So You Think You Can Dance is both one of the greatest reality series ever and, in its own way, a difficult show to remember. The talent level on SYTYCD is so high that it’s easy to forget that phenomenal bits of entertainment occur every week, multiple times in a single episode. You can forget that you wept at a Sonya Tayeh-inspired number because of a sexy samba that immediately followed it or a bizarre Bollywood number that preceded it. You’re actually inundated with great TV, and you’re too fallible to recall it all. That’s a crazy level of quality.
And that’s also why I compiled this tiny list, a quintet of performances that is still on my mind no matter how much other talent and choreography tear through my screen.
1. Alex Wong and tWitch get into your mind.
This instant classic from season 7 paired Alex Wong, a graceful ballet wunderkind, with the all-powerful tWitch, whose speed and sheer force are intimidating to think about. No one expected legitimate hip-hop flair to fly out of Alex during this therapy-themed number, but he was a breathtaking, hard-popping prince on that stage. Though the number itself is completely dynamic and divided into increasingly rigorous stages (including that unforgettable blitz at the end), I think the most memorable thing about this routine is the legitimate stage acting sprinkled throughout it. Alex’s character is exasperated, worried, and ultimately relieved after his consultation, and tWitch is an admirable authoritarian throughout. Let’s. Freaking. Lose it.
2. Lacey and Danny samba like sex addicts.
Though it’s Benji Schwimmer who won his season of SYTYCD, Lacey Schwimmer is the member of the family I find myself recalling more — at least in terms of unhinged, hip-popping raunchiness. The fun, libidinous, and endlessly saucy dancer set an unsurpassed high mark for sexiness with this number, where she paired with an equally game Danny Tidwell (who is Travis Wall’s brother, bien sur). It’s Lacey’s hippy gyrations and self-owned sensuality that make for an unforgettable dance, and even if she’s not as personally hot to me as greats like Pasha or Robert Roldan, she’s certainly their distaff counterpart.
3. Eliana and Alex Wong enjoy some bang-bang starkness.
The first of two routines from last season to make my short list (Should I be ashamed of that?), Eliana and now-veteran Alex Wong toasted Nancy Sinatra with this stark, eerie routine set to “Bang Bang.” Though the two dancers are marvelously primed, it just comes to show how much a garish lighting scheme, slowed-down choreography, and the right song choice can make for an indelible performance. Eliana would perform other insane feats that season — her pole routine against Tiffany comes to mind — but this was her coolest and most melodramatic moment. Now I need to see Kill Bill again.
4. Travis Wall and Heidi are the sweetest benchwarmers.
Another storied routine, this classic romantic duet between the still-effing-adorable Travis Wall and Heidi Groskreutz makes use of a single setpiece more than other number I can think of. They’re cavorting on the bench! They’re under the bench! They’re standing on it, sitting on it, jumping away from it. The really shocking thing is that Mia Michaels’ athletic and tough choreography isn’t hindered by the schmaltzy song choice. That damn Celine Dion track works here, and so do the acting chops of Travis and Heidi.
5. Cole and Lindsay lock horns.
Cole may be the sexiest contestant in history. I knew he wasn’t going to win against the eye-popping boy wonder Chehon (or even the resilient Cyrus), but I loved that he was equal parts silly and dead-dead-dead effing sexy. When the time called for it, he could drop his ninja nerd goofiness and just convulse with erotic pangs right in front of us. More ninjas should acquire this skill. The same goes for cutie Lindsay, who combined classic Maureen McCormick looks with indefatigable festiniess. Together, Cole and Lindsay summoned a seriousness and sensuality that challenged the both of them. Could there be a fiercer paso doble? I think not. And there certainly couldn’t be a more fiercely hot man than Cole, who is invited to wear this “outfit” if he ever wants to become a very active part of my life.