Thursday, August 22, 2019

So You Think You Can Dance S16E09: Final Cut - The Top Ten Guys

With this elimination the men are picked
by Stephen Mosher

August 5, 2019: The Top Five women having been chosen for the season, it came time to look at the men one last time before pulling the trigger on the live shows, and for some reason the choice of the men is always more dramatic, with a little more tension and a little more focus. It’s not that the women on the show aren’t wonderful and aren’t valued, it’s just the way it shakes down, like the Best Actress Oscar every year. It’s time for the boys.

Bailey Munoz, 18, hip hop, was assigned a Jaci Royal contemporary piece with Lauren Froderman to the song 'Fire on Fire' and his stunning performance left Laurieanne speechless, Nigel shocked and Domick declaring, “That was the best B-Boy contemporary performance I have ever seen.” The thing about Bailey, the most delightful human being of all time, is that he is open. His heart and his mind are open to every experience, on the dance floor and in life. He is my personal choice to win the season.

Ezra Sosa, 18, ballroom, was paired with Comfort Fedoke for a hip hop routine by Luther Brown to 'We Outta Here'. Surprisingly, the ballroom dancer brought his stankiest A-game, causing Laurieanne to say “it STUNK” and Mary to tell him the musicality was off the charts. It is always thrilling to watch a dancer rise to the occasion and Ezra is bringing it at just the right moment.

Vlad Kvartin, 23, had the honor to dance with Melanie Moore for his Andy Moore contemporary piece to the song 'You Are The Reason'. I believe that there are dancers that the judges put on the show so that they have someone to cut, and Vlad was the unfortunate one to land on this list. His performance just didn’t do it, and he shows little chance of improving fast enough to make it onto the show. Nigel observed that the connection with Melanie was not strong enough and Laurieanne offered “don’t think up - just think out.

Aleksandr Ostanin, 30, tap, had a ballroom routine with Lindsay Arnold, staged by Sharna Burgess to the song 'Sax'. After being urged by Nigel to shave, the dancer complied and while he did look good, the dance did not. He looked so uncomfortable in the genre and the lifts were downright scary, with Lindsay being at risk much of the time. With so many negative critiques from the judges, he couldn’t really wonder what his fate was going to be - it looked bad.

Benjamin Castro, 18, contemporary, had the thrill to dance with Koine in a salsa put together by Oksana Platero to the song 'Papi Chulo'. This star in the making has shown he has the heart and the style and this performance pretty much guaranteed him a spot in the top five, with Mary saying he “put the seasoning on season 16” and Laurieann to remark “I felt you today more than ever.” Yeah, this is one to watch.

Brian Volozanin (“Clocks”), 28, hip hop, was assigned a Spencer Liff jazz routine with Jasmine Harper to the song 'Take It. Now'. I like Clocks but he has limitations and this dance tested every single one of them, and it cost him a spot on the show. Mary said she was blown away, and I have to admit he did get out of his comfort zone and he was sexy, but when Dominic said “the leaps were so bad,” we all knew everyone knew it, especially Clocks. Laurieann told him she needed something to connect her to him, and Nigel flat out told Clocks it was bad, then told the judges it was bad. Not a subtle message.

Brandon Talbott, 19, ballet, was paired with Lindsay Arnold for a salsa number by Emma Slater and Sasha Farber to the song 'Vivir Mi Vida'. It was pretty clear during rehearsals that he wasn’t going to be able to bring it and, indeed, the performance was clunky. Nigel hit him hard, saying he didn’t believe the chemistry, but Laurieann tried to build him up with, “You’re just beginning to see what you’re capable of.”

Nathan Cherry, 18, hip hop, was matched with Melanie Moore in a contemporary Talia Favia dance to the song 'Weightless' and this dancer whom I had, not once, noticed finally came into the light. This was a memorable performance that caught everyone’s attention, though it may not be enough to move him forward. Nigel called the performance incredible, Mary labeled it intriguing, Dominic thanked him for his courage and Laurienn said he was “dancing in the empty.” If he doesn’t make it onto the show, it would be great to see him go away, study for a year, then come back next season.

Gino Cosculluela,18, contemporary, got Lauren Froderman as his all-star and Ray Leeper as his choreographer. The jazz dance to the song 'That’s It (I’m Crazy)' showcased electric chemistry and mad skills. Dominick said he had composure, control and maturity. Nigel told him he is probably the best technical dancer this year but he needs to turn the light on. He has been a contender from day one and it’s not lost on anyone that he will make the show.

Eddie Hoyt, 19, tap, was left for last - but then he has been saved for last the entire show so far. The producers noticed how popular and likable he is and how many Instagram followers he has and they are orchestrating a comeback after last year. I like Eddie, so I’m happy to go along for the ride, but orchestrating a comeback is different than orchestrating a win - and I don’t think Eddie is poised for a win. He will have to work hard when they get to the live shows. And he worked hard on this episode, dancing hip hop by Randi and Hef, and dancing it with Comfort Fedoke to the song 'Treadmill'. Eddie brought an impressive hip hop performance that might have a little too much bright facial expression, but that certainly had swag. Dominic said he had a growth spurt and Nigel told him it was the best performance he had given on the show. Laurieann said he was “in the pocket” and was “the sauce in the pocket,” prompting Mary to suggest he “bottle that sauce and we’ll sell it.” They clearly like him as much as America does.

All done with these final auditions, the judges are ready to send five gents to sit with the five ladies chosen the week before; and while the viewers have their favorites, the judges have certain criteria that they have to consider for the sake of the show. Just before dropping the blade on five men, Laurieann tells them “you must never give up on your dream.”


  • Brian Clocks Volozanin
  • Aleksandr Ostanin
  • Brandon Talbott
  • Vlad Kvartin
  • Nathan Cherry

Advancing to the live shows:

  • Ezra Sosa
  • Gino Cosculluela
  • Benjamin Castro
  • Eddie Hoyt
  • Bailey Munoz

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