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At the start of last night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," 41 dancers remained. An hour later, we had a Top 20. And then there was a BIG FAT TWIST. (We'll get to that.)

The 41 still-standing Academy dancers showed up at the Dolby Theater in L.A. ready to tackle three rounds: contemporary choreography with seven-time Emmy nominee and one-time "SYTYCD" contestant Travis Wall; an "epic group routine" with jazz choreographer and La La Land she-ro Mandy Moore; and a last-chance solo showdown. Here's what happened.

The Contemporary Competition

"I'm not looking for robots," SuperTrav immediately explained. He gave the dancers shapes, but from there, each was expected to make the choreography his or her own. Everyone got sweaty and exhausted, and after 90 minutes, it was time to perform in groups of three for Nigel, Mary, Vanessa, and Travis.


Allen Genkin

The ballroom babe struggled during hip hop last week, but (naturally) crushed the ballroom choreography. This time around, the judges still couldn't resist Allen's charm, and he got to stay—though, Nigel said, "We need more."

Cole Mills

Cole has stood out during each round of choreography thus far, and not just because of his full-back tattoo. Travis called him absolutely beautiful. "I don't know where you came from or where you've trained, but I am very excited for you," TWall said. And he made it through.

Tessa Dalke

The pressure was on for this early favorite—and the judges weren't feeling her contemporary performance. Vanessa was expecting more, Travis didn't think she commanded the space with her energy, and Nigel said she needed to step up. But they weren't ready to give up on her, so she stayed for jazz.

Sydney Moss

She stood out, Nigel said, simply. She got to stick around, too.

Hannahlei Cabanilla

All the judges agreed that they couldn't take their eyes off her. Hannahlei made it on to jazz as well.

David Greenberg

The ballet dancer didn't totally crush Travis's choreography, so the judges decided to send him home. "I hate this part," Travis said through gritted teach. (We hate it, too.)

Eddie Hoyt

The judges needed to make cuts, and despite Eddie's awesome personality, the tapper's "SYT" journey ended here. Tear!

Evan DeBenedetto

The other tapping standout in the competition killed this choreo. Vanessa said he rose to the occasion, and he made it to the jazz round.

Bridget Derville-Teer

Nigel told Bridget she lost him today, and Mary didn't connect with the performance. Bridget was sent home—but Nigel hopes to see her again. (Season 16, girl! Be ready to crush it!)

Genessy Castillo

Genessy seemed to lose confidence halfway through the performance, but the judges still adored her, so she made it through.

Emily Carr

Emily was totally captivating in this round. Her jumps were the highest, her expression the fullest, her performance the boldest. Travis thought the competition was hers to lose: "Girl, I can't wait for you to get on the show so I can work with you," he said. Holy ultimate compliment, TravMan!

The Group Production Number

With 33 dancers left, it was time to bring in Mandy Moore for the final round of choreography. Her jazzy group routine featured all the dancers shining in their individual styles, plus a grand finale where everyone came together. "If they can't hang in the group routine, then it is cutsville, buh bye," Mandy said. STONE. COLD.



This routine looked so fun. (Was anyone else standing up, trying to learn it at home? No? Just us? OK.) The high-energy choreography was fairly simple, but there was a LOT of it. Each group got just an hour to perfect their portion of the routine—and to choreograph two eight-counts of the performance themselves. Intense much?

There were so many wonderful moments during the enthusiastic performance. Emily Carr was a standout again. The tappers looked awesome, and Jensen Arnold had undeniable presence. (The entire ballroom group is looking super strong this year, TBH.) The exhausting routine earned a standing O from the four judges, whom we were not envying at that point.



But cuts had to be made, and Tessa Dalke, sadly, was one of them. Other favorites—Alexis Gilbert, Jay Jackson, Gaevin Bernales—were sent home, too.

The Last-Chance Solo Round

The remaining 27 dancers got to perform one final solo before the judges chose the Top 20. Jay Jay Dixonbey's number was powerful, precise, and pretty darn perfect. Chelsea Hough rocked heels for hers. Hannahlei Cabanilla earned a "love. her." from Mary. And Allen Genkin wrapped things up with a booty wiggle, a big smile, and a Magic Mike-esque shirt toss that Nigel called "a little desperate." (AGREE TO DISAGREE, NIGEL.)

Without further ado...

The "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 Top 20

THE GUYS

Jay Jay Dixonbey

Cole Mills

Justin Pham

Slavik Pustovoytov

Peyton Albrecht

Dustin Payne

Evan DeBenedetto

Darius Hickman

Kyle Bennett, Jr.

Allen Genkin

THE GIRLS

Genessy Castillo

Magda Fialek

Jensen Arnold

Stephanie Sosa

Dayna Madison

Sydney Moss

Brianna Penrose

Chelsea Hough

Emily Carr

Hannahlei Cabanilla

BUT WAIT. After the reveal, there was another reveal: Turns out only 10 dancers will continue on to the live shows. What is happening?!

Next week, each of the Top 20 dancers will be paired with an All Star and a choreographer. See you then for more madness!

Cats, the Tony Award–winning musical that rocked Broadway for 18 years, is returning to the Great White Way on August 2. Slated to choreograph is Tony Award–winner Andy Blankenbuehler (DT, Technique, February 2011) of Hamilton and In the Heights fame. His work will be modeled on Gillian Lynne’s original choreography.

Cats returns to Broadway after a 16-year hiatus. It closed in 2000 after more than 7,000 performances.

Based on the whimsical poetry of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and with an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats opened in 1982, winning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Photos (from top): courtesy of DKC/O&M courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

Don't miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Seven Brides featured rising jazz dancer/choreographer/teacher Matt Mattox (aloft).

In our April issue’s History: Lesson Plan, we learn about Michael Kidd, a Broadway and film choreographer known for his character-driven choreography and energized style that blended jazz with ballet, gymnastics and gesture.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) For the seven rough-and-tumble backwoods brothers of this film, Kidd combined what he called “work movements,” like swinging an ax and carrying logs, with graceful turns and balances and daredevil leaps and flips.

Check out the barn-raising dance that was widely regarded as Kidd’s masterpiece.

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Elliott Hanna stars as Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot the Musical Live.

A boy from a mining town in northern England trades in his boxing gloves for ballet shoes. With the help of his brassy teacher, he discovers his passion for dance and, despite all odds, makes his dreams come true.

Billy Elliot the Musical Live is airing tonight on PBS as part of THIRTEEN’s "Great Performances" and the PBS Arts Fall Festival. Based on the 2000 feature film Billy Elliot, starring Jamie Bell, the musical premiered in London in 2005 and ran on Broadway from 2008 to 2012, earning 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Choreography. For this special performance, 25 current and former Billy Elliots will come together onstage for a spectacular finale.

Billy Elliot the Musical Live screens tonight at 9 pm on PBS. Check your local listings.

Ruthie Henshall, Elliott Hanna and fellow cast members in Billy Elliot the Musical Live at the Victoria Palace Theatre

Photos by Adam Sorenson, courtesy of THIRTEEN

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Broadway Melody of 1940 and Two Tickets to Broadway  

 

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Warner Bros. Archive Collection

105 mins and 102 mins; $16.70 and $14.99 on amazon.com

 

Give your students a taste of old-school grace and style with this two-pack of DVDs, featuring dance stars Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller.

 

Enter below to win both DVDs.

 

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