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Season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance has been rolling for a few weeks now with a couple weeks of audition shows followed by Las Vegas callbacks this past Wednesday. Last night the Top 20 were revealed and it looks like it will be an incredible season.

It was a disappointment that Natalia Mallory (sister of Top 20 member Sasha Mallory) didn’t make it. She was such a highlight of the auditions and Vegas. I hope she tries again in the future. The other one I’d hope would make it was Jeremiah Hughes. He was great in Vegas and it seemed like he was on the road towards the Top 20.

That said, I don’t know who I would want to cut to make room for those two either. The top 20 is a great, diverse mix of dancers and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do this year.

The Top 20 reveal show offered up some incredible performances, which only fuel my excitement for this season. Not one of the nine performances failed to impress. Here’s a look at the dances:

  • Christopher Scott, who is a member of the LXD, was the choreographer of the night, delivering two amazing numbers. The Broadway/Tap number with Nick and Jess featuring a street dancer vs. broadway dancer battle was outstanding. These two guys are also ones to watch, their dancing skills combined with their engaging personalities and ability to create characters are going to make them strong competitors. Scott’s second number used the Top 10 guys to create an LXD-style number that could easily have been an episode of the series itself. The guys did a great job of living up to this choreographer’s demands.
  • Stacey Tookey offered up a haunting contemporary piece to showcase Ricky, Miranda, Melanie and Sasha. Meanwhile, Travis Wall put together another contemporary work for Mitchell, Caitlynn, Ashley, Alexander and Ryan. I love that there are so many strong contemporary dancers this season since this is one of my most favorite styles because it often packs in such raw emotion. These dancers will all excel in their style and I’m looking forward to what they can do in other genres.
  • The hip hop styles are will represented this year with Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi (who is actually billed as a breakdancer). These guys hit the stage with a Dave Scott routine and were spot on with a mix of power and style.
  • There’s only one ballroom dancers this season but Iveta could well rule the competition. She’s a world champion in her style, but she showed through Vegas that she can handle practically anything. She paired up with All-Star Pasha for a Jason Gilkison dance. She was extraordinary. It’s easy to see why she’s a champion.
  • I love Sonya Tayeh pieces and she didn’t disappoint with a jazz routine for Jordan, Missy, Clarice and Marko. It was a sharp, sexy, powerful number that left me wanting to see more.
  • Sonya also did a number for the Top 10 girls that showcased exactly what a powerful force the girls will be this season.
  • Tyce Diorio closed out the show with a Top 20 jazz style number. It was a solid way to round out the show and give everyone a chance to shine before the true competition starts next week.

So who are my early favorites? On the guys side, I’m already a fan of Jess, Nick, Robert and Marko. For the girls it’s Sasha, Iveta, Melanie and Jordan.

A note on the judges… I’m sad that Mia Michaels isn’t judging. I loved her honesty on the panel. I know she’s choreographing the Rock of Ages movie (which Adam Shankman is directing), but I’ll miss her behind the desk. Hopefully she’ll get to choreograph a dance or two this season. Mary’s been a mixed bag so far. On the audition tour and Vegas, she was mostly controlled. But she let loose with a few screams last night and I’m not a fan of that. I am happy to see that Lil C, Jason Gilkison and Toni Redpath will slip into Adam’s chair while he’s out filming. I’m less excited about Tyce and Robin Antin in that chair.

At least from the dancing perspective, it looks like it’s going to be a great season!