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So You Think You Can Dance mentor blog: tWitch names the styles he'd like to see on the show

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Michael Tran/FilmMagic

This week’s top 4 performance round was crazy — it was such a good show. The dancers really got through it, and I’m proud of them for that.

Jaja‘s hip-hop with Hailee was a great way to open up the show. Believe it or not, I feel like Hailee was actually more at home with this style of choreography than Jaja was; Street dancers aren’t necessarily fluent in commercial hip-hop choreography. But I thought she did incredibly well with it. Her routine with Gaby was the first time I think I’ve seen Jaja attempt and successfully pull off multiple turns inside and outside, which really shows growth. At this point, it’s the top four, so the choreographers were throwing out more technical things. She had to turn and she had to leap, and she did it. And I was very proud of her for that.

Her routine with Virgil was an eye-opener, because it’s the first and only time this season that two Street dancers did a contemporary routine. I’d like to bring to light that the reverse never happened for the Stage side. There was never a point where two Stage dancers had to do a hip-hop routine. Jaja and Virgil really got the ultimate top four experience, and that was one of the highlights of the night, because you got to see their journey on the show and how focused they were on pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. I’m really proud of them and really happy that Stacey was hard on them. She didn’t pull any punches. 

When we do come back, fingers crossed, for another season, there’s something that I would like to see. I’d like to see the diversity in the Street dances that the Stage kids have to do. If we add in styles like popping and locking or breaking, or we have a straight krump routine, then when it comes to the top four, we can say to the Stage kids, “I can see how much you’ve grown technically in hip-hop,” as well. 

You didn’t hear the hip-hop choreographers this week saying, “This is the top four, so I’m throwing more technical things at the Stage kids, because they can handle it.” But Street had to go off into Broadway, Bollywood, jazz, African jazz, lyrical, contemporary — there are so many different styles that they were picking up while they were learning how to do choreography in the first place. That turned on a light bulb for me this week, because I was inspired by them, and I found one part of the competition where I think it got lopsided. But it took all season for me to see.

Jaja’s routine with Cyrus was amazing. I don’t know what the judges were talking about. I just have to urge America to think for itself–don’t let the judges, or me, sway your opinion on that routine. That was pretty epic to have an animation routine of that caliber on the show. It’s not common — the last time an animation duet was done on this show was three years ago when Cyrus and I did it. They called it a sequel, but this was a totally different routine. I don’t think it got the shine that it should have. And her solo was what Jaja does best. She’s amazing.

Hailee, like I said, was much more at home with that hip-hop routine than Jaja was. I think she’s actually taken some of Misha’s classes. Nick and Misha grew up in the studio, so they know how to connect with kids who were trained in the studio as well, even though they’re teaching Street steps. That routine was so fast and intricate, and I don’t think the choreography ever fazed Hailee. Her routine with Virgil was a lot of fun. I’ve never seen her as upset as her character was — that speaks volumes to the chemistry that she and Virgil have and the caliber of performer that they both are.

Hailee’s routine with Gaby was beautiful. Travis is a genius — an absolute genius. Jaja and Virgil did hip-hop last week, but this week, they did something that was not in their style. They were pushed. Team Stage was not. I’m sure it was a push in terms of the choreography, but it’s not like they weren’t used to the style that they were doing. I’m not sure there was ever a time when the Stage kids were uncomfortable last night. It’s not a breeze by any means, but they weren’t out of their element. That’s a great sign for the top four, but it’s just something I noticed. 

Hailee’s number with Marko was hot. I hold Janet to a very special place in my heart, so when you do Janet, you have to do it right. They did it right. It was great to see Hailee in her full essence as a jazz dancer. And doing her solo to “Cold-Hearted” was the smartest thing ever, because we were all enjoying it, and she killed it. That was probably one of the smartest decisions she’s made throughout the competition. It was a great way to go out and a great homage to Paula. I think she had a very strong night.

Phillip’s routine was so dope, and Gaby and Virgil pulled it off. A routine like that has to be effortless — they have to trust in each other and breathe and bring a calm clarity to the situation. There were some fumbles in rehearsal, but there’s something about that on switch in the final performance. They’ve all got it, especially Gaby — she’s been a top contender since day one, even when it comes to her perseverance, coming back and auditioning again. The final show was the best they’ve ever done that routine. And I know that Gaby is a fantastic partner, because throughout this whole experience, she’s kept a pretty cool head. She stayed focused and kept her head down and did the work, and it really worked out for her.

Her routine with Jaja was the first time they’ve ever danced together, and they were a tremendous pairing. I’m sure she helped Jaja out on the technique. Gaby is a common denominator when it comes to great performances. The emotions that she and Hailee dialed into for Travis’ number were a beautiful thing to see. Before they went onstage, they always gave each other really long hugs. They really took the time to emotionally connect, and in the show, you could tell that they were in it; Hailee was crying. When you can move people who are watching for the first time, that’s a beautiful thing. Travis said he saw Hailee’s father sobbing. It was moving.

The tap number with Zack was a throwback to why people fell in love with tap dancing. Zack is incredible, and so is Anthony Morigerato with that routine. Going from box to box like that? That’s crazy. And using the sides of boxes — there were so many things laid into that tap routine. I believe it’s the dopest tap routine that’s ever been on So You Think by far. And Gaby’s solo was great; I loved the song selection. I don’t know if this is something that America noticed, but as a dancer, the way that they covered her solo was fantastic. You got to see how intricate her footwork was. She had a good night.

Virgil: Phillip’s routine leaned toward contemporary partnering with some hip-hop musicality. It was choreographed by a hip-hop choreographer, but I can’t call it a hip-hop routine, so I give it up to Virgil. The partnering was major, especially to make up for the height difference, which again speaks volumes for both of them. They made things happen, and they made it all look effortless. We’ve seen all of the dancers’ bodies transform by the top four, and Virgil used all of his strength this week.

I couldn’t be more proud of him in that contemporary routine. It showed how far he’s come. His jumps were so high. He did a double coupe turn. It was a beautiful thing to watch — I was blown away. Like Jason said, if you’d said in week one that these two would do a contemporary routine by themselves, I wouldn’t have known what to expect. But they really pulled it off. Virgil’s been working. He’s small, but he’s also very used to dancing compact. He had to extend every inch of his body, and he took those notes. 

Virgil is ultra talented. He’s an actor. I feel like that Broadway character would be Virgil, upstairs rehearsing with his jazz band to no end, so he played it really well. And his routine with Joshua was the routine of the night. It was so hyped. Of course I’m biased, but I think Virgil honestly might have had the best night, if I really look at it. He touched on a little of everything. He did some incredibly raw hip-hop, getting the crowd on its feet. And it takes a lot of skill to make something look raw like that. You can teach that choreography to a lot of other people, but to make it look like it wasn’t that refined was a smart artist’s choice, really. 

Virgil’s solo just reminded you of why you love him. He’s hilarious. I say that every week, but he makes you laugh. It was the ultimate night for him. I feel the same about Jaja too, but the thing that was wack about her night was that the judges loved her more when she was out of her style than when she did what she was brought here to do.

This is one of the best top four shows that I have seen in a very long time. It’s the last competitive show of the season, and it’s been so fun watching the kids grow, watching the season grow, and growing with Travis. We really did have a blast, and I’m so proud of everybody, whether they’re on Street or Stage. I’m incredibly proud of everyone. I am biased — I feel that the Street dancers definitely stretched themselves more outside their comfort zone throughout the show than the Stage dancers did — but no matter how much experience you have, it’s an incredibly difficult competition to go through. 

The fact that this top four show was so strong lets you know that the correct top four was picked. When you have a show like that at the end of the competition, when they’re at their most tired, that’s when you know you have champions. Whoever they crown, they’re all champions. And at this point, it’s smart for all four of them to hit the ground running in whatever they want to do. One of them is going to get a cash prize and be named America’s Favorite Dancer, but at the end of the day, they’ve all gotten the same exposure, so they’ve all got the same opportunities. Travis and I were runner ups. Sometimes that serves as the best fuel to keep you going. 

And fans should tweet and Instagram if you want to see the show back. We’ve love to come back, so make yourselves heard.

As told to Kelly Connolly

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