Thursday, August 22, 2019

So You Think You Can Dance S16E08: Final Cut - The Top Ten Girls

With this elimination the women are chosen
by Stephen Mosher

July 29, 2019: In the final push toward the live shows, SYTYCD brings it home with the last two episodes that will determine who the 2019 contestants will be. First up: The top ten girls will be reduced to five in duet dances with all-stars. This would be a make or break moment for the women who have worked so hard for this moment.

Mariah Russell, 19, contemporary, was teamed up with Jonathan Platero for a salsa choreographed by Mr. Platero’s wife, Oksana. Clearly the mentors here work well together because the dance, to the song 'La Malanga', drew hoots and hollers from the judges, and well deserved because the routine had mad tricks and lifts, all of which Mariah and Jonathan nailed. Mary called it “death defying” and Laurieann told Mariah that she had brought “the fire and the fight I’ve been looking for.” It was truly a shining moment for Mariah, who should advance to the live shows.

Melany Mercedes, 24, salsa dancer, was paired with Fik-Shun for a hip hop number choreographed by Randi and Heff, to the song 'Get Silly'. Melany is a good dancer who did well here but it was clear she was being outdanced by Fik-Shun (but who wouldn’t be?), and Laurieann told her that there was attitude needed, while Mary told her she took a step up, probably because she really did get silly, and Mary was clearly proud of her fellow Latin ballroom gal. It was a joy to watch but it looked like it might not be enough.

Ashley Sanchez, 24, ballroom, danced with Lex Ishamoto in a contemporary number by Jaci Royal. Ashley said she would “eat, sleep, and breathe this routine and cherish this moment” but when the time came for the number that was choreographed to the song 'Lovely', she was unable to come up to Lex’s level, and though Laurienne said she had had a breakthrough and Mary expressed her pride, it was a general consensus that Ashley had not brought the emotional content required by the dance.

Anna Linstruth, 19, hip hop, was matched with Marko Germar for a Ray Leeper jazz dance to the tune 'Backwardz', and she really brought the sass, causing Mary to remark that she “gave in to the movement” and Nigel to comment that “this was the time to pull it out … and you did.” Dominic told her that “a smart dancer is someone that can take something that they’re not used to and make it theirs” and that she had done that. Anna is a good dancer but not a great one, but what she brought in personality kind of balances things out. She has SYTYCD written all over her.

Madison Jordan, 21, contemporary, got to dance ballroom with Kiki Nyemcheck in a number created by Emma Slater and Sasha Farber. The routine, to 'Bola Rebola', was hot and sexy, if a little deliberate and lacking in some heat. Nigel didn’t like a particular “slow walk” across the floor that the women LOVED (frankly, so did I). Ultimately, the result was what we thought it would be: they love her. From the moment she auditioned for the show, it was clear she would make top ten. That clarity has not dimmed.

Sofia Ghavami, 20, ballroom, teamed up with Marco Germar for a Spencer Liff jazz routine to the song 'Rinse and Repeat'. The number was drab, slow and boring, and Sofia looked like she was marking time uncomfortably, using her facial expressions to make up for the fact that Marco was outdancing her and she knew it. It fell flat for Dominic, too, but Laurieann said she was glad it was tough because she felt Sofia. Honestly, any dancer who has not risen to the occasion felt Sofia while watching. It was clear that it was over for the ballroom dancer.

Sumi Oshima, 26, hip hop, got a chance to dance with Lex Ishamoto in a jazz number choreographed by Talia Favia, who urged the dancer: “don’t be scared.” The song 'Angels' gave Sumi an opportunity to change the game, but her emotions could not come up to the skills her body was showing, prompting Laurieann to observe “you fought to be must not dance in your head”, meanwhile Mary insisted that “there's something about you that commands attention.” Mary is right, Sumi is captivating, but dance is about a lot of things, and hopefully one day she will embody all of that.

Nazz Syldryan, 21, salsa dancer, was asked to dance some hip hop with Fik-Shun, courtesy of Luther Brown to the song 'Overseas'. The routine wowed the judges, who were hooting and shouting, they were so into it, she had so much stank on her. The connection between she and Fik-Shun was on fire, and the judges LOVED it. Mary told her she was “starring in that number” and she had “soul in the bowl!” It was a moment in the sun for Nazz, one that, in a perfect world, should send her to the live shows.

Sophie Pittman, 18, contemporary, was lucky enough to ballroom dance with Kiki Nyemchek, doing a cha cha cha by Sharna Burgess. The connection was great and Sophie brought something to the dance, though each of the judges had valid critiques of her work, the kind of critiques that help dancers to grow. Mary: “I never want to see you think.” Laurieann: “Don’t forget you and the magic that you bring.” Sophie does have something, but she is young and needs a little mentorship to bring it out.

Stephanie Sosa, 19, salsa dancer, had the good fortune to dance a Mandy Moore jazz dance with Robert Roldan to the song 'You Say', and it was the right time for Stephanie to deliver. The performance was stunning and emotional, though it wasn’t perfect, and the judges told her, straight up, what was missing from the offering. She took their critiques like a professional and it is clear she would do well on the show. Particularly of note was Laurieann telling her, “I was missing you surrendering to the vulnerability.” Nevertheless, they like her and it shows.

Finished with the performances, the judges played their dramatic elimination game, and they always do it to television suspense standards. In the end, though, five happy girls took seats and five unhappy girls left the stage. This writer doesn’t necessarily agree with the cuts, but I also don’t know who I would have given the boot to make room for Nazz, sadly, eliminated. I hope she will come back because of all the ladies who were cut, she is the one who, most, belongs on the show this season.


  • Melany Mercedes
  • Ashley Sanchez
  • Sofia Ghavami
  • Sumi Oshima
  • Nazz Syldryan

Advancing to the live shows:

  • Mariah Russell
  • Madison Jordan
  • Sophie Pittman
  • Stephanie Sosa
  • Anna Linstruth.

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