Talk about high drama and raw emotion! So You Think You Can Dance had my attention from the first Pique turn to the last arabesque. More than 200 dancers were invited to Las Vegas to dance their hearts out for just 20 spots. Needless to say, the competition was extremely tough.

The judges -- Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Mia Michaels, Debbie Allen, Napoleon D'Umo and Tabitha D'Umo -- were particularly unforgiving. The choreographed routines were also pretty challenging.


Unlike American Idol, there were probably dozens and dozens of breathtaking competitors. But with 10 slots reserved for men and 10 for women, plenty of great talent got cut.

First, the contestants learned a hip-hop routine choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha.
One breakdancing popper, Robert, struggled so much with their choreography that he essentially gave up. Nigel -- who was wearing a cast on his right hand for some mysterious reason -- called him up onto the stage and asked him to do a solo.

Debbie Allen, who was wearing dark sunglasses, asked Robert why he was so afraid.

"You have an amazing technique, you have amazing control over your body, you're amazing. So what are you afraid of?" Debbie asked.

He responded that he was no able to follow the choreography. Nigel then asked Robert to dance for the group. He brought down the house.

Even with all the encouragement Robert received from his fellow competitors, he did not stay. (What a waste! What was he expecting?)

The hip-hop routines tripped up 74 competitors of the 203 that auditioned on the first day. (The judges weren't playing around. )

The second day, the competitors had to master a Broadway routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio. The judges whittled the competition down to 94 contestants.

Then it was time for the fox trot with choreographer Jean-Marc Généreux. Yet again, the judges cut some more.

Clips of eliminated contestants, sobbing, pouting and lamenting were sprinkled throughout the competition. It was effective for building a sense of the desire of the dancers.

Just when you thought that the dancers were going to get a much needed break, the remaining contestants were split into groups of five and were charged with developing a routine to randomly chosen music.

In the cookie-cutter reality television tradition, several groups experienced strife during practice. A few miraculously wound up putting their differences aside and turning in a good routine. Others crashed and burned.

Next, the contestants had to learn a Mia Michaels contemporary routine. (That routine was no joke!) Twenty-two dancers were sent home as a result of Mia Michaels' routine. Only forty-seven dancers remained.

This show's producers know how to build some tension. All of the contestants had to walk down a hall lined with monitors that flashed clips of their first and last auditions. (Talk about a stroll down memory lane.)


When judges were informing competitors of their fate, it was revealed that one top 20 finalist, William Wingfield, is a protege of Debbie Allen. As a result of his relationship with Debbie, Nigel informed him that Debbie can no longer be a judge in the competition as long as he is a contestant.

Debbie, who had taken off those sunglasses by now, said that she was more than willing to step aside so that the William had the opportunity to advance in the contest.

The following is a list of the Top 20. There were quite a few contestants who received little to no camera time during the preliminary audition weeks and during the Las Vegas auditions. That doesn't necessarily mean that these competitors have no shot at winning. Last year's winner Sabra came out of nowhere to snatch the title.

The Top 20 includes:

Gev Menician, a breakdancer, who beat out a very talented contemporary dancer to claim the final male spot.

Kourtni Lind, a contemporary dancer who is the daughter of a choreographer. During her preliminary audition, Nigel said she looks like actress Uma Thurman.

Joshua Allen, a hip-hop dancer who was extremely overcome with emotion when he found out he made it into the Top 20. He's got some serious moves.

Rayven Armijo, a ballerina, didn't get much screen time. I'm not sure how a ballerina is going to adapt to the other dance forms. I can't wait for her to do a hip-hop routine. It will be so Save The Last Dance.

Matt Dormame, a contemporary dancer did not get much screen time. Can't really say anything about him.

Courtney Galliano, a contemporary dancer who the judges have been gushing over since her preliminary audition. She should do pretty well.

William Wingfield, a contemporary dancer who disqualified Debbie Allen from judging. I hope he's worth it. Debbie always brings so much needed sass to the judging table.

Katee Shean, a contemporary dancer who barely made it into the Top 20. She turned off the judges when she announced that she probably wouldn't audition again if she didn't make it into the Top 20. She beat out her best friend for the final female slot.

Twitch, a hip-hop dancer, returned this year after being the last man left out of the Top 20 last year.

Kherington Payne, a contemporary dancer who plays soccer, barely got into the Top 20. She kept slipping through each round, Nigel said.

Jamie Bayard, a West Coast swing dancer who was barely on screen long enough to see him do a couple of steps.

Chelsea Triel, a contemporary dancer. I can't say anything about her dancing. (Thanks again, producers!)

Chris Jaross, a contemporary dancer. (See Chelsea Triel.)

Jessica King, a contemporary dancer , got emotional during the small-group choreography. She clashed with a group member. She made it; he didn't.

Mark Kanemura, yet another contemporary dancer. (See Chris Jaross.)

Susie Garcia, a Latin dancer, is a teacher from Miami. She generates a lot of heat on the dance floor. Nigel compared her to Shakira. I'm not sure how far her hip shaking will get her in this competition.

Marquis Cunningham, a contemporary dancer. (See Mark Kanemura.)

Chelsie Hightower, a Latin dancer. The judges absolutely love her. They've been fans since her preliminary auditions. How far can two Latin dancing female contestants make it in this competition?

Thayne Jasperrson, a contemporary dancer . (See Marquis Cunningham.)

Comfort Fiddochi, a hip-hop dancer. Nigel said she was probably the best hip-hop female dancer he had ever seen on the show. Very high praise. I hope she can live up to the expectations.