this evening with Jessica’s costume. Loved Valerie’s mint dress, hated Ricky’s pale neon blue shoes, loved Zach. So happy he and Valerie are in the finale, though we would have chose Jacque over Jessica, and Tanisha over them both.

    • NayNay says:

      Totally agree with everything you just said. And thank you for the ridiculousness of Jessica’s and Ade’s costumes.

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      Are we secretly the same person? Totally agree about Valerie and Zack making the final, preferring Jacque to Jessica and trading both of those two for Tanisha. The mint dress was the wonderful stuff of old movies and little girl day dreams. Neon Sasquatch Jessica made me smile, a lot! The only point I will dispute is after the initial shock, Ricky’s shoes sort of grew on me.

  16. Cherry says:

    I don’t think Jessica’s dad and his commentary did her any favors last night.

    • NayNay says:

      Sure didn’t, but now we know where she gets it. I bet she has been told all her life how much better she is than anyone else. Did you see how pissed she was after the comments from the neon mess?

      • Terry says:

        And also after the snot nose comment, but I don’t blame her for being annoyed about that, I would be too. But ya, I think she’s destined for 4th place now.

      • jlb says:

        She’s a spoiled little brat who has been told all her life how amazing she is. Better dancing and fewer hair whips and staring into the camera would be appreciated.

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I found him very off putting.

  17. My favorite was Ricky’s solo, period.

  18. Mona Cattanach says:

    Have to give a shout out to Valerie’s big brothers. They are either the biggest dorks in the universe, or the best big brothers in the universe to be so goofy for her on national tv. I’m going with best big brothers!

  19. Denise says:

    I have always maintained that Tanisha was the best female dancer all around, but agreed with Nigel’s comments about showing her vulnerability. I think Tanisha hid behind sexiness and strength which did not make her as relatable. But Valerie has all of that and more. Nigel was right, that Valerie is a great *performer*. Even if her technique is not where others’ is, whatever she is given she generally can pull it off and make it entertaining to watch. I feel like Valerie’s dancing invites you into the fun, and is not just about watching a good dancer dance. And she is a very good tapper, which does count.

    So glad Zack made it! By rights, I do believe this competition crown belongs to Ricky, but I nevertheless think Zack is terrific.

    • jlb says:

      Tanisha was about as sexy as nurse’s shoes. Valerie is at best an average tapper. I’d rather watch a good dancer than be invited into the “fun” as you put it.

      • Denise says:

        You may not find her sexy, but she played up sexiness. That’s not dependent on how you feel about it. And there are plenty of good dancers on SYTYCD, so you should be plenty satisfied with that!

    • carey says:

      Good point Denise. However I believe technique is very, very important as well as being a great performer. Valerie is weak on technique and the fact that she has made it this far is just plain wrong. As a former dancer, I sometimes find it slightly uncomfortable watching her (sorry I’m just being honest)

      • Denise says:

        I understand what you’re saying. Valerie is a tapper, though. So it’s not as if she doesn’t bring anything to the table. She does, and it’s something that none of the other dancers could do. Her solo was really good, I thought–much more interesting to watch than Jessica’s, for instance, and just as interesting as Jacque’s.

        But I have wondered if Valerie just has more people voting. Her local news station interviewed her after her worst performance, and the next week she wasn’t even in the bottom, which was strange. She might just have better PR than other dancers did.

        The only person I felt really got robbed in this competition was Carly.

  20. B says:

    No mention of the opening #? That was the best dance of the night! And Ricky had a great partner once – Lauren but again the choreographer dropped the ball…this season is so disappointing. Thank God for Ricky!

    • The Costume Department says:

      Frankly we thought the opening number was ridiculous. Hey, it’s a dance show, so let’s hide the dancers behind these big tables so we can’t see what they’re doing!

      • Mona Cattanach says:

        Gotta agree once again with the Costume Department. I guess those were supposed to be DJ tables? and the neon discs they were flinging around were records? Not only were the dancers hidden behind tables for a good bit of the number, the whole thing was so dark that it was virtually impossible to see what was happening for much of the routine.

    • Ally says:

      2nd favorite opening routine of the season… With my least favorite costumes (barring the hideous ones in Jessica’s routine)

  21. Alicia says:

    You can’t be serious that Valerie had the best solo of the night. Ricky’s was leaps and bounds (literally) ahead of his competitors. He is a more skilled contemporary dancer than Valerie is a tapper, so to give Valerie the top spot seems…disingenuous at best. Happiest dancer does not equal most deserving dancer.

    • daezyg says:

      I, personally, don’t think so. All his solos are the same. Every solo is bent legs, extentions, twirls, rinse, repeat. Also, no one wants to watch boring people. Valerie doesn’t have the best technique, but she certainly is more interesting than the other girls. I would have traded Tanisha over Jessica and Jacque, though.

    • jlb says:

      I couldn’t agree more! Valerie is almost clunky as a tapper and average doing anything else.

  22. I.R.E. says:

    Science Zack-Shun dance? Fik-Shun was the youngest winner from last year and he is also one year younger than his winning partner of last year also!

  23. Amy L says:

    Jessica’s dancing just underwhelmed me last night and her dad’s comments didn’t help her case. Since my favorite (Bridget!) was eliminated far too early, so happy to see my other favorites Ricky and Zack just killing it. And Valerie with Twitch… WOW!! I am still rooting for Ricky or Zack to be the winner.

  24. dreezy says:

    Valarie, wouldnt win, but has grown tremendously through out the show and very fun to watch.
    Jessica, girl has to work on her solo. Else she’s never getting that crown, but has a shot at it and a very strong dancer.
    Ricky, one of the most technical on sytycd might easily be the winner if he dosent get distracted. Needs to show everyone that he owns the crown.
    Zack……. wait for it….. is going to be the winner if , and only if he plays his cards right. Deserve that no. 1 spot.