Season 8 was the first season of So You Think You Can Dance that I blogged about, although not on a weekly basis as I did for Season 9. In addition to distributing awards, I assessed the decline of ballroom and the lack of musical innovation. So I won’t say much here except to reiterate that, while the skill level of the contestants was incredibly high, they were being challenged less and less out of their style and that made the season incredibly boring.

There were many dances that were very good, but few that were great. Furthermore, there was so much contemporary and jazz (a high to this point of 40%), that most of the dances seem to blend together into one angsty, hair-flipping montage of the mind (see, for example, “To Love You More” or “Turning Tables” or “Who You Are”). Even hip hop got taken over by “lyrical” hip hop, further blurring genre lines.

While Caitlynn and Jordan danced well, only three dancers really stood out for me and were able to hold their own with the all-stars: Marko, Melanie, and Sasha. Anyone of them could have taken home the grand prize. While Melanie had an advantage in getting Marko as her original partner, it was clear from her audition and later solos that she deserved her win:

Unfortunately, as stated above, these Top Three dancers weren’t tested very much outside of the contemporary realm. However, while ballroom was relegated to the back burner, with all styles comprising only 25% of the total dances, there were still a few numbers I rather enjoyed, notably Iveta & Nick’s quickstep (“The Ballroom Blitz”), Clarice & Jess’s foxtrot (“Fly Me to the Moon”), Melanie & Marko’s tango (“Triptico”), Chelsie & Marko’s very un-samba samba (“Cinema Italiano”), and Caitlynn & Pasha’s Argentine tango (“Malajunta”). The cape movement at the end of this paso doble, danced by Marko with Season 5’s Janette and choreographed by Season 2’s Dmitry Chaplin, was absolutely gorgeous:

After so much great hip hop in Season 7, Season 8 was extremely disappointing in this regard. Although it was nice to see Season 2’s Ivan again, his number with Caitlynn didn’t really stand out (“Let Me Love You”). However, we did get to see another side of Sasha & Twitch in “Misty Blue” by Christopher Scott and a funkier than normal Marko & Ricky in “Bad Boy for Life”.

But the action was definitely in contemporary and jazz.

Travis Wall was my choreographer of the season with a number of creative pieces including “Stupid” and “Turn to Stone” in the very first episode.

And then my favorite piece ever about vultures:

Travis took the classic ‘vulture stalks boy, boy almost succumbs to vulture, boy kills vulture’ story that we all know so well… we’ve seen it over and over… and he took it and he made it this brilliant, beautiful thing…

—Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Tyce Diorio stepped out of his usual Broadway shoes (thank god) and gave us a jazz nightmare come-to-life in “Precious Things” and the contemporary meditation “Fool of Me” with Sasha & all-star Kent.

Sonya Tayeh also alternated between contemporary, jazz, and lyrical jazz with “I Know It’s Over” featuring all-star Allison & Marko, “Raise Your Weapon” with Sasha & all-star Mark, and “Heavy in Your Arms” with Caitlynn & Marko. But her best piece was undoubtedly the one she did for Melanie & Sasha:

Finally, Mandy Moore continued to showcase her love of 80s music, notably with Melanie & all-star Neil in the contemporary “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. I leave you with her delightful jazz number featuring all-star Lauren & Tadd:

To be continued…

For previous posts in this series, see The Best of SYTYCD: Season 1, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 2, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 3, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 4, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 5, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 6, and The Best of SYTYCD: Season 7.