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So You Think You Can Dance Episode Recap and My Take – Season 6, Top 20 Perform

Updated on October 27, 2009

Introducing the Top 20

The judges are: Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.

Nigel discussed Billy Bell’s withdrawal from the show, due to illness. Also, Noelle inured her knee yesterday and is not dancing tonight. One of the choreographers for her piece (Melanie LaPatin) will stand in for her tonight so her partner can compete. If she is not eliminated tonight (not sure what basis they would use to do so, I guess maybe how she was doing in rehearsals compared to how other girls did tonight), and can dance again next week, she will be back. If not she will be eliminated (and then I am guessing they will bring back whomever is eliminated tonight, who knows).

Channing (Contemporary) & Phillip (Tap)

Choreographer: Jason Gilkison | Dance Style: Jive

Not bad for their first performance, but not super good either. They seemed to lose a bit of steam as the dance progressed. Their retractions were pretty snappy towards the beginning, especially Channing’s, but they got a bit less snappy as they went on. Phillip’s footwork was good, but you can tell he is a Tapper, his movement had a looser feel to it and his upper body was a little too placid.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He said he thinks it is a classy pairing, that Phillip did well but that is no surprise due to his Tap background, he said Channing was a big surprise to him because she danced with a lot of elegance, but that he his surprised that she was dancing very up and not using her plie enough but she was lovely. He cautioned them to be careful during a lift because they dropped character during theirs.

Mary—She said she loves starting the show with a high energy jive, and she say not bad, but she wants more. Their legs could have been so much higher and faster pumping. She felt Channing gathered steam through the routine, but that Phillip lost steam. Good job though, not bad.

Nigel—He said he agrees with Adam where Phillip is concerned. He told Channing she needs to get her weight over her toes a bit more, so she can get more bounce. He said they both needed sharper retractions, and that he thinks Phillip ran out of energy. He also told them to work on building their chemistry.

Ashleigh (Latin Ballroom) & Jakob (Contemporary)

Choreographer: Tyce Diorio | Dance Style: Broadway

Tyce defined it as sultry Broadway. I really liked it! Both the choreography and the performance. Ashleigh’s lines are beautiful, and Jakob is just amazing, he had a few leaps that were just wow moments for me! I also think they have begun to build some chemistry already, they seemed to really be having fun together.

Judges Comments:

Adam—Cat asked if they found the chemistry and he said “YEAH.” He congradulated Tyce on his smart choreography. He told Jakob god put him on this earth for one reason and that is to spread the gospel of dance, and he is setting a new standard of excellence. He told Ashleigh it will be tough to be partners with him because he is going to hit it every time, and that she needs to work on carrying things to their completion and on closing her hands, and that if she does that she will be just fine.

Mary—She said she thinks Ashleigh was more than just fine, that she didn’t think she was capable of that and she is changing her mind. She said everything Jakob does is just kind of perfect.

Nigel—He told Ashleigh he thinks tonight and last night she proved why the judges have faith in her. He called Jakob one of the most gifted dancers ever on the show and said he is disappointed to not be able to watch them competing against and driving each other. He said he also has a great performer inside him, and that he is certainly someone who is going to go a long way this season, and if Ashleigh keeps it up she will go with him.

Ariana (Contemporary) & Peter (Tap)

Choreographer: Tabatha & Napoleon | Dance Style: Hip-Hop

They are supposed to be androids. I think they should be very grateful they got NappyTabs as their choreographers, because their style lends itself so much more to people who are not Hip-Hop dancers. Overall I thought they did a really good job. There were a few parts where their unison was a bit off, and they were not hitting things as sharply and powerfully as they could have been. Overall though I think they captured the feel of the dance.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He said they weren’t dancing like each other, not similarly enough. He also thought there was not enough tension and action/reaction. He said he thinks they are both really talented but that they need to work on the similarity of their musicality.

Mary—She said she loved the beginning, but in the middle it got a little sloppy, but then it got back on key.

Nigel—He said he didn’t feel as if they ever found it. He acknowledged that they are out of their element. He said he thought Peter got it a bit more than she did, but that he was disappointed and that he has not been disappointed in either of them so far, so they need to find a little more to bring next time.

Noelle (Contemporary) & Russell (Krump)

Choreographer: Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin | Dance Style: Fox Trot

I must admit, I started off quite worried!! But, I have to say, WOW! Russel started out SO strong in the out of hold bits. In hold he is a bit rough around the edges; he needs to work on his Ballroom posture. I give him huge credit though, for dancing with someone he has not trained with at all, and doing a really great job. And he really managed to capture the character he was playing in the dance.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He said Russell continues to defy explanation, and that it is really incredible and speaks to how incredible he is. Effortless, beautiful, fantastic.

Mary—She said her hat is off to him because it is so difficult to partner with a new person. She said he really did a respectable job and she really admires him, she said he has this it factor. She complimented the beginning especially. She said the middle part got a bit steppy and he needs to work on that.

Nigel—He said Russell is living proof as to why he gets on a soapbox and pushes for the introduction of dance in schools. Because someone like him grows so much. He said the technique was not good, especially the rise and fall, but his lines were good.

Bianca (Tap) & Victor (Contemporary)

Choreographer: Contemporary | Dance Style: Travis Wall

The story is he is a guy that is ignoring her. I actually had to remind myself that she is not a Contemporary dancer in places. There was an amazing part where he is holding her up at her calves and she leans slowly back down to the floor, amazing strength there! I thought their chemistry could strengthen a bit; it would have been great with the kind of connection that was shown in the addiction piece last season between Kayla & Kupono, but this is just the beginning and that being considered I thought it was great. Overall, I thought it was really strong though, especially Victor. Great choreography, not surprisingly, from Travis!

Judges Comments:

Adam—He started by saying how impressed he is by Travis. He commented on Bianca being at a disadvantage because of her style, he said he thought she did a good job but that he had a few notes for her, her shoulders need to come down and she needs to work on her toes because she is not finishing with her toes. He said that was Victor’s dance and he was in his sweet spot.

Mary—She commented on Bianca fighting year after year to be here, and here she is conquering tonight outside of her style, and she was especially sold by her passion. She thought the chemistry was good between them. She said she expected Victor to be good since this is his style, but he took it to another level.

Nigel—He said he thought this is the most connected he has seen two partners tonight. He loved the confidence they both had.

Karen (Latin Ballroom) & Kevin (Hip-Hop)

Choreographer: Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin | Dance Style: Cha-Cha

She was amazing, on fire, as it should be because this is her style. He was much better than I thought he would be. He needs to work on loosening up his hips and getting a bit more down into the floor, and he also needs to work a bit on his arms. Overall though, I thought it was pretty good.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He said “Karen, yikes.” He said it was hard to watch anything going on other than her. He said it was like his eyes were popping out of his head and said that for people who know him that is not really his thing. He said good for him keeping up with her, but the last lift series was a bit awkward (I agree, it moved a tad slowly).

Mary—Mary said everyone knows she likes a Cha-Cha and she likes it sharp, rhythmical and sexy…and she said Karen was sharp, rhythmical and sexy. And she put her on the hot tamale train. She told Kevin two out of three isn’t bad, he was rhythmical and sexy; he needs to work a little on the leg and foot action and be a little bit sharper.

Nigel—He told Kevin he thought he danced it very well indeed. She said he agrees with Mary, that his leg and foot action could have been a bit sharper, but there were places where it was good. He said he was performing really well. He said Karen definitely has this in her blood and that when the music starts her eyes light up. He said she is a vision.

Ellenore (Jazz) & Ryan (Latin Ballroom)

Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh | Dance Style: Contemporary Jazz

Sonya said the piece is about 2 angelic creatures, Ryan the dark overbearing one, Ellenore the submissive pure one, and he is trying to take over. Sonya said she has never been so inspired here before. WOW! Ellenore is just amazing. Her lines and extension are fabulous. And those lines and extension combined with his strength made for some awesome lifts, you would think she weighed nothing. He was a huge surprise, I really thought he seemed so at home in the movement despite it not being his style at all. They both really got the quirky characters down well, though I thought she did a bit more than him.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He told Sonya she rocks his world. He said that things just got really exciting for him on the show. He said that technically he would not have put either of them in his top dancers technically, but that they just became two of the most exciting dancers on the show, and that is what the show is all about. He said it was totally beautiful and unique and showcased them both beautifully. He finished by saying that if there was one thing he would have liked to see it was a little more abandon.

Mary—She thought the chemistry between them was crazy. She told Ryan did a good job as a ballroom dancer to be so focoused on her when he is used to having to be 50% to his partner and 50% out to the audience. She said she is so proud and that they were so deep in the character that they didn’t break it even when doing tricks.

Nigel—He said that what he finds amazing is that Sonya’s style changes with her music and that tonight was a completely different style. He said that because of that it is hard to say if things were done right or wrong. He can say he enjoyed it very much. He said Ryan took him totally by surprise and that so far he and everyone else so far tonight has made it hard to tell what their actual style is (Because of how well they are doing presumably).

Pauline (Jazz) & Brandon (Hip-Hop)

Choreographer: Jason Gilkison | Dance Style: Smooth Waltz

Brandon replaced Billy Bell, and it sounds like the change was made midway through rehearsals. I actually felt like he started off stronger than her, despite it being much farther from his style than it is from hers. Once they got going though they evened out. She was great in the spots where the choreography called for lifts and leg work. He handled the lifts and such pretty well, but needs to not come out of character during them, which I felt like he did at least once. Overall, especially with such a short period of time to practice and build their chemistry, I thought they did a great job…especially the chemistry between the two of them.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He said considering how it all came together (apparently they have just had a day and a half) they had some beautiful performance moments. He said she had some beautiful lines. He told Brandon he needs to open up from his back, and that he did a yeoman’s job at a difficult task.

Mary—She commented on how difficult it is too. She said it was a very romantic dance, and that for having such a short period of time their chemistry was very believable. She said as far as the actual dancing it was not necessarily the best and that Brandon needs to work on the quality of movement. She told Pauline it was so elegant and beautiful and that she produced a really good quality of movement.

Nigel—He said they have to understand that he loves them both but that he has to critique them without taking the situation in to consideration because he thinks it is the only fair way. Having said that he though it wasn’t lighter than air and skimming across the floor as it should have been, it felt a little bit like a prom couple, he said it was beautifully done and beautifully laid out. But it wasn’t strong enough for him. He said that for a Contemporary dancer Pauline didn’t expand enough. He said certainly the chemistry was good, but that he is not sure it is strong enough in this competition, this year.

Kathryn (Contemporary) & Legacy (B-boying)

Choreographer: Dave Scott | Dance Style: Hip-Hop

They are cavemen in the routine, and it is their first time hearing Hip-Hop. There is a humorous aspect to it. He was amazing, as was to be expected, and Dave had him do a few tricks that were right up his alley. She was a surprise, and I thought she really kept up with him and managed to stay in really good unison with him. I really, really enjoyed it.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He said this is hot; this is about meeting in the middle. He said this is not in her style and it is not really even in his style. He congratulated Dave Scott on great choreography and commented that it was different than his usual more down and dirty pieces. He said they had great chemistry. He encouraged them to really take the opportunity they have been given by being paired together to learn from each other.

Mary—Mary screamed. She said Pebbles and Bam-Bam were busting a move in the cave tonight, then did a lot of screaming, She told Legacy that she has been hard on him and saying the transitions and such weren’t there, but boy was that dancing. She said it was so precise and so in the character. She complimented Kathryn on how she was popping her body.

Nigel—He said Dave used his music so well and really put it into their bodies. He said Legacy certainly brought it to life and his isolations were terrific. He told Kathryn that her isolations could be a little bit better, but because of her musicality she brought it together. He said great chemistry between the two of them and that they are a couple he is looking forward to seeing develop over the season.

Mollee (Jazz) & Nathan (Contemporary)

Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez | Dance Style: Disco

Doriana said the routine is very inspired by Mexican Wrestling. Their first lift felt a bit slow, but then things sped up. The bad thing is that Brandon and Janette dancing disco last season is still very fresh in my mind, and it definitely was not up to that level. They did a great split walk, and their movement was quite good throughout, but I just felt like something was missing just a tad.

Judges Comments:

Adam—He started by saying that they are the most adorable couple. He said their energy is is infectious and bright and upbeat and really glorious and this is a great kind of number for them to start with, He said that what is killing him about it is that they did some really sexy lifts but that none of them seemed that dirty at all because they just come across as so sweet. Nigel said he knows Adam is not a big fan of disco. And he said he is not, but he was a big fan of that number. (He thinks of Disco as social dancing, not competitive.)

Mary—She said that Doriana is famous for making the toughest Disco routines. She said they really pulled it off and what charisma. She said they are probably the dream team because their charisma is off the charts. She then said she is looking forward to the weeks to come because she thinks they will be around a long time.

Nigel—He said that could only have been danced by someone with their energy because it brought it to life. He said anyone that doesn’t like disco has got to be crazy, Adam Shankman, because it celebrates, it’s fabulous, uplifting and fun. He said these two bring the fun to the competition.


The judges nominated 2 girls and 2 guys to dance solos in an effort to stay in the competition. Nigel said it is important that he states that they will be judged on everything so far this season, not just their solos tonight.

Bottom 2 Girls

Ariana—I thought her quality of movement was up there, and much of it was really beautiful. It did feel a bit too frantic though, like a bit too much was crammed in, and that didn’t allow everything to be carried to completion.

Pauline—I don’t think she did enough, most of her solo was prancing and seductive stuff.

Bottom 2 Guys

Brandon—He went for a piece that was essentially contemporary, not sure why he didn’t perform in his style. Likely he was trying to show his versatility, but he needed to show his strength and his piece didn’t do that.

Russell—Wow, when he does his thing, just WOW! He is so powerful, unstoppable!


My thoughts, after the solos and their performances tonight, are that Pauline and Brandon should be eliminated.

Girls—Nigel said they are unanimous and reminded them that to get into the Top 20 they had to be amazing dancers and that they are looking at everything. He told Pauline she dances with wonderful charisma but that she needs to dance with a little more passion. He then told Ariana she was being eliminated, that she is a strong dancer but that they needed to see more charisma in her work, but that she is a remarkable dancer and well worthy of being in the Top 20.

Guys—He said they were once again unanimous. He told Russell they urge him to keep dancing and keep learning other styles, and that he is a remarkable young man with what he has done so far on the show. He told Brandon that he is being eliminated, but told him he wanted to listen carefully, that he was not in the original Top 20 (because they wanted him to grow and smooth out some of the rough edges), and that the rules state that if you make the Top 20 you cannot come back…however that he will speak with the producers to see if an exception can be made because of how things happened.

Eliminated: Ariana and Brandon

This means that next week Pauline & Peter will be a new couple.


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