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So You Think You Can Dance recap: Don't Judge a Dancer By His Shoes

The top 20 is revealed after a grueling round of callbacks in Los Angeles quickly eliminate the good from the great.

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Adam Rose/FOX

So You Think You Can Dance

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Mary Murphy
Current Status:
In Season

Though the callbacks are no longer in Las Vegas, the next round is still just one big numbers game. After five audition cities, 157 dancers have made it to Los Angeles for the next part of the competition. At least they were given hotel rooms automatically, unlike last year, but by the end of the night the top 20 would already be picked before the live shows begin next week. Yes, you read that right. Due to a shortened episode order this season from Fox, the next two hours and seven rounds of turns, leaps, and jumps will eventually see 137 aspiring performers dancing their last dance.

Round One: Solos 

Joining Nigel and Mary for the callbacks were show staples tWitch and Adam Shankman as well as Olympic Gold medalist Tara Lipinski and ballerina Irina Dvorovenko on the judging panel. Dancers must be prepared for the 8 a.m. start time by the 11th season and day one began with all 157 dancers performing solos in front of the six judges. It’s unclear whether or not dancers did new solos from their original auditions as only Nigel and Mary had ever seen them perform before (and performing their original audition piece would probably be a nice reminder for the two any way). There wasn’t too much documented suspense within the first round, except of course for soon-to-be father and hip-hop dancer Steven Kador. Really, really soon. After only one hour in California, Steven’s wife back in Louisiana went into labor but was waiting (or at least painfully trying) for her husband to be there. It doesn’t seem like a good start to a family when you have to tell your son that his father missed his birth because he was twerking on national television. Steven did make it through to the first choreography round and 36 dancers were cut by 6:30 p.m. But that didn’t mean day one was over for the 121 dancers who were left.

Round Two: Hip-Hop Choreography

Choreographer Christopher Scott and season 10 alum Jasmine Harper demonstrated the couples piece before teaching the dance over the next hour. With Eliza Doolittle in their hearts, those kids wouldn’t stop and just danced, danced, danced all night preparing to perform for the judges in the morning. By 1:30 a.m., everyone did seem to finally get some rest—except again for Steven, whose wife was still in labor.

The next day begins with memorable dancers Jessica Richens, who seemed way out of her comfort zone while rehearsing the hip-hop routine, and Marie Poppins, who should have appeared way more comfortable in the style of dance once she got to perform. Nigel said it appeared that she wasn’t comfortable performing someone else’s choreography, obviously an essential factor in being a part of the show. He was shocked that the rest of the panel, though generally agreeing with him in his comments, gave her another chance to go into another choreography round. The group wasn’t as generous toward Jessica however and made her dance for her life. That didn’t seem to bother her at all as the judges didn’t even have to vote for the needed three yeses to get through, it was obviously unanimous after a stunning solo.

Beyond bringing dance into America’s living room, So You Think You Can Dance is also consistently teaching valuable lessons about judging others. For example, Marquet Hill’s partner thought he was a hip-hop dancer when in fact he’s officially listed as ballroom. Mary was surprised too because his performance was so strong that he looked like he could be the master of any genre. Well, she shouldn’t really be surprised since many ballroom dancers continued to show throughout the rest of the round that they could still be hip-hop kings and queens.

NEXT: And tap that jazz