Season 2 is undoubtedly one of the best. Cat Deeley took over as host and was an immediate hit. The producers introduced the concept of partnering with just one person until the Top Ten, which gave us power couple Donyelle & Benji as well as the adorable Allison & Ivan and Natalie & Musa. Season 2 also gave us future star choreographer Travis Wall and for that we must be very, very grateful.

What else did season 2 give us? For starters, probably the best group dances of any season, from Shane Sparks’ Top 16 hip hop (“Poison”) to Mia Michaels’ Top 6 contemporary (“Hide and Seek”) to Wade Robson’s pop-jazz for the final four (“SexyBack”). However, without a doubt, my favorite group number was Wade Robson’s Emmy-winning “Ramalama (Bang Bang)”:

Season 2 was firing on all cylinders right out of the gate, with the very first dance of the Top 20, Donyelle & Benji in “2 Much Booty (In Da Pants)” by Shane Sparks:

This unlikely duo came back the very next week to close out the show at the other end of the dance spectrum, with a cha-cha that made them the couple to beat:

Benji, a swing champion, and Donyelle, a hip hop dancer, were not the only ones to embrace and excel in a variety of styles. Almost every style of ballroom, formal and informal, was danced at least twice, with ballroom styles representing about 40% of the 70 total dances. Hip hop and disco together represented about 30%, contemporary and jazz another 20%, and Broadway another 10%.

While I liked Donyelle & Benji a great deal, my favorite couple of the season was Allison & Ivan. They got off to a rocky start because Ivan was really not good out of his style (hip hop), but they had great chemistry and soon charmed their way into many hearts with an impressive tango (they would eventually dance another later in the competition), a contemporary piece by Tyce Diorio (“Why”), and a Shane Sparks hip hop (“Sexy Love”).

Another fun couple was Natalie & Musa. Natalie was a real trouper, plagued by injury yet popular enough to squeak by Allison (who is one of the best dancers ever on this show) to make it into the Top 6. You can see her spunk in this disco by Doriana Sanchez:

Like Season 1, Season 2 had a certain kind of beginner energy and enthusiasm that has all but disappeared from the show. The dancers just seemed to enjoy themselves, never taking themselves too seriously. I don’t know if it was because Benji, the eventual winner, set the tone, or whether it was because it was only the second season, but they almost always seemed to be having lots of fun.

Two dancers that didn’t seem to be having too much fun in the beginning, or at least suffered from lack of chemistry with their original partners, were Travis & Heidi. When they finally got paired up for the Top Ten episode, they started to seriously contend for their places in the final four, with, on the same night, an impressive paso doble by Mary Murphy and an Emmy-winning number by Mia Michaels, commonly known as The Bench.

While I didn’t like Heidi at all in the beginning, she won me over for good with probably my favorite Latin ballroom number ever to be on the show. I leave you with “Black Mambo”: