Credit: Brooklin Rosenstock/Fox

The surprise of the top 20 performance night, for me, was the b-boys, Asaf and Burim. At the beginning of the week, they were having a lot of trouble with the choreography, but they pulled it together and focused up, which speaks a lot of them and of the group, because the group worked with them to make sure they looked right.

I think everybody on Team Street is very proud after that show. One of the greatest moments was watching them leave the stage after the first time in front of the nation last night. When you’re practicing and you’re rehearsing for this, you kind of have an idea of what you’re getting ready for, but it really doesn’t set in until that first episode — until you actually go live and feel the energy from the crowd and all of that. The excitement that they ran offstage with — you could just tell they were so excited, and they actually realized what was happening right now.

Last night was about soaking in the moment — I did have a little pep talk, a little pow-wow, with the group right before they went onstage, explaining that this moment would ultimately never happen again. You have to soak up every single moment. There’s possibility of coming back as an All-Star or coming back as a choreographer, but you will never compete on So You Think again. So with that, you soak up every single moment and don’t let the stress of being perfect take away from how much fun you’re having with each other onstage. Because they did really enjoy it, and it goes by — you blink your eyes and it’s done.

Travis and I are there waiting backstage for them after they’ve heard from the judges, which is a fun thing on its own, but it’s a little nerve-wracking, too. I actually really appreciate that time, because it’s really cool that they take our opinion into account after the judges have spoken, and we actually get to say something about it. I think that’s powerful. You’re coming offstage in an absolute daze. Gaby Diaz came off and was like, “That was the craziest feeling I’ve ever felt in my life, ever.” So I would imagine that even as she’s being critiqued, she’s just thinking, “Wow, this is so crazy. This is so great.” And I can definitely relate. I remember what that was like. I did a Broadway routine my first week out, and even though that was not my style, I was still on cloud nine, like, “Man, this is the greatest feeling in the world.”

On the Stage side, Stacey’s routine was absolutely beautiful this week. For Street, Christopher Scott’s routine and Tabitha and Napoleon’s last group routine really stood out to me. They were so strong, and they showed off the talent so well. I’m proud of Team Street for the fact that when they got the opportunity to speak, they spoke, starting with Neptune. When Nigel asked why he changed his name, I was backstage celebrating, because he killed the answer. There’s so much going on in your head up there, so when it’s time to speak, sometimes the words come slowly. But he did an incredible job. I’m looking forward to so many people’s journeys. Jaja is so beasty; she’s so ridiculous. And remember, Yorelis tried out as a contemporary dancer before, so I’m excited to see her do some contemporary and have her shock the nation, because I don’t think a lot of people remember that. It’s going to be a pleasant surprise — while she’s roasting it in Street she can actually come back and do a lot of things from the other side, too.

Next week, they’re going to be outside of their styles. It’s going to be a very interesting week, because this week we got to see them shine at what they do, and next week we get to see the heroes stand up and the underdogs climb to the top. Everybody seems very focused up; they’re doing their homework, and they’re doing their research on YouTube with the styles they haven’t seen before.

The rapport between Stage and Street is really great, actually. Their interaction so far has been more when they’re back at home, because this week they rehearsed separately. It was a very Stage- and Street-style show, but this week is going to be very different, because now they’re going to be working together. This is the first week that Stage and Street are now paired together. So the interaction is going to be a lot more, I’m sure, reminiscent of what So You Think used to be in past seasons.

That’s going to be cool, because you’re going to get different work ethics working together. And they’re going to get the help from others, because while you want to shine individually, you also want your number to shine so you can look good as a whole. So we’re going to get a lot of teamwork, I think, which is going to be great. It’s so ironic, because the premise is Stage vs. Street, but it’s really not an “every man for himself”-style competition. You can’t be like, “Well, if you don’t get the step, it’s all good. I’ve got the step.” You want the number to look good.

But that fuels the competition, too. It really turned into this competitive thing this week, like, “Who took the night?” Team Street took the night this week. Naturally that’s going to light a fire under everyone on Team Stage. I know it lit a fire under Travis. Keep that healthy competition alive.

As told to Kelly Connolly

Episode Recaps

So You Think You Can Dance

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.

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