“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 10 Recap: The Best Dances & Most Thrilling Moments

We reflect back on a thrilling season of dance, artistry, and fun.

Hey City Kids, as we head into the Fall television season with new dance shows, let’s take a final look at So You Think You Can Dance’s stellar 10th Season.

Despite a few disappointing performances early on, the season was exciting and packed with fantastic routines. Returning choreographers Christopher Scott and Sean Cheesman separated themselves from the pack, especially with the former’s sand routine and the latter’s fortune-teller Broadway number, and new artists made a splash as all-stars Mark Kanemura, Courtney Galiano, and Allison Holker choreographed for the first time.

Tap had its best showing ever in SYTYCD, with three tappers in the Top 20 (plus a few other dancers capable of tap though known for other styles, not that they had much opportunity to show it off). We were introduced to Anthony Morigerato, and enjoyed two and a quarter tap routines—Ivan Koumeav’s group piece had some tap in it, also courtesy of Anthony. And of course, hoofer Aaron Turner made it to the Top 4. Huzzah.

Perhaps it’s because there are so many different styles of dance herded under the ballroom umbrella, but it seemed like there was considerably more hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary, and less ballroom this season. There were about 28 contemporary pieces, 25 jazz, and 23 hip-hop, including group numbers, and only 20 ballroom pieces (not including the Jazz-Ballroom fusion group dance from episode 12). Not a single routine encored in the finale, but then again, none of them were as memorable as some of the contemporary and jazz routines—especially when we remember that the most stellar Argentine tango was initially performed by the choreographer, when Leonardo Barrionuevo performed with Hayley, filling in for injured Curtis. Still, it would have been great to see Jasmine and Aaron’s Quickstep again.

Speaking of injuries, there were several this year—as usual. There is no question that dancers work extremely hard and injury comes with the territory, but it’s hard not to wonder if the show is working them too hard. Each season sees more injuries, and this year the elimination decision seemed to be taken from the judges at least three times—even before the performance shows started: Emilio Dosal withdrew from the competition only days after being selected for the Top 20, allowing Aaron to step in.

The eliminations started out strangely as the producers tried a new format: announcing the eliminated dancers at the top of the show then making them perform with their partners anyway. We called it “cruel and unusual punishment,” and the rallying cry from others who found it equally barbaric made the producers see the error of their ways. The following week they went back to the old format: revealing the dancers in jeopardy at the start of the show but not eliminating them until the end. Much better.

There were lots of good judges this season, including some new faces. Anna Kendrick made a strong impression and was hugely entertaining, as was Jenna Elfman. While we’d love to see more Mia Michaels, as a judge and a choreographer, the only judging disappointment was Carly Rae Jepsen, who was ineffectual at best.

We’re very excited that the show has been picked up for an 11th season, as Nigel announced during the finale. He also mentioned that some critics have complained that the show is “too artistic.” Ridiculous. And sad—on so many levels. How can something be “too artistic”? Even if it was, what’s wrong with that? More shows ought to be bringing arts to the masses, especially as they’re increasingly being taken out of schools. Let’s just hope SYTYCD brings back more slo-mo replays so we can learn even more.

Before we leave, here are only a few of our favorites out of the 109 routines created this season:

–  Napoleon and Tabitha’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (Top 20 and friends): Absolutely brilliant, with incredible use of space, people, and camera work combined with movement, humor, and personality.

Sean Cheesman’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Nico and Hayley): Great music, fun concept that didn’t overwhelm, fantastic choreography with stupendous lifts, and a new partnership that allowed both parties to shine (Ah, Nico).

Anthony Morigerato’s “You Really Did It” (Aaron, Alexis, and Curtis): Three tappers in the Top 20 celebrated with an exciting tap routine. Need we say more?

Christopher Scott’s “Sand” (Top 10 Guys): A visually stunning and innovative routine that pushed the boundaries of what you can do with dance and television, despite the mess it may have left on the stage.

Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo’s “Este Es El Rey” (Hayley and Leonardo, for Curtis): Nearly anytime the show features Argentine tango is thrilling, but this routine had great musicality, exhilarating lifts and ganchos, concrete tango moves, and a sexy sultry partnership—unfortunately for Curtis.

Sean Cheesman’s “Veins” (Jasmine Mason and Alan): Yes, the judges gave the dancers some harsh criticism, but the choreography was entertaining and cool. It also introduced Charlotte Martin’s terrific song.

Jean Marc Genereux’s “He’s a Pirate” (Jenna and all-star Alex, for Tucker): Neither Paso Doble nor Jenna, inexplicably saved by the judges time and again, are our favorites, yet this routine was memorable and exciting, and showed how a Paso can really look like a matador and his cape.

Travis Wall’s “Wicked Game” (Travis and Amy): It’s been said before but bares repeating just how beautiful and moving this piece is, and how much it did for Amy. It probably helped push her just past Jasmine for the win.