Summer has become the time where dance shows dominate our TVs, giving us plenty of routines to watch. We’ve watched So You Think You Can Dance for over a decade, so our summers have been often occupied with watching dance. But with World of Dance‘s growing popularity and a newfound interest in regularly watching YouTube videos of dance classes―particularly those at Millennium Dance Complex Los Angeles―this summer has been filled with more dance than any other.
With the plethora of dances we’ve watched, it was difficult to narrow down our favorite ones from the summer. But with tremendous technique, storytelling, and performance quality, these stood out among the rest.
So You Think You Can Dance: “Welcome Home” performed by Hannahlei Cabanilla and Marko Germar
We’re not going to lie: this is one of our favorite dances simply because it features two Filipino dances. That may not be the best criteria, but as Filipinos, seeing fellow Filipinos succeed is very important to us. However, this isn’t one of our favorites solely because of that fact. Contemporary is one of our favorite genres, and this one was executed well, both technically and emotionally. Hannahlei just makes everything look so effortless and beautiful, and Marko is a very reliable dancer, so it’s no wonder he’s an All-Star. His partnering elevated the dance and helped make it one to remember. This wasn’t the most difficult dance, technically speaking, as there have easily been other routines whose difficulty surpasses this one, but sometimes the emotional aspect is just as―if not more―important.
So You Think You Can Dance: “It Takes a Lot to Know a Man” performed by Darius Hickman and Taylor Sieve
If Travis Wall doesn’t win an Emmy for this, we will be very upset. Travis has already proven himself to be a master choreographer and storyteller, but this routine took his creative genius to a whole new level. Darius and Taylor tremendously performed a powerful piece loaded with emotion that truly hits you right in the feels. This dance is a modern take on the classic conflict of man versus society: a man wants to express himself honestly in a society that finds discomfort in his sense of self. As such, his choices don’t conform to the traditional standards of masculinity and what it means to “be a man.” The struggle, pain, and anger are so evident in their expressions and movements, some of which were more powerful than words.
So You Think You Can Dance: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” performed by Jensen Arnold and Robert Roldan
While we don’t remember the story behind this routine, it was a simply beautiful performance that could move the viewer to tears. The dance can easily be interpreted in multiple ways, allowing the audience to connect with it. Jensen and Robert were a great duo in this, as Robert helped the lifts not only look gorgeous but gave them meaning while Jensen really showed a sense of vulnerability. Plus, if you’ve seen Crazy Rich Asians, how could this song not make you emotional?
World of Dance: “Silence” performed by Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice
Before Sean and Kaycee began their dance, Ne-Yo said, “This is going to be really good or really bad,” and we felt the same way when we saw those blindfolds being worn to start the routine. Considering its inclusion on this list, it was obviously really good, making it our favorite routine of theirs from the season. At some point in the competition, Derek Hough referred to them as “masters of action and reaction,” and this performance exemplified that. They’re like a machine in that one action seamlessly signals the next. Such a feat was even more impressive considering their blindfolds. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of this is that Sean, a 16-year-old, choreographed such an original and distinctive routine.
World of Dance: “Way Down We Go” performed by Charity Anderson and Andrés Peñate
With the perfect balance of power, technique, storytelling, difficulty, and performance, it’s no wonder this is the lone routine in World of Dance history to earn a perfect score. The movements all flow so well. They make everything look effortless and execute the choreography exceptionally even though much of it was difficult.
World of Dance: “Santa Maria” performed by Jonas Terleckas and Ruby Castro
Ballroom is a genre that’s harder to be impressive with in a competitive setting, such as World of Dance, but Jonas and Ruby’s Duels performance proved that it could be. Their Argentine tango was full of swift, quick, and precise movements that made for a dynamic dance. Throw in the quick changes, which could have easily ruined the pace and timing, and there was an added level of creativity that helped play up the performance factor.
World of Dance: “Madness” performed by Michael Dameski
This was a departure from Michael Dameski’s standard contemporary routines and showed a fiercely dark side to his dancing. The darker concept made for a more memorable story to tell that was easier to become invested in. It raised the performance value and really created a show but didn’t take away from the amazing technical display he came to be known for. The projections complemented him, his movements, and the story, purposefully utilizing the setting. Michael’s acting demonstrated the overpowering inner conflict of his character phenomenally. The ending was masterfully dramatic and made for the perfect conclusion. (Also, bonus points for being a Newsie.)</p?>
“No Brainer” choreographed by Matt Steffanina and Julian DeGuzman
This song is one example of music we don’t normally listen to but enjoy when accompanied with fun, entertaining, and solid choreography. Matt Steffanina and Julian DeGuzman’s choreography plays to the musicality well. It’s easy for dancers to be creative with it and make their own, like the third group did with its changing formations and rotating positions. This included a good combination of different choreography, from harder-hitting hip-hop moves to hand/arm movements with isolations and some fancy footwork.
“Happier” choreographed by Matt Steffanina and Bailey Sok
Matt Steffanina and Bailey’s Sok choreography plays to the changing tempo of the song really well, from its slower moments when only Dan Smith of the band Bastille is singing to when its just Marshmello’s beats. Bastille’s music usually isn’t used for dance videos, so it was cool to see it used in such a manner. If you pay close attention, there aren’t really many complex movements in this routine, so it’s easy to add your own flair and allows for more creative freedom. Shoutout to our fellow Filipinos featured here: Gabe DeGuzman, Logan Edra from The Lab, Trinity Inay, and Sheaden Gabriel!
“The Middle” choreographed by Nika Kljun
Nika Kjlun’s choreography takes note of the quieter moments and length of the music notes in this song well. The subtle movements contrast nicely with the quick combinations. Overall, there’s good use of levels in this dance. It isn’t just standing and moving while standing with an occasional leap or something else thrown in. The dancers smoothly transition from laying and sitting on the ground to being upright on the floor.
Shoutout to some of our favorite SYTYCD alum and relatives in this video: Michael Dameski (who won SYTYCD Australia), Taylor Sieve, Kristina Koumaeva (sister of Ivan Koumaev from season 2), Brittany Cherry, and Carly Blaney!
Images via NBC, Matt Steffanina, and FOX.