SYTYCD Season 14

SYTYCD Recap: 5 Memorable Moments From The Academy's First Day

After showcasing four weeks’ worth of good, bad and (very occasionally) ugly auditions, So You Think You Can Dance put its hopefuls through a whole different stress test on Monday night.

More than 100 contestants put their best feet forward — pun so intended — during their first day at The Academy, where they will attempt to earn a spot in the Top 10 by mastering multiple dance styles and impressing this season’s judges and All-Stars.

But as the Dance field was narrowed down on Monday night, the hour-long episode made way for several moments in need of discussion, from a jaw-dropping solo to an elimination that nearly drove me to throw my remote at the TV. Below, let’s break down five highlights from the installment:

* After wowing the judges, alongside samba partner Jensen Arnold, at the Los Angeles auditions, ballroom dancer Tristen Sosa was booted surprisingly early, failing to make it past the initial solo round. Sure, Tristen was the weaker half of that duo — and frankly, it’s impossible to look at anyone besides Jensen when she’s on stage — but his early elimination was a reminder that no one is safe during these intense Academy episodes.

* Speaking of mind-boggling eliminations: Darius Hickman?! If your memory needs jogging, Darius was the stunning contemporary dancer who appeared in the Season 14 premiere, along with a tragic backstory involving a drug-addicted mother and an aunt who was abused by her boyfriend. Darius wasn’t given enough screen time on Monday to really illustrate why he didn’t make the cut on Day 1 — but even if his hip-hop routine was rough around the edges, I’m baffled that the All-Stars wouldn’t give this magnificent contemporary performer another chance to prove himself.

* Several other hopefuls did rise to the occasion of NappyTabs’ hip-hop combination, though, including blue-haired Impavido, in whom I’ve already become too emotionally invested. Partnered with hip-hopper Robert Green, Impavido infused the routine with personality and flair, proving that her command of the stage goes far beyond her contemporary wheelhouse.

* And now, the evening’s award for Strongest Solo: Lex Ishimoto, who once again effortlessly fused contemporary with hip-hop in front of the All-Star panel. Some of this season’s contestants are taking risks with choreography that just don’t pay off — see the next bullet point for more on that — but Lex’s every movement is self-assured, and he manages to bring an elegance to even the most badass hip-hop steps.

* As for the night’s weakest solo, that honor goes to Ryan Bailey, who barely scored a ticket to The Academy after showing off his “unique” approach to contemporary dancing in New York City. This time, Ryan fully improvised a routine set to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” — and when Whitney hit that power-ballad chorus, Ryan wasted a great opportunity to show off how powerful he can be. Instead, his weak movements and bizarre hand motions got him (deservedly) eliminated just minutes later. In the diplomatic words of All-Star Allison Holker, “I just don’t think I connected to it.”

OK, your turn! Which moments from The Academy’s first day surprised and/or annoyed you? Do you have a favorite contestant yet? Hit the comments with all of your thoughts!

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. Alicia says:

    DOEs anyone know if Chaz Wolcott made it through???

  2. Allie says:

    I am so perplexed by the timeline…. it’s past the middle of July and we’re only NOW getting to “the academy”? I live this show. It’s one of my summer favorites but I’m starting to wonder when we’re going to get to the ACTUAL live show? Thoughts anyone?

    • Colleen says:

      I think there are still two more weeks of Academy. Don’t think the live show even starts until August. Which means we will likely see at least one double elimination.

    • MLO says:

      I believe they’re whittling it down to only 10 final contestants instead of 20 so that should accommodate the usual timeline.

  3. kariweddle says:

    Digging the new format!

  4. Colleen says:

    Not really liking this format. Spending way too much time and focus on the All Stars. Don’t want to watch them argue over contestants. Kinda hate the whole idea of “teams”. Also REALLY hate that there’s only 10 contestants. This is an incredible group of dancers this year. Would prefer to see more new dancers and less All Stars.

    • Gorgonzola Matrix says:

      I can deal with those changes. What’s making this difficult to watch is that it’s all being crammed into one hour instead of two, like every other season in the past. I’m annoyed they spent so much time on the hand-bird guy this week and last, instead of highlighting more successful routines.

    • mooshki says:

      I agree with everything you said.

  5. Gorgonzola Matrix says:

    Hope these things happen-
    1. Impavido/Cyrus
    2. Mark/Comfort
    3. Lex/Gaby

  6. Lisa says:

    Something just feels wrong this season and I can’t quite understand what exactly. Even the opening number of this episode that I’d usually find charming and awesome, just felt meh and really unrehearsed. I get that they were trying to show all of the dancers in the Academy, but it was really apparent that not all of them were good enough to even learn a few steps of choreography. And as much as I love All-Stars (miss you, Neil), it kind of takes the focus away from the contestants, in my opinion. The stage of eliminations, or Vegas Week as I still want to call it, was always a great way to learn more about contestants, but this year it just doesn’t feel that way anymore…

  7. PFitzDC says:

    There are a lot of complaints about changes from the original format, as well as the reduction of time for each episode. Don’t blame SYTYCD–I think the producers are doing a great job trying to keep it inventive and engaging in its 14th year.. Remember that this show is always on the verge of cancellation by the network, so we should count ourselves lucky that we get any kind of a season at all. I was disappointed that we only get a Top 10 this year, instead of the conventional Top 20. But that’s part of the constriction of time and episodes. I know some people have said they are not interested in the All-Stars, but aren’t they more engaging to watch than seeing Nigel, Mary and Vanessa AGAIN and AGAIN? I find it much more intriguing to have peer-to-peer judging with the all-stars picking their teams than listen to more insipid comments from Vanessa, leering ones from Nigel, and screams from Mary. They were all fine in the auditions, but we need a change for at least some part of the show!

    • Ditto says:

      This person gets it.

    • terry boling says:

      totally agree – been a fan of the show since it started and there’s always something that bugs me, but I am not the producer/editor, and I accept that; and it is still the best damn show in the summer doldrums

    • Allie says:

      A lot of good points…. I would rather see less of the original auditions and have more time spent on the contestants who actually make the show. I don’t mind the focus on the all stars. As you said it’s better than more time on screaming Mary. I am always glad that this show continues to be renewed, but like someone else said, this season feels off. With 1O contestants are they still going to eliminate 2 per week at the beginning? Or is this show going later into September?

  8. MLO says:

    With that stellar panel of all-stars all wanting him I’ll never understand why Lex picked Gabby.

    • Lex toured with Gabby in Travis Wall’s shaping sound tour this year (most people don’t know about this unless you’ve seen the show- which is phenomenal). I’m sure that this had a lot to do with his choice as they have already been working together and have a great connection prior to the show!! This was a smart choice on his part if you ask me. Gabby is also amazing in every single genre, and I am excited to see them dance together again.

      • Chloe says:

        Any one else think this is a bit of a conflict? Surely Gabby shouldn’t be allowed to be his All-Star, as they’re both in Shaping Sound. It wouldn’t be a conflict if the All-Stars weren’t responsible for choosing the top 10 – but seems a bit unfair to everyone else picked on her team. Not that Lex shouldn’t be in the top 10 (in my opinion, he’s a contender for the title), but really, he should be on someone else’s team, just to keep it an even playing field.

  9. Eva Ob says:

    I don’t get why the all stars get to make the cut and not the judges who are more professional…like you noted..too many good dancers got booted out just because the amateurs didn’t really know their stuff…ad like someone else said..the old format is better…have 20 dancers instead of 10. Quite frankly I’m tired of seeing these all stars

    • MLO says:

      OK, I’m sorry, but what on earth makes you think Mary and Nigel are better able to judge these dancers? And don’t even mention Vanessa! If you haven’t danced it, you shouldn’t judge it. How do you think Mary and Nigel would have done in NappyTabs class? These two old farts need to be benched and some of the All Stars need to be promoted to the judging table. Barring that, this iteration of the show is the next best thing. And get rid of these useless celebrity judges like Vanessa and Jason who just say the same thing over and over again and don’t offer any technical advice

    • Carla Krae says:

      The All-Stars are professional working dancers. Working. Dancers. They know what they’re looking at!

    • mooshki says:

      The All-Stars don’t get to decide who stays and who goes, the producers (i.e. Nigel) do. They probably have some input, in particular about who they want on their “team,” but I guarantee they aren’t making the final decisions.

  10. Liz says:

    My issue is with the team format. Because we all know that the teams will only last for a week or so until the all-star picks their person. So Allison for example already has two awesome people on her team – which guarantees 1 of them won’t make the top 10. That’s going to hurt REALLY badly.

    • fightfan3 says:

      I’m wondering if the All-Stars will be able to pick up a dropped dancer from another team. eg. if 1 of Allison’s dancers is someone that Jasmine would rather work with than someone on her team can she pick up the dropped dancer?

  11. Ronnie Anthony says:

    I’m kind of annoyed that they got rid of Darius Hickman after giving him a prime spot to show us what he’s got in the audition, and we didn’t even get a chance to see why! He could have killed his hip hop routine and we wouldn’t know it. I don’t mind the all-stars choosing, but I wish there was less time devoted to that portion of the show. Finally, I could do with a little less All-Star Robert, and some more scenes of the new group of dancers we’re supposed to be invested in.

    • mooshki says:

      Your last sentence was my big problem with the episode. Why spend precious air time humiliating Robert when we need to start getting attached to the new dancers?

  12. Jake says:

    Wait so each top 10 person only gets to dance with one allstar? Like let’s say someone gets ballroom and their partner is Robert. Do they dance the ballroom with Robert? That makes very little sense.

  13. Abbey says:

    I’m so confused. Was there an episode 4? Somehow I missed it, and don’t see a recap?