After a two-week Olympics break, So You Think You Can Dance made up for lost time. The show's final 14 dancers returned Wednesday night to pay tribute to choreographer Mia Michaels— and face a double elimination.
The remaining dancer pairs took on memorable Michaels routines from previous SYTYCD seasons. Their challenge: to set themselves apart from the dances' original performers, for whom the pieces were choreographed. Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy were joined at the judging table by "Ballet Boyz" Billy Trevitt and Michael Nunn — who apparently have never seen an episode of SYTYCD, judging by their clueless comments.
At the end of the night, two guys and two girls were sent home. But first, the Mia Michaels show. The finalists opened the evening with a "Fifty Shades of Grey routine," as Nigel called it, which involved some rope and some serious making out. Then, more Michaels numbers.
Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, 22, and ballerina Eliana Girard, 21, put their own twist on the Emmy-nominated "door routine" from Season 4. The judges tried their best to follow up with puns. "You were really 'twitching,' yourself," Nigel told Cyrus, who added extra isolations to the role originally performed by runner-up Stephen "tWitch" Boss. Michael said to Eliana, "you had me begging for 'mercy,' that's for sure." (Yes, the song was Mercy by Duffy.) Mary tole Eliana she was "so believable" and that Cyrus brought his own "swag" to the dance.
Jazz dancer Tiffany Maher, 19, and contemporary dancer George Lawrence II, 19, performed the Hometown Glory routine from Season 4. "They murdered this routine," said Mary, who pointed out George's flawless transitions and impressive lifts. "You actually elevated this role," she said. Mary called Tiffany "soft, elegant, and powerful," but warned her not to overperform.
Contemporary dancers Amelia Lowe, 18, and partner Will Thomas, 19, performed the Emmy-winning "butt dance." The judges had a tough time critiquing this dance, which focused on Amelia's derriere, because they couldn't forget about the original performing tush of Randi Evans. "Amelia, you could have afforded to bring more character," said Nigel. Billy, a first-time viewer of the routine, "thought it was musical and endearing."
Belly dancer Janelle Isis, 24, and ballet dancer Dareian Kujawa, 20, did the Season 4 "bed routine," an emotional dance performed on an upright mattress with flower petals. Nigel told Dareian he was great and had "better technique than tWitch," who originated the role of bed dancer. Nigel loved Dareian's spin on a mattress, an update to the dance. Michael worried about Dareian's "line" and his poor feet, a common worry for him. Michael told Janelle, "I found myself looking at your hair rather than the choreography."
Jazz dancer Audrey Case, 18, and contemporary dancer Matthew Kazmierczak, 21, did the dance about Mia Michaels seeing her dad in heaven. Though Mary got choked up from the piece, she "didn't feel the real passion and truth in this number," she said. Nigel thought Matthew needed to bring more character to the piece, while Billy complimented Audrey's technique. "You nailed that first pirouette," he said.
Ballet dancer Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, 23, and Latin dancer Witney Carson, 18, did the Season 2 routine of unrequited love, set on a bench. "This was one of my favorite routines of all time," said Nigel. The technique and passion "came across," he said. Mary told Chehon his "center is probably the strongest on the show" and was blown away by Witney's "fearless" leap into Chehon's arms. "Chehon, you've always got a job with us," said Michael.
Latin dancer Lindsay Arnold, 18, fell victim to "psychotic" Cole Horibe, 26, in Michaels' Season 5 Emmy-winning routine. The judges loved the performance and Cole's character. "For me, this is Mia's best routine," said Mary, and "I loved the two of you best in this." Nigel said to Cole, "there's something psychotically mental about that performance. … You two have come out on top of everyone."
After the dances, the bottom six were revealed. The guys in danger were George, who Nigel said looked "tired" in his hip-hop routine; Dareian, who struggled in his Latin dance; and Matthew, who didn't excel in salsa. The girls in jeopardy were Amelia, who had a jazz routine Nigel "didn't feel"; Janelle, who had a tough time with Latin; and Lindsay; whom Mary called "mesmerizing" three weeks ago.
Nigel requested last-chance performances from all the dancers before saving a guy and a girl.
After assessing this week's routines and solos, Nigel said, "We have decided we're going to save Lindsay." Then, the guys: "It's so tough, this one," said Nigel. "Tonight we're gonna save George."
Next Wednesday (8 ET/PT, Fox), the top 10 perform once again for America and the judges.