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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 28 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

SYTYCD12: Top 20 Take the Stage (and Street) for the First Time

On Monday night, the 10 “Stage” dancers and 10 “Street” dancers that comprised mentors Travis and Twitch’s teams took to the stage for the first time in their own styles. The two hour showcase gave viewers a point of comparison to make snap judgments about their favorites before taking to phones and facebook to cast votes for the first time. So as we wait for those results next Monday night, when the dancers will be randomly assigned partners and styles, let’s talk about which dances (and dancers) stole the show:

The Top 20 opened the night with a stunning group routine by Christopher Scott which did a good job of showing off both sides’ strengths and, since It was the first and only time this season that we’ve seen them dance together, it gave us a good taste of what things will look like when they get all mixed up next week. Then, the routines that America would be voting on began:

  • Megz Alfonso, Neptune Eskridge & JJ Rabone – “The Illest” (Hip-hop by Dave Scott) – I think the judges were right that Dave did a good job creating a routine that would bring out the personalities of the previously invisible Megz and Neptune. They did a good job, but Jessica, as she did in Vegas, stole the show. Not to bash her partners, but I don’t think this routine was memorable enough on their part to necessarily keep the two of them out of danger next week. | Rating: B-
  • Derek Piquette, Gaby Diaz & Moises Parra – “Luminous” (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey) – Stacey’s choreography was what set fire to the journeys of finalists Ricky Ubeda and Jessica Richens at this time last season, but this routine felt a little same-old, same-old from her. That being said, tapper Gaby proved once again that her style classification will not tie her down and made her contemporary-trained partners fade into the background for me on this one. | Rating: B-
  • Asaf Goren, Burim Jusufi, Jaja Vaňková & Lily Frias – “Easy” (Hip-hop by Chris Scott) – The new format, which allows choreographers to take on groups of three or more instead of just two, will likely help Chris Scott because his routines are meant for bigger groups and this was one example. Asaf, surprisingly, didn’t seem out of place even if he was outdanced a bit by fellow breaker Burim, but both Jaja and dark horse Lily drew the most attention with sharp, in-sync movements that left me wanting more. | Rating: B+
  • Alexia Meyer, Hailee Payne, Marissa Milele – “New Dorp. New York.” (Jazz by Brian Friedman) – Brian’s choreo is, by his very nature, sexy and I think, of the three girls, Marissa delivered it best. Hailiee, like the judges said, seemed to be chained to her edgy jazz style which led her to “overdeliver” the sexual side of the routine, whereas Alexia seemed to not give enough personality, but Marissa seemed comfortable in it – hitting the steps and giving just enough swagger to suit the mood. Again, like I said in my preview, sometimes the dark horses are the ones to watch. | Rating: B
  • Jim and Darion do battle, ballet style. [Credit: FOX Entertainment]

    Darion Flores & Jim Nowakowski – “Blood and Stone” (Ballet by Swan) – Travis told us during their rehearsal that this piece was one of the hardest he’d even seen and I think he was right. Was it as memorable as the judges boasted? Maybe not, but Jim’s talents (and to a lesser extent Darion’s) left me in awe. The strength in his legs and feet reminded me that stage dancing isn’t just pretty and graceful compared to the sharp edges of hip-hop. Stage can deliver sharpness and this was a great example of that. I think if Jim can follow in the footsteps of previous ballet dancers like winners Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, runner-up Jakob Karr and frequent all-star Alex Wong, he might be here for the long haul. | Rating: B+
  • Ariana Crowder, Virgil Gadson & Yorelis Apolinario – “Locked Out of Heaven” (Hip-hop by Pharside & Phoenix) – Pharside and Phoenix showed off the playful side by giving these three a routine with a plot that befit the song the routine was set to. With Ariana as the angel and Yorelis as the devil on Virgil’s shoulder, the three of them deliver personality galore and great articulation in their movements. I, like the judges, had high expectations of Virgil and Yorelis going into tonight but they, along with Ariana, delivered on them and then some with this routine. Hopefully they can keep that personality and quality of movement alive in the weeks to come. | Rating: A-
  • Edson Juarez & Kate Hartpootlian – “Shaped Like a Gun” (Contemporary by Travis Wall) – I never thought I’d hear the day that Nigel would say the exact words I was thinking and about a contemporary routine by Travis Wall no less. This routine was pretty, no doubt. Edson and Kate have proven that they have the technique and lines to reach the stars but a routine like this needed more. It needed to deliver on an emotional level and that just didn’t happen. I caught Kate smiling several times and Edson’s expression just seemed blank. I’m not sure if it was nerves, complacency or a lack of focus but I hope Travis didn’t just brush off that feedback and will help both of them work on their emotional delivery in time for next week. | Rating: B-

After all the dancers had performed for our votes, we were treated to a performance by Jason Derulo featuring some of the show’s best alum including Joshua Allen, Kathryn McCormick, Jasmine Harper, Tiffany Maher, Comfort Fedoke, Robert Roldan and more. I appreciated Jason reminding us why he was called to be a judge on this show and found him to be surprisingly insightful tonight. Before the night was done, we were also treated to two more group routines, one per side:

  • Team Stage – “Body Language” (Broadway by Warren Carlyle) – Warren loves old school broadway and his routine did a good job of taking Travis’s smorgasbord of dancers and making them look really good. Gaby and Moses served us some tap and the rest of them gave us some great synchronized music that made me long for the days of great broadway on the So You Think You Can Dance stage. Hopefully we get some more of that this season. | Rating: A-
  • Team Street – “Ready or Not Here I Come” (Hip-hop by Nappytabs)  It was almost like Nappytabs saw what Warren gave Team Street and knew they had to do one better and they did. Their soldier-themed hip-hop gave every dancer a chance to shine, even perpetual whiner Asaf. They were all in sync, hard hitting and the girl’s were serving up some serious focus and determination. Honestly, Team Stage made it easy to pick a few dancers to be in that Bottom 3 next week, but Team Street made the job hard because after this I didn’t want any of them to be sent packing so soon. | Rating: A

For now, that’s all I have to say about the night’s proceedings. Next week, the show celebrates it’s tenth anniversary with some very special routines, so you definitely won’t want to miss it. Until then, let me know in the poll and comments below which contestants are your favorite and which routines you liked best.

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