‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: No more Mr. Nice Show

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: TOP 12 TO 10: L-R: Contestants Essence and Thiago dance a Hip-Hop routine on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airing Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. Cr: Michael Becker

Welcome back to "So You Think You Can Dance" recaps! In "Girls Night Out," the pairs all shift to the ladies’ style of dance, the top 12 get vulnerable and two dancers head home. Miss last week’s episode? You can read our recap and watch On Demand or stream on FOXNow, Hulu and Tubi. This television station is owned by the FOX Corporation.

Content warning: This story includes discussion of sexual assault.

That 300 episode celebration was fun, right? Wonderful dance, Cat Deeley’s amazing hair and no eliminations? Not so much this week. The dancing is still great, the dancers are still unbelievably charming and Cat Deeley’s hair remains an unstoppable force — but as the well-coiffed host reminds us more than once in this hour, "So You Think You Can Dance" is a competition show and someone’s got to go home. 

Who gets the chop? Read on to find out. 

WATCH FREE ON TUBI: "So You Think You Can Dance"get the app

Group number: A Pride month celebration with Lady Gaga’s "Aura"

Happy Pride! This week’s episode opens with a group number set to "Aura," an underrated Lady Gaga song, and if Brian Friedman’s exuberant choreography isn’t Pride month-y enough for you, then sure the combination of the choreo and the costuming must be. 

Our top 12 dancers emerge onstage dressed identically in platinum bob wigs and stark black and white leotards and skirts — but when they start moving, you can see flashes of rainbow underneath! It’s difficult to tell who is who. They are all genders and no genders. It’s a lot of fun. And Cat Deeley is wearing a leather (or pleather) minidress. "So You Think You Can Dance" said "gay rights"!

WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Celebs anonymously hoof it in "The Masked Dancer" 

Ralyn and Carter: Leaving ballroom face behind


SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: TOP 12 TO 10: L-R: Contestants Ralyn and Carter dance a Contemporary routine on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airing Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. Cr: Michael Becker

Last week, "So You Think You Can Dance" had a lot on its plate: revealing the top 12 dancers, saying goodbye to the rest of the top 24, celebrating its 300th episode with videos of famous friends, a big elimination fake-out — and that doesn’t include the actual dancing.

This week, however, we get to spend some more time with the dancers as they prepare to perform. First to get the spotlight is Carter, who wound up in the danger zone last week despite the fact that he was in his ballroom-dancing element. Carter is nervous about bringing the emotional intensity to his contemporary performance, but supportive partner Ralyn says they’ve got this. Turns out she was right!

Choreographer Teddy Forance does right by these two with his routine to Rowan Lewis’ "Mindless Town"," creating a story that allows Carter to use his starry-eyed sweetness for dramatic effect: The dazzling Ralyn is there to upend his life, so all the dramatic heft hinges on his youthful sense of wonder. Ralyn is still the standout (especially when she jumps so high during the judges’ critiques, after JoJo Siwa tells her she was powerful throughout the performance) but they both shine.

WATCH FREE ON TUBI: JoJo Siwa gets her start as a star in "Dance Moms"

Alexis and Keaton: Cha cha real smooth


SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: TOP 12 TO 10: L-R: Contestants Alexis and Keaton dance a Cha-Cha routine on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airing Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. Cr: Michael Becker

Next up are last week’s standouts, who threw down the gauntlet with a performance that JoJo Siwa called "the best dance I’ve ever seen." So the question isn't whether or not Alexis and Keaton will be good. It's whether or not they'll meet the high bar they've set for themselves.

The answer is no. Don’t get the wrong idea: their "spicy" cha cha number, choreographed by Daniella Karagach and Pasha Pashkov, is a lot of fun, and contemporary whiz Keaton is almost as impressive working in ballroom as ballroom expert Alexis was within Keaton’s contemporary realm. But for all the talk of "spice," this performance isn’t even as sexy as last week’s. 

tWitch (a.k.a. our Cool Dance Dad) sums it up best when he tells Keaton that he needs to draw the story out a bit more. It’s a good thing for Keaton to focus on, as he’ll need to be a great actor when he’s inevitably cast in a Patrick Swayze biopic. 

Virginia and James: Always triumphant


SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: TOP 12 TO 10: L-R: Contestants Virginia and James dance a Contemporary routine on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airing Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. Cr: Michael Becker

These two bring the emotional wallop for the week, both in their performance (a contemporary routine set to Eight’s "Sleeping at Last") and their intro package. 

Choreographer Jaci Royal gives Virginia and James (a.k.a. Lord Finn, a street dancer with expertise in bone-breaking) a story of survival, telling them it will require a lot of vulnerability. And this supportive pair are ready to let their guards down — a fact that becomes even more affecting when Virginia tells the camera that she was "taken advantage of" by a dance teacher and James recounts the struggle of being unhoused. 

It is, unsurprisingly, a moving performance, and Virginia in particular draws the audience in with her emotionality. Unfortunately, there’s also a tentativeness in both James and Virginia’s performances, and while crowd favorite James does an incredible job for someone with zero experience in contemporary dance, he’s also pretty obviously out of his depth. 

Jordan and Waverly: And all that jazz


SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: TOP 12 TO 10: L-R: Contestants Jordan and Waverly dance a Jazz routine on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airing Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. Cr: Michael Becker

While Virginia and James bared their souls but played it a little safe with their bodies, the opposite is true for Jordan and Waverly. After last week’s contemporary performance, this pair switches to Jordan’s discipline for a week. 

While it’s no surprise that Waverly isn’t quite as captivating in this performance, what is unexpected is that Jordan, too, was far more memorable outside her given discipline. Choreographer Dominique Kelly gives them a playful, story-driven routine and what they deliver is a lively, technically impressive performance with almost no storytelling. Their extensions are gorgeous, their elegance undeniable, but they don’t seem to be having much fun.

Their shoes, however, are having a great time. 

Anna and Beau: Doing Taylor Swift proud


SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: TOP 12 TO 10: L-R: Contestants Anna and Beau dance a Contemporary routine on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airing Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. Cr: Michael Becker

And now, two people who have the range

Because Anna’s contemporary audition solo was so playful and funny, this performance marks the first time that we’ll see her tell a heavier story, and the same is true of musical theater performer Beau. Will they pull it off? 

Short answer: yes.

Choreographer Talia Favia, who was also responsible for Alexis and Keaton’s stunner of a performance last week, gives Anna and Beau an incredible opportunity with this performance, set to Taylor Switft’s "exile," featuring Bon Iver. They don’t let the chance to break hearts pass them by. It’s only heightened by their intro package, in which we see Anna struggling with a lot of fear and self-doubt. It’s genuinely moving to see how firmly Beau is in her corner — this is an incredible partnership.

The response: a standing ovation from JoJo Siwa, effusive praise from tWitch and Leah Remini, a raucous audience response and a lot of hooting and hollering from a recapper watching alone in her apartment. 

Essence and Thiago: It’s Mary J. Blige, turn it up!

Thiago and Essence stumbled last week. Thiago in particular sort of faded away, which was all the more surprising given his incredibly strong contemporary solo audition. This week, these two step into Essence’s realm with a hip-hop routine set to Mary J. Blige’s "The One." (Their choreographer, Mel Charlot, is obviously very excited to work with the pair.) 

And wow, are they ever good. Don’t believe me? Listen to tWitch, who’s so enthused he’s unable to sit still:

The bottom four: When the right choice is a bummer

With a cast this strong, it’ll sting no matter who gets sent home. But in this case, the audience votes place the most obvious contenders for the bottom four in the bottom: James, Virginia, Waverly and Jordan. And while this recapper would probably have saved Virginia, rather than Jordan, it’s all but impossible to argue with the judge’s decision to send James home. He’s still one of this recapper’s favorite dancers of the season, but to meet the challenges of "SYTYCD," you’ve got to have range, and James doesn’t show as much range as he needed to in his contemporary routine. 

He seems mostly at peace with it, however, probably because that means he gets to spend more time hanging out with his intimidatingly cool girlfriend Brianna. Virginia, on the other hand, is obviously upset. I hope her terrific performances thus far lead to lots and lots of work for her and James both. Good job, y’all. 

"So You Think You Can Dance": Our pick for the best of the night

This was a close one, and I could just as easily have given it to Anna and Beau, but the fact that Thiago and Essence made such a huge leap from last week clinches the win for them.

"So You Think You Can Dance" airs Wednesdays on FOX. The first four episodes are currently available to stream on Hulu. You can also catch up for free on Tubi. Recaps run weekly.

About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.

Watch next: "Howard High," streaming free on Tubi

Howard High (2022): A modern-age "Bring It On," "Howard High" is an energetic teen musical that follows a high school performance group who must compete against a rival school in order to save their arts program. The crowd-pleasing film from "You Got Served" director Chris Stokes is inspired by his 2020 TV mini-series of the same name, which is also streaming on Tubi. With its talented cast of up-and-comers, "Howard High" shines a light on the challenges that school arts programs face in underfunded neighborhoods — all through the power of song and dance. "Howard High" is a Tubi Original. Rated TV-14. 102 minutes. Dir: Chris Stokes. Featuring: Chrissy Stokes, Veronika Bozeman, Lindsay Diann, Jarell Houston, Dylan Mooney.

How to watch "So You Think You Can Dance"

"So You Think You Can Dance" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on FOX. You can also watch On Demand or stream online via FOXNow. This season’s episodes to date are streaming on Hulu and Tubi get the app.

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Tubi and this television station are both owned by the FOX Corporation.