It is finally time for what is, in my opinion, the most brutal round in the So You Think You Can Dance competition: callbacks. A total of 157 dancers made it to this point. The dancers’ fate rests on their performance in callbacks, and sometimes early favorites stumble during this critical point.

Our fabulous resident judges, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, are joined by guest judges producer and director Adam Shankman, dancer and All-Star Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Prima Ballerina Irina Dvorovenko, and Gold medal-winning figure skater Tara Lipinski. I am thrilled that tWitch is back on the So You Think You Can Dance panel!

So whose dancing chops will win them a spot in the Top 20? Get ready to find out!


First up are the solo routines, and the judges will not comment on the performances.  Tanisha Belnap kicks things off with her Latin ballroom solo. New Orleans hip-hop dancer Steven Kador received a call that his girlfriend had gone into labor the night before the auditions started, so he understandably has a lot on his mind. tWitch is unable to contain his excitement at Kador’s performance.

The judges make the first cuts, including Paul “The Puppet” Brushaber. Kador makes it through.

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Next up in the choreography round is hip-hop. Choreographer Christopher Scott and Season 10 runner-up Jasmine taught the hopefuls the routine. Scott’s routine is difficult, and the dancers are split into couples. Since they would be performing for the judges in the morning, dancers took the opportunity to continue practicing. The final couple rehearsing in the wee hours of the morning was Steven Kador and Malene Ostergaard.

Marie “Marie Poppins” Bonnevay and jazz dancer Jessica Richens are in the first group to perform. Three of the judges put Marie Poppins through for one more round, but Nigel isn’t happy about it. The judges are also disappointed in Jessica’s performance, but they decide to let her dance for her life. She wins over all the judges and even gets a standing ovation from Shankman and Dvorovenko.

Amanda Mitchell, who is a contemporary dancer, teams up with ballroom dancer Marquet Hill. Marquet kills it, and he and Amanda make it through. Steven Kador receives the news that his son was born healthy, so he feels he can focus on the competition.  Steven and Malene move on to the next round, but Malene’s performance is criticized.

Caleb Brauner and Trevor Bryce perform in the last group, and both are cut. Megan Mercano and Franchesa Bass also fail to make it past the hip-hop round.


Next, the dancers work with famed choreographer, Sonya Tayeh. Get ready, folks. This round is going to be a doozy! I am sure that dancing for Sonya isn’t stressful at all. George, from season 9, demonstrates the steps with last year’s winner, Amy. Marie Poppins is having trouble with the choreography, as is female hip-hop dancer Jana “JaJa” Vankova.

The first group has tap dancer Zack Everhart and ballroom dancer Alla Kocherga. Alla injures her knee during rehearsal, and she is later cut. Her partner, Zack, sails through to the next round. Other dancers who move on to the next round include Serge Onik, “Johnny Waacks” Gibson, Rudy Abreu, and Jourdan Epstein.

Steven Kador is in the next group, but he is unable to master the choreography and hears that his journey is over. Among the other dancers heading home is Shafeek Westbrook and Marie Poppins.

JaJa dances next and must dance for her life. tWitch cannot hide his delight, and Jaja saves herself.

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Next on the dance card is ballroom. Dmitry Chaplin and Anya demonstrate the routine. One male dancer is elbowed in the mouth by his partner, and loses part of his front tooth. Yikes!

Zack Everhart teams up with fellow tapper Valerie Rockey and they really shine. Jaja partners up with Emilio Dosal, who actually made it to the top 20 in season 10, but had to withdraw during initial rehearsals because he suffered a broken nose and had to have surgery. They also make it through.


Dancers learn the routine from choreographer Travis Wall and season 10’s Makenzie. Travis is out to challenge the competitors. Mission accomplished, Travis!

Bridget Whitman suffers a fall during her routine, and is asked to dance for her life. She dedicates her performance to her late father. Her heartfelt performance earns her three votes, and she continues on.


The judges have cut the hopefuls down to just 50 dancers. Dancers were put into groups of five and selected a CD containing their music.

The first group, One Love, consists of Ryan Johnson, Ryan Redman, Carly Blaney, Novien Yarber, and Serena Pav. Serena is the only ballroom dancer, and takes control of the choreography. This creates confusion for the judges, and they are not impressed by the sloppiness of the routine. Nigel tells them that when they come back, they must decide for themselves who goes home. Awkward! So who will take the fall for this routine?

Many of the remaining groups don’t fare much better, and the judges are disappointed.

The next group, comprised of Trenton Williams, Kamille Upshaw, Zack Everhart, Malene Ostergaard, and Johnny Waacks, impresses the judges and the entire group moves on.

One Love returns to see the judges and they haven’t made a decision about cutting someone because they feel that they are all responsible. Nigel says that he couldn’t’ ask any more of them, and the whole group moves on. Now I am the one who is confused by this development.

Final Solos

The judges have whittled the competitive field down to 44 dancers.

Ricky Ubeda leads off the solos, and is nothing short of dazzling. The rest of the dancers perform and do their best to stand out in the minds of the judges.

Dance Crews:

The four dance crews who will be performing on the So You Think You Can Dance stage are: Academy of Villains, Wanted Ashiqz, Control Freaks, and Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies. Congratulations to the winning crews!

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The Top 20 Reveal

Ricky Ubeda makes the top 20, along with Jessica Richens and ballerina Jacque Lewarne. Teddy Coffey, Stanley Glover, and Carly Blaney also win a spot in the live shows.

Popper Emilio Dosal sees the judges next, and he also gets good news. His crewmate crumper JaJa doesn’t make the cut. Novien Yarber, Serena Pav, Armen Way, and Johnny Waacks are all sent home.

Bridget Whitman learns her fate next, and she moves on. Tappers Valerie Rockey and Zach Everhart also get good news, as does Jourdan Epstein, Emily James, and Casey Askew.

Ballroom dancer Landon Anderson fails to make the cut, as does Hailee Payne and Justine Lutz. Nick Garcia makes it to the top 20, as does Tanisha Belnap, Serge Onik, Malene Ostergaard, and partners Brooklyn Fullmer and Marquet Hill. Erik “Silky” Moore doesn’t get a spot, but Rudy Abreu does, joining best friend Nick Garcia.

Next time on So You Think You Can Dance, we will see this amazing top 20 dance live.

So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesdays at 8pm on FOX.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Kim Stempel

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Kim has been covering television entertainment since 2013. She is addicted to Real Housewives, Pump Rules, Dancing with the Stars, and many more shows.