So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 Performance Recap: The Battle Begins! [Updated]

SYTYCD Top 20 RecapAnd now, for my quick report titled “Things I Witnessed on So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 Performance Night (That I Definitely Don’t Need to See Again)”:

* Nigel Lythgoe in a hoodie, attempting animation

* Wayne Brady threatening to strip down for the incomparable Cat Deeley

* Sexy tapper Aaron rocking a pair of pants with a crotch saggier than a baby’s diaper the morning after downing a Big Gulp

Okay, okay, that last image crossed some kind of line (taste? grammar? basic metaphor construction?), but in my defense, it’s a tough job to fully digest 10 disparate routines unleashed in the course of 120 minutes. But tough or not, it is my duty — and my livelihood — so let’s break down the Week 1 performances with an eye on separating the pretenders from the contenders, the pimped from those who’ve already been tied to the railroad tracks.

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of this week’s SYTYCD? Who was best in show? Who will and should be at risk? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments, and for all my reality-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, 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. Chablis says:

    Guess I win……

  2. Logan says:

    The “sexy tapper” is Aaron, not Alan, Michael!

  3. K2 says:

    At the risk of sounding like pervy old man Nigel, the girls this season are GORGEOUS!

  4. Jimmy says:

    Oh Fik-Shun. He pulled me in from the time he gave that look when the camera focused on his face. I was hooked. That routine made me what to do something violent ( I would not in reality). So sinister it was. He surprised me. I love Curtis. Such Goof. I don’t agree with the recapper about the Waltz. It was really good and probably top four. The Waltz is such a romantic dance.

    • sytycd says:

      Just wish Fik-Shun have given some props to his partner and coreographer when he was given the chance to talk. But no, it was all me, me, me.

  5. Lilly says:

    No mention of the opening number?? That was pretty amazing!

    • Tarasa says:

      I agree – I loved the opening for a variety of reasons (inclusion of judges & choreographers), the beautiful long tracking shot, and the song was great (hey Herb Alpert at the bar!)

  6. Coryrox says:

    Aside from Aaron’s unfortunate pants I thought the episode was great! I would love to see Nico and Alexis do another genre because hip hop it wasn’t…

  7. Scarlev says:

    Best Amy-FikShun ıt was amazing
    Runner-up: Oh pleasee are you kidding? they are one of the best pairing of this season and their waltz were really good (I really felt like watching a couple from 50’s)
    Worst: Jade-Malace

  8. Lily says:

    I really liked the Jade-Malace routine. Great chemistry!! I didn’t care for the Fik-shun and Amy routine. I felt nothing from them, maybe if I watch it again later I will change my mind.

  9. girlinmd says:

    Can Wayne Brady be guest judge more often? loved Amy and Fik shun and also Brittany and Blu print did great opening number was awesome!

  10. SirMac says:

    We watched two COMPLETELY different shows. I loved Makenzie and Paul’s routine, and Jenna and Tucker. I thought Malece and Jade’s routine was just so-so, and you apparently think they’re going to be safe. I don’t know what was in your cup tonight, but you should probably try water next week.

    • Aeol says:

      I didn’t like Malece and Jade (lost interest in Malece during Vegas week) and I knew from his audition that Tucker would never grow on me and that didn’t change last night…so I guess it’s really just a matter of opinion.

  11. CJ says:

    The Broadway choreography was my least favorite followed by the waltz. I really don’t like Tyce Diorio’s numbers! On the other hand, I could watch anything Sonya choreographs all day long! Love me some Sonya!

    • Louise says:

      I agree. His routines always seem like they are 75% mugging and running around. I have 0 dance or choreography expertise, but to my untrained eye they seem to lack any flow.

  12. Dan (Haleyloony) says:

    Is it bad I like Hayley mainly because she has a similar name to the incomparable Haley Reinhart?

    • waterbug says:

      Can we have one thread on this site that Haley Reinhart DOESN’T appear in???????????? This is SYTYCD for heaven sakes!!!

  13. Pat says:

    I loved Alan and Jasmine M….thought their routine was second only to Fik-shun and Amy. they had great chemistry and Jasmine M has such presence on stage. I will say texting names for voting is very challenging this year … It took me 3 times as long to vote for Fik-shun as it did to vote for Amy! Good first episode all around.

  14. DreamRose311 says:

    Wow, disappointing to see a really good waltz called runner up to worst of the night. I’m already having a hard time seeing who I want to go. It’s gonna be a great year!

  15. dani n. says:

    Very strong episode. I haven’t been able to watch as regularly this season as I have in the past. So I have catching up to do on who’s who. I favored Jasmine, the one who used to be with the dancer. I was underwhelmed by the performance and thought there was a lot of hype about it before we saw it and after. Thought the kids who waltzed were so weightless. Loved them. The blind fold kids too. Of course Fikshun & Amy. I normally do not like Broadway or Tice and tonight I totally got into the fun of the piece. That guy was so tall.Loved swing him wheeling his long body around. I thought the other hip hop kid and his partner represented well. Really, I pretty much liked everyone. Did think the couple who went first were a bit of a mess.But not dreadful.

  16. Babybop says:

    Why didn’t you like the waltz? I thought it was beautiful. Besides Amy and Fik-shun, it was my favorite of the night.

    • Louise says:

      I agree. I thought it was very sweet… especially once they busted out the umbrella. He in particular was very dapper.

    • sytycd says:

      I thought it was clunky. I think she said in the rehearsal package that she felt like a football player, well, I don’t think she entirely shook that feeling when she danced it live.

  17. pfitzdc says:

    I hate when the judges single out just one dance out out 10 for criticism. Sure, Alexis and Nico were less than stellar, but the wanted was a snooze fest and the dancers had zero chemistry. And I don’t know what the fuss was about Hayley and Curtis…while he had flair, she was so so and the routine was bogged down with the awkward lamp prop. And Jade might have been worlds better then in rehearsal, but he was stil kind of flat footed. And Wayne Brady was the most inarticulate guest judge ever.

    • Erin C says:

      to be fair they also criticized Mariah and Carlos’ jive routine

    • ACORP says:

      I didn’t like Hayley and Curtis either. It’s all rigged. The show decides who they want in the competition, the judges complement those people, and the viewers who don’t know much about dance listen to the judges. Yay.

  18. Jen says:

    Great show, but one pet peeve…I don’t know what the backstage politics of this show are, but every season they oversell the same choreographers. Did we really need two routines from the same person? Where is Stacey Tookey?!? She is not only brilliant and better than most, but she doesn’t seem half as ego-driven as the rest of them. Please, give this girl her due and feature her amazing work on the show more.

    *Kudos for incorporating more Christopher Scott though.

  19. Arnel Butaya says:

    I haven’t seen the show yet. but with your comment guys… I think I’m gonna love it. Please vote for Mariah she still have to much talents to show…”)

  20. Eli says:

    Last week Mariah outdances Fikshun in a hiphop routine. This week Mariah gets stuffed with the worst partner, the doomed opening spot and doing a horrible Jive in ugly yellow outfits no less.
    Meanwhile Fikshun gets the strongest dancer as partner, gets the pimp spot and the pimp routine (choreographers know which routine is better even when creating them).
    I’m sorry, but I’m pretty disgusted right now. Eff you Nigel Lithgoe, eff you!

    • KevyB says:

      They’ve shown repeatedly in the past that the dancers pull names and dance styles out of a hat. I’m sure they didn’t decide to change that this year. But I agree with you otherwise. Fik-shun, last week and this, danced like a 12-year-old boy. There are a handful of girls every year who hear all about how they have to dance “older” yet Fik-Shun dances like he’s still waiting for puberty to hit and he gets a standing ovation from the judges. THAT’S the part of this show I get sick of! The “trained” dancers get knocked for the smallest things, yet the “untrained” dancers have their gyrating booties kissed the entire season. The contemporary and ballroom guys are all going to be gone in the first half of this season and then we’re going to have to watch the other guys get outdanced by their current partners and then MAJORLY outdanced by the All-Stars, all without a bad comment from the judges. I better see some fairer judging this season or I won’t be around for much of it!

      • Eli says:

        It’s common knowledge the partnernames/dance styles are rigged. It has to be cause they need to pair people up on size and dance background (don’t wanna put 2 ppl with the same background together, except if Jazz/Contemporary). Same with the styles, if the styles really were random we’d occassionally see people get the same or very similar styles several weeks in a row, that’s just mathematics.
        So yeah, it’s all rigged so the producers can get the results they want to give us the best possible show (in their opinion).

      • ACORP says:

        You are completely right. The only reason these untrained dancers are getting any praise is because it’s good for views. There are so many people out there watching who have no dance training, or are just bad, and have no idea what it’s like to train for hours until your feet bleed and you’re dripping sweat and throwing up. I got so tired of the Cyrus ass-kissing last year I stopped watching 2/3 of the way through the season. I met Tiffany from last season and she said this season will probably be the last. Seeing the way things are going, I’m glad. Hopefully another network will pick this up and change it or make something like it.

  21. Crys says:

    LOVED the opening sequence!

  22. Coryrox says:

    I have to admit that I was cracking up when Cat was standing next to Jade and Malece after their dance last night. She was like the Jolly British Giant towering over them!

  23. sarah says:

    Amy & Fik shun
    Jasmine H & Aaron
    Hayley & Curtis
    Jasmine M & Alan
    Jenna & Tucker

    Those were my personal faves in order

  24. Magically Suspicious says:

    Makenzie and Paul were lovely. I’ve failed to understand the Mariah love from the beginning, and I think the Mariah I’ve been watching was the one that danced last night. She’s not good. She’s klunky and labored and not at all elegant. There are nine girls she’s competing with that are all of the above.

    • sytycd says:

      That jive was terrible, I think she’s a goner.

    • ACORP says:

      Agreed. I don’t like Mariah, but I think they might (unfortunately) keep her around because OMG IT’S SO INSPIRING! YOU’VE GROWN SO MUCH! WE <3 STORIES AND HIP HOP DANCERS THAT AREN'T ACTUALLY GOOD!

      • E Mockingjay says:

        I agree. That’s also how I felt about Cyrus last season. I think the same is true for Jade and Blu-Print this season.

  25. Aeol says:

    I didn’t think Mackenzie and Paul danced poorly, I just felt their chemistry was completely off. There didn’t seem to be any joy dancing with one another, in my opinion.

  26. Rain says:

    The waltz was absolutely breathtaking to me, Makenzie looked like she was floating on air which I’m pretty sure Mary always says is super important for that dance. Jasmine M and Alan – I love both of them so I’m very happy they’ve been paired up. That dance was fantastic! Amy is my #1 girl at the moment, loved her routine with Fik-Shun – who I have to say grew on me this week. I’m not a huge Malece fan but I liked her dance with Jade.

    Please can they get rid of Tyce and NappyTabs? UGH, I always hate their choreo so much and it looks like this season isn’t going to be any different. I thought the opening number was terrible! The broadway routine was so bad, it made me dislike Jenna even more than I already did – which is saying something since she was my least favorite of the top 20 picks to start with. I didn’t enjoy Hayley and Curtis’ routine, but I love Curtis so I’m glad others apparently liked it. Alexis & Nico – I’m so sad they were terrible, I liked Nico from the auditions and I’m afraid they might be the ones to go this time around!

    • Eli says:

      NappyTabs are awesome. Just cause you have no taste doesn’t mean we should get rid of them.
      The only choreographer who is pretty much universally reviled is Tyce.

      • Rain says:

        Screw you Eli, just because I don’t agree with your love of them doesn’t mean I have no taste. I happen to know a lot of people that don’t enjoy their watered down, soft “hip hop”.

        • Pong says:

          me too, bored with nappytabs. the lyrical hiphop was supposed to be just a one time thing but they stuck to it through seasons. same steps. same steps. poor tyce. only liked his this woman’s work choreography. what happened to mandy moore btw?

  27. Tom says:

    I’m glad you mentioned Nigel’s racist critique. He was even more obnoxious than usual tonight. The promotion of dance day is the quickest way to get me to fast forward the DVR, and his overall attention seeking is just like nails on a chalkboard for me.

    I also thought it was in poor taste to say that Millie’s injury was good for the show. That guy is great and would have been excellent on the show. Maybe next year he’ll return and bring Jaja Jankovic with him.

    Also I’m in love with Amy.

  28. S. says:

    I understand in some respects why Nigel made the comment he made. Would I have said it in the same manner? No! But I did think to myself that I find it interesting that they typically have an African American in the Afro-Jazz routine (at least the first time it appears on the show per season) I may be wrong, but I am not sure. It just made me wonder, of all the dancers, why were they chosen for that dance. I understand why Nigel made the comment that it was out of Blu-print’s comfort zone regardless of color.
    I did find the choice of song and dance interesting for Sonya’s first dance of the night. In that same vein. But sometimes I don’t think other people question song choice, dance routine ideas and the dancers like I do.
    I Jasmine carried Aaron through that routine. She was the one with a majority of the hard elements to the dance and Aaron was literally there to hold her up when needed for support.

  29. Lily says:

    I thought all the routines did well, even the hip hop that failed for the judges. I still don’t know everyone’s name. I’m not really big on contemporary dancing…I prefer Broadway and Ballroom but I thought that (was it) Amy and Fik Shun’s contemp was one of the best. And inasmuch as I am not a fan of Tyce D’Orio and inasmuch as his routine had me scratching my head, I thought the two dancers did very well.

    I wish Nigel would refrain however from telling people he thought they might be safe because for some people who vote, that could be an influence. But that’s Nigel. Mental manipulation is like 2nd nature to him.

  30. waterbug says:

    Blueprint’s facial expression was priceless when Nigel made his “jungle” comment.

    • Pam says:

      I had to rewind to actually see it because I legit cringed when I heard Nigel’s comment. I get what he was trying to say about blueprint not having any experience in that style, but it was phrased SO badly.

    • Jenks says:

      Don’t you wish you could be a fly on the wall and hear what those kids have to say about Nigel when they’re safely out of earshot of the producers?

  31. daisyj says:

    I’m going to start a petition to get Hammer pants banned from this show– that’s two routines where the girls were nearly naked and the boys were wearing an entire shelf from Mood. (Not to their advantage, either; poor Aaron was stuck looking like he’d put Fat Albert’s old sweats and a tank top to clean out the garage.) Free the man-legs!

  32. G-Mom says:

    My issue is with the voting. I tried to text vote, but I kept getting a response that my area (Central) “Voting not open in ur region”. What? It was 9:05 when I tried to vote (again, Central Daylight Time). Five minutes after the show was over. THEN, I tried to vote from the app. I had to sign in with Facebook and allow Fox all my CONTACTS, PICTURES, etc!!! Not going to happen!! I am so sick of having to sign in to these social websites (FB, Twitter) to do ANYTHING!! I don’t/won’t do it!!

    As for the show, I thought it was great!! Especially Jasmine M’s & Alan’s blindfold routine! Awesome!!

  33. Alia says:

    The two Jasmines and their A-for-Awesome partners blew everybody else out of the water, if you ask me. I can’t wait to see more from those four dancers.

  34. Tom says:

    I find it so interesting how the judges nitpick or bash certain dancers dancing out of their genre and applaud and accept the flaws in others (aka the ones that are good for ratings), Boggles my mind! It is going to be Cyrus all over again with either Fik-shun and Blu-print. Praising their attempts and not their actual dancing.

    • ACORP says:

      So right. If they kick off actual good dancers for them, I will stop watching. Just like I did last season. For them to say that the hip hop dancers who can only do their own style are just as good as any contemporary dancer, is a total insult. Obviously the judges don’t care about the hours, sweat, and sacrifices jazz, broadway, contemporary, etc dancers made to become as good as they are. Then, they decide, forget that technique the others worked so hard to achieve, these hip hop dancers are GROWING (blech) so it doesn’t matter.

      • Jacob says:

        While I agree that the judges need to critique people of all genres more equally, it’s not like the judges have never praised Jazz, Broadway, Contemporary and Ballet dancers for attempting/sucking at styles outside their comfort zone. From Melanie Moore’s Little Red Riding Hood Hip-Hop to Randi and Evan’s Lyrical Hip-Hop (Halo), the judges overlooked how these dancers didn’t have the correct technique, and praised them for trying and getting through the routine. How is that any different from what Cyrus got last year? In these cases, the judges aren’t caring about how many hours, sweat and sacrifices it actually takes to become good at the numerous street dance styles that are out there. Not saying it’s fair, just saying it’s happened before.

  35. Tekwzrd says:

    1. Why is it male hip-hop dancers are given a pass on technique and female hip-hop dancers are not. Mariah was robbed, car jacked, mugged and victimized with partner, choreo, boxy yellow dress and über critique on technique. Cyrus never got a critique like that even though it was deserved.

    2. I found the waltz beautiful and didn’t have a problem with their chemistry unlike Tucker and Jenna, Nico and what’s her name, and Jade & Malece.

    3. Routine is missing the n in one of the Travis critiques. (I think that’s where it was)

    4. On the main shows, the camera stays with the performer(s) from beginning to end…why can’t that be done with the auditions????????!!!

    5. Loved Wayne Brady’s role as judge, esp his spot on critique of Lil C’s rambling hodge podge of grandiloquent words strung together with nonsensical metaphors and incorrect phrasing.

    6. I enjoyed the opening number and would rather watch Nigel cut up with the animators than prance around in pink. Found that whole video stupid…. Funny or die? That video should be extinct!

    7. Great pool of talent and the strongest overall top 20 show I think they have had in a long time.

    8. I like Tyce’s contemporary much better than his broadway… Going all the way back to the Benji and Donyelle routine with another yellow dress that should have stayed on the rack.

    9. Love Chris Scott!

    10. Season 10 is off to a great start!

    • ACORP says:

      1) You are completely right. Cyrus NEVER got critiqued on technique. He had an all-season free pass to do whatever he wanted! EVERYONE should be held to the same standards; all dancers should be expected to have good technique in the style they are dancing, or they don’t deserve to be on the show.
      2) I liked the waltz,too. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was pretty good. However, I did like Jade and Malece.
      7) I EXTREMELY disagree with you on this. If you go back and watch other seasons, almost all of them had stronger participants. I’m not sure if the top 20 show was better, but the contestants were certainly better in other seasons.

  36. ACORP says:

    I thought Hayley & Curtis had no chemistry and did not dance the routine at all until the part where they were in sync and didn’t have to interact with each other. I also think that Jasmine H. only looked good because all she did was legs. In all other sections (which there were little of) she looked awkward, and (dare I say it?) so did Aaron. He was my second or third favorite going in, but he looked real bad and out of place in his number. While those awful pants were partly to blame, his actual dancing was also pretty awkward.

    So far, I am very disappointed in this season. Season 9 and 10 are just not stepping up to the plate. I know that sounds harsh, and they are okay, but look at all the previous seasons. I could almost always pick out at least one (usually 2) dance every week that was absolutely amazing and took my breath away (or was a super awesome hip hop). And many of the dancers were SPECTACULAR. Not just great, but spectacular. And extremely versatile. It seems like now they’re just looking for different styles of dancers and hyping up the ones they want (and giving props to people with sad life stories). I’m sorry if people got tired of just seeing contemporary and jazz dancers (MOSTLY. Not always.) dominate, but they were good at other things, too. Many dancers lately have been amazing-at-one-style-passing-by-in-all-other-styles dancers.

  37. My main problem with the waltz was that 1) it was set to an Avril Lavigne song and 2) this is not the first time that SAME Avril song has been used on this show. Is there no other acceptable waltz music to choose from??

  38. Sharantyr says:

    I really am not sure what the judges saw in the Haley/Curtis routine. It was awkward in the extreme, no chemistry, just left me cold. It got better near the end, but still it surprised me when they were gushing about it. Hopefully Mariah will survive though, death slot plus jive? That is brutal. The opening number was awesome. The waltz, was well the waltz, but it was probably the least boring waltz they’ve had. I think the music choice helped with that. It was pretty and didn’t put me to sleep. Is that enough to say they are safe? Probably not. As for Tasty Oreo, his contemporary is always better than his Broadway, and that routine was forgettable to say the least.

  39. debbie says:

    Question, maybe I missed the explanation. But are the bottom 6 dancers going to be from 3 couples or because the voting was per dancer and not per couple is it possible that they could come from several different pairings?

  40. Rachel says:

    If Jenna and Tucker get bit because they were unfortunate enough to draw a Tyce number, I am going to be SO MAD. They’re both fabulous, and they did well with the routine (better than most have, historically), but Tyce is terrible. I really wish they would replace him at this point.

  41. Ivy says:

    Haha wow you called Aaron and Jasmine H dark horses… and you were so right LOL

  42. Lori says:

    Where was blueprint?????????????????????