Top 10 “So You Think You Can Dance” Performances

by Megan Hemenway
Bailey and Mariah of Season 16 of SO You Think You Can Dance
Bailey and Mariah, Season 16

2020 has been a crazy year. Although TV is typically filmed ahead of time, many shows became simply impossible to make due to COVID-19. So, TV watchers have missed plenty this year. One particular show fans missed in 2020 was the reality hit, So You Think You Can Dance.

After 16 seasons, SYTYCD still excites audiences, especially during the live shows. Dancers wear dazzling costumes and explore a variety of dance styles. No doubt, SYTYCD has become a summer tradition in many households. Unfortunately, this year, audiences were deprived of dance and may not get their fill until the summer of 2021.

So, in the meantime, fans might as well reminisce on some of their favorite SYTYCD memories. Since 2005, the show has produced some truly amazing performances. Although we could probably list them for hours, today we will settle for just ten. Here are the top 10 best So You Think You Can Dance performances.

10. “Gravity”, Season 5

Any minor fan of SYTYCD will be familiar with this heart-wrenching performance. Peformed by Kayla and Kupono in Season 5, the dance depicts the struggles of addiction. It uses the song “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. This dance is the definition of an “oldie but a goodie”. The tension between the two dancers is palpable and the moves plus the story create a simply emotional performance. There’s a good chance you’ll cry watching this performance, and that’s why we picked it.

9. “Like Real People Do”, Season 11

Although not the winners of season 11, Jessica and Casey made their mark halfway through their season with this contemporary number. The pair gave a romantic performance to Hozier’s “Like Real People Do”, giving audiences some “aww” moments. One of the most memorable parts though, was when the two kissed during the dance! SYTYCD surely provides some tension between its dancers but kissing is rare and almost unheard of until this dance. Therefore, it is one of our absolute favorites!

8. “When the Party’s Over”, Season 16

This may be a lesser-known pick, but there’s something about this number that really hit the mark. Performed by Eddie and Sophie early on in season 16, this contemporary number told the story of a young couple struggling to communicate. Done to Billie Eilish’s “When The Party’s Over”, this dance created some serious Euphoria vibes. From Sophie’s pink hair to Eddie’s protective embrace, the whole performance told a perfect story. It was one that we think plenty of teenagers could feel akin to.

7. “Danca Molengo”, Season 14

Now, it’s time to break out of our contemporary streak! Here we have a salsa number performed by Koine and Kiki of season 14. Of course, the sharp ballroom moves were flawless on both dancers in this dance. Plus, the background story of a lost girl and a flower salesman is simply adorable. If that doesn’t convince you, the icing on top comes from the dancers’ undeniable chemistry. It’s no coincidence that Koine and Kiki began dating in real life following their season.

6. “Let’s Get it On”, Season 10

First things first, Amy and Fik Shun became legendary in season 10 as an iconic duo. Each week their dances brought audiences immense joy. So, it was difficult choosing just one of their dances. However, one of our most favorite performances is “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye. Fik Shun plays a flirtatious restaurant customer while Amy follows along as a taken-aback waitress. One moment that solidifies this jazz performance is when Amy slips off her chair but immediately gets right back up and begins dancing again. Amazing save!

5. “Piano Man”, Season 11

Although SYTYCD doesn’t have an abundance of tap numbers, the ones available truly stand out. One we love is Zack and Aaron’s tap dance to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. Once again, this number provides some serious production value by giving audiences a story. The bar and the dancers’ ties give off a tired night after a long day at work. Their moves create a sense of camaraderie. This dance definitely ranks among some of the best.

4. “Dreaming With a Broken Heart”, Season 4

Like “Gravity”, this dance pops up again and again in the minds of SYTYCD fanatics. Featuring legend Twitch and Kherington, this contemporary piece tells the story of a broken-up couple and how the man continues to dream of his lost lover. Not only is the story emotional, but John Mayer’s “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” only further emphasizes the feelings that Twitch and Kherington radiate. Yet again, this performance has a good chance of making you cry and maybe feel a little lonely as well. And yet, we still watch it over and over again!

3. “Youth”, Season 12

Some of our favorite SYTYCD performances have a great story behind them and sometimes even a hint of history. This becomes apparent in this performance on Daughter’s “Youth” by Jaja and Alex. This dance shows the deterioration of a couple’s romance as the woman battles with Alzheimer’s. Something amazing about this dance is Jaja’s grace. Coming in as a hip hop dancer, she had to fight to prove herself in other areas and this dance simply proves what she is capable of.

2. “Outta Your Mind”, Season 7

We know we already included Twitch on this list, however this hip hop routine is simply too good to ignore. This high energy performance follows Alex, a psychiatric patient in a session with his therapist, Twitch. Then, as the song denotes, the two learn to “get outta your mind”, through some truly astounding hip hop. This is another dance that comes up throughout the seasons as iconic and it deserves it. It’s one that you’ll want to learn the moves to, no matter how many hours (or days) it takes.

1. “An American in Paris”, Season 14

Like so many contestants before him, season 14’s Lex has a variety of dances that are all completely amazing. Therefore, it felt completely impossible trying to choose just one. However, “An American in Paris” certainly stood out to audiences for a few reasons. First, the romance of the Broadway number is undeniable, and Lex and Taylor prove their chemistry to be unstoppable. Then, the story itself creates a fantasy, showing Taylor and Lex as birds, one caged and the other free. Throughout the dance, they circle each other in a whirlwind of grace and romance. This performance was so spot on, it actually revealed what the duo had been hiding their entire season. They’re a couple! Because it makes our hearts beat so fast, “An American in Paris” is our number 1 choice.

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In the end, there could be a thousand lists of the most fantastic So You Think You Can Dance performances, and still it wouldn’t include all of them. Audiences feel disappointed this year on missing out, however lucky for us there are plenty of Youtube compilations to binge while we wait for 2021. Not only that, but we can make the brave attempt to learn some of our favorites. The only thing you’ll be missing is Nigel Lythgoe and Mary’s “Hot Tamale Train”!

Let us know what you think of our list and if you would add any different dances!


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