Somehow, So You Think You Can Dance’s top 20 announcement is always more stressful than American Idol’s top 24. It’s easy to forget certain dancers, and even if you remember them, you usually can’t remember how they danced, or if they were flawless, or if they were just a drooling Alicia Silverstone clone in a man’s shirt. I can never remember. Fortunately, our Top 20 is here, and I’m going to make the pain of remembering all of those names/abs easier by picking five elite dancers. Bring on the talent!
(But first, a quick note: How do we feel about SYTYCD picking both a male and female winner this year? Good? Crappy? I choose the latter. I just hate settling for a “tied” score. The 1968 Academy Awards’ Best Actress category is my living nightmare, much like the above picture of Mia Michaels. She looks like a Hirschfeld rendering of Diane Keaton — who, coincidentally, should’ve tied with Jane Fonda for the 1977 Best Actress Oscar.)
1. SAUCE LAKE CITY native Witney Carson
The babyfaced blonde, whose ballroom skills and sexual verve are downright eye-popping, may be from the land of tabernacles and Osmonds, but she is spicy. As in, I’d expect her statuesque strut to come from a dancer twice her height. She’s essentially 5’5″ but works her gams like Juliet Prowse on stilts. In her saucy routine last night with fellow Utahan Lindsay Arnold (who is quite the minx-y little Maureen McCormick update) and weepy Nick Bloxsom-Carter, she sashayed like a self-assured Latina Valkyrie. Quoth the grinning warlord Nigel Lythgoe, “I’d pick up the phone for her!”
2. NINJA BASEBALLER Cole Horibe
Biases out of the way first: I think Cole is smoking hot, and I believe that after the glitter of the competition fades (as well as his heterosexuality), we’ll date. Actually, is he straight? I wish So You Think You Can Dance would let its gays be gay already. If even the members of One Direction can peck each other on the cheek, you’d think Fox would let its BIG CHOREOGRAPHED DANCE JUBILEE be a little openly gay sometimes. Anyway: Cole’s ninja stylings are sleek and ferocious, and his arm thrusts feel like sexual stabbing. In this baseball-themed medley he performed alongside stepper Brandon Mitchell and “animator” Cyrus Spencer last night, Cole socked us with a million-watt smile, fine form, and the lines and bravado of a classic matador. I want.
3. LEAPIN’ WIZARDS, IT’S Chehon Wespi-Tschopp
His name is a cryptogram, but don’t let the fierce muscularity and staggering talents of Mr. Wespi-Tschopp slip through the cracks. Speaking of sexual stabbing, the man impaled himself on his partner Eliana’s plastic, pronged skirt during last night’s performance, and that makes us dig him even more. He’s simply the best leaper in the competition, and his balletic majesty is undeniable. Like those abs. Those undeniable abs. Abs abs abs. I’ve lost control.
(By the way, loved that whole performance: The costuming was very Lady Gaga-when-she-was-truly-awesome-in-2008. Those were the days when she’d go on record as saying her wardrobe was inspired by cocaine. I miss that.)
4. POLE POSITIONER Eliana Girard
Yes, I just mentioned her in the last blurb, but Eliana Girard’s contemporary pointe solo audition is too unforgettable not to be referenced again here. She is a lithe, feeling thang! Fabulous. Oh, and she unironically, un-self-consciously loves pole dancing. Whatever Carmen Electra tried to shill with that Stripperobics workout a few years ago, Eliana effectively sold with 15 seconds of airtime. She’s a mature, masterful performer who can be silly when she wants to be. And right now, she wants to be.
5. CRAZY, STUPID LOVING Matt Kazmierczak
I really dug this cutie during his lilt-y contemporary routine with Janaya, Dareian, and long-lost Gish sister Amelia Lowe. His loooong extremities commanded my whole attention, frankly, and not just because he resembles a goofy Ryan Gosling proxy. He even maintained his debonair charms when guest-judge Zooey Deschanel started “judging,” and that was almost impossible. The New Girl pretended to be encouraging to the dancers, but she summoned the authority of a woman asks Siri why it’s raining.
Psyched for this season? Confession: I am.
Editor’s Note: AfterElton will have video interviews with most of the Season 9 dancers next week, but to tide you SYTYCD fans over, here’s Matt Kazmierczak talking with Jim Halterman about the upcoming season…