So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 Performance Recap: Feels Like I'm Knockin' on Heaven's Door

The term “religious experience” gets thrown around a little too much nowadays. We hear it used to describe food, art, sex — even sports.

So You Think You Can Dance‘s Season 11 Top 20 performance episode, however, legit served up white doves and incense flowing out of an Italian cathedral door — courtesy of a contemporary routine from Ricky and Jessica that may go down as one of the greatest moments in show history.

“That just came from heaven,” exclaimed judge Mary Murphy, momentarily jumping off the Hot Tamale Train to get on her knees and give thanks for having witnesses something so utterly graceful, so profoundly felt, so indelibly moving.

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When I meet people at parties who scoff at the idea of a job that requires me to devote my days and nights to obsessing over and diligently chronicling reality-competition series, from now on, I’ll just smile inside and think about Ricky and Jessica’s number (choreographed by the always terrific Sonya Tayeh). What better reminder that a genre defined by voters’ whims, judges’ biases and frequent interruptions by Charmin bears with toilet paper stuck to their backsides can still transport us to somewhere completely magical?

Do we give credit to God? Do we tip our hats to the energy of our universe? Do we simply marvel in the experience of witnessing world-class human achievement? Maybe it’s all the same. But for those of you who watched SYTYCD tonight, I doubt you’re questioning the hyperbole of this recap, instead just nodding your heads and shouting “Mmm-hmm,” “Yes, sir!” or “Amen!”

Tonight’s Top 20 performance telecast paired every single dancer with someone from his or her own genre — and then allowed them to be choreographed in a routine that showcased the duo’s speciality. (Next week, the contestants will be mixed randomly and forced outside their comfort zones.) I appreciated the decision on the part of executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, especially since the abbreviated callbacks round this year left me feeling as if I wasn’t especially well-acquainted with at least a third of the finalists.

With no individual dancer completely imploding, however, next week’s cuts will sting. But before I take a turn down Sadness Street, let me offer some quick impressions of the 10 routines we witnessed:

Dance of the Night: Jessica & Ricky (contemporary) | Oh no I’ve gushed too much. (I haven’t gushed enough.) But a couple of questions: Did Ricky levitate during that move that began with him wrapping himself around Jessica’s legs? How did he manage to arc his leg so high up above his back without spraining his butt? (Can a butt be sprained? Surely I’d end up in the ER if I attempted Ricky’s extension.) And weren’t Jessica’s leaps every bit as thrilling as her front-runner partner? I hate overhyping anybody off one live performance, but it’s hard to imagine this pair doesn’t crack the Top 6 at minimum.

Runner-Up: Malene and Marcquet (samba) | This may not have packed the emotional wallop of Jessica and Ricky, but in terms of fleetness of footwork and non-stop hip action, it was darn near perfect. Nigel made a great point that Malene was exploding with intent from her very first step, while Marcquet and she both brought to life a full-fledged Carnivale vibe without ever dipping their bread into the fondue pot of cheese, so to speak.

Most Overrated: Casey and Emily (contemporary) | I’ll admit I winced at the use of the ubiquitous “All of Me” — an unconditional love ballad — to accompany what Travis said was a dance about a stormy couple facing their most testing moment. The bigger problem, though, was Casey’s occasional vapid smile creeping into the mix — and perhaps the fact that Emily, despite some lovely lines, didn’t really mark herself as being particularly memorable.

Most Surprising: Bridget and Stanley (contemporary) | I’ll admit Bridget did not impress me much (yes, that’s a Shania shout-out) in her audition or Hollywood week, but in this Bonnie Story routine, she matched Stanley’s eye-popping extensions and athleticism. Like Nigel noted, you could see the classical technique and meticulousness in every one of the couple’s steps. Plus, both halves of the duo sold the relationship angst at the center of the story — never moreso than during the move that Mary so accurately dubbed the “love rolls.”

Most Disappointing (Even If I’m Not 100% Sure Why): Jacque and Jourdan (ballet) | I didn’t love that Jourdan and the barely-seen-til-tonight Jacque were dressed and styled almost identically (the harder to separate their quality of movement). And I didn’t love that the camera too frequently focused on one gal or the other. Yet the bigger problem was that despite the extraordinary execution of what Nigel counted as 15 fouttes, the routine seemed to lose energy — and synchronization — in the latter half, with neither gal matching the charisma of Season 9’s Eliana or even Season 5’s Melissa. I wouldn’t be shocked if one of these ladies gets axed next week (though the less heralded Jacque seemed slightly more engaged).

Worst Chemistry: Nick and Tanisha (cha cha) | I’m not sure Nick looked at Tanisha a single time during the performance — so focused on mugging for the camera was he. Why the judges made no mention of it is a mystery as deep as Fox’s failure to have already renewed SYTYCD for Seasons 12, 13 and 14. Tanisha proved marginally better, but on a night of stellar performances, hers isn’t one I’ll ultimately remember.

Triumph of Spirit Over Technique: Carly and Rudy (contemporary) | Is there anyone on the planet more adorable than Rudy? (I’m going with a solid “Hell, no!”) The judges were correct in noting he might not match the extension or flexibility of the season’s finest guys, but he brings a passion and commitment that make him a delight to watch. Carly, meanwhile, aided by gusting fans and a gorgeous dress, seemed to become one with the ethereal music. I hope guest judge Jason Derulo is right, and that neither dancer will be at risk of elimination.

Most Fun: Emilio and Teddy (hip-hop) | Teddy didn’t quite match Emilio’s eye-popping tricks — and his makeup wasn’t doing him any favors, either — but watching the duo’s janitor-and-security-guard hijinks to “Nightshift” was a sweet break from the onslaught of contemporary and ballroom. Bonus points for utilizing their respective desk and mop/bucket combo in a way that was seamless and never distracting.

Least Inspiring Choreography (No Fault of the Dancers): Brooklyn and Serge (cha cha) | Why is it that so few of SYTYCD‘s ballroom choreographers ever “tell a story” or take us somewhere emotional with their routines? Honestly, a little context or setup could make all the difference. So, while Brooklyn and Serge ticked the boxes for footwork, agility and sexual connection, I fear the mundane quality of Dmitry Chaplin’s routine will put them at risk next week — a particular shame in the case of charismatic Serge.

Biggest Gap Between Partners: Valerie and Zack (tap) | Zach was pretty mesmerizing gliding his way up and down a set of prop stairs, but poor Valerie spent half the routine looking down at her feet — as if she was deathly afraid of taking a tumble. Even when they were on the floor, though, Zach seemed to take two steps (or a step and a half) to every one for Valerie. As a result, methinks he’ll have more longevity over the course of Season 11.

Will Be Bottom 3 Guys: Teddy, Nick, Serge
Should Be Bottom 3 Guys: Teddy, Nick, Casey
Will Be Bottom 3 Girls: Brooklyn, Tanisha, Jacque
Should Be Bottom 3 Girls: Valerie, Tanisha, Jourdan

What did you think of the Top 20’s performances? Who will and should be at risk? Who’s going home? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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. Normally I fault Nigel for hyperbole, but Jessica and Ricky were a revelation tonight.

    • wordsmith says:

      They’ve been my favorites since initial auditions, and I had a hunch they’d be unstoppable if the producers decided to pair them up. Surprise, surprise, they did, and I was right.

      • wordsmith says:

        It brings to mind previous “bulletproof” pairings like Amy and Fikshun or Lauren and Kent. There’s just no way that they DON’T make it to the finale.

        • CINMG says:

          Except that each will be paired with someone else next week. I will say that Ricky is so phenomenal that he could be paired with ME and still make it to the finals – and I’m an old fart. Jessica is great, but a poor partnership could affect her.

          • Mona Cattanach says:

            So true, I won’t fault Jessica’s talent, but Ricky is beyond and I was pleased to see he was the true focus of the routine, as he should be. Usually the woman is the focus, but he shone through. He moves as if each muscle in his body can go through an entire range of motion completely independent of any other muscle. Also, I agree with Kat, he does look like someone out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in a very charming way.

        • elr says:

          Ricky’s moves remind me a lot of Amy. They are both able to extend their bodies into these ridiculous shapes and look extremely graceful while doing so. Ricky is so light on his feet that he almost appears to be flying on air. I also really enjoyed Emilio and Teddy’s routine. Michael I don’t know why you have Teddy in the bottom three? I would replace him with Casey. He had a quality that just put me off and unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what that is. Emily stood out more to me than Casey did in their dance. There’s also something about Tanisha, I’m not so sure if it was her dancing or more to do with her costume. How about that Costume Department you were on a roll last night and then Tanisha happened, what gives?

          • The Costume Department says:

            We think it was her costume as well. No one looks good when they’re dancing in what looks like half a hollowed tomato with fringe.

          • Margi says:

            Teddy may be in the bottom three because he had about 2 seconds air time before tonight. I hope the viewers and/or judges give him a chance. I’d like to see what he could do in another genre.

    • Emily says:

      Ricky and Jessica are amazingly talented and that dance tonight was ridiculously amazing! That being said, Nigel did overhype them!!!! Way too much!!! They were good, but come on. Praise them, praise the choreography/choreographer. But, don’t keep going on and on and on about it. They were very very good. And they are definitely top 4 material! But, Nigel can’t keep doing that.

      • The Costume Department says:

        Agree, Emily! Having to stop and tell the audience they didn’t understand what they had just seen because it was apparently a miracle was a little overmuch. In fact it made it seem like he was saying, “yeah, we know the rest of these dancers appeal because they do tricks. But THIS was real dancing.”
        Ricky is amazing.

        • NayNay says:

          Nigel has no idea. He thinks he and Mary are the only ones that truly know what stellar dancing is. And if they keep it up, the audience will turn against Ricky. However, I did like the fact that he commented on the audience screaming inappropriately several times. Maybe they will make them shut up this year.

          • The Costume Department says:

            And I’m guessing Mary was trying to encourage Jason to be more animated by turning to him and screaming at him? Looked like she was trying to eat him.

          • NayNay says:

            @The Costume Department, we need a love button for your comment!

          • stew says:

            I can’t see Ricky facing any backlash beyond how already decided it is that he is this season’s winner. It’s not anywhere near the Jenna situation as last year

          • PIMB says:

            We just need a love button for the Costume Department

      • Leigh says:

        Don’t know if anyone else picked this up, but when Nigel finally finished his endless stream of praises, Cat said, “I love it. Lost for words, but not.” It was pretty humorous.

      • Jan says:

        I’d say it was “typical Nigel,” but he even outdid himself. Some gushing was definitely appropriate, but it really wasn’t fair to the other contestants (especially those who came afterwards and they had “no time” to judge).

    • Zayne says:

      Honestly, I was underwhelmed. Ricky’s first two solo routines they’ve shown on the show have given me chills and that’s a very hard thing to do. I thought it was a solid dance. I just don’t necessarily get the standing O and the lavish praise being heaped at the performance.

      I know Nigel clearly wants Ricky to win. I just hope they don’t pimp him to hard because that’s the fastest way to turn me off to a contestant. The kid is an incredible dancer. Let his talent speak for itself.

  2. Rae says:

    LOVED Ricky and Jessica’s dance! He has been one of my favorites since auditions. My other favorite is Stanley and he was also very impressive tonight. I agree with you about the tappers. I thought Zack looked way more comfortable with the steps than Valerie did.

    • CINMG says:

      I thought that both tappers actually executed well, but that choreography was a hot mess. Poor choice of song made the tapping seemed out of sync with the music. Too distracting for me!

    • Mo Mos Mo Problems says:

      I agree with your favorites. I have the feeling Ricky will have this thing already sewn up weeks before the finale, but we’ll all enjoy watching him get there. He just makes every move look so freaking effortless. As for the tappers, me too. I think Valerie is adorable, but unless she can do really well in the other styles, she won’t be long for the competition. But for other styles, she would need to loosen up. She looked way more stiff in the upper body than Zack did, too.

  3. GhostWolf says:

    Ricky and Jessica were in a league of their own tonite – beyond stunning. From the audition, it was clear Ricky is going to be the front runner this season.

    What is disappointing is voting only via Facebook. That is just one media I am not ready to jump on board in the foreseeable future.

    • TK says:

      You mean you can’t vote by phone calls anymore?

      • giselle says:

        The only voting I’ll be doing this year is the opportunity you provide on your review. Eliminating the toll-free 8- – number will end my chances to vote. This season looks so interesting, but the first elimination will be me, although not by choice. I will look forward to your reviews, Michael, and I agree with your comments about Jessica and Ricky.

    • Mytake says:

      When something doesn’t make sense, always “follow the money”. There is absolutely zero reason Fox eliminated phone calls or texts to vote and require Facebook voting other than the obvious. Facebook with their untold billions are paying Fox to go to this forced Facebook voting (and of course getting many more people signed up to their service which is their main objective). Realize that a large portion of viewers of SYTYCD are older people whom have never created a Facebook account. It’s truly unfortunate that such underhanded machinations are being implemented for the almighty buck!

      • stew says:

        Spot on comment. The format this year has been a huge letdown (plus… DIE BIEBER DIE). Plus, has anyone else noticed just how freaking young this season skews as far as the dancers they have? 90% of them are 20 or under, and only one is even 25

  4. Emily Anne says:

    I’ve been following Ricky Ubeda for quite a while and it’s nice to see him get so much recognition. He’s a star, he’s got focus, control and is just so soulful on stage. if you want to see him do something that’s not heartwrenching and contemporary, check out his performance of “slide” on youtube! it’s electric (lol) and fun! he got a perfect score!

  5. LADY_in_MD says:

    I really liked most of the routines but Ricky and Jessica and Marquette and Malene were my favorite the only disappointment was the ballerinas I was expecting much more
    Ricky is one of the strongest guys I have seen

    • Margaret says:

      I was expecting way more from the ballerinas, I think we’ve been spoiled by the amazing ballet performances over the seasons (Chehon & Eliana/Melissa & Ade/Will & Katie), heck even Twitch and Joshua did ballet! While I could never do what those girls did tonight, something just didn’t feel quite right…

    • NayNay says:

      I agree about the ballerinas. The shorter, cute one, to me, did much better than the other one. It seemed to me that the taller one was out of sync the entire second half of the dance. And the routine was boring, except for the 15 turns.

    • PIMB says:

      Hey, I am a lady in Maryland too. I loved Marquette. And Malene is so gorgeous she could be walking on hot coals and she would look good. Ballerina’s were a bore and girl tapper looked so uncomfortable to me. Can’t wait for the dancers to do other genres and then we’ll see :)

  6. Janean says:

    Next time someone at a party scoffs, please know that you have my dream job.

  7. The Professor says:

    The biggest problem with the ballet routine in my mind is that it didn’t help either dancer stand out. The girls dressed alike, wore their hair the same, and danced identical steps for most of the two minutes. I never knew if I was looking at Jacque or Jourdan.

    • Rae says:

      That was the problem I had with it too. I couldn’t tell who was who.

    • Mo Mos Mo Problems says:

      That was true for me, too. I don’t know how MS can call that one or the other will be in the bottom next week. I think it will be both or neither, because I thought I saw one falter at one point, but how the heck do I know which one it was? Costume Department, please make sure this doesn’t happen in the future!

      The other funny thing was how p.o.’ed the choreographer looked at the end of that routine. It may just be his regular face, but most other clap and hoot for their dancers and put on a good front for them. Not this guy.

      • The Costume Department says:

        The costumes weren’t identical (eye roll). One of the tutus had red trim and the other had…some other color. We can’t remember.
        We noticed the choreographer’s face too. “You haf butchered my dance!”

        • Mo Mos Mo Problems says:

          It was yellow, I’ll give you that much! Unfortunately, the camera work didn’t help with distinguishing the red from the yellow, and unlike you, The Camera Department has yet to be brave enough to show up and defend its choices on our boards.

    • Nichole says:

      I had the same problem, especially in the second half, one of the girls was having a bit of trouble keeping it together and got out of sync, but I couldn’t tell you which one as they both looked the same and with all the camera editing, keeping track of who you where looking at was impossible!!

      • Mitchell says:

        It was Jourdan. Coming from someone in the world of ballet Jacque looked much better and had much more grace and flow. She deserves to stay and no one realizes how hard it is to do what she did. Does no one treasure the foundation of all dance, ballet. If Jacque goes home America should rethink their decision.

        • The Costume Department says:

          I’m going to have to see if I can rewatch it. I thought Jacque was lighter but she looked as though she were having trouble with the fouettes.

        • Mona Cattanach says:

          I agree one was better and seemed more solid in what she was doing for the most part. I don’t think it’s that America doesn’t appreciate ballet, though a lot of what separates great ballet from good is very subtle. In my opinion, when you have seen amazingly talented ballet dancers such as Eliana and Chehon dance classical ballet and do it well, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to expect two less accomplished, though still talented, dancers to perform a classical piece just two seasons later. As for who goes home, I’m afraid the better ballet dancer may suffer due to confusion as to who was who. I gave a vote to who I though was the better of the two, but now I’m hoping I didn’t get the names confused and vote for the wrong one.

        • Margi says:

          I don’t think that it’s America doesn’t appreciate ballet. But they were performing a very traditional, classical ballet, and when you’ve been training for this since a very young age, this should be your forte. That being said, choosing a traditional ballet out of context lacked the emotion or fire of the contemporary and ballroom dances.

    • TK says:

      One was clearly better than the other, but I have no idea which one it was. Maybe Jacque?

  8. CINMG says:

    The poor ballerinas. They got set up with lackluster choreography and, well, because 2 ballerinas dancing together just isn’t that scintillating. I will say that they were beautifully together for the first part of it, then sort of fell out of it. I think that one or both will be in the bottom 3. Curious comment by Nigel saying to Jourdan that she needed more elevation when the routine itself had very little elevation. Did I miss something here?

    • Laura says:

      No, you didn’t. That was an odd comment from Nigel. The show should really stop doing ballet, it just doesn’t work. I felt really bad for the girls.

  9. Pjvtraveler says:

    Was anybody else distracted in the first number by a bandage on Brooklyn’s inner thigh?

    • JessD says:

      Yes, although I think it was sticky tap to hold her bottoms in place and not a bandage…clearly that didn’t work out

    • Omg yes you seen that to thought I was losing it.. I was not sure what it was. At first I thought it was a pad… But It was a bandage??

    • elr says:

      I got very distracted by that bit of white (whatever it was) that I’m not sure how she danced. And how unfair was it that Nigel called out Brooklyn for playing more to the audience and camera when Nick did the same thing, and was much more blatant about it!

  10. schu says:

    How could anyone scoff at your job!? Who wouldn’t want to do what all of you at TVline do? Scoffers be stupid.

  11. Babybop says:

    Bridget shocked me tonight. Didn’t think I liked her very much but dang, that girl can DANCE. Her leaps went as high as Stanley’s! I wasn’t expecting it at all and I give her the crown for tonight because she truly, truly made me wish I could do what she was doing.

    While I liked Ricky and Jessica’s routine a lot, I didn’t like it as much as every else seems to (it might be the super amount of praise – I tend to not like things as much when everybody is obsessed with them. I don’t know why…). But I LOVE Ricky. He has an adorable personality and he is a freaking good dancer.

  12. Mona Cattanach says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said, primarily that Casey and Emily were overrated. He wasn’t bad, but I felt she was tight and not very flexible through her upper body and just sort of heavy feeling through the entire piece. I was also disappointed with Jacque and Jourdan, I just didn’t feel their technique was very good. I’m no ballet expert, but I couldn’t help compare them with Eliana from season 9. Her technique was breathtaking and these two just didn’t measure up in my opinion.

    • snailagain says:

      Eliana was exceptional, and you’re not the only one who was disappointed by the ballet routine last night. I was comparing too, and this fell short. Jacque and Jourdan didn’t come close – I don’t think either of them has the same skill or, unfortunately, the same personality. There were moments during the routine when one or the other clearly lost center. Not badly, but very definitely noticeably.

      • Mitchell says:

        They looked beautiful though and people don’t realize that their
        Choreography given to them was not amazing
        And they both executed pretty well. Jacque stood out to me as the better of the two. She gave more Emotion and her technique was much better than Jourdan’s.

  13. Margaret says:

    Watching Malene & Marcquet, do a week 1 Louis samba brought to mind another one of Louis’s sambas, Max & Kayla during week 1 of season 5–to see what two ballroom dancers did with that routine, which was awesome & so fun, I couldn’t help but be retroactively impressed with Kayla and how she tackled Louis’s choreography.

  14. JessD says:

    Everything tonight was amazing, one of the best top 20 shows all around I think. Honestly the thing I’m so disappointed by is Fox’s decision not only to limit voting to online but also the fact that you MUST sign in to Facebook to do it. Frankly Fox, I don’t want to give you access to my profile, my friends, etc. I guess that means I can’t vote for the people who were amazing and deserve to continue.

    • Garance says:

      I am totally frustrated by this as well! I stay off Facebook and other social media because I have a violent ex-husband I don’t want to find me. Now my wish to participate in selecting dancers is totally unimportant to the producers.

    • Jan says:

      Yes, this change in voting is really poor. When Cat was explaining ways to vote, my head almost exploded into one of my “not everyone has an iPhone or uses social media” rants.

    • giselle says:

      Exactly! Is SYTYCD trying to end the show this year? I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who is not ruled by Facebook. If enough of us mention this, maybe Fox will add an 8 – – phone number. I am so disappointed.

      • MC says:

        We should be able to vote on without being linked to Facebook.

      • Margi says:

        Those of you who understand Twitter (I don’t), please tweet Nigel to protest the Facebook only voting. Last year it made a difference in how he announced who was going home (we all hated having it at the beginning of the show). Maybe enough tweets would let the rest of us have a way to vote.

  15. Cassia says:

    Putting Valerie in the should be bottom 3 girls is just baffling to me, especially when you have Jacque and Jourdan’s unfortunate ballet, Brooklyn’s completely uninspired dancing and whatever was going on with Tanisha. The tap was easily in the top 3 routines of the night, due to both of the dancers being absolutely fantastic.

  16. Carla Krae says:

    That Sonya routine for Ricky and Jessica. OMG. Jessica’s from my hometown, so I was hoping she’d do well.

  17. David4 says:

    I’m normally not fully paying attention. The dances are too short, the judges go ,”You are the best top 20 EVA!!!” and I play some game. The second the music came on it was different, waited 10 years for that. The audience was silent I was silent, it was art and love and joy and just amazing beyond words.

    • Margi says:

      If Sonya doesn’t get an emmy nomination for this it would be unbelievable. And while we’re on the subject, can we nominate Michael Slezak for an Emmy for best recap of any show anywhere?

  18. Velocisexual says:

    Ok, so after tonight, I have to ask, could Ricky be a ringer? Maybe watching too much reality competition tv has made me (justifiably) paranoid, but Ricky is just too good compared to everyone else on the show, right? It just doesn’t seem possible to me this guy hasn’t been discovered and picked up by some big dance company already….

    As for the other performances, hiphop was strong, tap was meh (but I hate tap, so might be a bit biased), the contemporary performances were all at least solid imo, even Casey and Emily were not as bad as Slezak said, they just danced to a very annoying song, but that’s not their fault. Both cha chas were boring and the 2nd one was pretty bad overall, the Samba wasn’t great either, I didn’t think Malene and Marcquet had strong chemistry. The ballet performance was bad disappointing and a case of bad choreography sabotaging both contestants. The 15 turns were awesome, but that was literally the only shining moment in the piece imo.

    • Leigh says:

      There have been plenty of past contestants who were in big dance companies prior to being on the show (Alex Freaking Wong in the Miami City Ballet, to name one). I also recall that Jenna Johnson was an intern in Stacey Tookey’s contemporary dance company. There have been others, but I can’t remember specifics off the top of my head. So, I don’t think the “ringer” argument is valid for this show. Even so, I’m pretty sure Rickey is not in a big dance company. From what I can tell, he has only been competing as part of the studio where he trains (Stars Dance Studio in Miami – season 6 contestant Victor Smalley is a co-owner). Plus, he just graduated from high school this year.

      • snailagain says:

        You’ve pretty much covered everything I was going to say! Thanks. Ricky is 18 – he said during the intro for his audition piece that he’s been waiting since Season 1 to be old enough to try out, so I think he’s been entirely local at his studio since he was practically an infant. It’s unlikely to stay that way after this, though — I will be utterly shocked if there isn’t a competition among some of the top companies who will want to grab him!

  19. analythinker says:

    I like Valerie & Zack’s number! There’s so many things that could go wrong with that.

  20. eman says:

    One of the best overall nights of SYTYCD ever. Certainly Ricky & Jessica’s dance had me mesmerized, wow! That dance is why I love this show more than any other reality competition show out there for a moment like that. I didn’t breath, tears dripping from my eyes, I just stared completely enraptured. That was just totally amazing!! Although Nigel needs to reign it in as it is not fair to the other dancers to say some of the things he said.

    Really liked the Samba, Marquet was in completely control, powerful and fluid and Malene was on fire, intense and shaking it, they really impressed me.

    Bridget and Stanley were also really, really good and just lived in the music, it was beautiful, fluid and lovely, just outstanding.

    Really I thought everybody did really well although the ballerina dance was probably the least entertaining but still strong. Did really enjoy the hip hop with a creative song choice.

    Who and the heck are they going to cut, what a great start to season 11.

    • elr says:

      After watching so much great dancing like we did last night, I’m asking myself why is this the ONLY dancing reality competition when there are how many singing competitions? How totally unfair is that?

  21. Ben says:

    Judges’ comments should be restricted to 8 seconds. Can’t stand the rambling.

    • NayNay says:

      Agree, and it can turn the audience against certain contestants when Mary and Nigel are going on and on and on and on. And I’m sorry, but Jason Derulo was about as good a judge at Katien Holmes. Really?! Get someone who can actually critique the dance. And I absolutely hate that stupid Wiggle song. I thought he was a better artist than that piece of drivel.

      • Zayne says:

        I agree completely. I hope this is not a trend of Fox making them have judges there to promote stupid crap. Bring back Jesse Tyler Ferguson or Christina Applegate. People who can speak intelligently and engage an audience instead of being little more than an echo of Mary and Nigel. I think the Nick critique said it all. We don’t have a lot of time left so you really don’t get to talk Jason. It’s not like you were saying anything worthwhile anyway.

        • kate'shomesick says:

          Didn’t Jason Derulo study musical theatre? So he must have some knowledge about dance

          • PIMB says:

            I liked Jason. He admitted when he knew nothing about the style. Didn;t go on and on looking for a sound bite :)

        • stew says:

          Jesse Tyler Fergueson has been the best guest judge consistently. Even if he’s not a dance expert he always has something intelligent and constructive to say about performance and he does it without fawning incoherently over the contestants. I can’t say I’m a fan of Applegate’s critiques.

  22. Mark Twain says:

    If they want a good ballroom choreographer who is a former SYTYCD alumni, they should bring back Benji. Dmitry is good, but Benji and/or his sister much better. I liked all the ballroom. I thought Rudy was better than the judges gave him credit for and I have to agree that Ricky is incredible. I think the tappers and the ballet dancers may be in the B3.

  23. Cut out the endlessly screaming girls in the audience. Even in the Ricky and Jessica dance, which should have mesmerized anyone, there were a few screams.

  24. Allison says:

    I think the first two couples are in trouble – without a recap to remind people of them, they will be forgotten, especially since quite a few of the girls look alike and they weren’t heavily featured in the auditions/callbacks. That said, I loved tonight. Yes, Ricky was great, but his personality reminds me of Amy of last year – very “cutesy” at times (in the pre-performance stuff) – and I wonder week after week if that will be a bit too much. Loved the hip hop, tap (even though you can tell that Zack is better than Valerie – who cares, they won’t dance much tap after tonight), and just about everything else. Yay, the live shows are back!!!

    • GTS says:

      They probably won’t start the show next week, when people actually vote. And I think they will recap the performances next week when people vote, like they normally do.

  25. Montie329 says:

    Thought it was a very strong night if dance. Usually love Travis’ choreo but it didn’t do much for me. The ballet piece was an unfortunate style choice for the girls. Too traditional for the night. They needed a modern ballet piece to be compared fairly with everyone else. I predict one ballerina will go home. No way Serge will be in bottom 3! His fans won’t let that happen. He was way better than Nick, who never connected with Tanisha once.

    • NayNay says:

      I noticed that about Nick and thought to myself that Nigel surely will mention it. Nope. That kid mugged for the audience so much it was ridiculous. The only time he looked at Tanisha is when she kissed him.

      • snailagain says:

        I noticed it too, NayNay, and was really surprised by the lack of comment about it. Nigel usually makes a huge deal out of connection and out of that kind of total focus on the audience while treating your partner like a prop – and the one time this entire show it was really bad he says nothing. The bigger problem with the last dance, though, was that it came right after the piece immediately before it, and I don’t think a whole lot of people are likely to have paid much attention to it.

  26. Scal says:

    Frankly it was hard for me to get to Ricky/Jessica’s piece. By that point we had seen-4? 5? Contemporary pieces? they were all starting to look the same, and got boring a repetitive. I wish they had lead with that one-upon rewatch it was pretty-but I think it will hurt the modern dancers in the long run that there are SOOO many of them, and they all kind of blend together. (esp the girls.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I totally agree….there are way to many contemporary girls that all look the same….same body type, same long hair that gets flipped all over the stage. I really wish they had chosen JaJa in place of one of them. The show needs that improvement arc in at least one dancer. I think it’s a little boring when everyone is already good at everything when the show starts. And I could go the rest of my life without seeing another contemporary girl in tiny shorts.

      • James says:

        All contemporary looks the same to me. Just a lot of rolling on the floor, jumping and wild arm reaches for nothing with absolutely no connection to the music. I just don’t get the popularity of it. It’s more like gymnastics than dancing.

        • Leigh says:

          LOL. Meanwhile, I think that all ballroom looks the same.

          • The Costume Department says:

            That was my thought: Whoa, there are a lot of ballroom dancers in here. Fortunately they’re fun to costume. Neon is back!

          • Mo Mos Mo Problems says:

            Huh. My posts are not showing up. I may have double-posted thinking that I hadn’t done it in the first place, so if it looks like I’m repeating myself, that’s the reason.

  27. The Costume Department says:

    Sonya’s opening number was awash with Keith and Mia moves. Not sure what happened there. However, her number for Ricky and Jessica was divine.

    We are sorry for the WWF belt we put around poor Tanisha’s waist. We were going for dazzling but it ended up looking clunky and made her look bigger, when she’s tiny.

    We loved our dresses on the girls.

    • Lana says:

      Reading all the comments are worth it when the Costume Department speaks. You guys are funny and love the explaining on the costumes from time to time. lol I loved the show and all the dances were great, well I wasn’t that crazy with the ballerinas as we have seen much better. I’m not happy about not being able to vote, this was the one show that I made sure to vote every week, now I can’t but sorry I’m not going to be forced to join facebook just so I can vote. Is Fox to cheap to set up phone lines now. Maybe if you would keep your great shows(SYTYCD, Bones, AI…) and quit adding stupid ones who barely get out the gate you wouldn’t be hurting so bad in the money department.

  28. The Costume Department says:

    When we saw Jason Derulo perform we thought he’d gotten into one of our secret stashes of diaper pants. However, it was actually a very long shirt. Relief.

    • snailagain says:

      Either way, please, please, pretty please, try to keep people from going for that look! It’s just plain dreadful. Otherwise, though, I thought you did a spectacular job last night, at least for the most part – lots of color, lots of nice flowy bits where appropriate, and everyone was dressed for the dance he or she was doing! I do kind of wish that you’d done a little more to differentiate the two ballerinas, of course, but overall a wonderful job!!

      • Mo Mos Mo Problems says:

        Yeah, even the green tinsel ball was fun to look at! And at one point I started wondering if Cat’s dress was sending secret morse code messages with the flashes it sent whenever the lights hit those big jewelly buttons.

    • Safarigal says:

      Dear CD, please put a padlock on the trunk that you keep the diaper pants in. Maybe one time only this season let one pair out. I too thought Jason was sporting those and was happy t was just his shirt.

  29. NayNay says:

    I knew Ricky would kill it, but I had no idea Jessica would be at his level. Sonya was perfection in her choreography for the pair. Stanley and Bridget were my next favorites. I agree with everyone else, Bridget got kinda annoying at callbacks but she and Stanley, especially Stanley were very very good in their piece.

  30. NayNay says:

    And, if Sonya Tayeh reads this, please choreograph a piece to “Mi Mancherai” by Josh Groban. Absolutely gorgeous song and you could do so much with it.

  31. sarah says:

    I pretty much agree with everything! However I do not think Teddy will be in the bottom 3, at least I hope not! So far I really like Jessica, Ricky, Emilio, Teddy, Valerie and Zack.

    My prediction:
    Bottom 3 guys: Nick, Casey and Serge
    Bottom 3 girls: Tanisha, Jacque and Jourdan

  32. True says:

    Oh Ricky ubeda danced contemporary? Sho-cking!!

  33. MLO says:

    What? No comment on the absolute uselessness of judge Jason Derulo? Then I’ll say it – I gave him a chance and thereafter I ff’d every second he was on screen.

    • Daniel says:

      Completely agreed. SYTYCD has had some spectacularly useless judges, but Jason absolutely took the cake. The attempts at humor (“As you know, I come from a pointe background…”) were lousy attempts to disguise the fact that he really didn’t have anything constructive to say that wouldn’t just parrot what Nigel and Mary were saying.

  34. TK says:

    I just rewatched Ricky and Jessica. The dancing was amazing but just like last night, I really did not like the music.

  35. Terry says:

    I used to find Cat so endearing and now I just find her annoying. I’m not sure if it’s her or me. Sigh.

    • Safarigal says:

      Hopefully it is just a phase Cat (or you) are going through and you will be back to findning her endearing.

  36. Nit Picker Jr says:

    So, before Jessica and Ricky danced my top ten was (in no particular order): Stacey Tookie, Travis Wall, the lighting director and Cat.
    Then Ricky ‘n Jessica danced.
    And I was, like, wow.
    Standing up, going wow.
    Sonya Tayeh? Wow.
    Ricky Ubeda? Wow. Double wow.
    Jessica what’shername? Wow.
    The pair of them, in that routine? Wo-o-ow.

    So now my top ten, in very specific order, is: Ricky ‘n Jessica, Sonya, Stacey, Travis, the lighting director and Cat. Who stays, who goes home, I don’t really care. It’s not important anymore. As long as Ricky and Jessica are in the finale, and as long as we won’t have to suffer through the comments of another “celebrity” judge, all is well in the SYTYCD galaxy.

  37. BrazenSongBird says:

    Did anyone else see the All That Jazz Angel of Death/Bob Fosse visual reference in Ricky and Jessica’s number? Or is it just me? Also, I already knew that Ricky Ubeda was special before the season started (I colleague of mine had seen him in a competition in FL in which his daughter participated and made mention of him, so I checked him out on YouTube.), but what I wasn’t expecting was Jessica! I knew she was good, but that strength! I wasn’t expecting that at all. She held Ricky up with just her forearm! She is something extraordinary and definitely one to watch as well. On a different note, I think the ballerinas were the biggest disappointment for me. Jordan fell off her pointe more than once and the last time was during a pirouette where she completely missed the ending fourth position! Jacque was fine, but nothing more. Not a very exciting dancer.

    • The Costume Department says:

      He also had his upstage arm around her back. I’m really glad he’s getting some recognition for his skills. Also glad we don’t have to find shirts for him.

  38. Derek Blaine says:

    I agree with you up until Zack and Valerie, or rather Valerie. She may not have matched Zack, but she was darn close in my opinion. Yes, she looked at her feet occasionally, but it wasn’t that noticeable. I saw and felt her connecting with the audience throughout the routine. She had a lot of character and energy in her face and performance. One of the best routines of the night for me.

  39. Sid Neeto says:

    Love, love ,love your recaps!

  40. toughhombre says:

    Absolutely the best opening season show in S.Y.T.Y.C.D. history with the best 20 dancers of all time on that show. What a blast to see great Ballroom, Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary and little or no Hip Hop. Jessica & Nick were incredible. Jacque & Jordan total class, Brooklyn & Serge amazing, Marlena & Marquette breathtaking. I hope they stick to the classic dances and sublimate the street gyrations to a bare minimum as it is not even in the same class as the traditional dance styles that require, training and distinct disciplines.

  41. toughhombre says:

    My one other comment was the choice of Jason Derulo as a performer and judge. His comments were inane and shows he knows nothing about traditional dance. His song performance with Snoop Dog was terrible. Neither are singers or entertainers. The song was insulting and trash and the backup dancing was crude and disrespectful to the audience. I would have expected more from the show’s producers. Next time get a real singer with a real voice that actually entertains and is not trash.

  42. Mona Cattanach says:

    OK maybe it’s just me, but take away the stage makeup, including the guy liner, which frankly was making him look a little freaky, and does Teddy remind anyone else of Frank Sinatra in “Anchors Aweigh” with Gene Kelly?

  43. nuttychemist says:

    Honestly I really loved Ricky & Jessica’s performance, but I honestly think the judges over hyped it… almost to the point of turning me off.

    I honestly think that the 2 ballerinas were really under appreciated! I’d love to see the other dancers dance on POINTE and do 15 or more FOUETTES!!!! Honestly, I think ballet continues to be the most under appreciated style of dance on this show! While I agree neither girl is like Eliana, saying they aren’t as good or BETTER than Melissa is an INSULT! Contemporary, lyrical, jazz etc are all based from ballet! They did a damn good job dancing the black swan, I think that the camera work was god awful! Was it perfect? No, but what they were given to dance was more difficult than any other ballet routine done in prior seasons.

    The next most technically challenging dance of the night was the tap routine which I think they both killed it! They were together andi loved the fact that we the audience could actually hear the tapping.

    I loved Emilo and Teddy’s hiphop routine… it was really awesome to use an non-hiphop song and have it all work out! I adore Emilio! I think it’s crap that Jaja didn’t make it in the top 20 because she needs to “work on other styles” wtf?! I’m sorry but Bluprint and Cyrus both completely lacked in that department! Last year it was about “finding unique people” and now its you have to be trained! I’m sorry but am I the only one who thinks that Jaja and Emilo KILLED IT in the ballroom round?!?!? Which is the round most hiphop dancers either get cut or have to dance for their lives!

    The rest of the routines were ok, but honestly I think they have too many ballroom dancers and too many contemporary dancers (but that happens every year) I’m *not* a Rudy fan, I’m sorry but I just don’t buy it and honestly there are soo many amazing male dancers! Ricky & Stanley are my favorite contemporary dancers, Emilio soon my heart over again this year (I’m glad be found out what happened last year! All I can say is OUCH!!!!) I also love Nick and Serge!

    Just my $00.02 worth! =)

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      I also loved Emilo and Teddy’s routine. I enjoy Christopher Scott’s choreography and love his ability to use unexpected music and make it work.
      I was also disappointed and surprised that JaJa was cut. I thought her ballroom round in callbacks was inspired. She and Emilio came out dressed like ballroom dancers which just sold the whole routine for me. She also had a positive personality that I think would have been great on the show.
      Sadly I think she may have been the victim of some over correction from years past. Neither Blue Print nor Jade from last year had experience outside their street style. Neither was very skilled at picking up other styles and neither went very far. Just my opinion here, but they are just the latest in a long line of dancers limited to one style that have really hurt their partners by not being able to pick up choreography.
      If you remember back to season 5, which Jeanine Mason won, She was partnered with Phillip Chbeeb. Phillip was great at what he did but frankly terrible at virtually every other style. We were never able to see just how good Jeanine was until the partnerships were broken up. Elianna had the same problem with Cyrus.
      True Cyrus had tons of personality and went far, but I think he and Fik Shun from last year are the exceptions
      Eliana was amazing enough and personable enough that she shone thru even with a less than great partner, but surely I’m not the only one who remembers picking their jaw up off the ground after Eliana and Alex Wong danced to “Bang Bang”. We were finally able to see what she could do with a partner that matched her skill level and it was way beyond anything Cyrus was able to produce when he partnered her.
      I always feel bad for the invariably outstanding dancer partnered with who ever is supposed to provide that season’s “growth arc”. So while I would have loved to see JaJa make it, I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief for whichever guy would have drawn her as a partner.
      Speaking of growth arcs, I share your opinion on Rudy. His skills just aren’t at the level or the other guys, who frankly seem stronger overall to me this season than the girls. I realize not everyone can be as amazing as Ricky and Stanley, but Rudy doesn’t come close. And this may be a function of the fact that I an “old and crabby and just don’t get it” but that ADD esque personality of Rudy’s that others seem to find so loveable just grates on me.

      • stew says:

        Brooklyn over Justine Lutz makes me cry.
        And of the two annoying mini cutie guido boys, at least Nick can actually dance. Rudy has good arms but his legs are awful.

  44. stew says:

    We all know Ricky has this thing won already. He’s an incredibly beautiful young man, has a winning personality, and intensity and capacity to his dancing that no one can match.

    Still pissed we have Serge instead of the superior Armen and lost Justine Lutz at the expense of ANY of this seasons utterly generic crop of girls.

    The only one who really pleasantly surprised me was Nick. Yes he could have been a bit more into his partner but the dude was incredibly smooth and a great partner, and can clearly dance circles around his buddy Rudy, whose legs were just awful.

  45. Jojo1994 says:

    This is how I see it:
    No matter whom is paired with Ricky, they will do good. I like Jessica and she is in my top 3 girls. However, I loved Valerie! And I think you are discrediting her. She tapped up and down the stairs nicely! And I think she did great. All these routines were given to the contestants to make them feel comfortable in their first week. The future weeks will prove how good the contestants are (the dancer has to prove to be a all around great dancer in all genres not in just one).

    My bottom 3 for guys: Zack, Stanley, and Nick
    My bottom 3 for girls: Bridget, Jourdan, Tanisha

  46. Mary Ann says:

    I wonder if someday Nigel will say “you guys are not bad, but we had a much better top twenty last year.”

  47. Jenny says:

    Can someone please tell me what was on Brooklyn’s butt?

  48. danznhappy says:

    Why must I join facebook… who is the same as “big brother”, to vote this season? This keeps those of us who choose to not provide the world with our private thoughts and ideas from voting. I used to dance professionally. I am grateful that my fate did not fall prey to only those who chose to be puppets on a social media site! ! Shame on you Fox!!! Legitimate votes are not being tallied since so many of us refuse to be “Facebook” puppets.

  49. E says:

    Joining everyone who resents you can only vote via Facebook.