Hang Ten! SYTYCD Season 10 wrap-up


The tenth season of So You Think You Can Dance is in the history books and showcased some amazing talent. We only lost one week due to the MLB All-Star Game. The choreography seemed a little more balanced this season, although there was not a lot of ballroom present.

This season by the numbers:

wpid-Nappytabs.jpeg SonyaTayeh

Queen Sonya has to share her throne with some new contenders this year–Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo. Clearly, London’s not the only new creation they’ve given the world this year as they and Sonya both knock out a whopping 9 total numbers this year….though with two of Sonya’s numbers being collaborations with Christopher Scott and Dmitry Chaplin respectively, one could unofficially put Nappytabs out in front since they’re a permanent team. Christopher Scott comes in second again this year with 8 total numbers, and in a remarkable FIVE-WAY TIE for third place are Sean Cheesman, Tyce Diorio, Spencer Liff, Stacey Tookey and Travis Wall. The remaining choreographers are:

Mandy Moore 5
Jean-Marc Genereux 5
Ray Leeper 4
Luther Brown 4
Dmitry Chaplin 4
Dave Scott 3
Nakul Dev Mahajan 3
Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo 3
Dee Caspary 2
Anthony Morigerato 2
Mia Michaels 2
Dmitry Chaplin 2
Jonathan Roberts 1
Doriana Sanchez 1
Louis van Amstel 1

This season also brought in a slew of SYTYCD alumni choreographers thanks in large part to All Star Night on Week 8. Veteran choreographers Travis Wall and Dmitry Chaplin created and performed their pieces that evening, along with first-time choreographers Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Comfort Fedoke, Courtney Galliano, Allison Holker, Chelsea Hightower and Mark Kanemura, whose impressive offering apparently bought him a second week as a choreographer during the performance finale. We also were treated to a salsa duet from Season 5 contestant Jonathan Platero and a Top 20 routine for the finale from Season 2 alum Ivan Koumaev. Additional rookie choreographers for this season included Lindsay Nelko, Keone and Mari Madrid, Bonnie Story, Justin Giles, and Anthony Morigerato.

Choreography MVPs for the season:

Sean Cheesman

A fixture on the now-cancelled Canadian version of SYTYCD, Sean hit a personal best on the American show with six pieces this year. All were incredible showings, and his Kiss of the Spider Woman Broadway piece got a finale judges’ pick…but even without all of that, that Top 6 Aileyesque number automatically shoots him to the top of my list.


Luther Brown

Another Canadian transplant, Luther puts in his personal best of four routines, and like his countryman above also garnered a judges’ favorite that will likely wind up on the Tour.

Guest judges for the competition this year were Wayne Brady, Kenny Ortega, Adam Shankman, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Christina Applegate, Carly Rae Jepsen, Debbie Allen, Paula Abdul, Erin Andrews and Gabby Douglas and Jenna Elfman, with Adam, Paula and tWitch alongside Mary and Nigel on the finale panel. Paula gets panel MVP status at the finale by sitting up there three times.

image image

Comfort bested Twitch as All-Star MVP by one appearance this season–with 3 individual pairings (Nico, Paul, and Jasmine), a finale reprise and a spot in the Top 10 + 10 finale number, she racked up 5 runs on the stage. tWitch performed with Hayley, Jasmine and Fik-Shun, the last of which was so well-received during the performance finale it was repeated as a judges’ favorite the following week, giving him 4 stage appearances. Tied with tWitch at second was Kathryn McCormick, Robert Roldan and Marko Germar, and tied at third were Alex Wong, Melanie Moore, Neil Haskell and Witney Carson with 3 total performances. Rounding out the All-Star roster are Chelsie Hightower, Joshua Allen, Allison Holker, Travis Wall, Mark Kanemura, Dmitry Chaplin, Courtney Galliano, Brandon Bryant, Jakob Kerr, and Melinda Sullivan. Due to contestant injury, choreographers Leonardo Barrionuevo and Spencer Liff also took to the DANCE stage.

My season superlatives:

Contestants who got the biggest shaft – Carlos Garland and Brittany Cherry

These two not only has to deal with being the first two dancers eliminated, but they had to fall victim to the wretched top-of-the-show elimination. And the sad part is that these two did not give weak enough performances the previous week to genuinely merit being in the position to be voted off. Thanks to huge fan uproar, it should never happen again….but these two dancers have to bear this dubious indignity in perpetuity.

Most underestimated contestants (at the beginning): Paul Karmiryan, Aaron Turner, Du-Shant “Fik-Shun” Steagel, Hayley Erbert

Fik-Shun, a completely untrained dancer, and Aaron, a tapper who squeezed into the Top 20 at the last minute, were obvious choices on the surface due to their specialties being so singular and so diametrically opposed to all of the other styles of dance. Aaron immediately dispatched any talk of not being able to hack it in the competition by looking capable in every style, prompting the choreographers to put him as close to front and center as possible. Fik-Shun, despite his lack of technique, impressed in a different way by taking a strong command of the styles he was given and layering his thousand-watt personality on top of them. His performance energy was even palpable in his serious works. Paul entered the competition a champion of an international version of SYTYCD, so he probably had an idea of what to expect–yet ballroom dancers often have trouble dialing back on intensity with their facial expressions or picking up styles with a less strict posture. Paul never exhibited any reticence over the weeks; in fact, he made each routine look easy. As for Hayley, I mentally put her in the same box as I did Tiffany Maher last season; great technical skill but limited in embodying the character. Boy did I call THAT one wrong–from the catburglar in her first hip-hop to the smoldering mystery in the Argentine Tango to the mysterious fortune teller, Hayley was able to fully inhabit the characters given to her.

Best numbers of the season
Can I pick the whole season? There’s way too many, especially if I just lump in my favorite dancers’ entire bodies of work for the season. I was going to list the ones that grabbed me most, and attempt to pull a Top 5 out of those, but even that was overwhelming. So here are the five that most moved or entertained me AND got heavy repetition on the TiVo:

My top 5 dances:


5. Anthony Morigerato Tap (“You Really Did It”) with Aaron, Alexis and Curtis


4. Justin Giles Contemporary (“Learning Tree”) with Aaron and Jasmine


3. Lindsay Nelko Contemporary (“No Day But Today”) with Makenzie and Paul


2. Luther Brown Hip-Hop (Hello Good Morning) Fik-Shun and tWitch


1. Nappytabs Hip-Hop (“Putting On the Ritz”) with the Top 20 dancers and the choreographers, judges and other extras


(The Sean Cheesman Top 6 Afro Jazz should also be on this list–you can consider this tied in the #1 spot. )

Biggest misfire:
Cat’s “grandma” dress


Is this going to be an annual thing? This one was nicer than last year’s dress, but TOO old-fashioned.

Best guest judges
Christina Applegate never fails to disappoint, and the professional stalwarts go without saying, but the highlight of the guest panel this season was Wayne Brady. Anybody who’s a big enough fan to reference Season 1 dancers in comparison to the current competitors AND give them technical and showmanship advice can come back whenever he wants to.

Best guest performances

Only two this season, and both were in the finale–the Battle Of The Year crew and Movement Box, the dance/beatbox duo from the Boston audition stop. Both were good but not stellar enough for me to single one over the other. So I’m giving this year’s honors to the judges and choreographers who participated onstage this season….and with the finale offering of the Hot Tamale and the English Muffin with a side of Ham Shankman notwithstanding, I think Travis Wall’s diva strut in the Putting On The Ritz one-shot just slightly edges them out.


There are still a few things in need of correction before the next go-round:

–I think you guys learned your lesson about the top of the show elimination, so I won’t address that one again…..
–PLEASE get the rookies off the audio board! Three years running now and there are still mics wide open when they should be clipped. Do I need to throw my resume into the mix?
–No more stunt guest judges. An extensive dance AND stage background are required. If Carly Rae Jepsen comes back to do anything more than sing, I’m flogging EVERYBODY.
–Cutting dance content. There is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER that the viewing public should have missed seeing the Top 4 finalists’ group dance. Even if you had to post it as a YouTube exclusive (which I see you’re clearly learning that a YouTube presence for the show is highly desirable to the fans), that would have been more acceptable than us not seeing it at all.

FOX had the good sense to immediately greenlight Season 11–now if we could only get them to put up back to two nights instead of one….

What were your most memorable moments from this season?

*all images courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, and FOX


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