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'So You Think You Can Dance': Meet your Top 20! (Especially since two of them will be gone tomorrow)

October 26, 2009 |  9:34 pm
SambaSYTYCD_091018_0877 Was tonight's "Meet the Top 20" episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" essential? No, but the producers has a good idea to give the viewers a little non-competitive introduction to the new season, show what the dancers can do best and,of course, give the audience a chance pick out favorites (like I've already done).

Before the dancers were grouped by specialty, the whole cast performed a Wade and Amanda Robson number set in a 1930s bar that was very cinematic and had a lot of flash (and hands on crotches for some reason).  It seemed designed to make the dancers all look like sexy stars.  It'll be interesting to see if and how the group numbers evolve as the dancers find their chemistry. 

The hip-hop dancers Russell Ferguson, Kevin Hunte and Jonathan "Legacy" Perez were up first, performing to "Beggin" as choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo.  I loved the guys' footwork and stunts, but again, I can't wait to see them come back in a few weeks -- they're going to be even more impressive when they develop some rapport. Russell is still my early favorite of the hip-hop dancers. 

Next, four of the contemporary dancers -- Channing Cooke, Ariana DeBose, Jacob Karr and Nathan Trasoras -- performed a Tyce Diorio dance that looked beautiful (the lighting on the new stage looks pretty great in HD), but it made me miss Mia Michaels already. I didn't pick out anyone from this group as someone I know I like early, but Channing did have one amazing moment in the dance when she really connected with the camera.

Then the tappers! As a group I liked Phillip Attmore, Bianca Revels and Peter Sabasino best: They definitely seem to realize they're the dark sheep of the competition. As Nigel put it it, America is going to have a hard time getting the dynamic of tapping -- the cool head versus the hot feet. Plus, the other dancers don't have time to learn tap, so unless they're dancing with each other, the tappers will always be in someone else's genre.  Though it was a treat to see them perform Derick K. Grant's routine, I had to admit it was a little odd (but not in a bad way) to see tap performed as such on the show.

Next, Mollie Gray, Pauline Mata and Ellenore Scott performed a Sonya Tayeh jazz dance (I'm not sure I totally got the "sexy" vibe she was going for).  I'm looking forward to seeing more from Pauline, but in the meantime I think Ellenore is almost unfairly pretty -- she looks like a famous person already. And though Adam Shankman decreed that Mollie doesn't have any problems being "sexy" in a dance, I'm not sure if I buy it yet. 

The rest of the contemporary dancers then performed: Billy Bell, Kathryn McCormick, Noelle Marsh and Victor Smalley danced a joyous Mandy Moore number.  Something about Victor has grabbed my attention: he seems like a strong dancer but he's also got a cute personality (and face) on him too. Sad news though for you Billy Bell fans: Due to an illness, he's withdrawn from the competition, according to Fox, and is being replaced by Brandon Dumlao, so we'll see how that works out tomorrow night. In the meantime, a note to "SYTYCD" producers: Please stop showing people's disgusting bloody toenail injuries. (Hope your foot's feeling better, Noelle!) 

Finally, the ballroom dancers, Karen Hauer, Ashley Di Llelo and Ryan Di Llelo, performed a dance about a love triangle by Jason Gilkison. I agreed with Mary when she said that Karen has a spark to her. I can't wait to see Ryan do hip-hop and whatever else he has in him other than ballroom; with his big frame and stage skills, he reminds me a bit of Hugh Jackman. And I'm not saying this just because he's reminiscent of Hugh Jackman, but I do wonder how much America will fall for his wife, Ashley.  Either way, we're getting sad news tomorrow night as two of our newly established Top 20 will be heading home. 

-- Claire Zulkey

Related stories:

'So You Think You Can Dance': Your Top 20 revealed!

'So You Think You Can Dance': Nigel Lythgoe says it's so — Mia Michaels is departing

All 'So You Think You Can Dance' coverage here.

Photo: Dancers Karen Hauer, left, Ryan Di Lello and Ashleigh Di Lello. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

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