Anyone that had doubts about So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation can throw them out the window, as the kids more than step up for the first live show of the season. I know that the kids are trained dancers, but wow, they really bring it to impress the judges and America. Of course, some stand out more than others, and only America will decide in the end. One change from the All-Stars, though, is that Marco is taking the place of Joshua to pair up with Sheadan.

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The Performances

For the first week of live performances, the contestants perform their style with the All-Stars, in addition to solos. And joining the judges is Maddie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame.

All of the judges are just blown away with the Top 10 performances with the All-Stars.

First up is 14-year-old Kida with Fik-Shun. They perform a rountine from Chris Scott, who wants them to just get down and dirty. They dress up in some funky outfits and pop-and-lock into our hearts to “Winning” by Fingazz. Nigel’s critique is to smile more and enjoy himself, while the other judges love it.

Kathryn and 13-year-old Tate perform an emotional butterfly story choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Paula believes that the routine, set to “Goldenheart” by Dawn Richard, is magical and thinks Tate is way beyond her years.

Twelve-year-old flirty Jake gets to perform a Jean Marc Genereux with Jenna, set to “Toca Toca (Radio Edit)” by Fly Project. The performance is cute and fun, and allows Jake to assert himself as Jenna’s lead, according to the judges.

Despite having his All-Stars switched, 12-year-old Sheadan doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest. His hip-hop theme is the boogeyman, according to choreographers Phoenix and Pharside. He is a ball of scary energy as he dances to “Why I’m Here (Original Mix)” by Statik Link featuring Young Live. Jason suggests that Sheadan work on his punctuation on his moves, though.

Sasha and 14-year-old Jordan bring another emotional bonding piece to the stage, this time by Brian Friedman. According to the judges, they flow together beautifully to “The Light That Never Fails” by Andra Day, and bring out the best in each other.

The only tapper, 11-year-old Emma, shines with a piece by Anthony Morigerato. She and Gaby, who has a mic pack malfunction, jump, jive, slide and tap to “Watch Me Do” by Meghan Trainor.

Latin ballroom dancer Ruby performs an amazing leg flip into a split with All-Star Paul to a Jean Marc routine. All of the judges are floored by the move in “How Deep is Your Love” by Calvin Harris & Disciples.

Another firecracker Latina, 12-year-old Daniela, impresses the judges with her salsa routine with All-Star Jonathan, choreographed by his wife Oksana Platero, set to “Latinos” by Proyecto Uno.

The little girl who had so much to give, literally, during tryouts doesn’t get nervous during her live performance. Thirteen-year-old Tahani tears up the stage with Comfort to a Luther Brown routine set to “Cut It” by O.T. Genasis featuring Young Dolph. Jason loves the performance so much that he gets up and starts dancing himself during the commentary.

And the cute little bundle of joy, J.T., really steals the show. He must have trained hard during rehearsals because gone is the cute little boy during tryouts and in is a confident, emotional young man who keeps up with All-Star Robert and brings Paula, and myself, to tears with his Mandy Moore performance to “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith. He does so well that Nigel apologizes for immediately writing him off as just a cute kid, calling his performance beautiful and emotional.

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Solos and Fun

In between the performances, there are clips of the All-Stars and their kids quizzing each other on various topics for 30 seconds.

And, of course, there are the live solos:

Emma performs to “Impossible” by Lion Babe.

Tahani performs to “Anyway” by Chris Brown featuring Tayla Parx.

J.T. performs to “Dance With Me Tonight” by Olly Murs.

Ruby performs to “Unstoppable” by E.S. Posthumus.

Daniela performs to “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner.

Kida performs to “Ants” by edIT.

Jordan performs to “Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton.

Tate performs to “The Beginning” by Factor Eight.

Sheadan performs to “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes.

Jake performs to “I Like It Like That” by Tito Nieves.

Group Performances

There are three group performances during the show, as well as an announcement about National Dance Day on July 30. Viewers are encouraged to submit their videos for the celebration.

The first performance opens the show with all 10 contestants and their All-Stars. It is a Christopher Scott routine set to “Prodigy” by Nathan Lanier.

The second group number is just the All-Stars, to give the Next Generation a breather. It is a Mandy Moore piece set to “Unsteady (Erich Lee Gravity Remix)” by X Ambassadors.

Finally, to close the show, the Top 10 perform a hip-hop routine by Willdabeast and Janelle set to “Move (If You Wanna)” by MIMS.

I am really impressed with all of these kids. They blew me away during tryouts and the academy, but man, these kids look like they are up to professional levels. They all kept up with their All-Star partners. They made few to no mistakes — or if they did, no one would know. And they hardly seemed nervous, but I’m sure they were.

Some did seem more at ease than others. I really enjoyed Tate and Tahani’s performances. But the most impressive performer, at least for this episode, in my eyes is J.T. He blew me away. I, like Nigel, immediately wrote him off as just being a cute kid who likes to dance. But he brought tears to my eyes during his emotional performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sweeps the whole competition, but only time will tell. I can’t wait to see these kids out of their comfort zone and trying new styles in performances to come.

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

(Image courtesy of FOX)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV