Season 3 is one of the hardest seasons for me to love. While it had dancers who were great technically, I didn’t “like” many of them—not for any particular reason, I just didn’t respond to most of them as in previous seasons. This includes most of the Top Ten. My favorite was probably Sara, who was one of the weakest dancers of the ten, although Lacey really grew on me as the season wore on. And, really, it’s hard not to like the eventual winner, Sabra, who had little experience but was a very good all-around dancer.

I think part of the problem for me was the partnering; no couple really sizzled. And a few egregious pairings resulted in the advancement (or not) of unworthy (or not) dancers. The upside to this of course is that I was not particularly sad to see the partnerships disbanded when they reached the Top Ten.

This is not to say this was not a good season. In fact, it contains some of my favorite numbers ever, many of which I’m sure will make any favorites list I might come up with (and you know I will come up with one when this is all over). So, instead of focusing on the dancers, let’s take a look at the choreographers.

Season 3 represents some of Wade Robson’s best work, from the delightful “Cabaret Hoover (The Triplets of Belleville)” to the devilish “Night of the Dancing Flame” to the quirky and fantastical “Koyal (Songbird)”. Throughout the season, Robson proved to be tremendously entertaining and creative.

My favorite piece of his was “The Chairman’s Waltz” (aka The Hummingbird and the Flower), which made brilliant use of Hok’s b-boy skills and Jaimie’s technical refinement:

Mia Michaels also had a number of standout pieces in Season 3. In addition to the glorious Top Ten number above, and putting aside “Time” (aka the Dead Daddy Dance), which I hated, she solidified Lacey & Kameron’s popularity with “Dancing” in the very first episode of the season. (In fact, they would never be in danger until breaking up in the Top Ten, when Kam was eliminated.)

She also gave us a very modern Lauren & Neil in “Let the Drummer Kick” and closed out the season with the memorable “Are You the One?” (aka Two Princes) for Danny & Neil:

Before being absent for most of Season 4, hip hop choreographer Shane Sparks gave us plenty of fun routines for the record-breaking number (6!) of hip hoppers and breakers in the Top 20, including “Get It Shawty” with the gone-too-soon Cedric, “Push It” with Sara & Danny, and a Matrix-inspired number for the Top Eight:

However, his most popular number was probably “Fuego” for contemporary dancer Lauren and ballroom dancer Pasha:

Season 3 also featured the first pieces by Mandy Moore, who showed her love for 80s music early on with this corporate battle of the sexes between Sabra & Neil:

Finally, Season 3 saw the first former contestants to return and choreograph:

Season 2 winner Benji with a fast-paced west coast swing…

and ballroom dancer Dmitry Chaplin with a sexy samba.

Lacey & Danny would also team up for this beautiful Viennese waltz:

However, while ballroom holds its own in the dance count, with 43% of the 65 total dances, Season 3 is when we start to see contemporary and jazz climb up in the numbers, to 25%, with hip hop representing about 20% of dances, and disco and Broadway another 6%. Certainly, when one considers the most memorable pieces of the season, they are almost all contemporary or jazz. And, while I thought going into this project that Season 6 would mark a definitive turning point in the show, I now think there was another one, way back in Season 3.

To be continued…

For previous posts in this series, see The Best of SYTYCD: Season 1 and The Best of SYTYCD: Season 2.